If you love to laugh then you’re in luck, because we’ve gathered 50 of the funniest books of all time on this can’t-miss list. From the dark and dry to the witty and wry, from the fictive to the factual, from travel logs to comedic blogs, this extensive collection of humor both classic and new includes something for everyone. Get ready to read ‘em and weep with laughter.
Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
Published in 1932 in satirical response to romantic rural literature popular at the time, Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm is a rollicking read about Flora Poste, a broke 19-year-old metropolitan orphan who decides to impose herself upon her remote farming relatives, the Starkadders. Full of aptly (and hilariously) named characters such as the Jersey cows, Graceless, Pointless, Aimless, and Feckless; and cousins Urk, Ezra, Harkaway, and Caraway, this laugh-out-loud novel details what happens when a bossy city girl tries to meddle in pastoral affairs.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Posthumous winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize, Toole’s masterpiece has awed and entertained scholars, skeptics, and general scalawags for decades. This peerless and eternally hilarious novel relays the misadventures of the misanthropic Ignatius Reilly—a thirtysomething who lives with his mother in 1960s New Orleans and struggles to find work while battling an affliction of the pyloric valve—as well as the various trials of the colorful characters of the Quarter.
Do the Windows Open?, by Julie Hecht
Originally published as a series of absurd pieces in the New Yorker, Do the Windows Open? follows the life of a neurotic narrator who spends most of her time attempting to photograph bizarre subjects, most notably a renowned reproductive surgeon, the ponds of Nantucket, and the many houses of Anne Sexton. Wry, dry, and irresistible, this book will have readers rooting for its exasperating star, who struggles with claustrophobia, dental complaints, and an impossibly clean macrobiotic diet.
The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
This satirical novel about race and racism reads like a brilliant standup routine that goes on for days. Every sentence of Paul Beatty’s masterpiece is so dense and multilayered, you’ll want to set aside precious time to absorb the barrage of images and genius within. Chock full of keen observations, singular interpretations, and loads of all-American cultural and historical references, The Sellout is in a league of its own.
Paperback $14.50 | $16.00
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson, better known on the Interwebs as “the Bloggess,” shines her brightest in this irreverent memoir that reveals what it was like to grow up with a father who ran a taxidermy business out of the house, a mother who worked the school cafeteria, and a sister who shamelessly wore her mascot costume everywhere. Equally morbid and magnificent, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened unearths all of Jenny’s humiliating moments and mines them for wit and wisdom.
Naked, by David Sedaris
It’s nearly impossible to choose just one David Sedaris book for this list, as there are nearly a dozen that belong here. But if I’m forced to pick one, Naked takes the cake. Why? Although its contents are much like those contents of his other works (outrageously smart and hysterical essays that render readers incontinent), Naked does include the notorious “C.O.G.,” a piece of writing so stellar and original it’s a wonder anyone, anywhere, has dared put pen to paper since its publication.
Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins
Redheaded Princess Leigh-Cheri, a former cheerleader turned vegetarian, falls in love with her opposite, outlaw Mickey Wrangle, at a liberal political convention in Hawaii that Mickey intends to bomb. A book about individual priorities, “metaphysical outlaw-ism,” the purpose of the moon, and “how to make love stay,” Still Life with Woodpecker has also been described as a postmodern fairy tale that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
A collection of helpless, hapless, and howlingly good essays, Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake details the struggles and pitfalls of young urban life, from upsetting an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to managing an unhealthy obsession with plastic ponies to attending weddings for people you no longer remember.
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
This 1963 science fiction masterpiece follows a cornucopia of crazed characters around a sordid Carribbean island where one writer’s desire to document atomic bomb stories overlaps with a high-stakes political drama. Once a mainstay of every student’s backpack, Cat’s Cradle offers important commentary on American imperialism, man versus technology, and the threat of nuclear war. But above all else, it’s screamingly funny.
I’m Judging You, by Luvvie Ajayi
Multi-award-winning writer, critic, blogger, and all-around wisecracking social commentary mastermind Luvvie Ajayi holds nothing back in this howlingly brave and funny collection of essays tackling not just the insipidness of pop culture but the pervasiveness of racism. A self-proclaimed “professional shade thrower,” Ajayi has written a brilliant bestseller that will have you laughing at (and ruthlessly lambasting) the world around you.
In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders
George Saunders, lauded and beloved writer of fiction, is more than just a fantastic storyteller; he’s a keen-eyed satirist who knows both heartache and humor and can expertly dish up equal servings of pathos and absurdity. In Persuasion Nation is a collection of varied short stories that blend the literary with the fantastical and offer poignant insight into the emptiness and hilarity of our modern world.
Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
Praised as genius, human, broken, and sidesplitting, Hyperbole and a Half is the wildly illustrated book that Bill Gates proclaimed to be “funny and smart as hell.” Spawned from the popular blog and webcomic following Allie’s adventures with depression and rescue dogs, Hyperbole and a Half is one of the most original and captivating creations of our Internet age.
What I’d Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats, by Jack Handey
Known for his New Yorker wit, Saturday Night Live bits, and riotous Deep Thoughts, Jack Handey is also celebrated as one of America’s most enduring humorists. In What I’d Say to the Martians, he dishes up his trademark accessible weirdness through various short stories, sketches, and musings. From “How to Prepare a Wild-Caught Rabbit for a Meal” to “My Third Best Friend” (which ends up being his wife, Brenda), Handey will have you gasping for air and buying up copies for friends.
Our Dumb World, by The Onion
Brought to you courtesy of The Onion, arguably the planet’s most hilarious fake news source, Our Dumb World is the most outrageously fun faux atlas you’ll ever encounter. Chock full of laugh-out-loud maps and graphics, this book skewers every corner of the world, from Nevada (“Where Everyone’s a Loser”) to Greenland (“The Largest Land Mass on Earth”).
Paperback $14.99 | $16.99
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore
Most everyone knows the story of Jesus, but no one tells it as well as Christ’s little-known childhood friend, Biff. In Lamb, Christopher Moore retells the short life of the Messiah, including every miracle, journey, kung fu fight, and hot babe you may have missed the first time around. Hailed as both heartfelt and hilarious, this wacky, surprisingly wonderful lost book of the Gospel is truly divine comedy.
If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t), by Betty White
Betty White has spent seven decades in Hollywood, so you can imagine she has plenty of tales to tell and wit and wisdom to share. In If You Ask Me, White shares everything she knows about love, fame, our fine feathered and furry friends (she’s a devout animal lover), pop culture, and getting older. This read is as charming as its beloved author.
The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
No one writes a travel book quite like humorist Mark Twain. In The Innocents Abroad (aka The New Pilgrims’ Progress), Twain details his journey aboard the chartered Quaker City, which took him and fellow Americans from New York City to Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867. Full of exasperation, awe, and laugh-out-loud comedy, this must-read may make contemporary travelers long for the days of slowpoke steamers.
How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran
Fearless, feminist, and funny, How to be a Woman, by one of Britain’s most brilliant broads, has been praised as “entirely necessary” and a cultural phenomenon. Full of well-crafted arguments on how to bring down the patriarchy, as well as zingers regarding bras, strip clubs, and witches, this can’t-put-down read is everywoman’s pick-me-up.
Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth
Named for the psychiatric disorder in which “altruistic impulses are perpetually at war with extreme sexual longings,” Philip Roth’s masterpiece is told from a psychoanalyst’s couch. This comedic jewel launched Roth to the forefront of American literature in the ’60s and continues to delight readers with its bravery and bawdiness.
Diary of a Mad Diva, by Joan Rivers
The last thing Joan Rivers ever wanted (or expected) as a gift was a diary, but when her daughter, Melissa, gave her one, the world’s most lovable and loudmouthed diva found she had a lot to say. The result is this gasp-inducing gem that skewers Hollywood celebs, New York, LA, vacations in Mexico, and, as always, Joan herself.
Cruel Shoes, by Steve Martin
One of the wisest and weirdest comedians of all time penned this classic compilation, which features absurdist short fiction and hilarious essays with LOL titles such as “The Diarrhea Gardens of El Camino Real,” “Poodles…Great Eating,” “The Vengeful Curtain Rod,” and “How To Fold Soup.”
Under the Frog, by Tibor Fischer
An audacious and daring black comedy that was the first debut novel ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog tells the dark but surprisingly funny story of two Hungarian basketball players, Pataki and Gyuri, between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. Determined to flee their pointless factory work, the two athletes travel to every corner of Hungary, oftentimes in the nude, on an epic search for food, women, and meaning.
No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July
Miranda July, award-winning performance artist and filmmaker, delights fans and first-time readers alike with this collection of short stories that mine the awkwardness of the human experience for moments both mundane and meaningful. Sly, tender, strange, and often hilarious, July proves with this compilation that she’s one of the smartest, and unexpectedly funniest, voices around.
Paperback $11.58 | $16.00
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, by David Foster Wallace
There’s nothing quite like David Foster Wallace’s literary gymnastics; his flair for the funny, fearless, and footnoted are indisputably unmatched. And in this howler of a book, in which Wallace reports on experiences ranging from tennis to a Caribbean cruise to the Illinois State Fair, he brings his A-game. Readers will have their minds illuminated and their sides stitched.
Meaty, by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby made her mark with her screamingly funny blog BitchesGottaEat, and the fun continues in outrageous literary debut Meaty. From the crass and witty “How to Get Your Disgusting Meat Carcass Ready for Some New, Hot Sex,” to poignant stories of her mother’s death and her struggles with Crohn’s, this bawdy and beautiful grouping of essays covers everything from poverty, race, and tacos to kittens, longing, and recipes. Yes, she’s included a few, to readers’ great joy.
Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen
Only the outrageous plot master and character genius Carl Hiaasen could concoct something as rude and riotous as Skinny Dip, a novel involving attempted murder, bales of floating Jamaican pot, ex-cops, and fraudulent marine biologists. Readers can’t go wrong reading any of Hiaasen’s works, but this beauty in particular dips into the real skinny of his comedic genius.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Everyone knows who Tina Fey is: she’s an SNL queen, she’s Liz Lemon, she’s an accomplished and adored writer, actor, producer, and comedian. But who was she before all that? In Bossypants, the Tina Fey story is brought to life, in the sort of autobiography everyone wishes they had written—and lived. From her early days working at the YMCA to her adventures in motherhood, this tell-all shows Fey really is as down to earth, and otherworldly, as we’ve made her out to be.
Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Trust us: if authors Gaiman and Pratchett are in charge of Armageddon, it’s going to be a hilarious event. In Good Omens, these two warped and witty Brits serve up their version of the end times, in which a witch whose prophecies always come true lets everyone know the world will end next Saturday before dinner. That’s when an angel and a demon (who’ve been living among mortals and enjoy it just fine) set out to find the Antichrist and put a stop to things. Too bad the Antichrist was switched at birth by a Satanist nun. Don’t miss the heaven this devilishly great read dishes up.
In Such Good Company, by Carol Burnett
One of television’s greatest variety shows was The Carol Burnett Show, starring Burnett alongside the outrageously fun Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. In this read that’ll have you gasping for air, Burnett details the behind-the-scenes fun of all 276 episodes, with details on not just how the sketches were crafted, but also Burnett’s relationships with guest stars, like Lucille Ball, Rita Hayworth, and Jim Nabors.
Lamentations of the Father: Essays, by Ian Frazier
Ian Frazier, accomplished novelist, essayist, and social satirist, whose classic comedic stylings have long graced the pages of the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, is at his all-time best in this collection. Hailed by The Boston Globe as “an antidote for the blues,” it reminds us why this life is so worth living and laughing at.
If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I doing in the Pits?, by Erma Bombeck
From 1965 to 1996, the incomparable Erma Bombeck wrote almost 5,000 newspaper columns about what it was like to be an ordinary Midwestern housewife, and her wry, dry style appealed to nearly everyone, laundry specialist or not. In this classic collection, readers will laugh aloud at Bombeck’s take on everything from lettuce to bunk beds to tennis elbow. Bombeck was indeed an American original, and this gem that stands the test of time reads like a slice of our country’s history.
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington
Though the title sounds like a blog entry, this scream of a novel is actually fiction at its finest. Main character Pel, who lives with his feisty girlfriend Ursula, is unequipped to handle the downward spiral that occurs when he takes over his boss’s job. From run-ins with the Chinese mafia to stolen money and missing coworkers, Perl’s misadventures also include a series of laugh-out-loud arguments with his stalwart and stubborn love interest. This read proves a thriller can also be a killer comedy.
I’m Just a Person, by Tig Notaro
In 2012, over the course of just four months, Tig Notaro was hospitalized with a rare intestinal disease, lost her mother, endured a devastating breakup, and was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. The good news? Notaro is a comedian, and she took her unthinkable predicament onstage to deliver one of the most raw, illuminating, and darkly hilarious standup performances of all time. Her brave book tackles those same topics and is a must-read for its deep delivery of hope and laughter.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
There’s The Odyssey and then there’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which just might be slightly more adventurous than what Odysseus got himself into. In Adams’ galactic road trip, prepare yourself for all sorts of interstellar road blocks, philosophical musings, and alien weirdos—like Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie who’s also the president of the galaxy. If you’ve ever wondered what the meaning of life is, and why we wear watches, crack open this chestnut for the universe’s answers.
Paperback $11.56 | $15.00
I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron
Being a woman of certain age isn’t easy, but it just got a whole lot more fun thanks to the eternally observant and wisecracking Ephron, who gives readers the lowdown on empty nests, city life, sagging necks, and general runs of bad luck. With chapter titles like “The Lost Strudel or Le Strudel Perdu” and “Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told,” not to mention its status as a #1 bestseller, I Feel Bad About My Neck will have readers feeling great about life.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak of The Office and standup fame does something unexpected and wonderful with his debut book: he tries his hand at fiction, not memoir, and the result is amazing. Including stories both sharp and tender, One More Thing has been compared to the stylings of George Saunders, Steve Martin, and Woody Allen. At its core, however, it is entirely original, and every piece of prose within tackles why humans are always searching for that one thing that will complete them.
Shrill, by Lindy West
Lindy West was an incredibly shy child who struggled with her weight and her large, often controversial, viewpoints. Yet she grew up to be one of the freshest, wisest, and downright funniest voices of modern feminism. In her blockbuster memoir Shrill, in a voice both charming and unapologetic, West tackles everything from rape jokes and internet trolls to activism and intestinal fortitude (or lack thereof). In a world where women are expected to be both seductive and submissive, “like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you,” West’s insights are extremely relevant and necessary. As well as hilarious.
Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome
Published in 1889, this howler is still considered relevant and witty even though it was written more than one hundred years ago. Detailing a boating holiday on the Thames River, Three Men in a Boat began as a travel guide, but soon evolved into a comedic manuscript about the pitfalls of group vacations. Real, witty, and timeless, this humorous account proves that, when journeying with friends (and dogs), the more things change, the more they stay insane.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
What happens when a mother tires of her Seattle life and lifestyle? One in which she’s considered too bold (by her husband), too outrageous (by fellow moms), and too revolutionary (by colleagues)? She becomes an agoraphobic misanthrope who can no longer function…not even for a reward trip to Antarctica with her devoted daughter. Touching, brilliant, and very very funny, this page-turner has turned millions of heads.
More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer, by Casper Kelly
This little-known jewel, written by an award-winning TV writer, is chock full of absurd dark fiction that Joe Randazzo, editor of The Onion, bluntly praises as “f***ing awesome.” Within, readers will enter the mind of one of the seven dwarfs, who lusts after Snow White; an elderly man who has had his brain placed in a vat; and an office drone who believes his entire life may consist of implanted memories. Weird and incredibly smart, Casper Kelly’s little masterpiece earns a big spot on any must-read humor list.
Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones is a thirtysomething “Singleton” on a quest to tighten her thighs, brighten her love life, and learn how to operate the VCR. But first she must overcome patronizing questions from “Smug Marrieds,” the temptation of delicious sandwiches, and the disastrous world of dating. Full of everygirl woes, delightful self-disgust, and loads of laughter, this gem is not just comedic, it’s now a chick-lit classic.
The World According to Garp, by John Irving
John Irving grew up not knowing his biological father, and warned his mother that if she didn’t supply him with some details, he’d create a fictional story about his origin. This award-winning opus is said to be the result of that conversation, to which his mother famously replied: “Go ahead, dear.” Within, feminist icon Jenny Fields rapes a wounded soldier in order to become pregnant, and her son, T.S. Garp, grows up wondering who he is, where he came from, and what’s the meaning of it all. Filled with sexual deviance, heartbreak, and endless humor, this book is both harrowing and hilarious.
Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
Paling, of The Mindy Project and The Office fame, wows fans in her second book, in which she details her quest for happiness, her advice regarding on-camera beauty, her run-in with Bradley Cooper, and how to lose weight (or not) without employing behavior modification. This chuckle of a read is as self-deprecating and delightful as Paling herself.
Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster), by Dave Barry
For more than twenty years, Dave Barry, acclaimed author of over thirty books and sometime guitarist for the Rock Bottom Remainders, wrote a weekly humor column for the Miami Herald, earning him a Pulitzer Prize and a TV show. In this knee-slapping compilation, Barry gathers essays on a variety of noteworthy topics ranging from Brazil’s soccer obsession to Putin’s Russia to his very un-Mad Men-like hometown, as well as witty advice for his infant grandson.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
In this lovable, laugh-out-loud memoir named for her hugely popular web series, Issa Rae details the perils of being both awkward and black, a condition “someone once told [her] were the two worst things anyone could be.” From cybersexing and eating alone, to “rapping” and PDA, Rae endears and enlightens all readers, no matter their cool factor or skin color.
The Kid, by Dan Savage
Dan Savage might be best known for his syndicated sex advice column, “Savage Love,” but in this frank and courageous book, in which Dan and his boyfriend decide to start a family, new territory is chartered, and it’s both hysterical and heartfelt. For anyone who has ever wanted a baby, but perhaps have not considered what it’s like for two gay men to approach this milestone, The Kid is equal parts illuminating and entertaining.
Seriously…I’m Kidding, Ellen Degenres
Degeneres has given so many so much through her talk show, her standup comedy, and her activism. But she always has more to give, so she also writes books. And thank goodness for her efforts, because her memoirs are some of the most laugh-out-loud funny personal chronicles out there. Seriously…I’m Kidding is chock full of anecdotes about her life with wife Portia de Rossi and her time on American Idol, all wrapped up in a laugh-till-you-cry tell-all that’s a gift to all.
Paperback $10.00 | $15.99
A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
An acclaimed writer of nonfiction (with a primarily travel-oriented bent), Bill Bryson is at his wittiest in A Walk in the Woods, tackling the Appalachian Trail, its history, and all the people he meets on his journey down it (not to mention bears). Howl like a wolf with Bryson as he makes his way from Georgia to Maine for more than two thousand miles of facts and fun.
The Bedwetter, by Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman’s autobiography is as fierce as she is, full of tales both tall and low about what it was like to grow up Jewish in New Hampshire, what it was like to write for SNL, what is was like to battle depression, and what it was like to struggle with an ongoing bedwetting condition. Very brave and extremely funny, Bedwetter will have readers wetting their pants.
The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
Since it took the stage in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s piece de resistance, The Importance of Being Earnest, has delighted audiences and readers with its endlessly genius wordplay. In addition to a riveting plot and dialogue, this classic play employs all sorts of tricks of language that have continued to entertain for more than a century.