Today’s Three Books on Thursday theme is books that make the reader laugh out loud. I can’t, of course, guarantee that what’s funny to me will be funny to you, but here are three books that in my opinion are filled with hilarious moments:
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson is an account of traveling around Great Britain. Bryson was born and raised in Iowa, then lived in England for 20 years and wrote this book as he was preparing to move back to America. The first time I read it, I thought it was entertaining and somewhat funny. The second time I read it, I started in a hospital waiting room–where I was awaiting surgery, very sad about the circumstances that brought me there, and extremely hungry and nauseated–and it was so funny I could hardly believe it! Anything that could make me laugh on that day has got to be good. Bryson has a way of noticing tiny details that are really very strange and pulling them together with just the right phrasing. He also has a great sense of humor about his own behavior and perceptions, which got very grumpy at times during this journey because he was hiking long distances, and the weather and/or terrain didn’t always cooperate. I also love his book The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America; it’s over 20 years old now, so it’s something of a time capsule of a past America, and very funny.
Legal Daisy Spacing: The Build-a-Planet Manual of Official World Improvements by Chris Winn is a mysterious catalog which seems to be aimed at some aliens who are much bigger than we are and are planning to make our pesky planet (or one a lot like it) much tidier yet more smoggy. From this catalog, they could order such items as coastline tiles and molds to form mountains into proper conical shape. Here are a few pages. The charming style of the product descriptions makes the whole concept less alarming and much funnier.
More Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel is the second anthology of a comic strip about lesbians in San Francisco. This is the volume I happen to own and have read many times; they’re all good! These strips were published in the 1980s, and Bechdel did a great job of appreciating the lesbian subculture while showing the awkwardness of getting along in everyday life at a time when lesbians were considered very strange and threatening by mainstream society. Although I’m very straight myself, the main character Mo’s worries and over-seriousness and social awkwardness are very similar to mine, and all the characters are fun and well-drawn. Just recently I picked up this book for the first time in a while, flipped to a random page, and immediately started laughing at the next-to-last frame of this strip. (NOTE: This book includes a lesbian sex scene. Don’t read it if you can’t handle that.)
After the above, I feel I ought to offer an alternate book for children, and luckily my 8-year-old son and I have been reading one! Lulu Goes Shopping by John Stanley is one of a series of anthologies of the 1940s comic book “Little Lulu” published recently and available in our local library! (Look under “graphic novels” in the children’s section.) My dad used to read me “Little Lulu” comics from his childhood, and they’re often very funny! Lulu and her friends are always having adventures, making up stories, attempting things that go spectacularly awry, resolving arguments innovatively, and confusing the adults. The unique cuteness of the art really adds to the humor.