Two years ago when I first entered college (it’s been that long already?!) I was faced with the dilemma of how to juggle my love of reading for pleasure with all of the work I was assigned for classes. For the most part, the solution I ultimately employed was to put my reading on pause while each semester was in session and resume reading during the liberating free time of summer, winter, and spring breaks. However, I still always kept a single book by my bed just in case I needed to read a few pages to clear my mind before falling asleep at night. Clearly this wasn’t a frequent occurrence because I’ve had the same book on my dorm room nightstand for two years: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak. I chose this as my nighttime read because it is a collection of short stories, making it the perfect book to dip in and out of without having to worry about picking up where I last left off.
After far too long I have finally managed to finish reading One More Thing and I definitely have more than one thing to say about it!
+ Stories of varying lengths. This might sound a little random, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when all of the stories in a collection are the exact same length (ten or twenty pages is usually the average for most of the collections that I’ve read). Fortunately, Novak does not fall into this trap and instead has written stories that vary considerably in length. You never know how long the next story will be: ten pages? A single page? A single line? Not only does this help make the collection more dynamic and entertaining, but it also allows for the use of many different storytelling styles, techniques, etc.
+ Creatively explaining common occurrences/phrases/etc. My favorite stories were the ones that built off of everyday things that we rarely give much thought to. For instance, one story is about the man who created the infamous math problem involving trains and times of arrival. We’ve probably all been forced to do this kind of math problem in algebra class at some point in our lives, but have we ever stopped to think about who created it? (In Novak’s story, the creator is seriously peeved that he hasn’t received adequate monetary compensation or credit for his word problem.) These kinds of stories are as thought-provoking as they are hilarious because they force you to take a closer look at things that we say and do without questioning them on a regular basis.
+ Novak can write about any and all topics. Another major strength of this short story collection is the diversity in subject matter. From the traditional fable of the tortoise and the hare to idealized award ceremonies and constructive criticism of construction sites from a kid, Novak has seriously covered all of his bases with One More Thing. Though this means that you will not likely connect with every single story, it does mean that at least one is nearly guaranteed to resonate with you.
Overall, One More Thing ended up doing just what the title promises: it made me want to keep reading just one more story until I suddenly found myself at the last page wishing that there was somehow another fifty pages tucked into a secret compartment of my paperback. This book is perfect for when you need a witty chuckle or two.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Especially for fans of the TV show The Office, for which Novak was a writer.
What are your thoughts on this book? Are there any short story collections that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!