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Take a break: 10 books guaranteed to make you laugh out loud

If you’ve had a busy week or just need a good ol’ pick-me-up, lose yourself in one of these feel-good books.

Man reading book

The world can be tough. With lives that seem increasingly busy, bogged down by responsibilities and obligations, a good book can be an escape, particularly one that lightens your mood.

Research shows that laughter can relieve built-up body tension and stress. So, it makes sense that when you need a little boost in spirit, you grab one of the 10 funniest books ever written.

  1. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

    Through this series of quick-witted autobiographical essays, David Sedaris proves why he’s considered one of the best comic writers around. The bestselling author, humorist and three-time Grammy Award nominee chronicles his life experiences, including his fish-out-of-water adventures in Paris that anyone who has attempted to learn another language can relate to, such as his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that, “Every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section.” – buy here.

  2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Toole wrote this novel – set in New Orleans – in the early 1960s. Published posthumously in 1980, more than a decade after Toole committed suicide, this is a comedic masterpiece whose pages sing with one of the greatest fictional creations in literature. The novel follows obese, eccentric savant Ignatius J Reilly’s adventures in his quest for employment. Despite having been earlier rejected by publishers, the book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1981. – buy here.

  3. Bossypants by Tina Fey

    Tina Fey’s memoir bubbles over with wry and witty observations about her life and the human condition itself. Fey describes events in her early years, including growing up as an awkward, smart-mouthed girl and traces the process by which she enters show business, her writing gig on Saturday Night Live and the ins and outs of being a woman in the entertainment biz. Fans of this book describe laughing out loud and erupting in giggles all the way through. Maybe avoid reading in public. – buy here.

  4. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

    First published in 1954, Lucky Jim is regarded by many as the finest (and funniest) comic novel of the 20th century. It was Amis’s first novel and it won the 1955 Somerset Maugham Award. Essentially a rom-com, Jim Dixon, a young university lecturer who is persecuted by one of the great comic bosses, is the star character whose intentions are good but actions are misguided, along with the bumbling Professor Neddy Welch, Neddy’s son and Jim’s archenemy Bertrand, and Margaret, who thinks she is Jim’s girlfriend. – buy here.

  5. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

    This hilarious yet moving novel about love, marriage, divorce and family follows the dysfunctional antics of the Foxmans: they’ve gathered together for their father’s funeral, but the loss brings all the old sibling angst to the surface in a way that’s both heartbreaking and funny. Adapted into a 2014 comedy-drama film starring Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver, it’s the perfect deep dive into a wisecracking family that’ll keep you turning the pages. – buy here.

  6. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

    Oscar Wilde, perhaps best remembered for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, wrote this famous play in 1894, and it is still considered a rollicking read. Wilde basically invented witty banter and the dialogue here delivers. The story concerns two men romancing two women, and it’s filled with madcap chaos and hilarious twists and turns. Lose yourself in timeless language that still induces an impressive amount of giggles. – buy here.

  7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

    Maria Semple, an American novelist and screenwriter whose credits include Beverly Hills, 90210 and Arrested Development, writes a brilliantly satirical, unconventional and modern-day epistolary novel that follows the story of a Seattle mom who disappears two days before Christmas. It’s up to her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, to figure out what’s become of her. The story is told through emails, texts, letters, bills and all the paperwork that makes up contemporary life which The New York Times says play to “Ms Semple’s strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy”. A book that’s full of laugh-out-loud moments. – buy here.

  8. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain by Phoebe Robinson

    Stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster and actor Phoebe Robinson’s collection of humorous essays offer a smart insight on what it’s like to be black and female in America today, and her prose continually jumps from profound to hilarious. This must-read bestseller is stunningly brilliant. – buy here.

  9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

    This novel first appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, was printed as a book in 1971 and was later adapted into a film of the same name in 1998 by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. Following protagonist, Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr Gonzo, the book documents their drug-induced, frivolous and at times ironic experiences in Las Vegas. Laced with humour, this is a colourful masterpiece that will take you on a journey of wild antics. – buy here.

  10. Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick

    Emmy Award-winning writer for Late Night with David Letterman Adam Resnick writes a 272-page witty memoir in hilarious detail about avoiding social interaction as a child and coping with them as a grown-up. As an entertaining collection of stories full of cynical humour, it should suit fans of David Sedaris. – buy here.

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