Friday, August 29, 2008


On a train recently I was relieved to see this brother and sister lounging and reading, with a few brief intervals to talk to each other, the whole way to CT --

maybe especially because of all the other kids I'd seen playing games, maybe because of WHAT they were reading. He was reading

and she was reading

When I was a child in the early 1960s, I loved MAD -- so did my friends. We found it hilarious; it articulated how we thought and felt about the world around us; and it made us feel smart -- I'm not sure how it did that. But the last time -- quite a few years ago, maybe it's gotten funny again -- I bought MAD it didn't even make me smile. IT had changed, not me.

I know because I have a lot of those old MADs and they still make me laugh out loud.  I don't reread them too often  -- I don't want them to lose their power. There aren't that many books that can make me laugh aloud.

Can anyone recommend ANY? I can think of:
*David Sedaris, especially when he's reading his own work aloud
*English novels like LUCIA and COLD COMFORT FARM (and even funnier, a short story "Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, before the civilizing influence of Flora Post") and LUCKY JIM. Maybe because I lived there as a kid, I find their brand of silliness really funny.
*Josephine Tey usually has some amusing passages -- that sheep farmer quote here awhile ago came from her -- and there's a PG Wodehouse story called GOOD-BYE TO ALL CATS I find hilarious, in that high-spirited silly English way
* Parts of MATILDA are funny, too, and HARRIET THE SPY in places. 

But what else? There must be more!  When was the last time you laughed out loud while you were reading and what made you do it?

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

"A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson... good laugh out loud moments having to do with his own fallibility.
:-)

Tricia said...

Straight Man by Richard Russo always makes me laugh out loud, and in the first few pages.

I read the Willoughbys in one sitting during a day of appointments, and laughed aloud on several occasions, much to the chagrin of the other patients waiting nearby.

Finally, I read Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett this summer and couldn't stop laughing!

yamster said...

I was going to say Bill Bryson before I even clicked to the comments! For me it was In a Sunburned Country, when he talks about Australian bacon.

Also Candyfreak, by Steve Almond, and Candy and Me, by Hilary Liftin. Alvina has probably already told you about those…

charybdisreviewz said...

In YA lit, Jordan Sonnenblick always makes me laugh. He is the writer of Notes From the Midnight Driver and Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.

Whenever I have a bad day, I drag those books off one of my many shelves and read them straight through. Eyeliner is dripping off of my chin by the time I'm down laughcrying.

-Aella

tumbletell said...

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series is consistently funny - start with the Eyre Affair
also To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It is so silly.

--alissa

Susan Sandmore said...

I laughed out loud reading an Ibbotson book the other day.

We have some old Mads and Crackeds and the like around the house and I'm afraid they no longer make me laugh. :(

Libby Koponen said...

Wow, thanks everyone! That's really good news (except that MAD no longer makes you laugh Susan--but maybe you are younger than I am and the MADs aren't of the same vintage? I think the late 50s/ early 60s was their peak). THank you for all these recommendations, I can't wait to get them. And have NEW things to laugh at.

--Libby

Jennie said...

The Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison always make me laugh out loud to the point where I no longer read them in public. (There was an incident in a very quiet, but packed Starbucks and me shooting latte out my nose.)

And I'll second the Jasper Fforde.

MotherReader said...

All the adult titles that have made me laugh out loud are really long...

Here's the authors instead: Mil Millington, Jen Lancaster, Laurie Notaro, Gene Weingarten

Rita said...

I just reread all the Douglas Adams books these past few weeks, and while (for the first time ever in my life) I was able to recognize not all the books were equally good, they consistently made real-sound laughter bubble out of me. Over and over.

I'm just about to move on to rereading Good Omens, so I'm glad to see that mentioned here!

Laughing hysterically at David Sedaris has gotten me in trouble in public places, in the past. :D