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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ten Funniest Books (In My Opinion)

Although I don’t usually seek out funny books, and therefore don’t read very many, I appreciate when I do come across one that combines humor with a good plot, great characters, and/or an interesting setting. I love when I’m reading along, absorbed in the story, and all of a sudden the narrator makes a sarcastic observation, a character says something ridiculous, or a pair banter or find themselves in a silly situation (which must be told in a humorous way, of course!), and I can’t help but laugh out loud. Some sections I’ll read with a perpetual smile that won’t be pushed down until the story sobers out. Many books have a funny line or two here and there (real life in general often does!), but this is a list of what I’ve read that made my heart light and still conjure up a smile when I reminisce about them. It’s not in order of funniest because they’re not all fresh in my memory, but each of them gave me a really good time:

1. Alyce – Sarah Scheele. This Cinderella retelling, with its many twists, is funny all the way through! Every character has their own quirk and you don’t want to miss what they (or the narrator!) has to say next.


2. Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner – A. A. Milne. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this one. The characters and their childish (in the best, sweetest manner) adventures turned out to be a great commentary on life.

The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh

3. The Inimitable Jeeves – P. G. Wodehouse. This story about a rich young man and his butler who’s constantly helping him out of scrapes is made funnier by its British expressions.

The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves, #2)

4. The Innocents Abroad – Mark Twain. This travel memoir of a tour group going through Europe and the Holy Land is laced with witty observations of foreign cultures and self-deprecating pokes at tourist psychology. It may move slowly for some readers, but I found that makes the humor richer!

The Innocents Abroad

5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this one, too. A mischievous boy, a Mississippi River town, lots of boyish adventures … great fun!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

6. Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson. This is another travel memoir, by a contemporary American who lived in England. Besides being witty, Bill Bryson’s prose is strong and descriptive, too (as you’d expect from a travel book!). However, there are some off-color parts to beware of ….

Notes from a Small Island 
7. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine. Another, somewhat longer Cinderella retelling, this book also has its serious moments, when you are sad for the heroine and wonder who will live and who will die, but overall it’s fun and lighthearted.

Ella Enchanted

8. The Princess Bride – William Goldman. Much like the movie, this book deals with serious themes in a rather comedic manner. It’s a fairy tale-love story parody and finds all the right things to joke about. (I happened to like the movie a lot more, though.)

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

9. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot. This memoir of a vet in 1930s Yorkshire is chock full of idiosyncratic country folk and funny animal crises, with its share of seriousness.

All Creatures Great and Small

10. Jane Austen’s Juvenilia. I find many parts of Jane Austen’s novels and other writings, if not laughter-inducing, at least smile-inducing, but her humor and sarcasm were heavier in her juvenilia. While I do prefer a light touch, her youthful efforts to be funny won me over because, well, she’s the future witty, famous author.

all images from goodreads

Since these are only the ten funniest, I can think of others I could have included. A couple of other books I remember making me laugh were The Scarlet Pimpernel and Cyrano de Bergerac, but they were quite serious, too, and I remember that more. So, what are the funniest books you’ve ever read?


  1. Okay, Adding this to my to-read list.

  2. Nice selection! Cat Stories by James Herriot is really funny. And Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, of course. I think I remember Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (a collection of poems) to be humorous, though it's been a long time since I've read that one.

    1. Thanks! I'll have to look at his Cat Stories ... those have got to be good. : ) L. M. Montgomery does write some funny things! About half of her short stories are humorous. Just the title of that collection of poems makes me grin ... I'll have to check them out.

  3. Wow, so honored I made it onto this great list!

    I personally find the comic skits and essays of Stephen Leacock to be wildly amusing. He often made fun of the literature of his day--and sometimes of himself as well.

    1. Yes! I had so much fun reading Alyce -- it inspired this post. : )
      Stephen Leacock -- I will have to look him up! Does his work inspire you with your comic skits and spoofs?

  4. I have to say, Alyce, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Jeeves are all hilarious. :D I think I have to add a couple things: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall -- it's really funny often, but also just plain fun and it makes me smile. It's about four sisters and one of the very few stories set in modern times that I've really loved. I think you'd really like it! I also have to say Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones -- that book is hysterical and I never tire of reading it. :D But yes, I'd say Jeeves and Bertie's adventures just might top the list. ;)

    1. The Penderwicks again! That book sounds more and more attractive every time I hear about it. : ) So humor is another thing going for it. Howl's Moving Castle -- is that what Natalie was reading? : )
      I first experienced The Inimitable Jeeves on an audio book with a great British reader! Some of his voices are still stuck in my head.

    2. It's delightful and yes, I found it very funny. :)
      And yes, that is what Natalie was reading! I'd almost forgotten I put that in... :D
      I bet you probably heard the same version we did then! We got it from the library on CD!

  5. Humor is one of my favorite things in a book. Some personal favorites from memory are...

    Any books written by Joan Bauer. Her sense of humor is perfect. To begin, I suggest her book "Rules of the Road".

    Trenton Lewis' series "The Mysterious Benedict Society" is my hands down favorite series ever. I **highly** recommend you at least try the first book. Excellent plot, loveable characters, suspenseful plot, and humorous to boot. Please do try it. If you read nothing else I ever suggest, this one is worth it. :-)

    1. Wow, those sound like great recommendations! Thank you! You especially have my complete and total attention with "The Mysterious Benedict Society." What you say is high praise, indeed! I just checked: my library has it!