Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like you may have morphed (a la Gregor Samsa) into somebody’s ancient aunt Hilda – the one who stopped soaking her dentures after her husband died? For those of us with an advanced case of the mullygrubs, or who are feeling a bit like Miss Havisham, but without all the dough on this icy February afternoon, here are some books to make you laugh. None is exactly new, but I think of them as essential equipment for the late-winter blahs.
We start with the juvenile (but in a good way – it’s young adult literature): Away Laughing on a Fast Camel, by Louise Rennison will make anyone with a pulse positively bray. It’s the fifth in her Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series, but there’s no reason you have to read them in order. Skip right to this one. They’re all good, but I think it’s the funniest. Who is Georgia Nicholson? She’s a self-obsessed British teen with a great attitude and a horde of killer one-liners. Think Bridget Jones\’ Diary except that you don’t want to smack the narrator. (Sorry, Bridget fans: I seriously wanted someone to drop that girl with a tranquilizer dart & have her wake up in therapy by the end).
Then there’s Janet Evanovich. Enough said. She’ll make you giggle. She also always makes me gain about 5 pounds per novel. I’m from Jersey, and between the descriptions of Garden State pizza (none better) and the Tasty Pastry Bakery I generally need to do a face-plant in some junk food by Chapter 3.
Tom Robbins. My fave is Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, but any will do.
P.J. O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell is a delight. If you are not as old as I am, you may not get some of the pre-Glasnost era jokes, but he is just one fine humorist. I’m about as left as he is right, but I love his writing. I also recommend his guide to housekeeping, Bachelor Home Companion, which includes the Tuna Casserole recipe that I use to strike terror into the hearts of small, misbehaving children.
Want a classic? P. G. Wodehouse is your man. The Code of the Woosters is my favorite.
Prefer your laughs straight-up and unadulterated? Try one of these comics collections. Sheldon is a web comic that’s a lot like the early days of Calvin & Hobbes. Dave Kellett doesn’t sell to the trade, so you can only get it here. Unshelved is set in a library, so it’s perfect for fellow book-nerds. You can read it daily on the web, here. Or buy one of the books.
Last but not least, I give you, You Are a Dog by Terry Bain. Want to know what your canine companion is really thinking? Are you sure? This will have you rolling – but it’s also an incredibly touching book, so you may want a hankie in places.
This is your bookseller, signing off and headed for the tub.