The Next Best Thing

A Novel
Narrated by: Olivia Thirlby
Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
4 out of 5 stars (550 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood....

At 23, Ruth Saunders headed west with her 70-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she's hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Big Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie's going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother's impending nuptials.

Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show-business culture, with an insider's ear and eye for writer's rooms, bad behavior backstage, and set politics, Jennifer Weiner's new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it's like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

©2012 Jennifer Weiner, Inc. (P)2012 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A writer of innate brilliance." ( The Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Jennifer Weiner's best-selling novels twist humor and topical issues into can't-put-down stories." ( Houston Chronicle)
"Hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful, Weiner shows she can write with exquisite tenderness as well as humor." ( The Miami Herald)

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

Funny Story!

Jennifer Weiner has a great sense of humor and it's as good as ever in The Next Best Thing. One reviewer mentioned that there was a lot of whining. Maybe so, but it's funny whining. Although it's a lighthearted story, it puts the Hollywood culture of shallow beauty into perspective, while emphasizing the importance of inner resources and heart. Some of the obstacles Ruthie (the main character) had to surmount became a bit tedious in places, but I found myself rooting for her and had a hard time putting the book down.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A tad annoying, but leaves a memorable aftertaste

If you've never read Jennifer Weiner before, then start with Good In Bed. For Weiner fans The Next Best Thing is an informative saunter through the glitz, glam and gross extravagance of the television industry.

The author does so well with the daily injustices thrust on over-weight women, but her portrayal of one with a disfigured face, with a hot body (of which Weiner is excessively enamored) was off and even grating.

Still, 
Jennifer Weiner delivers her normal humorous and evocative fare, even with the trite, predictable, pat ending that you generally only see in, well, television sit-coms.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

This was a different kind of book for me

What did you love best about The Next Best Thing?

That is was different and unique story, interesting subject the TV industry

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

Her voice was was irritating to me. I think this makes a better read than an audible book

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 08-15-12

Great story, great narrator!

What made the experience of listening to The Next Best Thing the most enjoyable?

Olivia Thirbly was a great voice for the main character, Ruthie. She didn't overact or ham it up, like many tend to do. She kind of gave it to us straight, in a good way. Her voice made me sympathize with the character without feeling sorry for her or pitying her.

This is definitely a summer, chick-lit book, but with substance. The usual non-sense, reality suspending scenarios that you usually find in a chick-lit book are missing here and thank goodness!

We get an insiders look into making it in Hollywood, getting a tv show produced and being a writer. The characters were well written and had believable relationships. The dialogue felt real--this is how real people talk and express themselves.
Would definitely recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it! Great story, Great narrator

Would you listen to The Next Best Thing again? Why?

Yes. Really liked and related to the characters. Loved the insider information on how tv shows are made.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ruth. She makes the same mistakes all young women make when starting out = and learns from them. You root for her and in the end, she wins.

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

Never heard her before, but I will look for her again.

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

No. I liked the book immensely but wanted to take it in and process the story in pieces.

Any additional comments?

Real dialogue. Believable characters. Fun to hear the back story of life in Hollywood.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Have to admit I didn't finish listening to the book. Got about half through before I decided to move on. Didn't find the story particularly interesting and the reader ....well she sounded as if she was reading.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Whiny and surprisingly mean-spirited

Except for the surprise ending (which in hindsight was fully in line with the deus ex machina approach of this author), I couldn't find much to like about this book. I'm all for an author rooting for her main character, but when the narrative is so clearly partial to the heroine, the readers find it hard to sympathize with that character (why even bother when the author goes out of her way to accommodate her), and even more so when the heroine is so whiny, mean-spirited (all the while rationalizing her own bigotry), and a borderline stalker.

As for the narration, I found it tolerable but not very credible: the narrator often lapses into the very same question intonation for statements that the heroine criticizes in others.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I love this book!

I've read Good in Bed years ago and I noticed that Jennifer Weiner had a book coming up next month so I decided to purchase this one. I am so glad I did. I loved this book soo much! The narration was fantastic, the story was fast paced and I love the characters. Ruthie, her boyfriend Dave and the grandma are such great characters. I was so sad when it ended. I really wished this book was longer. I'm purchasing another JW book and I hope it's as good as The Next Best Thing. I highly recommend this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Next Best Thing

This book was so wonderful it left me wanting more. Maybe Jennifer Weiner could write a little follow up including Ruth and Dave’s wedding. xoxo

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book.

Loved the modern wit. I loved the characters and the story. It helps me be cowith my reality as a writer.