Monday, February 29, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Books to Read When You Want to Laugh

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is.....
Ten Books To Read If You Are In The Mood For X
My X this week will be "laughing".  If there is one thing I really love and most appreciate in a book, it is humor.  I love a book that makes me laugh/chortle/grin foolishly while reading and for some genres (romance) I find it an essential ingredient.  Even better is a book that can make me laugh AND cry (it was better than Cats!)  - I think a good word for that is bittersweet? *shrugs* That doesn't completely fit but I like it better than tragicomic which is the other word the internet is suggesting. Anyway, the point is, who among us doesn't admire (or want to be) people that can face the hard things in life with a sense of humor.

Below I will list ten somewhat recently (last 3 years or so) read books that really made me laugh.  I've split it down the middle, listing half books that were just flat out delightful and half  books that delivered both the funny and the sad.  I tried to have a good distribution among genres in each list as well.  Ummm... I also went way over the allotted 10.  Please forgive me.



This is an utterly charming and hilarious middle-grade series about a young governess name Penelope and her three charges who were raised by wolves in Victorian England.  It is peppered with the pithy, hilarious and often wise sayings of the founder of Penelope's alma mater, The Swanburne Academy for Poor, Bright females.
“As Agatha Swanburne once said, 'To be kept waiting is unfortunate, but to be kept waiting with nothing interesting to read is a tragedy of Greek proportions.”
This is classic title so I don't need to explain further about how hilarious this book is.  My favorite character may be Marvin the depressed robot.
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” 
As I mentioned, I just can't deal with a romance which is too earnest and dire so naturally my new best friend is Sarah MacLean.  Her books are swoonily romantic and are also bursting with witty banter.  I love them.
“What do you think of this" he asked, indicating the painting nearby.
She gave him an odd look. "I think it's an enormous painting of a dog."
He made a show of considering the picture and nodded seriously. "An astute observation.” 

4. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach/Anything by Mary Roach
 Runner up:  Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson
Mary Roach is a brilliant non-fiction writer about all kinds of science-y type subjects and she handles her topics in a way that is both informational and hilarious.  She's my all time favorite non-fiction writer and Gulp is her most recent book.
“Where do you find a stomach on a Thursday afternoon in Reno? "Chinatown?" suggests someone. "Costco?" "Butcher Boys." Tracy pulls his phone from a pocket. "Hello, I'm from the university" - the catchall preamble for unorthodox inquiries.” 
I actually read Dr. Tatiana's many years ago but I thought I'd mention it if your looking for entertaining science writing.  It addresses the evolution of sex in the format of a sex advice column for all sorts of critters.

5. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
If you watched Veronica Mars on TV you'll remember its trademark clever wit. The books based on the show carry on the tradition.  If your familiar with the show you'll also know that it skirted the bittersweet line as well but because my dominant feeling coming out of these books was delight, I'm putting them here. The books are really great mysteries to boot.  I hope they continue to do more....
“I’m beginning to view democracy as the Siri of political systems. So much better in theory.”  -Mr. Kiss and Tell

6. The Martian by Andy Weir
Mark Watney is my fictional boyfriend. A scientist, and astronaut and totally and dreamily funny. He's an adorable smart ass, even while trapped on Mars.
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.” 

7. The Peter Grant Series by Ben Aaronovitch
This was the series that won me over to Urban Fantasy which hadn't been a favorite genre.  The stories are a lot of fun and Peter is an incredibly engaging main character particularly because he's got a fantastic sense of humor.
“Carved above the lintel were the words SCIENTIA POTESTAS EST. Science points east, I wondered? Science is portentous, yes? Science protests too much. Scientific potatoes rule. Had I stumbled on the lair of dangerous plant geneticists?” 

8. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
This is a unique book focusing on an administrator in a government spy agency that protects Great Britain from supernatural threats.  Problem is this administrator has total amnesia and the only way she knows anything is from the notes she left herself before she lost her memory.  It's totally fun and has a lovely dry sense of humor.
“Yes, Minister, it turns out that there was a mysterious force that caused that plane to crash. We call it gravity.” 
9. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde is legendary for his wit and An Ideal Husband is one of his best plays with all the droll lines by Lord Goring.
“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” 

10. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
This book.  It is one of the funniest and saddest and best I've ever read.
“It's like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight, he added” 

11. Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson examines her somewhat unconventional childhood with some appreciation and a lot of hilarity.
“A friend is someone who knows where all your bodies are buried. Because they're the ones who helped you put them there."And sometimes, if you're really lucky, they help you dig them back up.” 

12. Longmire Mystery Series by Craig Johnson
A dry humor juxtaposed with an austere landscape and the tragedy of murder.  Focused on the sheriff of a rural Wyoming County.
“There are only three major vote getting days in Absoroka County, and I can't remember the other two. "Oh God, no. It's Pancake Day." I thought about shooting myself. I could see the headlines: Sheriff shoots self, unable to face pancakes.” 
Lydia Netzer's style is a little quirky and weird and it's not for everyone but I love it.  These books manage to be funny and achingly poignant at the same time often times highlighting the absurdities of life.
“This is the way it was in Yates County. Bald Girls. Wild boys formed from math. Geniuses all around, just waiting to be discovered, or waiting to rot in trailers behind their parents' barns, die penniless, mourned only by the Amish from whom they bought all those eggs.” 

14. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
This book is brutal but also so so funny.  A highly recommended read!
“Faced with the Divine, people took refuge in the banal, as though answering a cosmic multiple-choice question: If you saw a burning bush, would you (a) call 911, (b) get the hot dogs, or (c) recognize God? A vanishingly small number of people would recognize God, Anne had decided years before, and most of them had simply missed a dose of Thorazine.” 
15. Fables Series by Bill Willingham
This is probably my favorite graphic novel series and it can be equally delightful and truly devastating.  
“Freedom is sloppy. But since tyranny's the only guaranteed byproduct of those who insist on a perfect world, freedom will have to do.” 
16. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is a truly lovely and entertaining historical fiction book.  It's set in Spain and has a little bit of everything, mystery,history, romance, drama and a good bit of humor as well.  It also has a lot of lovely passages about books and reading.
“Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it.” 
17. Flavia De Luce Series by Alan Bradley
This series and its 12 year old protagonist are totally delightful but the humor overlays what in reality is a very sad and dysfunctional family.
“It is not unknown for fathers with a brace of daughters to reel off their names in order of birth when summoning the youngest, and I had long ago become accustomed to being called 'Ophelia Daphne Flavia, damn it.” 

18. The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch  
Runner Up: The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Both of these series are brutal and violent but also have very fun (and somewhat filthy so beware) senses of humor which is what makes them so brilliant.
“I can't wait to have words with the Gray King when this shit is all finished," Locke whispered. "There's a few things I want to ask him. Philosophical questions. Like, 'How does it feel to be dangled out a window by a rope tied around your balls, motherfucker?” - The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”   - The Last Argument of Kings, Joe Abercrombie

That does it for me?  What are your go to books when you just want to laugh?  Or maybe laugh and then cry a little?  I'd love some recommendations!

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