When the summer humidity is stifling and your family vacation has gone on a little too long, we all need a bit of humor to widen our perspective and keep us laughing. Enjoy these ten books of short essays that are sure to leave you in stitches!
The first title on the list comes from the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author Joseph O’Neill. Good Trouble is a collection of stunning, subversive, and wryly comic stories that reveal the emotional depths and surprising beauty of life in the twenty-first century. Check out the rest of the list for more funny shorts to lighten your mood!
Good Trouble by Joseph O’Neill
“Funny and fierce. . . . An essential book, full of unexpected bursts of meaning and beauty.” —Ploughshares
A poet confronts the state of his art when asked to sign a petition-in-verse to free Edward Snowden. A man attending a wedding in Tuscany seeks a moment of solace with a friendly goose. A father uses a tracking app to follow his son’s stolen phone, opening wider questions of the world and its dangers. In these flashes of trouble, O’Neill unearths the real, secretly political consequences of our ordinary lives.
Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans by Dave Eggers
“Achieves the sensation of being hit by a hip, humorous train. . . . Breaks mold after mold in hilarious fashion.” —The New York Times
A laugh-so-hard-people-are-giving-you-weird-looks-on-the-train triumph! Over sixty contributing humorists weigh in with that special McSweeney’s brand of insanity. What can be done to stop the world’s relentless march of drabbery? Nothing. But perhaps this book can be used to dull the pain.
As John Hodgman says in the book’s introduction, “We all know that books are funny. First, they are made of paste and cloth, which is funny, as is the fact that people still buy and read them.” With that in mind, The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes collects the best book-related humor from the humor-laden archives of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Open it and be regaled by sketches, lists, letters, and spoofs.
You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You with Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Armisen, Judd Apatow, and more
“A smart, fun addition to any literary enthusiast’s artfully cluttered bedside table.” —Marie Claire
In these pages Fred Armisen offers help telling your dad you’re a lesbian; Mindy Kaling provides guidance on ending things with your mistress; and Rainn Wilson offers insight on contacting that girl you dreamed about last night. Enjoy this compendium of advice from an all-star cast of comedians, including stars of Saturday Night Live, The Office, The Colbert Report, and more!
Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant by Joel Golby
“This is a funny and beautiful book. What a little bastard.” —Russell Brand
Joel Golby, whose wry observation and naked self-reflection has appeared in Vice and The Guardian, presents a blistering collection of new and newly expanded essays—including the achingly funny viral hit “Things You Only Know When Both Your Parents Are Dead.” In these pages, he travels to Saudi Arabia, where he acts as a perplexed bystander at a camel pageant; offers a survival guide for the modern dinner party (i.e. how to tactfully escape at the first sign of an adult board game); and gets pitted head-to-head, again and again, with an unpredictable, unpitying subspecies of Londoner: the landlord.
Smart, edgy, hilarious, and unabashedly raunchy, New York Times bestselling author Samantha Irby explodes onto the printed page in her uproarious first collection of essays.
Irby laughs her way through tragicomic mishaps, neuroses, and taboos as she struggles through adulthood: chin hairs, depression, bad sex, failed relationships, masturbation, taco feasts, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. Updated with her favorite Instagramable, couch-friendly recipes, this much-beloved romp is a treat for anyone in dire need of Irby’s infamous, scathing wit and poignant candor.
American Housewife by Helen Ellis
“Catchy, smart and very, very funny.” —The Washington Post
Meet the women of American Housewife. They wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies from the oven. These twelve delightfully demented stories are a refreshing and wicked answer to the question: “What do housewives do all day?”
Half Empty by David Rakoff
“Writing like this can only be a positive experience for all concerned. . . . File Rakoff under ‘essayist, brilliant.’” —The New York Times
In this deeply smart and sneakily poignant collection of essays, the bestselling author of Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable makes an inspired case for always assuming the worst—because then you’ll never be disappointed. Whether he’s taking on pop culture phenomena with Oscar Wilde-worthy wit or dealing with personal tragedy, Rakoff’s sharp observations and humorist’s flair for the absurd will have you positively reveling in the untapped power of negativity.
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
“Fabulous. . . . Masterly. . . . Dazzle[s] you. . . .with strings of perfect prose.” –Carolyn See, Washington Post Book World
Here is Nora Ephron at her funniest, wisest, and best, taking a hilarious look at the past and bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life. In these pages she takes us from her first job in the mailroom at Newsweek to the six stages of email, from memories of her parents’ whirlwind dinner parties to her own life now full of Senior Moments (or, as she calls them, Google Moments), from her greatest career flops to her most treasured joys. Filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true, I Remember Nothing is a delightful, poignant gift from one of our finest writers.
One More Thing by B. J. Novak
A startlingly original debut from the actor, writer, director, and executive producer hailed as “a gifted observer of the human condition and a very funny writer capable of winning that rare thing: unselfconscious, insuppressible laughter” (The Washington Post).
Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.