B.J. Novak, a writer, actor, director, and text enthusiast, returned home to Cambridge this past Thursday, October 2nd. Novak graduated from Harvard University before going on to become famous on the hit NBC comedy series, The Office. This past week, he came back for an appearance at the Brattle Theatre, an event sponsored by the Harvard Book Store, to celebrate the release of his new book, The Book With No Pictures. Novak has written one other book, titled One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, but that was a book for adults, whereas his new book was written for children.
At the event this past Thursday, Novak did a reading from his book, a question-and-answer session, and a book signing. At the beginning of the event, he read to a collection of children that he asked up onto the stage. Once he finished, he opened up the floor for questions from both children and adults. When asked what his goal with this book was, he responded, “The initial goal was to see if I could write my own dream book to read to a kid. My job, when I’m with my friends’ kids, is to get a laugh from a kid. A kid’s laugh is the best.” When further prompted, he told the audience what a big advocate of text he was. He wanted, with this book, to get children interested in reading books with no pictures from an early age.
“The big L-E-S-S-O-N,” Novak said, spelling out the word and grinning when the children frowned at him, “of this book is that words have great power and are very exciting.” He wrote what is essentially a “script” for parents to read to their kids, to make them laugh even without pictures in their books. Based on the laughter from the children and adults alike in his audience, Novak far and beyond succeeded.
Questions continued from there, ranging from whether or not he has a dark side, to if he adapted a Shakespearean play, in what role would he cast Mindy Kaling, a good friend of his and a fellow writer and actress. He said no, he does not really believe he has a dark side. To the Shakespeare question, he answered that he would cast her as Beatrice, but only if he could be Benedick, in a Shakespeare-in-the-Park-style performance of Much Ado About Nothing. He also recommended, for Cambridge students, visiting the Harvard Book Store and the Brattle Theatre. He claimed it was only a coincidence that they were also sponsoring this night with his new book. “They have a Halloween week of movies here coming up,” Novak said of the Brattle Theatre. “I wish I still lived here, because I would definitely want to go to that.”
You can find more info about BJ Novak and his books at his website, www.bjnovak.com.