Funny Books

  • Rom Com 

    There are certain things I will never apologize for and one of those is my unabashed love for romantic comedies. I grew up watching and re-watching favorites like LEGALLY BLONDE, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, and YOU’VE GOT MAIL and as a grown-up I will jump to watch any movie described as “the best rom-com since 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU.” But, if I’m being honest, there are just not a lot of rom-com movies out recently to sufficiently scratch an itch. There are dozens of online news stories about the decline (and recent resurgence) of romantic comedies since the golden age of rom-coms. Here are my suggestions for book – to – movie romances (because no one wants a CLUELESS reboot. 

    5LANDLINE
    By Rainbow Rowell
    (2014)

    Fans of the genre will know that the best rom-coms are able to bring a tear to your eye (I’ll refer again to 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU) and this one balances the emotions of a failing relationship with all the tingly, giggly laughter of young love. It’s clear that Georgie’s marriage may be at its end when her husband heads to Nebraska for Christmas with her kids and without her. Then, Georgie discovers she has a chance to reconnect with her husband Neal – through a magical rotary phone that calls the Neal of 15 years earlier. Speaking with younger Neal the week before he proposes may be just the ticket to save their marriage. It is one of life’s greatest injustices that there is no screen adaptation of this deeply satisfying romantic comedy. 

     

    5.13 Twenties GirlTWENTIES GIRL: A NOVEL 
    By Sophie Kinsella
    (2009)

    I will put Sophie Kinsella on booklists as long as I am making booklists because she is queen. And because our world is unfair, only two of her books have been adapted for the screen: CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC and the still-in-production CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? This book, TWENTIES GIRL, is the story of Lara and the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie who won’t rest until her treasured necklace is returned to her. As Lara – busy with relationship drama, a struggling business, and a busy life in London – helps Sadie to find peace, Sadie is more concerned with setting Lara up with the dreamy (but living) American named Ed. Seeing ghost-Sadie decked out in flapper wear on the streets of modern London as she meddles in Lara’s personal life (for the better) is the movie we all deserve – please, someone, make it. 

     

    5.13 The Hating GameTHE HATING GAME: A NOVEL
    By Sally Thorne
    (2016)

    This one doesn’t quite belong on this list, because a film version is currently listed as “in development” on IMDB – but until I have a cast-list and trailer I’ll be begging for a movie of this book. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are top-notch executive assistants to the CEOS of the new Bexley-Gamin Publishing company and they each hate everything about the other. Things start to really come to a head when both Lucy and Josh are put up for an executive level promotion and Josh takes advantage of the new tension to explore some other more romantic tension. Be advised that this book is not the “cleanest read” on this list, but it is a banter-filled riff on a classic love story - one totally ready for the Hollywood treatment. 

     

    5.13 Tell Me Three ThingsTELL ME THREE THINGS
    By Julie Buxbaum
    (2016)

    After her father elopes, Jessie is uprooted from Chicago to live in “the Valley.” Jessie is still mourning the death of her mother two years earlier when she suddenly has to cope with a stepfamily, a giant mansion, a new prep school, and mean girls at school. When she receives an anonymous email from “Somebody/Nobody” (“SN”) offering to guide her through the ins and outs of her new school Jessie is suspicious at first, until she accepts she might need help. This book lays its cards out pretty quickly, but even this familiar teenage rom-com ground is filled with heartfelt lessons about love and loss. In the same vein as SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA or YOU’VE GOT MAIL this tale of young online love would be fun to see playout on screen. 

     

    5.13 Vinegar GirlVINEGAR GIRL: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW RETOLD
    By Anne Tyler
    (2016) 

    In this retelling of a classic romantic comedy, Kate Battista is the daughter of a scientist who is convinced he is nearing a breakthrough but only if he can hold on to his research assistant Pyotr. Pyotr’s visa is about to expire and Dr. Battista is desperate to keep him – desperate enough to propose a green-card marriage between his older daughter and his thickly-accented Russian assistant. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is familiar rom-com territory, but this laugh-out-loud-able reimaging deserves its day on the silver screen.

     
  •  Laugh Out Loud Nonfiction

    I am an avid non-fiction reader, and as such, serious topics sort of come with the territory. While I enjoy the occasional 800+ pages tome about historical events or people, inspiring self-help selections, or the latest book from a scientist much smarter than I’ll ever hope to be, full of words I can’t pronounce and concepts that merit an earnest Google-ing, I also like my non-fiction with a side of comedy.

    In a day and age where the headlines are often dark and depressing, we can benefit from the wisdom of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote, "A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing." There are options to suit every person’s sense of humor with authors willing and able to provide respite from the weighty topics of many non-fiction books and use their wit and wisdom to cast the world in a more comedic hue.  

    When life feels a bit too gloomy, and laughing out loud is what the doctored ordered, reach for a library book with some humor, like one of the options below!

    2.18 I Might Regret ThisI MIGHT REGRET THIS
    By Abbi Jacobson
    (2018) 

    Part comedic memoir, part travel journal, this familiar story of a woman who, after a break-up, embarks on a solo road trip across the U.S., may feel trite or contrived in less funny, and capable hands. Instead, Jacobson creates an honest and relatable ride-along with plenty of self-reflection and laughs along the way.

     

    2.18 And Then You Die of Dysentery…AND THEN YOU DIE OF DYSENTERY
    By Lauren Reeves
    (2018) 

    With a healthy dose of nostalgia for the iconic computer game, this book gleans important life lessons on being an adult from the 8-bit world of The Oregon Trail. Complete with pixelated art work, quips like “It’s still fashionable to dress like a pioneer: you just have to put a bird on it.”, and plenty of pop culture references, this is a book for the generation who played this game growing up and “just can’t even” with adulting.

     

    2.18 CalypsoCALYPSO
    By David Sedaris
    (2018) 

    If you’ve never read a book by David Sedaris, start now with his newest collection of essays! Sedaris has both a keen observational eye to spot the absurdity in the everyday world around us, and a sharp writing style to accent the hilarity that comes with being human. Whether he’s describing ways he’s enslaved to his FitBit, his admittedly odd family gatherings, or the friendly fox who follows him on walks through the woods, there’s always something relatable, heartwarming, or laugh out loud funny to enjoy with every turn of the page.

     

    2.18 Everythings TrashEVERYTHING’S TRASH, BUT IT’S OK
    By Phoebe Robinson
    (2018) 

    How can topics like race, feminism, gender, and skin care be funny? Robinson has accomplished just that in this charming and poignant collection of essays. A mix of cultural criticism rolled together with hilarious experiences from her life, this book will not only make you laugh, but will lift you up and help you feel like there is hope for the world after all. 

     

    2.18 Your Dad Stole My RakeYOUR DAD STOLE MY RAKE
    By Tom Papa
    (2018) 

    If you’re looking for a clean, family oriented observational comedy book, look no further! In the vein of Jim Gaffigan, stand-up comedian Tom Papa writes about the often ridiculous situations that accompany parenting and family life, and does so without making anyone blush. 

     
  • Funny Book

    I love to read books about comedians, comedy’s impact in the world, and books that are just plain funny.  I’ve been known to send many jokes to friends and loved ones because I can’t resist sharing a good laugh with those I love.  There are countless books that contribute to the laughs in the world, and I find them irresistible!  Here are a few favorites that are too good for me to keep them to myself, in a few of my favorite packages:

    Comedian Biography

    A comedian’s biography will usually overview their life, and can sometimes examine their personal demons as well as their greatest triumphs, as is the case with Dave Itzkoff’s book about Robin Williams called ROBIN.  One of the most popular of this group has to be BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey, which not only talks about the course of her career, but is sprinkled along the way with her (often hilarious) observations.  It’s well worth the read, and the audiobook, narrated by Fey herself, is a winner.  This category also definitely needs to mention Billy Crystal’s STILL FOOLIN' 'EM, the story of his life which has its share of laughs combined with heart, personal loss and redemption, and some absolutely amazing experiences.

    Comedy as the Subject

    Many books love to talk about comedy as a phenomenon, especially because their stories are usually a roller-coaster-ride of their rise in popularity, bumps along the way, and eventual fall or translation into something new.  SEINFELDIA: HOW A SHOW ABOUT NOTHING CHANGED EVERYTHING by Jennifer Armstrong and AS YOU WISH: INCONCEIVABLE TALES FROM THE MAKING OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE by Cary Elwes are excellent examples.  But my personal favorite is probably THE DAILY SHOW: AN ORAL HISTORY AS TOLD BY JON STEWART, THE CORRESPONDENTS, STAFF, AND GUESTS by Chris Smith.  Not only is this the story of a show which singled-handedly created a new genre of humor, but an overview of the major events of America during its time, especially the political landscape and its shifts.  It’s an interesting way to review the events of the past two decades, to be sure.

    Comedy as the Content

    Lastly, you can just go straight for the jokes.  There are quite a few excellent comedians out there who are willing to package up their trusted material and let the masses experience them without the cost of admission.  Ellen DeGeneres has published a delightful collection of bits in SERIOUSLY... I'M KIDDING, but my favorite comedian-turned-author has to be Jim Gaffigan, whose titles even crack me up: DAD IS FAT, and FOOD: A LOVE STORY being a couple of favorites. These books are best suited to audiobook listening because they are usually performed by the author, and you get the benefit of all their skillful delivery and timing.