A good movie can lift your mood in mere moments. But since it's not always convenient to queue up Netflix when you're feeling sad, it always helpful to have a book that makes you smile nearby.
Fortunately, there are no shortage of funny tomes to add some laughs to your day. (Plus, we'd argue that by going the reading route instead of always tuning into cat videos on YouTube, you might be doing something good for your brain in the long term. Just a theory.) These titles never fail to make us — at the very least — crack a smile. They even make us do spit takes in public sometimes, but whatever. That's a price we're willing to pay for a good giggle.
Have a suggestion for another funny read? We're all ears! But for now, here are the books we turn to when we need a little pick-me-up — or even when we don't.
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life By Samantha Irby Irby, the author of the blog bitchesgottaeat, brought us even deeper into her hilarious mind with this essay collection. You will actually laugh out loud. Self-identifying curmudgeons will especially identify with Irby.
At Freddie's Penelope Fitzgerald Everyone in this book is memorable, but no one so much as Freddie. who watches over a large, shabby theater school in the 1960s with a constant flourish of drama. It's a perfectly funny romp of weird students and their even weirder teachers.
Trust No Aunty By Maria Qamar Maria Qamar has made a career out of translating her experiences growing up in a big Indian family into pop art comics. And she's good at it, too — her Instagram page, Hatecopy, has over 100 thousand followers. In this vibrant book, bursting with illustrations, real-life anecdotes, and general hilarity, Qamar teaches a person how to navigate different, but equally overbearing, species of "aunties."
Good Omens By Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett According to a prophecy written by a witch named Agnes Nutter in 1655, the world's set to end in, oh...a few days from the start of Good Omens. Angels from heaven and demons from hell are gathering for the end of the world, but not everyone's happy about it. Crowley and Aziraphale like living on earth, and are desperate for things to stay as they are. The angel and demon band together to find (and kill) the Antichrist, who was planted on earth years ago as an infant. The only problem? No one knows where the kid is. This delightful, charming book will change the way you think about humans, the cosmos, and good and evil — all while making you laugh.
The Bedwetter By Sarah Silverman Bet you didn't know that Sarah Silverman used to wet the bed. Well, she did. And if she's giving that away in the title, you can assume that the rest of the book will be a tell-all adventure told with Silverman's signature irreverent humor. The memoir is a mix of show biz stories, memories from a New Hampshire childhood, and, of course, quite a lot of sexually explicit jokes. It's Sarah Silverman! Would you expect anything else?
Photo: Grand Central Publishing.
I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence By Amy Sedaris We would never, ever besmirch the brilliance of David Sedaris. (He's of course on this list!) But there are certain moments when we think maybe his sister Amy might be the better social satirist. No, seriously — her particular strain of parodying women's roles in culture are ridiculously on point, not to mention ridiculously funny. Don't believe us? Read'em and weep. From laughing, obviously.
Photo: Riverhead Books.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake By Sloane Crosley Ever wonder how an adult woman winds up with oodles of plastic ponies hidden in all the nooks and crannies of her apartment? Take note: Here's the answer — and it's hilarious. Fans of David Sedaris will adore this essay collection: Crosley's snarky wit is spot-on.
Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins.
Yes Please By Amy Poehler You might have expected that any book by Amy Poehler would be full of gut-tickling witticisms and general hilarity. But the best thing about this book — which takes the form of stories, essays, and even haiku (specifically, a haiku on plastic surgery), among others — is that it's not just funny: It's also empowering. So you'll LOL but you also might be inspired to go out there and conquer the world. Win-win.
Photo: Courtesy of Plume.
You Can't Touch My Hair Phoebe Robinson This is a funny book about things that are actually not funny — including how few casting calls are looking for Black women, and why it is so not okay to walk up to someone and ask if you can touch their curls. But sometimes the best way to tackle a tough topic is with some humor, and Phoebe Robinson has that trick totally mastered. For more on the book, check out our interview with the woman herself right here.
Photo: Courtesy of Doubleday.
American Housewife By Helen Ellis A newlywed whose co-op neighbor drives her past the brink of sanity. A wife who spends her days measuring the minutes by vacuuming glitter. In this highly satirical, wholly hilarious collection, Ellis turns the idea of the bon-bon eating stay-at-home woman on its head. Perfect for Dave Sedaris fans who long for a more humorous take on the gender gap.
A Confederacy of Dunces By John Kennedy Toole This Pulitzer Prize-winning book tracks the hijinks of the unforgettable Ignatius J. Reilly as he blunders through a series of jobs in New Orleans. The 30-year-old arrogant medievalist is full of hilarious quirks: he lives (and torments) his mother, writes a book that no one will read, and goes to the movies just so he can yell at the screen. But his stagnant life changes when a policeman mistakes him for a vagrant, and he's forced to get a job and attempt to integrate into the "real world," a world he had, for so long, wanted no part of.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling Life advice, Mindy Kaling style, this delightful debut is chock-full of embarrassing moments and real talk-wisdom, traversing everything from dating to friendships to fame.
Photo: Vintage Books.
I Feel Bad About My Neck By Nora Ephron This collection of essays on all things womanhood from the late, great Nora Ephron charts territory from why she wanted to wear turtlenecks in her later years to romantic and career advice from her early days. Brilliant and witty in her signature style, this is one we turn to again and again.
Photo: Vintage Books.
One More Thing (Stories and Other Stories) By B.J. Novak Okay, okay. You were expecting memoir. But this book is actually proof that Novak is a skilled storyteller with a knack for making weird situations into an opportunity to laugh out loud. (See also: The Office.)
Photo: Countryman Press.
The Joy of Leaving Your Shit All Over the Place By Jennifer McCartney Marie Kondo may have swept up the nation with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But McCartney comes out swinging for allowing yourself to make a mess — and she might be onto something here.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl By Issa Rae Rae — whose HBO series based on this book, Insecure, finally hits the small screen this fall — has a knack for making the already awkward even more awkward, and then falling even further down the awkward hole for her audience's benefit. But she's also remarkably honest about her faults and fuck-ups as a human being, and those moments often wind up being the funniest.
Photo: Back Bay Books.
Barrel Fever By David Sedaris We definitely recommend picking up this Sedaris title when you're down in the dumps, but to be honest, you really can't go wrong with any of his stories. Need proof? Get a load of this holiday letter he wrote. We laugh-cried actual tears because of this one.
Photo: Harry N. Abrams.
The Rap Yearbook By Shea Serrano As the subtitle spells out, this book presents "The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed." You'll laugh — and you'll learn something. It's a win-win.
Photo: Flatiron Books.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things By Jenny Lawson "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos." Ahem. Read this one.
Photo: Reagan Arthur / Little, Brown.
Bossypants By Tina Fey Seriously, when has Tina Fey not made you laugh?
Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down by Rosencrans Baldwin Rosencrans has always been obsessed with everything French. But when he and his wife, Rachel, move there for 18 months, the Paris he loves and the Paris he experiences don't exactly match up. Paris, I Love You is a hilarious fish-out-of-water memoir, full of cultural observations and insights into an iconic city.
Photo: Harper Perennial.
How to Be a Woman By Caitlin Moran A feminist (wo)manifesto told in the writer's signature snark-meets-smart style, this book reads like a college course as given by a stand-up star. And it'll add to your lady-power arsenal, so another win-win.
Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living By Jason Gay You don't have to have a favorite team to appreciate these hilarious anecdotes from a top sports writer: Gay treads plenty of other territory. Like how to build the ideal wedding playlist without coming off as a total snob. And how to not have fistfights with other parents after a little league game scuffle. (No joke on that last one. It always pays to be prepared.)
Photo: Riverhead Books.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake By Sloane Crosley If you are, or have ever been, a young person falling apart at the seams in a big city, then this book — and Sloane Crosley — get you. Also, it's worth finding out how she ended up with a box full of My Little Pony figurines under her bed as a full-grown woman.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy By Douglas Adams Nothing quite interested happened to Arthur Dent, until the day his friend, Ford Prefect, turns out to be an alien, and saves Arthur from the destruction of the planet to make way for an intergalactic highway. Without a planet to call home, Arthur, now the only Earthling left in the universe, and Ford hitchhike throughout the stars using the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When you read Hitchhiker's, you induct yourself into a fandom of inside jokes, references, and commonly held nuggets of wisdom, like the book's famous quote: Don't panic, and always carry a towel.
Photo: Touchstone Books.
Hyperbole and a Half By Allie Brosh Have you read this blog? Seriously, you need it in your life. Even if you never buy the book, treat yourself to the blog.
Photo: Random House Trade Paperbacks.
Not That Kind of Girl By Lena Dunham In this equal parts hilarious and arresting memoir, Dunham shows off her comedic chops and bares all in the voice we've come to know and love.
Photo: Grand Central Publishing.
You'll Grow Out of It By Jessi Klein Klein — who came up in Comedy Central TV development and is currently the head writer on Inside Amy Schumer — has a knack for wrangling the funniest moment out of any given scenario, hacking it into pieces, and then finding something meaningful contained within. Klein is one of the funniest voices in entertainment right now, one you likely hear all the time even though you might not recognize it. We'd definitely suggest getting to know this woman because she's going to be making you laugh for years to come.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs By Chuck Klosterman Klosterman may be the king of critical thinking applied to lowbrow subject matter, and there's a reason for that: He's a razor-sharp writer with a deep knowledge of all things pop culture. And he knows how to dress a subject down without dumbing it down. Start with this book, and if you dig it, definitely move on to his others.
Photo: Gallery Books.
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo By Amy Schumer Leave it to TV's reigning princess of comedy to spin the title of a beloved mystery series into something innately laughable. Schumer tells stories from her own life in this not-quite memoir: Some we've heard, and others we haven't. But on the page as on screen, she has a way of making us giggle when we least expect it.
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