To say we could all use a good laugh right now is a bit of an understatement. The entire world has turned into one giant ball of stress and anxiety (or at least mine has). Right now, I want adventure, I want happiness and charm and I want to laugh out loud. These novels and memoirs are filled to the brim with all of the above and more.
11 Hilarious, Heartwarming Books to Read When You Need a Good Laugh
Jen Beagin’s voice is both hilarious and edgy and I couldn’t get enough of it. VACUUM IN THE DARK follows Mona, a 26-year-old cleaning lady who is struggling to move forward with her life. Mona’s client list is complicated, to say the least. For one thing, she’s dating one of them, whom she calls Dark, and he’s married. As Mona attempts to move on from her troubled past and horrible boyfriend, she finds herself on a journey of self-discovery. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, absurd, and completely unforgettable.
From the Whiting Award–winning author of Pretend I’m Dead and one of the most exhilarating new voices in fiction, a “thoroughly delightfully, surprisingly profound” (Entertainment Weekly) one-of-a-kind novel about a cleaning lady named Mona and her struggles to move forward in life.
Soon to be an FX television show starring Lola Kirke.
Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly because of a bad boyfriend—a junkie named Mr. Disgusting, long story—and her efforts to restart her life since haven’t exactly gone as planned. For one thing, she’s got another bad boyfriend. This one she calls Dark, and he happens to be married to one of Mona’s clients. He also might be a little unstable.
Dark and his wife aren’t the only complicated clients on Mona’s roster, either. There’s also the Hungarian artist couple who—with her addiction to painkillers and his lingering stares—reminds Mona of troubling aspects of her childhood, and some of the underlying reasons her life had to be restarted in the first place. As she tries to get over the heartache of her affair and the older pains of her youth, Mona winds up on an eccentric, moving journey of self-discovery that takes her back to her beginnings where she attempts to unlock the key to having a sense of home in the future. The only problems are Dark and her past. Neither is so easy to get rid of.
Jen Beagin’s Vacuum in the Dark is an unforgettable, astonishing read, “by turns nutty and forlorn…Brash, deadpan, and achingly troubled” (O, The Oprah Magazine). Beagin is “a wonderfully funny writer who also happens to tackle serious subjects” (NPR).
Life is full of growing pains and we seldom find ourselves where we expected to end up. So of course, Roxy is no exception. We can all agree that the current situation is one that none of us could have planned for, just like Roxy didn’t plan to have her ex-boyfriend move in as her new roommate. Of course, Roxy is broke and could use the rent money - not to mention she’s still in love with Everett. This book has already been described by many as a new American version of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and Roxy certainly does have her moments! Told through a series of never sent letters to Everett, Roxy is determined to get her love life back on track, save the city of Austin from becoming a corporate wasteland and find some creative inspiration to pursue her art. This story is quirky, funny, and sometimes just plain weird. You’re sure to love Roxy as much as I do.
Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.
Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.
As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?
Do you love books about love that make you feel happy? Because I do, and Christina Lauren always puts a dorky smile on my face. This book really does just feel like happiness. MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND follows Millie, a tom-boy UC Santa Barbara professor who hates getting personal, after her and her friends join an online dating service in an attempt to find a plus one to a black-tie gala. But then Millie and Reid secretly have the best (and steamiest) half-night of their lives together. However, they decide that their friendship would be better off staying platonic. That is until Millie creates “Catherine," her fiction online persona, who begins a digital relationship with Reid.
By the New York Times bestselling author who “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly), My Favorite Half-Night Stand is a laugh-out-loud romp through online dating and its many, many fails.
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.
So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.
But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.
Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.
This is a book that absolutely everyone should read, and I’m not just saying that because I often find myself in very awkward situations and love a good self-deprecating joke. Whether you’ve seen Insecure or watched her Awkward Black Girl series on YouTube, there is no denying that Issa Rae is both hilarious and honest. The MISADVENTURES OF AWKWARD BLACK GIRL is a collection of personal essays about Issa Rae’s own experience navigating her relationships and her career in the early days of online content creation.
The “brilliantly wry” (Lena Dunham) and “lovably awkward” (Mindy Kaling) New York Times bestseller from the creator of HBO’s Insecure.
In this universally accessible New York Times bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, Issa Rae—“a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne” (Kirkus Reviews)—waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.
I’m awkward—and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst things anyone could be. That someone was right. Where do I start?
Being an introvert (as well as “funny,” according to the Los Angeles Times) in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert—whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this New York Times bestselling debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss.
As the daughter of a dedicated high school teacher, I grew up hearing all about the drama and comedy that takes place in the classroom and in the teacher’s lounge. This book gets everything right about what it’s like to teach in a public school and is filled with humor and an amazing amount of heart. ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS follows five different teachers at a struggling urban high school in Texas whose lives are suddenly changed drastically by the new celebrity superintendent.
A debut novel told with humor, intelligence, and heart, a “funny but insightful look at teachers in the workplace…reminiscent of the TV show The Office but set in an urban high school” (The Washington Post), perfect for fans of Tom Perrotta and Laurie Gelman.
Roxanna Elden’s “laugh-out-loud funny satire” (Forbes) is a brilliantly entertaining and moving look at our education system.
Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.
English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down.
If you’re looking for something truly absurd to take your mind off the world right now, then look no further than THE FIRST BAD MAN. This book is a trip in more ways than one, but it’s also very sexy and very tender. Meet Cheryl, a slightly neurotic 40-year-old woman who is obsessed with and often fantasizes about Phillip, a 60-something member of the board for the non-profit she works for. Suddenly, Cheryl’s life is upended when her boss’s 21-year-old daughter comes to live with her.
The First Bad Man by Miranda July is one of my top five favorite books of 2015. Over the past year, I’ve given several copies of it to friends—which is why I need a new copy (or three!). July is an artist who is willing to share a world that is even stranger than what I experience in my fantasies. The characters in this novel use imagination as a tool for emotional healing and challenge readers to go beyond their comfort zones in a way that no novel I’ve read has done before. —Erica
Samantha Irby’s collection of essays are both bittersweet and laugh out loud funny. This book details so many relatable “adult” problems and is full swear words and raunchy humor. Irby confronts tough topics head-on with a wicked sense of humor that is sure to brighten anyone’s day. You’ll wish that you could just go grab a drink with the author after reading about her awkward sexual encounters, inability to stick to a budget, and trying to navigate her relationships with her former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms. There is something funny in this book for everyone.
This book is wonderful and lyrical and truly a love story. Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn 50 when he receives an invite to his boyfriend’s wedding to another man. So, in order to completely avoid his problems, Arthur decides to accept a series of invitations to literary events around the world. What follows is a hilarious journey of misunderstandings and mistakes through Paris, Berlin, India, and more.
I love Nora Ephron’s films, specifically Bewitched and Sleepless in Seattle. Sometimes you just need a good rom-com and some funny truths in your life. This amazing memoir chronicles Ephron’s experience as a White House intern, obsessive cook, parent, and the reality of getting older. Mostly, this is a hilarious and frank story about what it’s like to be a woman of a certain age dealing with menopause, empty nests, and how she hates the way her neck looks now. And of course, if you’re a big fan of audiobooks, this one is narrated by Ephron herself bringing yet another layer to her wonderful voice.
In the last few years of her life, Nora reclaimed her literary crown with this collection, which openly discussed what it meant to be a woman who was getting older and experiencing change. Through ups, downs, and unexpected truths, she kept us laughing.
This book might be the perfect combination of humor and tragedy for the world right now. Subtitled “A Funny Book About Horrible Things,” FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a memoir that deals with depression and mental illness, but really, it’s about joy. Whether you suffer from anxiety or depression, or are close to someone who is, you are sure to find something to relate to in Lawson’s story. Sometimes life gets messy and we need to embrace who we are in order to find the joy in even the smallest and craziest of things. I think the thing I love most about FURIOUSLY HAPPY is its weirdness and bravery. This book is what it is, and it doesn’t want to be anything else. That alone had me laughing until my sides hurt.
WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE is probably a little different than the other books on this list, but it is still just as much of a good time. This book is filled with family secrets, family love, and of course humor. WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE follows Bernadette Fox, a former awarded female architect and current mother and agoraphobic. She hates her life in Seattle and the other parents in the community. After her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, claims a family trip to Antarctica as her prize for perfect grades and a disastrous school fundraiser, Bernadette snaps. She disappears. The story is told from the perspective of Bee as she struggles to pick up the pieces of her mother’s life through a series of emails, memos, and more.
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