Although he’s well known for writing delightfully scary, creepy, and thrilling books for young readers and teens, author R.L. Stine—known then as Jovial Bob Stein—got his start writing joke books and humor books for kids. (After all, it’s a fine line between comedy and horror, no?) The newest book in Stine’s beloved and notorious Fear Street series (which recently returned, scarier than ever, from a two decade hiatus), Can You Keep a Secret?, is out today. To celebrate, we asked Jovial Bob to share his favorite funny books with us.
1. Right Ho, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse
The funniest of all the Jeeves novels. Just thinking about the insane telegrams in this one gets me laughing.
2. Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, by Jean Shepherd
Jean Shepherd is one of my heroes. These brilliant stories about growing up in the Midwest rank with those of any humorist.
3. Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: A Primer For Adults Only, by Shel Silverstein
Hilarious early work by Silverstein. An ABC book that will destroy kids’ minds forever. Very influential on me.
Liberty, by Garrison Keillor
I think this is the best Lake Woebegone book of them all. I recommend this book to everyone. The humor is truly worthy of Twain.
Barefoot Boy With Cheek, by Max Shulman
Shulman was one of the first humorists I ever read. When I was in high school, this book made me laugh till tears rolled down my face. I tried to imitate the style from then on.
Without Feathers, by Woody Allen
My favorite Woody Allen collection. I’m so sorry he no longer writes these New Yorker pieces. They’re uniformly hilarious.
A Mother’s Kisses, by Bruce Jay Friedman
Perhaps the worst Jewish mother in history—and the funniest.
Tristram Shandy, by Laurence Sterne
This book is the invention of meta more than two hundred years ago. Still as funny and imaginative and innovative today. A comic masterpiece.
Mapp and Lucia, by E.F. Benson
Genius satire on life in a small village in England. The characters live for gossip. They are trivial, mean-natured, and lovable at the same time. Endless fun.
Can You Keep a Secret? is on shelves today.