Book Review: “One More Thing” by B.J. Novak

Okay, so in another attempt to procrastinate and avoid all my responsibilities, I was dusting. A new low. Anyway, I found this book that I bought literally a year ago because I read two paragraphs that were hysterical. The lines were:

“‘And that’s the puzzling thing about dark matter,’ said the scientist at the end of our planetarium tour. ‘It makes up over ninety percent of our universe, and yet nobody knows what it is!’

People on the tour chuckled politely, like Wow, isn’t that a fun fact?

But I looked closer at the scientist, and I could tell something from the smirky little smile on his fat smug face:

[He] knew exactly what dark matter was.

And this is what drew me completely and utterly into the book. To me, this is such a gorgeous writing style. The book is titled, as the name of my article so helpfully suggests: One More Thing by B.J. Novak. People might recognize this name by his work in “The Office” where he was a producer, writer, and actor. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV so I didn’t know this about him, but reading only a little of this book, this guy is obviously hilarious. The book is a collection of short stories that I am slowly working through because, despite being unwilling to admit it, I am actually insanely busy and don’t have time to read like I did in high school. Even when I had time to read, I usually read fantasy fiction stuff, because I always found it more interesting. But the well written insights about humanity that Novak manages to convey in 1-7 pages per short story, delivered through sarcasm or ridiculous scenarios, are honestly fantastic.

The first short story, I thought, was the best rendition of The Tortoise and the Hare story that I have ever read. Titled The Rematch, it is essentially a follow-up about where the tortoise and the hare are in life. The Hare is described in the very first page of the book, with the paragraph:

“The hare gained weight, then lost weight; turned to religion, then another less specific religion. The hare got into yoga; shut himself indoors on a self-imposed program to read all the world’s greatest novels; then traveled the world; then did some volunteer work. Everything helped a little bit, at first; but nothing really helped. After a while, the hare realized what the simplest part of him had known from the beginning: he was going to have to rematch the tortoise.”

If you don’t find comedy in that, you have no soul. This was so funny because you hear stories like this all the time. Someone does bad on an exam, and they decide to “get their lives back together” by meditation, or turning to Buddhism, or going on some self-fulfilling quest to make all of Julia Child’s dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And even just the way it was written, with all of the semicolons and bouncy sort of diction you get when you say it out loud (which I did because I thought it was so funny that I had to tell my mom and sister) added to the humor of it. And the stories end kinda interestingly too, where you get weird little insights on life and stuff. That first excerpt I had, from the story Dark Matter actually ended kind of sweet, and it made me appreciate people a little bit, because it showed the complete thought process of someone and how that person viewed other people. So, if you wanna read like a very funny book, One More Thing is definitely a good option.

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