Remember that time Paris Hilton hosted a reality show to find her new BFF? The premise is ridiculous, absurd, and honestly embarrassing… and if comedienne/goddess Mindy Kaling ever considered such a show, I’d be first in line. Not only is she inspiring a generation of would-be-writers with her successful sitcom The Mindy Project, she’s also known for choosing characters who own who they are, speak their mind, and work hard at their dreams.
While Kelly Kapoor (The Office) is quick to fall in love, she isn’t afraid of it. She giggles over celebrity babies, but is never ashamed of her passions. Both Shira (No Strings Attached) and Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project) are successfully working in the medical field, but also enjoy nights out with their friends and having casual sex, on their terms. In a world where women are so often repressed, Kaling’s personas are adventurous, honest, and sharp. Both on- and off-screen, Kaling is giving girls a healthy variety of role models (though I must note, I’m condoning the owning yourself, not swallowing tapeworms or drunk riding a bike). In celebration of all things Mindy, here are book recs based on my favorite personas she’s played.
Ben Affleck, Matt & Ben
Before Bennifer, Gigli, and (to the Internet’s delight/shock) getting cast as Batman, Ben Affleck was just a young dreamer trying to make his way in the world. In the 2002 FringeNYC Award-winning play, Matt & Ben, Kaling stars as Affleck on the night that he and pal Matt Damon came upon the idea for Good Will Hunting. When a finished script for their soon-to-be Oscar-winning film literally falls into their laps, Kaling’s bro-y Affleck is all-in. While Damon (played by co-writer and fellow Dartmouth grad Brenda Withers) struggles with his morals, Affleck is dreaming of the Playstation he’ll buy and the women he can pick up.
Though I love the goals Affleck is focusing on, particularly the meatball sub, I think he might need a small dose of reality. Taking the easy way out doesn’t always work; and Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc.could help Kaling’s Affleck take a look at the path to true creative genius, as defined by the co-founder of the highly successful animation studio Pixar.
Amy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Kaling’s character Amy in The 40-Year-Old Virgin essentially ruins David, played by Paul Rudd. He obsesses over their time together, can’t maintain a successful relationship with anyone else, and has an emotional breakdown when he runs into her. Amy holds her ground, keeps her cool, and has clearly been moving on with her life—she’s seriously attending the dating event where they run into each other, David is there only to get his friend laid. Amy might appreciate a book like Give Me Everything You Have. She can relate to James Lasdun’s harrowing memoir of being stalked, and maybe she’ll meet someone cute (and normal) at the bookstore.
Kelly Kapoor, The Office
At the age of 24, not only was Mindy playing a character on The Office, but she was writing for it! She later received an Emmy nomination for the episode “Niagara” (a.k.a. Jim and Pam’s wedding), but I really think she deserves all the awards for her portrayal of the bubbly, chatty, pop-culture-obsessed Kelly Kapoor. Always trying to lose a few pounds (sometimes with the help of a tapeworm), Kelly would likely immediately adopt Cameron Diaz’s new weight loss guide The Body Book. Celebrity secrets and a slimmer form? Heck yes!
Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project makes Kaling the first South Asian-American to be the headliner of her own network television show. Doctor Mindy Lahiri makes similar strides as a smart, spunky gynecologist trying to have it all—a great job that pays well, and a handsome man who delivers. Both are often up in the air due to her well-meaning, but often meddling, coworkers and her obvious chemistry with Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), a smoldering curmudgeon.
While Mindy wows us with her skills (who else could go from party girl to doctor in the flawless badass fashion she does, all while M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” plays in the background), she also likes to drink and have a great time. Though preferably not one that lands her in a pool with a crazy talking Barbie doll. For the times when Mindy is more play than work, I think she’d love YouTube sensation Hannah Hart’s book, based on her web series, My Drunk Kitchen.
Shira, No Strings Attached
While Natalie Portman sashays off to be with her FWB Ashton Kutcher, her hard-working BFF Shira is single as fuck. You know who else is? Katie Heaney, author of Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date. Heaney’s tale is awkward, funny, and relatable. But, if Shira wants a bit more drama she can also pick up Drinking and Dating by The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Brandi Glanville, who talks about how social media is ruining our dating lives and dishes on her scandalous sexcapades.
Thanks to Twitter, we know a little bit about real-life Mindy’s reading habits. Did you know she’s pro-Lannister? Scandalous. Or that she’s itching for the Gone Girl movie to come out? With her love of drama and dysfunctional relationships, I’d recommend she check out Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots. Deborah Feldman’s memoir dives deep into the strict customs of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, revealing her destructive young marriage to a man she hardly knew and her desire to escape once and for all.