I had a lot of preconceptions about seeing B.J. Novak in person. For better or for worse, I had watched the American version of The Office from the beginning to the end. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Yeah, but no matter how good his book is, he’ll still be Ryan…”
It’s true that we made it to the event late and had to wait behind the crowd of college-looking kids- some of whom seemed genuinely baffled that we had brought an actual child to an event promoting a children’s book, so we couldn’t hear very well. At least 80% of the audience looked too young to have thought seriously about having children (most of them were buying his collection of short stories, One More Thing, instead of The Book with No Pictures)
That didn’t stop him.
He had one of those gigantic books, as large as some children, so everyone in the crowd could see, and he launched into the reading of the book as if the kids in the front row were his only audience. Needless to say, he nailed it. A few pages in, and my wife turns to me: “We had better buy this book!”
The signing line took quite a bit of time. In-between customers, his face would relax into an I-wish-I-were-home-already fatigue, but as soon as the next book was pushed in front of him, he managed to pull out a warm smile for each of his fans, although I like to think that my daughter got the biggest smile of all.
Ideal date: Screw that! With a guy this good with kids? I’m taking this (obviously, fictional dream sequence of a) date with my wife and asking him to babysit!
P.S. Incidentally, if you are a parent or an educator or in some way responsible for reading to children, and you want to win stuff like, free books or a visit from B.J. Novak, check out the video contest.