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8 Books for People with a Dark Sense of Humor

Just because something is sad, doesn’t mean it can’t be funny! From gallows humor to sardonic serial killers, these darkly funny books are sure to make you laugh…and feel bad about it.

Unreliable by Lee Irby

“Creepy, twisted, darkly funny, and totally riveting, Lee Irby’s Unreliable kept me guessing from the first page to last.” —Lisa Unger

Riotous and riveting, this is the story of a charming college professor who most definitely did not—but maybe did—kill his ex-wife. Or someone else. Or no one. Lee Irby plays with the thriller trope in unimaginably clever ways.

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4.1.2Straight Man by Richard Russo

“[Russo] skewers academic pretensions and infighting with mad abandon . . . . in a clear and muscular prose that is a pleasaure to read.” —Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times

Hilarious and true to life, witty, compassionate, and impossible to put down, Straight Man follows professor Hank Devereaux through one very bad week in this novel from Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo.

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9780345807120Make Something Up by Chuck Palahniuk

“Palahniuk is a bracingly toxic purveyor of dread and mounting horror. He makes nihilism fun.”—Vanity Fair

Chuck Palahniuk, literature’s favorite transgressive author, gives us twenty-one stories and one novella in Make Something Up, a compilation that disturbs and delights in equal measure. Funny, caustic, bizarre, poignant, these stories represent everything readers have come to love and expect from Chuck Palahniuk. You’ll never forget them. Just try.

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9780345807335Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

“A smart-as-hell, fun-as-heck novel composed entirely of recommendation letters.”— Newsweek

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the Midwest. His life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.

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9780307947475Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

“One of the most innovative, inspired short-story collections in the past decade. . . . There’s absolutely no living author quite like Karen Russell.” —Michael Schaub, NPR

From the author of the novel Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—comes a magical and uniquely daring collection of stories that showcases the author’s gifts at their inimitable best.

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9780679785897Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“The best book on the dope decade.” —The New York Times Book Review

This cult classic of gonzo journalism is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

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9780307472762Moo by Jane Smiley

“Delectably entertaining. . . . An uproariously funny and at the same time hauntingly melancholy portrait of a college community in the Midwest.” —The New York Times

In this darkly satirical send-up of academia and the Midwest, we are introduced to Moo University, a distinguished institution devoted to the study of agriculture. Amid cow pastures and waving fields of grain, Moo’s campus churns with devious plots, mischievous intrigue, lusty liaisons, and academic one-upmanship. Wonderfully written and masterfully plotted, Moo gives us a wickedly funny slice of life.

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9780345804334The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead

The Noble Hustle, part love letter, part dark confessional, captures perfectly the mix of neurosis and narrative that makes gambling so appealing.” —Mother Jones

In 2011, Grantland magazine gave bestselling novelist Colson Whitehead $10,000 to play at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was the assignment of a lifetime, except for one hitch—he’d never played in a casino tournament before. With just six weeks to train, our humble narrator took the Greyhound to Atlantic City to learn the ways of high-stakes Texas Hold’em.

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