Mindy Kaling’s 'Nothing Like I Imagined' Is The Light Read You Never Knew You Needed
Her new partnership with Amazon Books includes six essays that talk about motherhood, her social anxiety, BJ Novak, and a sneak peek of her off-set shenanigans
I’ve always been a fan of Mindy Kaling ever since I can remember. It wasn’t just her standout role in The Office as Kelly Kapoor, the no-nonsense, bubbly customer representative of Scranton, nor was it just her starring role in her semi-autobiographical romcom The Mindy Project. Chalk it up to her personality as a whole—she was that relatable best friend I’d want to have by my side, giving me advice while multi-tasking on the phone, and at the same time, dishing that side-eye when someone cute comes walking our way. She has always been that for me, and having two of her books still with me is proof that my admiration for her will never go.
But the darnedest thing about her is her distinct voice, and I’m not talking about her high-pitched nasal (but in an endearing way, not like Janice from Friends) voice that signals you of her arrival on a show, or during an interview. I’ve always looked up to her for that—her ability to remain honest, quick-witted and unapologetically unique despite the environment she’s in. Hollywood still holds the glamour and glitz I will always love, but there are rules that have to be broken, honestly. Mindy marches to the beat of her own drum, whether that be in her writing and ideas for her shows, her identity shining through her memoirs, and everything else in between. She is just one of the POC women I love, and would love having around for a chat over light drinks and brunch.
In the midst of this pandemic, she released six essays in partnership with Amazon Books. The anthology is called Nothing Like I Imagined, and they are six individually released stories where she rambles about motherhood, her social anxiety, BJ Novak (which merits a paragraph in this essay, I will get into this later) and a sneak peek of her off-set shenanigans. This is Mindy beyond cameras, part three, and I’m here for it, mostly because her essays are full of adventures I’d love to vicariously live through. Her words are like a warm hug each and every time, and in this time where isolation is the norm, it’s nice to have Mindy’s voice come through and accompany you along for the quarantine ride.
The title of her anthology hits close to home for most, if not all of us, and that is what I laud about Mindy most—she still remains relatable, even in a health crisis, and her tales are nothing short of laugh-out-loud funny. She talks about being a single mother and how that greatly benefits her in Searching for Coach Taylor, where she makes a pros and cons list of having a husband, and ditching all of that for dreamy Coach Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights. That, and Please Like Me (But Keep Away) remain my two favorite essays, mainly because she talks about BJ Novak a lot.
Which brings me to this part of the story, the paragraph soupsnake fans have been waiting for. Ugh, BJ Novak, Mindy’s soulmate, in more ways than one. You may have known him from The Office too where he met Mindy (and dated her!) and as the bestselling author to One More Thing. They were on and off, and found that though they were similar and understand each other so well (a la Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice), their beliefs just differ. But you cannot deny (and Mindy’s essay photos prove this point) the chemistry that they have, especially in a photo where BJ was looking at her as she was holding up a cake for a photo op.
Come on BJ and Mindy, just let each other in (again!) already. But hope holds forever still, because BJ is—get this—Mindy’s daughter Kit’s godfather. I won’t spoil the rest anymore, but you will be pleased with the little moments Mindy allows us to peer through, and carry within you the fact that she hasn’t revealed the baby daddy yet. Fingers crossed for this, if you will. Catch Once Upon A Time In Silver Lake too for more BJ/Mindy content and you won’t be disappointed.
But fun-loving Mindy also gets seriously deep in Kind of Hindu where she shares about her ongoing journey to learning and embracing her Hindu heritage. Her detailed observations on the traditions her roots have shown her is such a nuanced take and a lovely anecdote all at the same time, especially when she relates it to Kit. She talks about motherhood and how it has transformed her completely in Help Is On The Way. But she gets back to social anxiety and picking up a tab for an A-Lister in Big Shot, a hilariously written essay about her time as a Conan intern.
Reading her essays was a breeze, mainly because I never had a problem trying to relate to her, because her writing always makes you feel welcome. This collection of essays remain the same, and is so much a critical read for anyone in need of a pick-me-up, especially during the pandemic-ridden era. For long-time fans of Mindy like myself, coming across any news or anecdotes about her are something to look forward to. But those new to the Mindy Kaling scene—especially some who may pass through this piece I wrote—may be in for a wonderful, feel-good surprise when picking up a digital copy of her memoirs. Do it, because it’s maybe what you need to hear.
Lead photo from Goodreads