10 Quick Reads That Prove Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Updated 04/25/19
Original Graphic by Stephanie DeAngelis

What do you do you after you've binge-watched all your favorite shows and simply want to unwind after a long day? Since laughter is the best medicine and books are the best teachers, curling up with a good read is the perfect remedy. But not just any read; reading something entertaining, funny, and moving will give you the same laughs you'd get from scrolling through your favorite meme-centric Instagram accounts while also getting a digital detox.

With this in mind, we decided to round up our favorite reads that also happen to be insanely funny. From poetry to fiction and memoirs, all with a different sense of humor, there's something for everyone. Scroll through to see which of these 10 laugh-out-loud books you want to add to your own reading list.

Intriguing Ethnography

Susan Orlean Saturday Night $13
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Saturday Night by Susan Orlean is about, well, Saturday night. She traveled all over the country to find out how all kinds of people spend their Saturday nights, a time when people can finally do something they actually want to do. It sounds like a simple quest, but her musings and observations are so biting and accurate you'll find yourself resonating and laughing along with all the satirical fun. She's an investigative journalist, so if you're looking for some fun non-fiction, here you go.

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "At the appropriate moment in history—his and the world's—he did flirt with the concept of hippiness, but the flirtation exhausted itself with his reading of The Whole Earth Catalog and some discussions about conserving fossil fuels."

Clever Poems

Mortal Trash Kim Addonizio $15
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More accurately described as clever than hilarious and goofy, this meditative collection of poems by Kim Addonizio will make you think and wrestle with difficult concepts—all the while maintaining its sense of humor. Mortal Trash is innovative stylistically and thematically.

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "Thou shalt use no archaic diction / lest ye be stoned. In the biblical sense of the word." — "Introduction to Poetry"

Spunky Shorts

Roxanne Gay Difficult Women $9
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Roxanne Gay's collection of short stories is a great option if you'd rather read fiction than essays but you don't have time for a whole novel. You'll never like unlikeable characters as much as these. Gay's tales are dark, but each character is so deeply unlikable that the absurdity and irreverence in tone give you no other option than to laugh it all off. Written with that trademark charm, compassion, and revolutionary insight, you won't be able to put Difficult Women down… even when you come across the disturbing, detailed description of a woman eating expired yogurt.

 

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "There's a lot to love about breaking things."

Thought-Provoking Essays

Rebecca Solnit The Mother of All Questions $9
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This is the latest release from Rebecca Solnit, the acclaimed author who brought us Men Explain Things to Me as well as over 16 other books. If you want to read about contemporary social issues that often bring humor into the mix, read The Mother of All Questions. She explores gender roles, expectations, specifically honing in on motherhood and femininity. 

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "Just because the question can be answered doesn't mean that anyone is obliged to answer it, or that it ought to be asked."

The Sarcastic Classic

Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies $11
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Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh is the OG of funny fiction. This classic novel about the elite young adults of post-WWI 1920s London is a sarcastic treat as well as a literary masterpiece. And as someone who understands the early-bird struggle, I feel I owe Waugh a big thank you for telling the world that "punctuality is the virtue of the bored." Preach.

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to my dentist any day."

The Hilarious Page-Turner

Amy Schumer Girl With the Lower Back Tatoo $16
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This wouldn't be the ultimate reading list of funny books without Amy Schumer's The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. If you haven't picked up this up yet, we promise you won't want to put it down once you do. But you might have to when you're in a constant fit of giggles. Beyond the humor though, Schumer also offers her reader plenty of valuable advice about self-love and acceptance. 

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "Like literally, the final moments of life come to mind when I begin to love someone. I think, Will this dude push my wheelchair? And even scarier, Would I be willing to push his?"

Witty Rhymes

Catherine Bowman 1-800-Hot-Ribs $16
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Yes, poetry can have a great sense of humor, as evidenced by 1-800-Hot-Ribs by Catherine Bowman. This collection will make you feel a bit of everything, but even the saddest moments are written with wit. If you love clever, lyrical language and quick reads, you will love Bowman's work. She's also the editor of NPR's Word of Mouth. One of her most impressive pieces is a sestina, "Mr. X," that'll make you laugh out loud, and it's impressive precisely because sestinas are hard enough to write, let alone write with such a sense of humor.

 

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "My semi-truck-I've-never-had-any-kind-of-luck-deluxe-super-high-jinx-to-be-unhappy-if-it-ain't-broken-don't-fix-it love."

Eccentric Tales

Leonora Carrington The Complete Short Stories of Leonora Carrington $11
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If you have an obscure taste in books and what others may deem an off sense of humor, then you won't be able to put this collection of stories down. A surrealist at heart, Leanora Carrington writes this fictional array of oddballs that will take you on a wild, imaginative adventure. Insightful and poignant, yet conversational and roguishly funny.

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment. Your head has dissolved into thin air and I can see the rhododendrons through your stomach. It's not that you are dead or anything dramatic like that, it is simply that you are fading away and I can't even remember your name."

Hilarious Family Anecdotes

David Sedaris Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim $10
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Few authors can write entertaining, moving fiction that is simultaneously a string of hilarious one-liners. Every other line in David Sedaris's Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim will make you want to say, "ba-dum-ching."

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "She took pictures of germs, viruses, and people reacting to germs and viruses. On weekends, for extra money, she photographed weddings, which really wasn't that much of a stretch."

The Silver Lining Book

Nora Ephron I Feel Bad About My Neck
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Honest and approachable, Nora Ephron provides the reader with great insight into life's annoying obstacles as well as more biting tragedies in I Feel Bad About My Neck. She also keeps a sense of humor, which makes this book feel like a best friend. 

The Laugh Out Loud One-Liner: "When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you."

What's your favorite book to curl up with for a good story and an even better laugh? Share yours in the comment section below.

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