Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we all talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. This week we’re looking at books that made us giggle.
If there’s a topic that demands an acknowledgement that mileage may vary, it’s humour. I hate most media marketed as comedy – I have a particular hatred of slapstick (but not farce), comic fantasy (including, to the horror of more or less all my friends, the works of Terry Pratchett) and that hideously toxic mainstay, the romcom. So what has made me laugh (and why)?
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
I generally love the works of Alan Bennett; he has a gentle touch that pokes fun at Britishness and exposes our tickly underbellies. Here, he describes the consequences of HM Queen Elizabeth II belatedly becoming a bookworm, much to the consternation of the Establishment. It’s adorable and absurd.
Penguins Stopped Play – Mark Thompson
Britishness is a theme, as this autobiographical gem focuses on a ‘village’ cricket club of media luvvies who go on a world tour (including Antarctica, hence penguins) in spite of being deplorably bad at cricket. I’m surprised and appalled there’s isn’t a film yet, because HALLO. Surefire hit. At least on DVD. In Britain.
Watching the English – Kate Fox
I’m on a roll now, safe(?) in the knowledge the Broke and the Bookish will never feature Top Ten British Books. This is required reading before coming to live in England, and for self-aware English folk seeking a giggle. It starts with the author requiring a cup of tea to fortify herself for a day of deliberately bumping into people (to see who apologises). Hilariously well-observed.
I think I can see where you’re going wrong – Marc Burrows
It’s a truth universally acknowledged on the Internet: don’t read the comments. Burrows curates them for The Guardian, and this selection captures the middle-class tribulations of the right-on Guardian reader. It’s a giggle even without cultural context (as long as you appreciate a good pun). However, if you’re familiar with Dave Gorman’s Found Poetry, it’s devastating.
Okay, that’s probably enough evidence of how much my own people crack me up.
What If? – Randall Munroe
I adore Randall Munroe work for tirelessly proving that science can be warm and funny. In What If? he takes the most absurd questions the Internet can throw at him and gives them not-so-serious but very scientific consideration. Along with frequent addition of parameters or extrapolations for extra fun.
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances – The Oatmeal
The Oatmeal isn’t always my cup of tea, but I learnt to run as a life-long hater of sweating who was convinced that my body shape meant it Was Not For Me. This book captures some of my attitude and experiences with the addition of comedy and hilarious pictures. I run because I like cake. Amen.
Night Waking – Sarah Moss
This is one of my favourite books: academic Anna is climbing the wall on a remote Scottish island while her husband surveys puffins. Sleep-deprived and frustrated, the book captures her attempts to come to terms with parenting, her career and an unexpected body in the back garden. It’s funny and painful, and absolutely not for anyone ambivalent about having children.
Angelmaker – Nick Harkaway
I have a big soft spot for Harkaway and I chortled the whole way through this speculative romp. A reluctant criminal overlord with a knack for fixing antique clocks teams up with the sexiest (and sauciest) legal heiress in London and a kick-ass octagenarian spy (a little old lady with a stinky pet dog) to battle an evil mastermind with cohorts of mechanical monks.
Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan
When a desperate young designer takes over the night shift at an obscure San Fran book shop it’s even quieter – and weirder – than he expects. He starts to see patterns in the store’s eccentric night-time visitors, and before he know it he’s part of an obscure book cult. This oozes charm, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. The prequel – Ajax Penumbra 1969 – is also a giggle.
The Order of the Stick – Rich Burlew
This started life as a regular online comic (it’s now an irregular online comic), but I enjoy it better when I binge-read the collections. This starts out as full-on geekery for those who know their 2nd Ed D&D from their 3rd, but develops over time into more dimensions than stick figures ever dreamt possible. Fantasy shenanigans for laughs.
What books have made you laugh recently?