Throughout the summer, EW has been rolling out lists of some of our favorite books of all time. So far, we’ve suggested YA books not just for kids, celebrity memoirs, heart-stopping thrillers, and audiobooks to devour in the sun. This week’s installment should excite your funny bones. Pulling decades back, we’ve compiled 9 humor books that will actually make you laugh — the good, out-loud, stomach cramping kind.
How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater by Marc Acito (2004)
In Acito’s aptly titled novel, the protagonist—a high school drama club star whose tightwad dad won’t pay his Julliard tuition—enlists his friends in various money-raising fraud and blackmail schemes.
Barrel Fever by David Sedaris (1994)
Sedaris’ classic book of essays and short fiction is perhaps best known for the beloved story, “SantaLand Diaries,” which details Sedaris’ time working as Christmas elf at Macy’s. But the whole collection leaves readers in tears (the good kind) and previews his excellent work to come.
Straight Man by Richard Russo (1997)
Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Russo has a killer voice: at once compassionate and vigorously unsentimental. Here he trains his shrewd eye on an English professor’s midlife crisis, all the while taking wickedly precise shots at the absurdities of academic life. Countless scenes, like when our hapless protagonist threatens to murder a goose from the campus duck pond, will make you howl with laughter.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)
Naturalist Gerald Durrell recounts his childhood spent on the Greek island Curfu, and while the book skews towards the zoological, Durrell drops in wonky anecdotes about the three villas in which he grew up, his sister obsessed with dieting, and the perils of adolescence. Funny enough, they’re still as relevant now as when he lived on an island in the 1930s.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Ignatius J. Reilly, a corpulent mass of flesh and bombast, is as singular a literary creation as Quixote, Ahab, or Humbert, and just as idiosyncratically obsessed as any of them. This picaresque novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.
The Adrian Mole Diaries: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend (1982)
How you will root for young Adrian, a precocious 13-year-old British boy who chronicles his extraordinarily ordinary dramas in his diary. His parents are a mess, he can’t concentrate in geography class because of his desperate crush and he’s got pimples on his chin. Everybody’s been there.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding (1998)
Fielding’s delightful heroine, a nifty modern-day twist on Jane Austen’s beloved Elizabeth Bennett, swears and smokes and clumsily shows up to a staid family gathering in a Playboy bunny costume. She is the goofball best friend girls long for their whole lives.
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (2006)
Moore serves up a lively story about the dead in this absurdist tale, which follows a man who decides to begin hunting souls of the dying.
Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys by Dave Barry (2005)
Women have a lot to learn from Barry in this guide to men, which is made up of original material from the Miami Herald humor columnist. Among some of his facts about the other half? Apparently, they possess the Noogie gene.