It’s National Tell a Joke Day and we cannot stop thinking about the books that have made us literally laugh out loud over the years. It’s rare for a book to dig into our brains that way, making it feel like the protagonist is telling a joke just for us. Why not celebrate that?
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling truly delighted us with Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, but it’s her second book, Why Not Me?, that had us snickering in public. Luckily, Kaling’s image is displayed prominently on the cover, so passersby knew just why we were suppressing our laughter. Her memoirs are sharp and informative, balancing humor with real life mentoring to her aspiring television writer readers. Engaging with her writing is always a hilarious and joyous experience.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Gail Honeyman’s debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine had us laughing the whole way through. The novel, told from Eleanor’s own perspective, isn’t purely comedic. But the justifications behind many of her choices are. As the title states, she’s completely fine. But she’d probably be even better if folks would just leave her alone.
Calypso by David Sedaris
We’re diehard fans of David Sedaris, but his latest collection of essays really made us laugh out loud. And considering the central subject matter of his sister’s recent death, the comedic tone of Calypso caught us off guard. But maybe that’s what makes it so effective -- tension, release. Tension, release. Just like Hannah Gatsby outlined for us in Nanette. The standout essay of this collection is hands down the story about how Sedaris came to name his family’s beach house. But his devotionary to his Apple Watch is a close second.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
When Less won the Pulitzer Prize last year, it surprised everyone -- Andrew Sean Greer included. We read this novel with zero preconceived notions. We didn’t even know it was satire until the first page! And boy was it an emotional journey. We laughed out loud, of course. (That’s why it’s on this list, after all.) But we also cried. Greer has such a gift for prose, orchestrating the reader’s journey and taking his protagonist on a wild ride to boot. And no one asked our opinion, but it’s so deserving of that Pulitzer.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Our introduction to Samantha Irby’s incredible sense of humor was her 2017 essay collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a collection that begins with a confession that she loves The Bachelorette because of how humiliating it can be for the men on that show. (Relatable, tbh.) Now that we’ve fallen in love with Irby’s writing, we’re definitely going back to her debut collection Meaty. After all, we need to be Irby completists by the time Wow, No Thank You comes out next year!