by B. J. Novak
read by the author
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: lots of language, both mild and strong. Most of it unnecessary, but I don’t think I expected anything less. Is in the adult fiction section of the bookstore, but I bet older teens would like it.
I picked this up because people at work were raving about it. Said it was hilarious. And I decided that I need some humor in my life. So, even though it’s by an actor I’ve never heard of (I didn’t watch The Office, though he was the “other guy” — the one that I didn’t recognize – in Saving Mr. Banks), I figured why not give it a try.
It says it’s “stories and more stories” but I think it’s more “jokes, observations, and a couple of stories.” There were 64 in the book, and sometimes that felt derivative. Not that I minded: some of the shortest stories were some of the funniest ones. Novak is a great narrator, by the way, and he got a whole bunch of other celebrities to help him out, though he used Rainn Wilson and Mindy Kahling the most
My favorite of the whole book was “The Something by John Grisham,” where John Grisham’s newest novel gets published with his place-saving title instead of a “real” one. I was guffawing at the idea that Grisham’s novel would not only get published with such a bad title, but get rave reviews. Just because he’s John Grisham. (I suppose there’s a poignant commentary there on publishing and fame, but I was laughing too hard to find it.) I did like “No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg”, which is an imagining of what Heaven will be like, and how, maybe, we won’t want to spend time with people we didn’t know well in life, even if they are family. Some of them — like the “Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela — made me uncomfortable, and I thought Novak’s humor was more mean than observant. But, for the most part, like in Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle” — a spoof on Encyclopedia Brown — or “Bingo” — where three cousins are vying to win Bingo at a resort, only to lose to their grandpa — or “Closure” — where a girl whose boyfriend has broken up with him gets absolute closure I was highly amused. And the discussion questions at the end of a couple stories, as well as the end of the book, I thought were a nice touch.
It’s like David Sedaris without the sardonic undertones.
I’m not sure I would have liked this as much if I hadn’t have listened to it. (Much like me and David Sedaris, come to think of it.) There’s something about hearing jokes, as opposed to reading them, that makes the humor work better for me. It’s not a deep book, or one that’s going to stay with me for a long time. But it was amusing, and it did make the drive back and forth to work enjoyable.