Despite laughter having been an integral part of human evolution, there are still debates raging around the very concept of humour and how it really works. We’ve all laughed at comedy movies, shows and books, but I think few of us, if any, could actually explain what’s so funny about them at a core level.
Nevertheless, we’re more than happy to accept something we don’t entirely understand as not only a part of us, but an essential aspect of our lives, helping to make them worth living. Humour is something we know we can turn to, in good and bad times alike, to escape whatever harsh reality the world is holding before us.
I think it’s safe to say, in recent years the domain of comedy has largely moved over to the visual medium, with movies, television shows and video skits being the primary methods of deliver. Quite unfortunately, I think people are forgetting the comedic power a book is capable of holding.
In here you’re going to find humorous books which I believe aptly demonstrate how fantastic and fulfilling written comedy can truly be. These are the types of books capable of making you forget almost anything, if only for a few hours.
Kurt Vonnegut had the invaluable ability of pointing out all the truly ridiculous aspects of our lives hiding right beneath our noses, and few are the works where he does it better than Galapagos. The story follows a group of random people who, through sheer coincidence, are stranded on the titular islands and become the sole progenitors for a new, and somewhat different human race.
Bonnie Garmus may have taken quite a while to publish her debut novel, Lessons in Chemistry, but it was certainly worth the wait, with even a TV show adaptation being in the making. The novel tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist who struggled during the 1950s amidst an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute, and in the 1960s became the unlikely star for a cooking show, and perhaps the catalyst to something much greater.
Christopher Moore has taken us on long journeys through the strange and surreal realms of his particular brand of comedy, and in Sacre Bleu he gives the plot a historical twist. The story follows Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who find themselves fascinated by the strange demise of their friend, Vincent van Gogh. They embark on a wild investigation promising to take them into the irreverent heart of 19th-century Paris and its unforgettable art scene.
Rick Bragg has written on a vast number of topics both as a an author and a journalist, and in his most recent work, The Speckled Beauty, he branches out further once again. In this autobiographical book, the author explores the many ways in which his life was transformed when a half-blind, misbehaved stray dog unexpectedly walked into his life.
Kurt Vonnegut has many novels through which he established his lifelong fame as an essential author of the 20th century, and the first of those was titled The Sirens of Titan. Published all the way back in 1959, it tells the story of Malachi Constant, Earth’s richest and most depraved man, as he embarks on a grand interplanetary voyage against his own will, learning much about the universe in the process, and forgetting even more about himself.
Patricia Lockwood had a childhood unlike most people, being even uncommon for the realm of religious upbringing. In her memoir titled Priestdaddy, Lockwood looks back on her childhood, adolescence and young adulthood which were strongly marked by her father, Greg Lockwood, a larger-than-life Catholic priest who defied all conventions.
Colin Cotterill has gifted us many unusual and intriguing detective stories through his Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery series, and the fifteenth novel, The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot, aims to bring the show to a close. The recipient of a strange diary, Dr. Paiboun finds himself irresistibly launched into an investigation revolving around the life of a kamikaze pilot, one whose fate.
Beth Duke has found two years ago the kind of breakthrough any budding author could wish for, when her novel, It All Comes Back to You, became a celebrated bestseller. In it, we are told the story of Ronni, a practical nurse and aspiring writer, whose old patient, Violet, recently passed away. In the process, she left Ronni with a challenge: she must publish Violet’s life in a book within a year, standing to inherit a grand fortune.
Mark Cain has given us without a doubt one of the more original and humorous book collections available today with his Circles in Hell series, starting with the bestseller, Hell’s Super. In it, we are introduced for the first time to Steve, hell’s superintendent, its handyman, who has fallen in love with a saint come to ease the suffering of the damned, all while trying to solve the mystery of the sabotaged escalator which leads from the bowels of hell to the pearly gates themselves.
Though she may have begun publishing her works only recently, Jess Kidd is an author who already displays a unique awareness of comedy and tragedy in daily human life, something we see on full display in her second novel titled Mr. Flood’s Last Resort (or The Hoarder in the U.K.). It follows the story of a happy-go-lucky caretaker with a profoundly sad childhood who makes the acquaintance of an eccentric old man whose life mission is to clean up his mansion to stop his son from sending him to a retirement home.
Keith Gessen is in a better position than most to truly ponder on the relation between home and country, having grown up in the United States since the age of six after his family emigrated there from the Soviet Union. In A Terrible Country, he presents us with a man in his mid-30s by the name of Andrei who went through the exact same path, with a small difference: he chooses to come back to the country he left behind so many years ago. With few prospects to dream about in the U.S., he hopes to find in Moscow the topic for an article to propel his career… unsuspecting of an infinitely greater prize to his journey: profound insights into the human soul.
Richard Kadrey has a fantastic flair for weaving unique stories out of paranormal elements, and his latest novel, The Wrong Dead Guy, is no exception to the rule. Serving as a sequel to The Everything Box, this story brings us back once again to the lovable master thief known as Coop, now working for the Department of Peculiar Science, safeguarding our world from supernatural oddities. His latest mission had him and his team retrieve a sarcophagus with an ancient Egyptian mummy inside, that of a powerful sorcerer. Unfortunately for them, the mummy is still alive, and when the sarcophagus opens all hell breaks loose.
Richard Kadrey has made a place for himself in the realms of literature with his incredibly unique and sharp stories which could have only been born from his precise and ambitious style. In The Everything Box, Kadrey makes a foray into the realms of fantasy as he presents us with a thief named Coop, specializing in the “acquisition” of magic objects. Unbeknownst to him, his latest assignment had him stealing an ancient doomsday device belonging to an angel who once lost it and failed in his mission to end humanity. With everyone setting their sights on the device though, history might finally see some rectifications.
Christopher Moore has created with his town of Pine Cove a refuge for all the ridiculous madness that has a tendency of stemming from the human mind. We’re now entering the third book in the series, The Stupidest Angel, and the town of Pine Cove is not only still standing, but even more or less thriving. However, things take a turn for the chaotic once again as a little boy witnesses Santa Claus taking a shovel to the skull, in addition to which the Archangel Raziel comes down to Earth for a most sacred mission, only to botch it completely and bring peril upon the idiosyncratic community once more.
Christopher Moore has graced us with some of the most original and unconventional stories out there, making it a point to venture into the uncharted lands very few even dare to think of. He likes to throw all the rules and preconceptions to the wind, something that is quite apparent in Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, the second book in the Pine Cove series. This time, a giant slumbering lizard is awakened by a radiation leak, all while the town’s doctor decides to switch out everyone’s antidepressants for placebos following a tragic suicide. In a stunningly short amount of time, a total and surrealistic chaos envelops the town.
Christopher Moore regales us with a strange and very unusual story that takes us into the heart of a small-time American town in California. Little do its idiosyncratic citizens suspect, their lives are about to be turned upside down and inside out with the arrival of a young man in his 20s, who 70 years ago made a pact with a demon to become an immortal… a demon that remains with him to this very day. Though the reluctant master can sometimes control the demon, the latter becomes more erratic as he gets hungrier… and what better buffet for a demon than a town full of people?