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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, February 2014 - If the name B.J. Novak rings a bell for you, you were probably at some point a fan of The Office; he played Ryan Howard in over 150 episodes and behind the scenes, wrote, co-produced, and directed dozens of others. Considering his resume, I knew it was safe to assume many of his stories within would be funny – and they were – but I was pleasantly surprised by how many were just as clever and imaginative. Novak has a knack for observation, and he uses it to create situations that are as honest as they are insane. From the alternate telling of the “Tortoise and the Hare” to the tale of a boy who defies his parents for a chance to win a $10,000 cereal box prize (and discovers his real father in the process), reading his book was like taking a glimpse into the daydreams of a very creative person. And for comedic delivery, listeners are in expert hands with narration from Novak himself, fellow Office alums Mindy Kaling, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson, as well as list of celebrity friends that includes Katy Perry and Juilianne Moore. Fair warning: unlike his TV-writing days, there are no censors to bleep these stories! Normally I can be a little averse to this kind of writing, but for this collection of zany, outrageous tales, Novak manages to pull off this style. —Sam, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction.

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes - only to discover how claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins - turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We also meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook. Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just...down.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element that might just make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: They share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the listener.

With special appearances by Lena Dunham, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Julianne Moore, Carey Mulligan, Katy Perry, Jason Schwartzman, Emma Thompson, and Rainn Wilson.

©2014 B. J. Novak (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"It is Mr. Novak’s gift for channeling the way we talk and think today that propels many of the funnier tales here...his precisionist eye for detail, his ability to capture the odd thoughts that burble through his characters’ minds...Mr. Novak is nimble at showing how easily the ordinary can morph into the extraordinary and adept at making us see the surreal in the everyday." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
"Baseline clever and fresh, at best spectacularly perceptive, and always commanding, Novak’s ingeniously ambushing stories of longing, fear, pretension, and confusion reveal the quintessential absurdities and transcendent beauty of our catchas-catch-can lives." ( Booklist)
"The bulk of Novak’s stories are comedic, and more than a few are surprisingly tender.... Written by an author in complete control of his craft." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    1,436
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    889
  • 3 Stars
    439
  • 2 Stars
    181
  • 1 Stars
    138

Performance

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  • 4 Stars
    562
  • 3 Stars
    236
  • 2 Stars
    79
  • 1 Stars
    63

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

It gets better, and better, and better, and better

Starting off this book, I said "oh noooooo" to myself. The Tortoise and the Hare has been done, it's not clever, every essayist has re-done that story. Novak's version wasn't great, I was dreading the rest of this book. Then he surprised me. The stories not only got better, they kept getting better. I loved this book.

Novak's stories are full of just really smart humor. It is a glimpse into the mind of a super observant guy who then has the talent to turn his observations into approachable, clever, and funny stories. I don't think I've ever used the word poignant before, but many of these stories are. They are deep and thoughtful while being witty and modern. I found myself thinking about several of the stories and telling people about them. His stories about John Grisham and Elvis (both fictional) were just awesome, and I also really loved "Missed Connection," "Outran the Rain," and "Confucius."

It's not just that the stories are great. They rhythm of the stories are masterful. There's no tedium or predictability that often come with essays or short story collections. The order they are put in allows the reader (listener) to laugh out loud, and be surprised, and look forward to the next story, and wish for more--it was really smartly done.

I know us "listeners" of books are in the minority, but in this case, we win the prize. The narration of this book makes it just that much better. Mindy Kaling, Rain Wilson, and Jenna Fischer are such a treat, and Novak's narration brings the stories to life even more.

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Quirky Bursts of Humor

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is a collection of 60+ short stories, some just a line or two and some that you can really sink your teeth into. Novak is a stand up comic and performed these stories in front of an audience while he was working on the book. These stories are smart, literary pieces that showcase Novak’s quirky sense of humor. Novak definitely has some writing chops, and his stories are observant, clever, intellectual, and whimsical. There’s a range of stories and moods that keep you on your toes and entertained. Novak’s humor is offbeat and surprising and his stories thought provoking. There are even some discussion questions at the end of the book that made me laugh.

The book starts off with a story about a rematch between The Tortoise and The Hare that kicks off the book on a high note. I also really liked Missed Connection, No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg, and Julie and The Warlord. His humor is daring and bold, as you can also see in stories like The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela.

Though these stories are smart, witty and thoughtful, Novak makes them accessible. There’s something for everyone in these stories, and the short story format makes it easy to fit in whether you have time to read a little or a lot.

B.J. Novak performs most of the narration of this almost 7-hour audiobook. The stories lend themselves well to audio especially considering Novak perfected these stories before a live audience in the first place. His comic timing, energy and tone brought the stories to life and I think he was the best person to narrate this collection. Novak performs probably about 90% of the book, and there are some celebrity friends that also join in the fun. Mindy Kaling, Jenna Fischer, Emma Thompson, and Rainn Wilson perform some of the stories and made the book even more special. I don’t think I recognized Katy Perry’s voice in the book so I’ll have to go back and listen to her performances. There are audiobook credits at the end of the book so you can find out who reads each story.

The humor in One More Thing is fresh and different. It wasn’t haha lol funny for me personally, but more on the clever and insightful side. Keep in mind the humor is on the adult side – I don’t want you to be surprised by any choice words if you’re listening with any young and impressionable ones. On that note, B.J. Novak also has a children’s book coming out this fall called The Book with No Pictures.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Creative, original, funny

I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s a collection of short stories (some very short) that really shows off B.J. Novak’s talents. He’s creative, original, funny, and a good writer. The audiobook version was especially enjoyable, featuring Novak himself reading most of the stories, along with fellow “The Office” cast members Jena Fisher, Mandy Kayling, and more.

My three-star rating is probably more of a three-and-a-half. The reason I don’t rate it higher is the inconsistency of the stories. Some just completely fell flat for me -- maybe because I wasn’t listening on the same plane as he was writing, and thus not really his fault. ☺

Fortunately, the flat stories are among the shortest, and it’s never very long to the next creative gem.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Meh

I struggled to find the humor I was anticipating. Truthfully, I was bored in my quest to find something funny.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Rollercoaster

Some of these stories were fantastic--clever, relatable, hilarious. Some fell flat and should've been shelved. I'd recommend it for a light thrill ride when you hit the good ones. Narration was excellent across the board.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leanna
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 09-26-15

On Fleek

Any additional comments?

I'm typically not a fan of collections of short stories. I feel this way largely because I almost always think the story ends right when it is getting to the good part which is irritating. Then while I am irritated that the story is over, I am required to think about something completely different when the new stories starts. I have an irrational resentment of this micromanagement of how I enjoy creative minds. So, I typically do not read or listen to short stories. BUT, B.J. Novak's book does not suffer from this problem. Stories are full, flushed, and funny. Definitely, give this a try, and laugh at the ridiculous outrage and twists of fate to which you are introduced.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Skip the print - go for the audiobook

Would you consider the audio edition of One More Thing to be better than the print version?

Absolutely

What did you like best about this story?

The variety of stories and variety of delivery due to the number of narrators.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

These stories were written to be read aloud, and these actors do a great job.

If you could take any character from One More Thing out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Sophia. You have to listen to understand.

Any additional comments?

I have listened to this three times now, and will probably listen many more.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible

Would you consider the audio edition of One More Thing to be better than the print version?

I don't have the print version. But hearing Ryan read it is the best.

What was one of the most memorable moments of One More Thing?

There are some stories that were stunningly good/evocative, and I brought a friend over to listen to them while we made breakfast. She loved them too. There are several stories in the 60+ (some are only a minute long and are sort of a stand-up bit, but many are plenty long) that are beyond excellent; many more that are excellent; and a few that are merely very good.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Nope.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I wanted to stretch it out. It's got a density to it, and I don't mean density where you have to dissect it like a text in a fourth-year English class. I mean I need to pause it after the story is done in order to process and think about the implications it raised, or the disruption it caused in my head.

Any additional comments?

This is the best book of short stories I've ever read, and that's from someone with a literature degree who has read a number of anthologies. Highly, highly recommend.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hilarious and Sometimes Emotionally Painful

Would you listen to One More Thing again? Why?

I plan on listening to it again. There's a lot I may have missed the first time around and I think the messages in many of the stories will be more poignant depending on where the reader/listener is in their life.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is a collection of short stories so there are many characters. I'd say that the writer/narrator is my favorite character because they are all extensions of him.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is his first novel and he does a great job!

If you could take any character from One More Thing out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Can I skip picking one of a multitude of random characters and just take B.J. Novak to dinner?

Any additional comments?

It was a little difficult to get used to the format but I got over that quickly. This is a collection of interesting, funny and often poignant short stories. Some are just for fun and most ask some interesting philosophical questions. I recommend the audiobook version specifically because the author is the narrator and the collection of actors who read for it are fantastic. It's kind of like a radio play and I loved it. Definitely entertaining and worth a listen.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

And now for something completely different

I have to say, i was extremely sceptic when i started listening. when i was listening to the first few stories, the main impression was - come on - Alice Munro writes great literary short stories, The Curious case of Benjamin Button, is a brillian Novella, and F.S.F wrote more of those, why am i wasting my time on something that sounds like materials for a really funny, but still, at most a comic TV series?

When i reached a story about a dating war lord and a story about John Grisham, i started laughing out loud, and got other people to listen in with me.
As of the Artifical intelligence story, i started truely appreciating the writing (for more than some short sketch writing).

So for sceptic literature lovers - this is not F.S.F, or Alice Munro, or Raymond Carver, it's different, completely different.
Contemporary, i would say :-)
Touching, relevant, talks to the reader.
Most importantly - despite my reservations, i truely enjoyed the listen. (as the previous reviewer said, there's also a benfit of a brilliant performance, feels like it was written for an audio recording).

on a side note, the 3rd story - "no one goes to heaven to meet...." reminded me of a book i read by an Israeli Author - "The World of the End".


10 of 13 people found this review helpful