I love an opportunity to reminisce about things that make me laugh. Because once I’ve found something funny odds are years later I’ll still be giggling at it – old jokes and Friends repeats and these ten books below (some of which haven’t had to stand the test of time yet but I’m confident they will). So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was right up my alley.
My sense of humour is odd, to say the least. A lot of it is inherited from my dad, so the obligatory bad puns and age old jokes. And from my mum I’ve got this completely nonsensical, off-the-wall thing. I find myself absolutely hilarious and I can laugh for a good few minutes at something I’ve just thought in passing but I’m not quick witted enough for it to actually come across to other people.
I don’t particularly like things that are just funny for the sake of it. I don’t think I’ve ever found a film that was classed as a comedy very funny – they feel like they’re trying too hard and often just fall back on being crass. The same goes for books. There needs to be a clear plot with the humour just slipped in naturally for me to really appreciate it.
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I diagnosed brain overload and set up a spreadsheet to analyze the situation.
I read the sequel quite recently which was really sad and a complete disappointment, which has tarnished my memories of this book ever so slightly. But I know that in years to come I’ll be looking back on it as one of the sweetest and funniest books I’ve read. Completely devoid of social skills, Don Tillman puts together an in-depth survey to try and find a suitable wife, and save himself all the bother of awkward first dates. But he gets side-tracked in helping Rosie, who is in every way unsuitable for him, track down her unknown father.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a trilogy in five parts) by Douglas Adams
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move.
One of my favourite books of all time. After the earth is destroyed in order to build an intergalactic highway, Arthur Dent, an Englishman completely out of his depth, ends up travelling the galaxy in a stolen spaceship powered by improbability, encountering poetry so bad it can kill you, a depressed robot and the answer to life, the universe and everything.
- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
I never feel more cultured or middle-class than when I’m laughing at Oscar Wilde. Two men both pretend to be called Earnest in order to win themselves wives. Much havoc and Victorian era farcical behaviour ensues.
- 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I personally can’t think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book.
This might not be a laugh out loud kind of book but it will just put you in a chuckling, smiley mood. An epistolary novel (I just learnt what this word means so I’m going to now overuse it – it means in the form of letters) and a true story. The letters were sent between Helene Hanff, a New York based scriptwriter and Frank Doel, an antiquarian bookseller in London, shortly after the Second World War. And they’re just sweet, innocent, heart-warming and life-affirming. As well as Helene Hanff being a fierce defender of second-hand books (so we’re kindred spirits).
- The Boyfriend List by E Lockhart
I say, thirteen is too many dogs for good mental health. Five is pretty much the limit. More than five dogs and you forfeit your right to call yourself entirely sane.
This book is absolutely hilarious. Which is a good thing as it also completely heart-wrenching. Few books have made me cry as hard and as long as this one did when I first read it. Because Ruby has suffered some pretty serious heartbreak and lost one of her best friends which lead to her having a panic attack on the floor of the bathroom. The story is told non-sequentially as she explains it all to a shrink, and if that doesn’t sound like a funny book then I completely see where you’re coming from. But trust me, it is.
- How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.
It’s Caitlin Moran, how could it not be funny? If you’ve never come across Caitlin Moran before and completely missed the other twenty times I’ve extolled her virtues then let me fill you in. She’s just one of the best people ever; funny, outspoken, close-to-the-bone and fiercely feminist. She was Britain’s Lena Dunham before anyone had heard of Lena Dunham. This book is a collection of her essays covering topics from eat disorders to bikini waxes.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
You don’t have to comment on every boring thing you do. This isn’t Olympic curling.
Bee and her mum Bernadette lives a rather unconventional life, which doesn’t fit in with their Microsoft-employed, private-school-attending neighbourhood. Things reach a peak when Bernadette causes a mudslide into her neighbour’s garden during a fund raiser and shortly after she disappears. Another epistolary novel, this time made up of letters, emails and confidential documents compiled by 15 year old Bee as she tries to track down where her mum has disappeared to. Again, it perhaps doesn’t sound that funny from my description, but if you haven’t read it yet you really need to.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.
I read this book in a three day frenzy. Which was quite the impressive feat as it was during Wimbledon so I was also spending eight hours a day watching tennis. But that’s just how good it is. Set in 1960s Mississippi it tells the story of two black women, working as maids to their wealthy white neighbours, and one white woman, an aspiring journalist who starts compiling a book about the racism and hypocrisy faced by ‘the help.’ The theme is upsetting, the characters compelling and Minny is just hilarious.
9. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself.
Whenever I feel a bit down in the dumps this is one of the first books I reach for because Anne Shirley is just a joy from beginning to end; unaffected, original and charming. Anne is accidentally adopted by the Cuthberts and brought to live in a tiny village in rural Canada where her over the top emotions and endless enthusiasm for life fill this book with heart-warming and joyful incidents. I only wish I’d read this when I was younger so that maybe I could have grown up to be more like her.
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What are men to rocks and mountains?
To get to number ten I may be stretching the title just a little. Or maybe I’m doing it for an excuse to talk about one of my favourite books of all time. Jane Austen’s irony, wit and colourful characters match up my requirements for a book perfectly. And this is definitely her funniest – Mr Bennet’s dry sense of humour against Mrs Bennet’s ludicrous ‘nerves’, Mr Collins with the least romantic marriage proposal of all time, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s condescending superiority and Lizzy herself, a female heroine so far ahead of her time.