13 Books from Mindy Kaling’s Bookshelf That Will Make You Love Her Even More
I can’t tell you the exact moment I declared Mindy Kaling my role model—maybe it was when I learned she penned some of my favorite episodes of “The Office,” or when I crowned her my personal fashion idol, or perhaps it was when her “The Mindy Project” character, Mindy Lahiri, hung a “Wreath Witherspoon” on her door and inspired DIY projects across the blogosphere. But I can tell you for certain my love for Mindy Kaling was solidified when I learned she loves books as much as I do. Here are some of her—and our—favorites.
1The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Adelle Waldman’s witty debut is one of Kaling’s all-time favorites. Nate Piven is a rising star who has to balance both magazine assignments and women. With tough-minded intelligence and wry good humor THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P. is an absorbing look at what one man really thinks about women, sex, and love.
3Bridget Jones’s Diary
Any die-hard Mindy Kaling fan knows that BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY—a laugh-out-loud chronicle of one single girl's quest for self-improvement—is Mindy's all-time favorite book. Well, life imitates art or vice versa. One of the most endearing scenes in "The Mindy Project's" history features Mindy's on-again-off-again boyfriend Danny reading a bedridden Mindy Lahiri this book (her favorite) when she's hospitalized with meningitis.
4In Other Words
Seeking full immersion into the Italian language and culture, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri decides to move to Rome with her family for “a sort of baptism” into a new world. IN OTHER WORDS at its heart is a love story of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession. Mindy dubbed this read a “literary mic drop.”
5The Book with No Pictures
Mindy Kaling’s squad is filled with other notable authors, including her best friend (and future coauthor) B.J. Novak. His wildly funny children’s book is literally a book with no pictures. But filled with words like “BLUURF” and “BLAGGITY BLAGGITY,” it’s no wonder this irresistibly silly book is such a hit with the kids.
6We Should All Be Feminists
In this personal, eloquently argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. In a USA Today video in which Kaling peruses the shelves at LA’s Skylight Books, she says: “I think if you read this, then more people would be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a human, I’m a feminist’ and would not be so scared of the term.”
7Inside Chefs’ Fridges
If you’re interested in modeling your fridge after the culinary elite, INSIDE CHEFS’ FRIDGES brings the heavenly cuisine of forty of Europe’s top chefs back down to earth. This book is an inspiring and accessible collection of exclusive insider secrets in which culinary genius meets domestic reality.
8The Marriage Plot
It’s the early 1980s. Madeleine Hanna is a dutiful English major writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life—in the form of two very different guys—intervenes. “The Mindy Project” challenges this hotly debated convention in its fourth season.
Actress Anjelica Huston chronicles her eventful Hollywood years, including falling in love with Jack Nicholson and her adventurous, turbulent relationship with him and his intoxicating friends. In her New York Times “By the Book” interview, Kaling names it as one of the books on her nightstand.
10I Was Told There’d Be Cake
Sloane Crosley’s I WAS TOLD THERE’D BE CAKE chronicles the struggles and unexpected beauty of her modern urban life—just like Kaling’s character Mindy Lahiri. This is a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character who aims for the stars but hits the ceiling. Kaling considers this the perfect companion for a Hawaiian holiday. I’d pack it!
When Kaling was growing up, Jane Austen was one of her favorite authors. This classic follows Emma Woodhouse, a financially independent woman who does not consider marriage for herself but finds amusement in playing matchmaker with the lives of others. Sounds like the makings of a “The Mindy Project” episode to me!
12The Blind Side
Mindy Kaling once said she’d want Michael Lewis to write her life story. THE BLIND SIDE tells the extraordinary true story of Michael Oher, who is plucked out of an unstable living situation and embraced by an evangelical Republican family. Their love is the first great force that alters the world’s perception of the boy, who went on to be among the most highly paid athletes in the NFL.
13Why Not Me?
I couldn’t finish this list without recommending Mindy’s own memoir, WHY NOT ME?. In it, she shares just how hard “adulting” can be—from falling in love at work to seeking new friendships in lonely places to attempting to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever. Her most notable life lesson? Believing that you can have a place in Hollywood when you’re always reminded that no one looks like you.