50 Funny Books to Read When Life Is Overwhelming and You Need a Laugh
Sometimes you want to delve into a serious, thought-provoking book that makes you question everything you’ve ever known about humanity. This is not one of those times. We present, in no particular order, 50 books that are guaranteed to crack you up (and maybe forget about everything that's stressing you out...for a few hours).
1. we are never meeting in real life: essays by samantha irby
Simply put, this book will make you cackle. In this collection of essays, one of the funniest writers of our time covers how her difficult childhood led to a problem in making "adult" budgets, a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father's ashes, how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms and more.
2. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
The late, great actress and writer Carrie Fisher adapted this, her only memoir, from her smash-hit one-woman show and it's nothing short of wonderful. From growing up with famous parents and achieving massive success at the age of 19 to struggles with mental health and near constant relationship drama, Fisher is candid and laugh-out-loud funny.
3. made for love by alissa nutting
This hilariously funny and absurd story (from the author of the equally funny and absurd Tampa) is told from the perspective of a woman who moves into a trailer park for senior citizens, where her roommates are her father and Diane—an extremely lifelike sex doll.
4. I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyonce by Michael Arceneaux
Growing up black and gay in Houston, Texas, writer Arceneaux had to learn to accept himself in a world that wanted him to change. In his debut book, he touches on everything from coming out to his mom to how he almost ended up in the priesthood.
5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Any of Sedaris’s fantastic books could’ve made this list, but this one’s titular story (about the author’s attempt to learn French after moving to Paris) puts it over the edge.
6. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before she created Liz Lemon or Kimmy Schmidt, Fey was a quirky kid from Pennsylvania who dreamed of becoming a comedian. Her book, about everything that happened in between, is incredible.
7. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy eccentric who lives with his mother, is the unforgettable protagonist of this riotous book about his zany adventures in New Orleans that was published posthumously by Toole’s own mother. (And won a Pulitzer. NBD.)
8. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Though not short on heart-stopping suspense, this dark comedy is about Korede, a Nigerian woman whose sister, Ayoola, has a nasty habit of murdering her boyfriends.
9. I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Crosley’s debut essay collection is wry and witty about everything from horrendous first jobs (where she accidentally provokes the ire of her first boss) to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor to the Oregon Trail computer game. (Ford that river!)
10. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Proof you can be funny and inspiring? Robinson discusses serious issues like institutionalized racism and misogyny along with lighter ones like being U2’s biggest fan and her Magic Mike movie obsession.
11. The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
Candid, poignant and occasionally filthy, Silverman’s memoir covers everything from her childhood penchant for swearing to her unfortunate propensity for bed-wetting.
12. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
The movie version is fabulous, but Updike’s original source material about three spurned women is even more satirical and wonderful.
13. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette is a reclusive architect and mother who goes missing. Her daughter tries to find her, compiling a funny portrait of a misunderstood woman along the way.
14. You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
The head writer of Inside Amy Schumer muses on everything from being the adult version of a tomboy (a tom-man) to why some women are wolves and others are poodles. (We’ll let her explain.)
15. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
From one of our favorite writers of all time, a candid and dryly funny look at women who are aging and dealing with all the stuff that goes along with it.
16. The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty
A scathingly funny debut novel about an awkward black surfer bum as he transforms from neighborhood outcast to basketball superstar to reluctant messiah.
17. Everything I Know about Love: A Memoir by Dolly alderton
In this memoir from journalist and former Sunday Times columnist Alderton, she vividly and hilariously recounts falling in love, getting drunk, getting dumped, realizing that Ivan from the corner shop might just be the only reliable man in her life and lots more relatable ridiculousness.
18. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The quintessential British humorist writes about Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves, as the latter saves the former from being arrested, lynched and accidentally engaged.
19. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
In this book named after her popular web series, Rae writes about what it’s like to balance being an introvert (read: kinda weird) with being black (read: supposed to be cool).
20. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Jim Dixon is a lecturer at a fancy university. In this laugh-out-loud debut novel, Amis skewers the over-the-top English characters with whom Dixon interacts as he tries to hold on to his cushy job.
21. My Life As A Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)popular Culture by Guy Branum
In this essay collection, comedian Branum talks about everything from the pitfalls of being typecast as the “Sassy Gay Friend” to how going to law school made him decide to try stand-up.
22. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by trevor noah
Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth (his parents' union was punishable by five years in prison). His moving and searingly funny memoir is about making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.
23. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Despite being published in 1899, Jerome’s spectacularly comedic account of a three-man boat journey holds up shockingly well in 2021.
24. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Working alternative title: 242 Pages That Will Make You Want to Become Mindy Kaling’s Best Friend.
25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The first in a five-book trilogy (no, that’s not a typo), The Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of those rare science fiction-y books that pretty much every reader on earth can appreciate.
26. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
A satire of sensationalist journalism and foreign correspondents, Scoop is partly based on Waugh’s experience working for the Daily Mail. Ooo, juicy.
27. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
OK, you might not want to read this bedtime book to your toddler. But it’s profane, honest and really damn funny for adults.
28. I Like You by Amy Sedaris
You thought David was the only hysterical Sedaris? Nope. This offbeat guide to entertaining will have you rolling on the floor, then digging your Jell-O mold out of the garage.
29. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This unlikely writing partnership produced an outlandish, fake-serious book about the birth of the son of Satan and the coming of the end of times.
30. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
This book has everything: a haiku about plastic surgery, a satirical birth plan, a brainstormed list of hypothetical books about divorce and tons more.
31. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
A funny and tragic examination of her own severe depression, Lawson’s memoir makes light of mental illness without trivializing it.
32. Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly Oxford
Twitter sensation Oxford chats like your funniest girlfriend about everything from throwing up on Chinese food deliverymen to stalking Leonardo DiCaprio.
33. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Born out of Brosh’s popular blog, this darkly funny book—illustrated with exaggeratedly childish drawings—tackles topics like the author’s depression and the “God of cake.”
34. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Whether analyzing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, Klosterman’s funny and discerning take on pop culture is completely one of a kind.
35. John Dies at the End by David Wong
A sarcastic paranormal horror story, John Dies at the End is hard to describe, other than to say that it’s so weird that it somehow works.
36. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The love story of Westley and Buttercup is well known to anyone who can recite the movie line for line (guilty), but Goldman’s richly satirical original text shouldn’t be missed.
37. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Same goes for Helen Fielding’s introduction to floundering 30-something Bridget Jones before she was made iconic by Renée Zellweger.
38. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Schumer's first book doesn't disappoint, as the comic covers everything from dating a personal trainer who turns out to be a hoarder to how she's actually quite introverted.
39. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
If you have kids, read this to them. If you don’t, reminisce over the outrageous adventures of this red-pigtailed heroine with a horse on her porch and a flair for the absurd.
40. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Let’s bring it back to 1604, shall we? This timeless masterpiece tells the story of madman Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through 16th-century Spain.
41. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
A self-professed feminist, Roxane Gay loves rap music. Including—especially, even—the aggressive, misogynistic kind. But that, she argues, doesn't mean she isn't a feminist. Rather, it means she's a bad one, and that's OK.
42. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Before he was the star you know today, Steve Martin was a magician and Disneyland entertainer dipping his toe into comedy. This retelling of his pre-SNL days is fun and endearing.
43. Money by Martin Amis
John Self is a commercial director who epitomizes the greed and lust of the 1980s. His misadventures and downward spiral would be depressing if Amis’s prose weren’t so darkly funny.
44. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Moran is an unapologetic feminist, which is not—as she so delightfully proves in this book—mutually exclusive with being really (really) funny.
45. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Rachel visits Singapore for the first time with her ultra-wealthy boyfriend. What follows is a super fun romp complete with opulence, social climbing and sabotage (dun dun dun). You've seen the movie, now read the book that inspired it.
46. Little Victories by Jason Gay
Gay, a newspaper columnist, wrote this book after his father was diagnosed with cancer. Never too earnest, he's always self-deprecating and wry.
47. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
A satire of the American workplace, Ferris's debut novel concerns the weirdly close bonds that form between people who see more of each other than they see their spouses, families and friends.
48. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Gibbons's 1932 book parodies the romanticized accounts of rural life that were popular at the time with the story of Flora Poste, an orphaned teenager who sets out to modernize her traditional town.
49. How to Weep in Public by Jacqueline Novak
Novak’s hilarious and real approach to dealing with her depression is refreshingly frank, with lists like “Ways to avoid charming your therapist,” and “top four tips for crying in restaurants.”