I write a lot about books that I love, that have made me cry. But how often do I write about the books that have made me laugh?
I know from experience that intelligent humor, the kind that isn’t too sharp or too obscure, can be incredibly difficult to write. I have nothing but the utmost respect for writers who are capable of it.
I find, however, that there are startlingly few books that have made me laugh recently.
When reading, I have a tendency to prefer the dark, the sad, and the melancholy. My own sense of humor is generally either extremely sarcastic or decidedly silly, with a dash of really cheesy puns thrown in. So, it can be difficult to find books that actually make me laugh out loud.
Without further ado, here are some of the best:
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
I read this book recently, and adored it. Yes, it’s a book that you mostly read for the “easter eggs” and the puzzles more than for the story, but… I’m a complete and total sucker for any nerd culture references. There were so many points in this book where I just burst out laughing, and everyone in my family looked at me when I was insane…
I was talking to a friend of mine about it, and we decided that the book might not be for everyone, but it’s the best homage to the world of nerds that anyone has ever seen, and as such, it’s spectacularly executed.
Rebel Belle, by Rachel Hawkins
This one probably wouldn’t be as funny to anyone who didn’t grow up surrounded by many of the in-jokes of the South that this book is based around. I go to school with people who say “I suwanee” instead of “I swear.” I have eaten and enjoyed Hummingbird Cake, and yes, I do understand the necessity of an apology cake every now and then. In addition to this, I go to school with a LOT of overachievers, and most of us are as competitive as they come.
So when I come across two main characters whose favorite way to diss each other is using the words that each used to beat the other in the fifth and sixth grade spelling bees, respectively?
I cannot help but burst out laughing.
I was cracking up in a Barnes and Noble as I read this book. A lot of employees probably thought I was really weird. I don’t mind.
Egg and Spoon, by Gregory Maguire
This is Maguire at his best, combining fairy tales and folktales from Russia, that I’ve grown up with my whole life long. It incorporates Maguire’s typical absolutely insane, off-the-walls tendencies, when it comes to the adventures that the characters get up to, aka the silliness, as well as some wisecracking one-liners from this particular iteration of Baba Yaga that had me very nearly in stitches.
the Eyre Affair (book one of the Thursday Next series), by Jasper Fforde
What Ready Player One is to nerd culture, this series is to literature. Combining spoof and somewhat-respectful-homage, this book was my introduction to the full-on loopiness of literary fiction. As a longtime lover of classic literature, I’m inclined to laugh at anything involving Mrs. Havisham driving a car, or people wandering into books of poetry and never coming out again. I’m also automatically captivated by the idea of sects of people so dedicated to Shakespeare and the question of who he really was that they call themselves the Radical Baconians. What can I say? I love the literature.
I’ve loved this series since I picked it up for the first time, and it remains one of my comfort books to this day.
City of Thieves, by David Benioff
This is without a doubt the darkest book on the list. It’s not a cheerful story. In fact, this book is also one of the ones that made me cry buckets of tears, and I still cry when I reread it.
But the humor.
It’s arch. It’s dry. It’s occasionally quite dirty. And most of it comes from Kolya. Oh, Kolya.
I would be very tempted to categorize this book as a tearjerker and little more. But I can never bring myself to do that, because every time I think about it, I end up laughing all over again, along with the tears.
These books are all excellent stories in their own right, in addition to the humor. They’re all some of my favorite books of all time. They’re clever, sharp, and insightful. And I adore each and every one of them.