Are These the 30 Funniest Books?

It’s a dreary day, so I thought I’d indulge myself and come up with a list of my favorite comedies. A caveat should be offered here, however: This is not a fancy English-professor-y list of the finest, most exquisitely crafted, most erudite or intellectually sophisticated works on paper in the language.

This is a list of the books that make me laugh until my mascara starts to run.

These are books to read over your first cup of coffee or just before you go to sleep.

OK, I’m going to get schmaltzy, but a day in which you have laughed is day you have not wasted.

Most days—knock on wood—life itself presents enough to humor us, but there are days when you need a jump-start. These books offer exactly that kind of infusion of comic energy. I rely on them to get me to smile or laugh even when nothing else does the trick.

Some of these books you’ve already read. But perhaps one or two will be unfamiliar but you can get the volume through interlibrary loan. You might even be able to buy it at a used bookshop if you have trouble getting it at your usual independent bookseller (which is, of course, where you purchase all your books, right?)

Okay, you ready? Let’s go:

1. Cold Comfort Farm
by Stella Gibbons

2. Three Men in a Boat and Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
by Jerome K. Jerome

3. Zulieka Dobson

by Max Beerbohm

4. The Sylvia Chronicles
by Nicole Hollander

5. When Do They Serve the Wine?
by Liza Donnelly

6. In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories
by Jean Shepard

7. How I Got To Be Perfect
by Jean Kerr

8. The World According to Dave Barry or anything else written
by Dave Barry

9. Heartburn
by Nora Ephron

10. Without Feathers
by Woody Allen

11. The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
by Fay Weldon

12. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
by Anita Loos

13. The Complete Stories of Dorothy Parker
by Dorothy Parker

14. With Malice Towards Some
by Margaret Halsey

15. Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?
by Molly Ivins

16. The Best of Robert Benchley or anything else written
by Robert Benchley

17. How to Raise Your I.Q. By Eating Gifted Children
by Lewis Burke Frumkes

18. Social Studies and Metropolitan Life
by Fran Lebowitz

19. A Marriage Made in Heavenor Too Tired for an Affair and
I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression
by Erma Bombeck

20. City Boy
by Herman Wouk

21. The Loved One
by Evelyn Waugh

22. Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

23. Brain Droppings
by George Carlin

24. Help! I’m a Prisoner in a Chinese Bakery! and Whoever Owns His Own Home, Deserves It
by Alan King

25. The Hypochondriac’s Guide To Life. And Death.
By Gene Weingarten

26. The Queen and I
by Sue Townshend

27. Not Waving, but Drowning and A Good Time Was Had by All
by Stevie Smith

28. Small World
by David Lodge

29. The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe
by Jane Wagner

30. Is Sex Necessary? by James Thurber and E.B. White

And of course this is just the beginning. You need to get hold of the original sources themselves in order to immerse yourself in the full comic experience. Go ahead, have fun, laugh out loud. After all, it’s the end of the semester.

—crossposted with Psychology Today

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