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Eliot may claim that April is the cruelest month, but we’re pretty sure it’s February.

To fight off the dreariness, our NYPL book experts compiled a list of adult fiction that makes them laugh out loud, with bonus points added if they embarrassed themselves in public.

Fun in Unexpected Places

god bless

This one’s easy: Paul Murray’s latest, The Mark and the Void. I don’t normally associate the phrases “laugh out loud” and “international financial crisis” with one another, but Murray manages to describe a system so absurd that you can’t help but laugh. Highlights include his killer similes, deadpan dialog, and a pitch-perfect fake Forbes article. —Meredith Mann, Electronic Resources

 

 

 

 

god bless you

Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, which is fictional interviews Vonnegut conducts with notable dead people vis-a-vis near-death experiences engineered by Jack Kevorkian. —Melisa Tien, Library for the Performing Arts

 

 

 

 

 

one for the money

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich—especially the first two books, One for the Money and Two for the Dough—made me laugh out loud all by myself at home. Stephanie, Jersey girl and former Nordstrom’s lingerie-buyer turned bounty hunter (but not by choice), is a funny character on her own, but her sidekick Lula, Grandma Mazur, and even Connie the office manager reduce me to teary-eyed laughter. I fantasize about who should play them onscreen: Lula - Queen Latifah; Grandma Mazur - Estelle Getty; Connie - Mary Testa, or maybe Valerie Harper in a cameo. —Lois Moore, Mid-Manhattan

 

 

Quirky Stuff

drink

You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart has it all: drunken hijinks, raunchy humor, and creative cocktail recipes for those days that life has really got you down.  Fans of her YouTube show or her appearances on Comedy Central will love it, but it’s fun for everyone (of legal drinking age)! —Rebecca Dash Donsky, 67th Street

 

 

 

 

first bad man

For anyone who loves Lena Dunham’s fun, quirky comedy, Miranda July’s The First Bad Man is a must-read. I will forever laugh out loud at this image of Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, riding down her block on an ATV: ”I pushed down on the gas the littlest possible amount. Kate and Clee watched as I very, very slowly pulled away from the curb, and then, like a woman astride a giant tortoise, gradually rolled up the street.” The First Bad Man is a profound example of sly humor, tender wit, and heartbreaking hilarity. —Lauren Restivo, 115th Street

 

 

 

treasure

Treasure Island!!! by Sarah Levine is hilariously absurd. It has a delightfully delusional narrator who decides to model her life after the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Part satire, part absurd comedy play, Levine makes it all work. I laughed out loud while wishing for a rapt audience to subject to oral renditions of these lively sentences. —Alexis Walker, Epiphany

 

 

 

 

Fun with Aging

choke

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. The premise itself is so ridiculous: A guy needs money to pay for elder care for his mom so he devises a scam where he chokes on food in upscale restaurants and uses the funds from those who “save” him and therefore feel responsible for him. I do recall being on the subway and trying to contain my chuckling… I was semi-successful. —Chasity Moreno, AskNYPL

 

 

 

 

climbed

Several books have had me laugh embarrassingly loud on public transportation but The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is the one that I would recommend for us older folks. Allan Karlsson doesn’t want to go to his 100th birthday party at the “old folks home” (no drinking) so he escapes through the window! This is the beginning of his, as well as the others he meets along the way, current adventure. This international bestseller is a walk through a historical memory lane. Yes, it’s a bit gritty, but lots of fun. —Peggy Salwen, St. Agnes

 

 

British Humour

boat

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome contains numerous laugh-out-loud scenes—thanks, primarily, to the presence of the wonderful dog, Montmorency.  And it presents a vivid picture of genteel British life, circa 1890. —Jeff Katz, Chatham Square

 

 

 

 

mansell

British author Jill Mansell never fails to make me laugh out loud. Her books are often these ridiculous screwball romantic comedies reminiscent of “I Love Lucy” episodes. One particular favorite is Good with Games, which kept me entertained and laughing during a long flight delay in the Minneapolis airport. Thanks to a traffic stop involving a little lie about the dregs of her strawberry milkshake, Suzy has accidentally become engaged to police officer Harry and he want’s Suzy’s ex-husband, rock star Jaz, to be his best man. Need something to cure the winter blues? This will do the trick. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

 

 

 

Science-Fiction

galaxy

Don’t forget Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This book contains copious amounts of wackiness, intergalactic bureaucracy, and bad poetry. Grab your towel and get ready for a wild ride. —Althea Georges, Moshulu

 

 

 

 

 

 

redshirts

Redshirts made me laugh hard enough on my lunch break that patrons out front were looking through the door to the workroom. John Scalzi throws some wicked barbs at sci-fi television tropes while still telling an engrossing tale of expendable crewmen on the fleet flagship, the Intrepid. This book comes complete with daily away-team deaths, a daring captain, and a lieutenant who always recovers from whatever disease, disaster or mind warping befalls him. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

 

 

Romance

princess bride

When I read adult fiction, it isn’t usually funny. But I do make exceptions, and The Princess Bride by William Goldman just so happens to be one of them. Sure, there’s a swashbuckling pirate and a princess named Buttercup, romance and adventure, but there’s also at least one funny line on every page. —Alexandria Abenshon, Yorkville

 

 

 

 

 

shopaholic

The Shopaholic series. Who cannot resist laugh at the some of the trouble and over the top situations Becky gets herself into. —Ashley Gonzalez, St. Agnes

Like Ashley, I’m a big fan of Sophie Kinsella when I’m looking for a laugh.  The one that made me laugh out loud (in a library!) was I’ve Got Your Number.  Ridiculously endearing characters and a satisfying plot for Rom-Com fans! —Jordan Graham, MyLibraryNYC

 

 

 

Historical Fiction

lamb

I laughed out loud at Lamb by Christopher Moore. In this kooky, irreverent story, Jesus Christ’s childhood best friend, Biff, is resurrected in the 20th century to give his gospel. Biff is sarcastic but loyal, and the story is at once touching and hilarious. The first time I laughed out loud in public I was sitting on a subway, but I was too engrossed to care that people were looking at me like I was slightly crazy. —Leslie Bernstein, Mott Haven

 

 

 

 

silver

For a double dose of humor and history, one cannot beat the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis. Falco is talented, smart, lucky, and endearingly self-deprecating. He is the Emperor’s “informer” who, while operating without official acknowledgement (relying occasionally on a sinecure as keeper of the Sacred Geese of Juno to collect back pay) and run ragged by his family, still manages to outwit officials, soldiers, and criminals throughout the Roman empire. Rumbling belly-laughs are unavoidable. The adventure begins when the former legionary of the II Augusta, Falco, returns to Britain in 71 AD in The Silver Pigs (1989). —Virginia Bartow, Special Collections

 

 

Classics

dorothy parker

Virtually anything written by Dorothy Parker, but especially The Portable Dorothy Parker and her complete collection of poems and In Her Own Words. My personal favorite quote of hers: 

“I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.”

—Anne Barreca, Battery Park City

 

 

 

pearls

Toss in Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin by P.G. Wodehouse. What happens when a Wodehouse character has to actually work for a year to win the girl he loves? Sheer, hilarious mayhem, that’s what. Toss in some dim-witted underworld crooks and you’ve got a really funny and quirky book! —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street

 

 

 

 

catch

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I laughed the first time I read it and laughed even more the second time, when I picked up on more of the running jokes. Filled with biting irony and sarcasm, the story follows the adventures of John Yossarian and his fellow Army Air Corps members who are trying to complete enough missions during WWII to fulfill their required number of missions while the number of required missions rises ever higher. Based on Heller’s own experience, it is a telling story about the lack of common sense in many bureaucratic organizations and in war and the ways that humans try to find some comic relief to comprehend and process their experiences. —Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange

 

 

shandy

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, is a hilarious read for those who love long-winded humor and running gags. Lawrence Sterne’s fictional autobiography begins Mr. Shandy’s first-hand account of his own conception, and continues for several hundred pages before we finally arrive at his birth. Shandy lives to be 86, and his whole life is told, in detail through nine volumes. These volumes explore the humor in everything from sex, creative insults, philosophy, illicit affairs, medicine, war, and domestic life, with Shandy being the butt of every joke. —Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market

 

 

 

General Absurdity

portnoy

One of the funniest books I’ve ever read is Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, and yes, I even laughed out loud as I read it on the subway. Lest you think that it’s just a “guy’s book,” my wife also thought it was hilarious and she said that she was hit on at least once every day she read it in public (because apparently guys can’t resist a woman who is not only beautiful, but also enjoys reading Portnoy’s Complaint). —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team

 

 

 

 

bernadette

I laughed out loud reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Even though the plot is quite grim, there are so many funny moments that catch you off guard. —Jennifer Zarr, St. Agnes

 

 

 

 

 

lose

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. That book is hilarious!!! —Lilian Calix, Hamilton Grange

 

 

 

 

 

 

sellout

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout is an absurd, scathing and completely irreverent exploration of race in 21st-century America and not without its share of humor. —Genoveve Stowell, Grand Central

 

 

 

 

 

ove

Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove is a hilarious tale of a curmudgeonly man who decides life isn’t worth living until his mailbox is crushed by his new neighbors. —Susen Shi, Mid-Manhattan

 

 

 

 

 

nature girl

I love Carl Hiassen and his wackadoodle characters always have me laughing out loud. The first of his that I read was Nature Girl so I'll recommend that one. Don't even worry about the plot.  It's got Florida wilderness, corrupt businessmen, a snarky pre-teen, and some island hostages! —Laura Stein, Grand Central

 

 

 

 

 

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Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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