A Walk in the Woods
Part-memoir, part-travelogue, and 100% entertaining, A Walk in the Woods is Bill Bryson’s history of the Appalachian Trail, combined with the story of his own attempt at hiking the AT—all 2,000 miles of it, from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Maine’s Mount Katahdin. It’s hysterically funny while also showing a true appreciation of the Great Outdoors (that you can laugh along to from the Great Indoors).
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
“Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” So begins, Mindy Kaling reports, many an argument with friends and coworkers—and oh, how we wish we were among that group. Kaling’s finely tuned wit is enough to make the strongest of us LOL in public, and her stories about growing up in an immigrant family and earnestly impersonating Ben Affleck on her way to stardom make for the perfect balancing act.
Self-deprecating and wry—and yet somehow still totally heartfelt—This American Life alum David Rakoff recounts some of his strangest experiences in this hilarious collection. (Who else among us has spent time impersonating Sigmund Freud in department store window displays?) Charmingly self-deprecating, Rakoff reminds us not to take life too seriously.
Samantha Irby has a special talent for making even the most awkward of topics funny, while drawing readers in close enough for them to see the intimacy beneath the humor. Her writing will make you feel that she’s sharing secrets with you, all while turning those secrets into fascinating stories that you won’t be able to stop reading. Whether discussing the difficulties caused by Crohn’s Disease or life with her mother, Irby offers even the most bitter memory wrapped in sweet comedy. (And you absolutely don’t want to miss Irby’s latest: Wow, No Thank You.)
No one’s wit is as ferociously funny as Dorothy Parker’s. As this complete collection of her short stories demonstrates, Parker’s talents extended far beyond brash one-liners and clever rhymes. Her stories not only bring to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick but lay bare the uncertainties and disappointments of ordinary people living ordinary lives.
The leading lady of Roddy Doyle’s Snapper is Sharon Rabbitte, who’s found herself pregnant, unwed, and still living at home. Everyone wants to know whose “snapper” she’s carrying, but mum’s the word for Sharon. The novel follows her pregnancy’s effect on the family—particularly her flabbergasted dad—with a startling frankness that’s good for more than a few laughs.
You Can't Touch My Hair
Phoebe Robinson has already proven herself to be a comedic genius on her podcast 2 Dope Queens, but her wit comes through all the more acerbic, political, and personal in her debut collection of essays. She’s both irreverent and completely serious in her discussions of race and gender politics. Laugh-out-loud food for thought here.
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip
George Saunders’s novel set in the seaside village of Frip follows the adventures of a community plagued by gappers: orange sea creatures that cover the village’s goats and prevent them from giving milk. It sounds totally bizarre—and it is. It’s also one of the funniest, most heartfelt fables of our time.
I Feel Bad About My Neck
Who doesn’t need a little Nora Ephron in their life? Ephron’s delightfully charming and deadpan humor—about menopause, empty-nesting, and (gasp!) topics that aren’t even related to aging—is a classic read for anyone who appreciates a good laugh.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake
Sloane Crosley’s debut collection of essays is still a fan favorite in this house, and for good reason: she’s the sort of quirky observer we love to hang out with, in the perpetual hopes that she’ll regale us with her latest tale, like being stalked by a moth at the Museum of Natural History. She takes on urban life and hapless young adulthood with a did-she-really-just-say-that level of honesty.
This debut focuses on Graham Cavanaugh and his second wife, Audra, whose outgoing, chatty nature in no way resembles his first wife Elspeth’s reserved, quiet one. Graham and Audra are raising a son with Asperger’s, struggling to define their marriage, and, in the midst of it all, form an off-kilter friendship with Elspeth while escorting their son to origami conventions. Heiny’s examination of marriage and parenthood is equal parts hilarious and tender.
I'm Fine...And Other Lies
This memoir by the creator of 2 Broke Girls is filled with self-deprecating, knee-slapping humor. Whitney Cummings makes light of her misadventures—like having her severed ear sewn back on, or nearly ending up in a Guatemalan jail—but at its heart, this book examines Cummings’ mental health, her lack of self-esteem, and why the best medicine for anything especially cringe-worthy is laughter.
We’ve all had it happen. You’re reading a funny book when you start to feel the laughter bubbling up—you just can’t keep it inside—and then “bwahhhahahaaa!!!” bursts out as you sit there at your desk, or in a café, or on the subway. People’s heads swivel to your outburst, and you meet their eyes sheepishly—then back to the book. We love laugh out-loud-books and the authors who write them, so we’ve collected a few of our favorites.
Featured Image: Merlas/iStock