One More Thing

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If pressed, I would probably say my first love was butter on a pop-tart. But, even though my earliest memories involve an infatuation with the snack that border on obsessive, I eventually grew out of it. Don’t get me wrong–I would 100% eat a cinnamon sugar pop-tart with butter on it right now if there was one in front of me, but I don’t seek them out like I once did.

My second love, however, was one that has gone the distance. Sweet, sweet books. There’s a reason why I was writing short stories in 2nd grade, why I devoured all the Sweet Valley High books I could get my buttery little paws on, and why I studied Literature, wrote book reviews, and still-to-this-day annotate novels. I have no interest in putting flowers on it and another run-on-sentence. It is what it is. I frikkin love books and stories–fiction or true, old or new, relate-able or ridiculous–getting lost in pages is my favorite place to be.

In 2015 I’ve read some solid books. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how college-me got to experience books in a way that was more fulfilling than present-day-me does. Well no more! I don’t care if I’m publishing it myself, won’t get a byline or a check in the mail. I wanna talk about books again. So. Here I am.

______

Not intentionally, and through no fault of my own, I started this year by reading a slew of female comedians books. Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Katie Heaney kicked off my year in books and I loved every one of them. At a certain point though I decided I needed to add a male to the mix and I stumbled upon BJ Novak’s book “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” and grabbed it.

The book is absurd. Let me get that out of the way first. Just absolutely unreal at points how bizarre it is. But it was bizarre in a way that was so familiar, so hysterical and so real that eventually the absurdity of it all was just a known presence that made the reading experience all the more enjoyable!

I was worried that because of the book’s format–no plot to follow, just a literal collection of short stories–that I wouldn’t get super into it and would tread through it with little momentum. It actually ended up being the opposite, which I think is true testament to how solid of a writer BJ Novak is. I finished the book in a little over a {very busy} week. Every time I would get that familiar “just one more chapter” impulse, it wasn’t because of a Suzanne Collins cliffhanger ploy or because I just HAD to know what happened next–it was because I wanted more of Novak’s unique and varied perspective on human nature and to see his talent on display against another story’s backdrop.

Some of the stories are incredibly short, like “If You Love Something” which is literally, in its entirety the following…

If you love something, let it go.

If you don’t love something, definitely let it go.

Basically, just drop everything, who cares.

That’s it. And honestly it was probably one of my favorite chapters in terms of LOL-factor. There are a handful of longer chapters that involved characters and plot and twists–like the “Kellogg’s (or: The Last Wholesome Fantasy of the Middle-School Boy)” story, one of the book’s longest and stand-out pieces.

What I probably enjoyed most about what Novak has done with this book is that he essentially took an odd little thought and explored it until it wasn’t worth exploring and then he stopped. So a funny idea about what happens post the infamous Turtle and Hare Race can be milked for a couple pages, get some laughs and then be moved away from. Wondering how the inventor of the train-leaves-the-station-at-this-time-yada-yada-math problem feels about his fame? Alright, let’s imagine that for a chapter and see what comes of it.

It’s the kind of random stuff that some of us just think about a little longer than most(I still have so many questions about the origin of the plot for Aristocats–was it a mispronunciation that turned into a feature length film idea or what?!) but rarely take the time to stretch our creative muscles with and see what happens. I appreciate that Novak took it upon himself to do so, and that he has the writing chops to ensure it as readable and interesting rather than just flat out ridiculous.

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