BJ Novak’s One More Thing is best listened to if you - like me - enjoy a celebrity cameo. To hear Emma Thompson read poetry, or NBC’s The Office alums Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer read the parts of a warlord and his date discuss the ethics of, well, being a warlord over flourless chocolate cake, among other things, helps the stories come to life in a much more visceral way.
I normally don’t go for short story collections, and were this not one of our two "unselected" Literally book club picks this month, I probably wouldn’t have registered its existence. That being said, whenever I do find myself in the middle of a book of short stories, I kick myself for overlooking the genre. Bite-sized and easy to plow through, short stories are the perfect pre-bedtime medium for those of us who fall asleep after three pages, or have a short attention span.
Novak narrates the audiobook, and he’s joined by a host of celebrity guests, playing various characters. Lena Dunham plays a sex doll in love with her owner in one of my favorite stories in the book. Fellow Office-alum Mindy Kaling reads her bizarre Trader Joe’s-themed Craigslist Missed Connection. Julianne Moore plays a woman who pines for personal growth coach Tony Robbins in another stellar story.
An Office alum himself, Novak’s background is in writing, and it shows. Full of ironic humor, and written/read with colloquial familiarity and a dry, deadpan delivery, many of the stories center around people who live in a world where reality (or self-awareness?) seems to have shifted a bit. Some stories hooked me right away: a group of friends tries to schedule an intervention for a party-loving pal, and their plans spiral out of control, or a young boy wins $100,000 from a cereal box contest and is led to some wild revelations about his family. Others were a little tough to get into. I do think that’s the cool thing about short stories, though. You can go from “why do I care about this?” to totally engrossed within a matter of moments. Instant gratification!
This book is definitely worth a read (or listen!) in between books. Other short story books I would highly recommend are The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnaffons, which has a bit of magical realism to it, and The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, because it’s October (!!!). I also found quite a few lists of recommended titles on Goodreads that I am eager to dive into! Send me your recommendations for short story books at @literally.pdx or @ladieswholaunch_!
A few other things I’ve got my eye on this week. I know we all hate overcrowded inboxes, but there are certain emails that I do look forward to getting, and the weekly Belletrist book club newsletter is one of them. Belletrist is the brainchild of actress Emma Roberts, and not only does she and her team supply primo book recommendations, they also have a gorgeous and inspirational Insta feed that gives me lots of witchy woman vibes :) As for podcasts, I can’t get enough of Terrible, Thanks for Asking. Created by Nora McInerny, who unexpectedly lost her father, husband and unborn child within a matter of months, TTFA is a podcast that focuses on our stories of moving through grief, and it’s just so gorgeous and sad and human in the best way, and Nora is just so hilarious and compassionate.