• Kara Cushway

5 Books to Make You Laugh

All right. Time to break out the books. I’ve recently been in a bit of what we refer to in the reading community as a “reading slump.” Not surprising, given recent world events, but I never feel like myself when I’m in a reading slump. If I’m not reading a book, who even am I?

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. But seriously, if I’m not reading a book, it’s probably because I’m feeling off somewhere in my life. To get back into the groove of reading regularly, I usually pick a SUPER easy read (what I call “candy books”) or something I’ve read before, so I can slip back into a comfortable world I’ve already plumbed.

This list is for the quarantined. For the down of heart. For the people who just need a laugh. I have got the perfect selection for you, tried, tested and approved by Yours Truly. So let’s get into it.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Originally, my sister Celia and I selected this book from the library because we felt we had to. Celia’s name was literally in the title. We were obligated to check it out and read it. And we were not mad that we did. This ended up being one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I remember sitting up late in the living room, lamp on against the blackness outside the windows, crying because I was laughing so hard. It's truly a book to lighten a heavy heart.

Told entirely in notes, journal entries, and letters, Feeling Sorry for Celia is the story of how teenager Elizabeth Clarry juggles the difficulties in her life, from her friend Celia repeatedly disappearing, the return of her estranged father, and communicating with her mom entirely through random sticky notes. Despite the changes in her life, though, Elizabeth always manages to find hope, in the form of running, her new friends, and a secret crush. An especially good book for teens or fans of YA.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

If I’d done my research before reading this book, and knew then that Gail Honeyman was Scottish, I would’ve known that I was in for a ridiculously funny read. (If you haven’t seen tweets from the Scots, you’re missing out. Google it.) Honeyman does a fantastic job combining humor and serious issues such as domestic abuse and the ways we heal from it.

A deeply unreliable narrator, Eleanor also has difficulty navigating basically any social situation. It isn’t until she and her coworker, Raymond, save the elderly Sammy from a fall on the sidewalk, that she realizes there’s more to life than phone calls with her abusive mother and the pizza and vodka she inhales on the weekends. The three form a strange friendship that draws each of them out of their lives of isolation. And the love of new friends begins to heal Eleanor’s long-damaged heart.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Where my moms at? If you haven’t read this one yet, you need to. Bunmi Laditan’s super-funny novel could be just what you need to help you feel like maybe, just maybe, you have a handle on this raising tiny humans thing. Or, at least, a better handle on it than this book’s main character.

First-time mom, Ashley Keller, is trying her best. I mean, you can only do so much when you are never done picking up Cheerios, and you’re trying to wade through thundering oceans of baby-raising tips and advice from shiny Instagram moms and fabulous Facebook families, but feeling like you’re drowning. When Ashley gets a chance to compete in a mommy boot camp led by her fave Insta-mom, she jumps at the chance to finally become the perfect mommy she always dreamed of being. Will she finish this challenge strong? Or fall flat on her face?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Now a major motion picture, this book hooked me from my first read. It’s one of those books I want to read seasonally – or, more accurately, in the spring each year. Now that I live near Seattle, where the book takes place, it’s even more special to me. I finally understand the part about the blackberries and the landslide – but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

Agorophobic mom Bernadette is having some trouble accepting the fact that they’re going to Antarctica. What middle schooler, when asked what she wants for a straight-A report card, says she wants a trip to the end of the earth? Apparently, her daughter, Bee. To help her organize her thoughts while juggling plans for the trip, dealing with her busy Microsoft-hero husband, and going toe-to-toe with the gnat-like moms at Bee’s school, Bernadette hires a virtual assistant from India to take care of the little things. But one day, Bernadette vanishes. And it’s up to Bee and her erstwhile-distracted father to put the pieces of Bernadette’s chaotic life together to find her and bring her home.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

As usual, I’ve saved the crown jewel of this collection for last. I wish I could convey to you how excellent this book is. It is a romance novel with the funniest narrator ever. As with Feeling Sorry for Celia, I cried laughing, and I think you will, too.

When their two extraordinarily different publishing firms merged, Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman became coworkers. Scratch that. They became arch-nemeses, each forced to stare at the other’s stupid face in the name of their positions as assistants to the co-CEOs of the newly merged firm. When a promotion opens up that both Lucy and Joshua are eligible for, each is determined to win – both the promotion and their long-simmering battle of wills. But now that they are being forced to work even more closely to win the position, they begin to realize that maybe ... maybe they don’t hate each other after all.

Here are a couple runners-up that, while funny, didn’t bring me to tears (the tell for a really funny book, apparently). Both would be excellent, and probably funnier, experienced as audiobooks!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

A book filled with bizarrely humorous anecdotes from Sedaris’s life, including speech therapy as a boy and learning to speak French as an adult.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I know you all watch The Office, so don’t try to pretend you don’t know who Mindy Kaling is. This one is filled with Kaling’s memories of being the pudgy child of immigrant professionals and how she grew to be the bomb comedian, director, producer, and writer we know today.

I hope this list holds one or two titles for you, if you’re in the mood for something humorous or feel-good! Don’t forget that even though your local libraries may be closed, they still almost certainly have online resources for renting Kindle books, audiobooks, or e-books you can read on your phone (as well as language classes, movies, TV shows, magazines, and more!). So be sure to check out your library’s website to browse their selection while you’re stuck at home. For my Army friends, check out Army MWR Library's OverDrive. There’s a vast selection of materials at your fingertips, and you don’t even have to leave the couch.

What’s your favorite funny book? Have you ever read a book that’s made you cry from laughing? I’m always in the market for a new funny read, so drop them below in the comments! And thanks for stopping by!


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