Top Ten Humor Titles
I just finished reading Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and, rather than trying to review it without spoilers, I am going to present a list of my top ten favorite funny fiction titles! In case you're curious, book two in the Hitchiker's Guide series is great, but not as good as the first book (but that's a really high standard to try to meet). Now, to the ten funniest books, plays, etc:
10. The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear- Walter Moers
This book might not have made it onto this list, but for the illustrations. Don't get me wrong; the story itself is marvy (short for marvelous), but not top ten. What sells it are Moers' absolutely delightful and quirky illustrations (see photo on left). Who says books for grown ups can't have illustrations? Not me. I encourage more people with a unique outlook and artistic style to write books like this (Craig, I'm talking to you). This book is charming, clever, engaging and amusing. I have not read the rest of the books set in this fantasy world (Zamonia) yet, but you better believe that I will!
9. Milk Crown- Mizuto Aqua
Milk Crown is a manga series. So far, I have not shared my love of manga (and manhwa) on this blog, but I could not let that go on any longer. Mizuto Aqua's art is not the best (critics have said that her girls look like men in wigs), but she is one of the funniest mangakas out there. I have read all of her stuff that I can get my hands on and been amused by all of it. Milk Crown is definitely the best. It falls in the shoujo (targeted to girls, often involves romance) category, but definitely avoids being a wholly typical one. I am not sure how easy this would be to get your hands on, but, if you get a chance, give this a look-see. I mean, how can you not love a series where one of the characters has a pet shark?
8. Catch-22- Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is one of the best novels of all time, in my not-so-humble opinion. It is also one of the funniest...for the first half. Heller actually wrote the first half and then got approval to publish; then he wrote the second half, which is definitely a bit depressing. His humor is majorly (major major major majorly) sarcastic and I love every little bit of it. Everyone should read this book, even if it is just to get themselves thinking philosophical thoughts about the human condition. This book is definitely the ultimate in dark humor.
7. Twelfth Night, or What You Will- William Shakespeare
Of all of the bard's wonderful plays, my favorite, by far, is Twelfth Night. Those who have discussed Shakespeare with me know that it is no secret that I greatly prefer his comedies (except for The Taming of the Shrew) to his tragedies (or histories). What is it that I love so much about this particular comedy? I'm not really sure actually, but I always have. It has mistaken identity, cross-dressing, romance and Feste, one of the most awesome fools ever. You can have a grand old time, laughing as you read the play aloud to yourself (or maybe only I do that) and feel really smart while you do so. There is also a fabulous film version, directed by Trevor Nunn with such actors as Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter.
6. Movies in 15 Minutes- Cleolinda Jones
The only not funny thing about this book: it's not actually published in the U.S. You can buy it off of Amazon, of course, but you probably won't be finding it in any bookstores or at the library. Cleolinda is an inspiration, in that she wrote funny things on the internet and people loved them so much that she got a publishing deal. Way to go! Her retellings of popular films will make you laugh really hard (and probably make you want to get your friends into an impromptu acting group). They're funniest if you have seen the movies, but they're still great even if you haven't (i.e. Braveheart, which I have yet to view).
5. The Thief of Time (Discworld Series)- Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett's Discworld is humorous no matter which book you grab. These books are science fiction that pokes fun at pretty much everything. One of the best characters is DEATH, so you know its comedic genius. The funniest and best book of the series I have read as yet (and one of the few books I have ever read out of series order) is The Thief of Time. If you like intelligent humor and science fiction, Pratchett should not be missed.
4. Enchanted, Inc. Series- Shanna Swendson
Not many people know about Shanna Swendson. She writes chick lit and is not a big name. I happened across the first book in the series, Enchanted, Inc. at the library (holla!) and devoured it. The sequels were similarly found and loved. Unlike most chick lit, hers is incredibly clever and full of real humor, not just circumstances so absurd they're funny. On top of that, the characters feel a lot more like real people than chick lit or romance novel characters generally do. People are attractive, but in a real way. They are flawed, even the love interest. The books also have magic and who doesn't like that. Even if chick lit isn't your thing, you might just find yourself chuckling as you work your way through this series.
3. The Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde
I love me some classics, especially when they're as sassy as Mr. Wilde's. This play is, in my mind, pretty much perfect. Wilde is absurdly witty, but not above a good pun (see title). This is definitely in the running as my favorite play of all time. It's not just funny; it's amazingly written and constructed. Also, check out the film adaptation with Colin Firth and Rupert Everett, because it is absurdly delightful! Pardon me while I go in search of muffins...
2. The Stephanie Plum Series- Janet Evanovich
You may be lamenting my choice, wondering how on earth I could possibly choose these silly, romance-novel-esque mysteries above Catch-22. Well, the reason is that I am basing this on how funny the book is, on how many times it made me giggle, guffaw, snort, etc. while I perused its pages. The Stephanie Plum series was actually a very close second. Say what you want about Janet Evanovich (her plots are certainly formulaic in their way and she does love for her characters to get lots of sex), but her books are absolutely hilarious. I don't read much chick lit or romance these days, but I do not miss a single one of her books. Heck, I'd even check one out if it had a shirtless Fabio look-alike on the cover draped across a woman with heaving bosoms. If not for the fact that the series is dragging on too long and not as reliably funny anymore, Evanovich might have stolen the top spot with her non-literary laugh riots.
I know you must be really excited to find out the funniest book I have ever read...
So...without further ado...
drum roll please, Finn!...
I present the best!
1. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams
So yeah, there's just no beating this book, especially since it comes with the soothing words "Don't Panic!" on the cover. I know that's advice that I need. Almost every single page of this book is laugh-out-loud, side-splittingly funny, and I am not a person who laughs aloud at books with slight provocation. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a masterpiece of humor. What especially endears me to this book recently, besides revisiting the characters in the sequel, is a comparison of the interactions of a group of my friends with the interactions of the folks on the Heart of Gold, improbability and all. Just in case you were curious, I'm totally Marvin in this scenario. Note: I am incredibly creeped out by the hand on this cover. Incredibly.