15 Books That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud

To me, the zenith of the reading experience is when a book can make you either cry or laugh out loud.

By Paula Gallagher4 min read
Pexels/Lina Kivaka

I like my books like I like my TV shows – light-hearted, uplifting, entertaining, and hilarious. When I come across a book that makes me belly laugh, it becomes a permanent member of my library and a resource I turn to when I need an emotional pick-me-up. Whether it’s quirky characters, amusing prose, or hilarious situations, if it’s funny, it’s a guaranteed favorite. 

Here are 15 books that will legitimately make you laugh out loud, so if you’re in need of a giggle or a chuckle, then add to cart or check your library.

1. Leave It to Psmith, by P.G. Wodehouse

I was introduced to P.G. Wodehouse in college, and I subsequently tore through his many books and short stories. But Leave It To Psmith was definitely the funniest – I even bought all my siblings copies and made them read it! Upon leaving the fish business, Psmith (“the p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan”) decides to support himself by doing anything he is hired to do by anyone. He is offered a job by one impecunious nephew to steal his formidable aunt’s diamond necklace, and hilarity ensues.

Buy your copy here.

2. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson

A New York Times bestseller, Furiously Happy is part humor memoir and part self-help. It’s about living with severe depression and finding joy in your circumstances. Highly recommend to anyone who struggles with depression!

Buy your copy here.

3. Small Admissions, by Amy Poeppel 

This lighthearted story follows Kate Pearson, who lands a job in the admissions department at Hudson Day School, a revered private school in NYC, while in a personal slump. During the admission season, Kate comes across all sorts of kids and intimidating parents who won’t take no for an answer and are even willing to sink to bribes and threats. The cutthroat and sometimes outrageous world of private school admissions is on display all along Kate’s journey.

Buy your copy here.

4. What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Anything by Liane Moriarty is funny, but What Alice Forgot is peak humor. When Alice regains consciousness on the floor of the gym, she tells the paramedics that she’s 29 and the year is 1998 – but she’s actually 39, and it’s 2008. Alice has forgotten the past 10 years of her life and must reconstruct her memories and her life. Why is her marriage heading for divorce, and why is her relationship with her sister ruptured? As Alice tries to resolve her amnesia, she also discovers the importance of what we choose to remember and try to forget.

Buy your copy here.

5. A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

My mom reads this book every few years, and it still makes her crack up. This past summer, she took it with her on a cruise, and people on the deck walking by would stop and ask what she was reading because she was laughing so hard. 

After living abroad for two decades, Bill Bryson is back home in America and decides to walk the Appalachian Trail. His book includes the history of the trail, a plea for conservation, and the amusing silliness of the humans around him.

Buy your copy here.

6. Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs

In this darkly hilarious memoir, Augusten Burroughs recounts how his mother gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist when he was 12. He lives with the doctor’s strange family, a handful of patients, and even a pedophile living in the backyard of their rundown Victorian home. Burroughs’ new home has no rules and no routines, but his memoir details his survival in bizarre circumstances. 

Buy your copy here.

7. Her Royal Spyness, by Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness is the first book in a long mystery series and introduces Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne. It’s 1932, and Victoria has run away from Scotland and the fiancé she doesn’t like to London, where she plans to do some spying for the Crown. Unfortunately, she finds a dead Frenchman in her bathtub and needs to clear her family name. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, P.G. Wodehouse, and mysteries, then you will love this series!

Buy book one of the series here.

8. The Dud Avocado, by Elaine Dundy 

The novel The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of amateur actress Sally Jay Gorce, a hedonistic, adventure-seeking American in Paris in the late 1950s. Hellbent to live life to the fullest, Sally’s lengthy list of romantic entanglements repeatedly gets her into hilarious scrapes with actors and European aristocrats alike.

Buy your copy here.

9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Both my husband and I laughed hard while reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s technically a Menippean satire, but you don’t need a literature major to enjoy this outrageous story about Arthur Dent who is rescued from Earth by his friend who is secretly an alien right before the planet is destroyed. It’s the first in a series, but personally, I think it’s the funniest and most worth reading by far.

Buy your copy here.

10. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris

In this memoir, humorist David Sedaris presents a mix of stories about his childhood in America and his life in Paris as an adult. The first half of the book includes stories about his eccentric family and his struggles to overcome a lisp with a speech therapist he didn’t like. The second half of the book is about his time in France and his struggle to learn the French language and its nuances. 

Buy your copy here.

11. Be Frank with Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson 

After publishing her first and only book at 19, M. M. “Mimi” Banning became a recluse to hide from her overwhelming fame. But decades later, Mimi needs money and must write another book. Her publisher agrees – on one condition. Alice Whitley is that condition. As an employee of the publishing company, Alice’s role in Mimi’s house is to be an assistant to monitor the progress of her book, as well as to be a companion to Mimi’s 9-year-old son Frank. As Alice comes to care more and more for the eccentric boy, she becomes obsessed with two questions: Who is Frank’s father? And will Mimi ever finish that book?

Buy your copy here.

12. Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson

Yes, these are comics, but they are the best comics! I grew up reading the Calvin and Hobbes comic books while eating my cereal on Saturday mornings, and I still get a kick out of 6-year-old Calvin’s mature discussions of philosophy with his alive (to him) stuffed tiger Hobbes. The comics are an entertaining mix of age-appropriate behavior of thinking girls are gross and playing in the mud and mature questions about life. 

Buy your copy here.

13. The Pushcart War, by Jean Merrill 

While this book might be a bit below your normal reading level (i.e., it’s a children’s novel), it’s full of charm and grit. The Pushcart War tells the story of the conflict between the pushcart owners and the delivery truck owners in the streets of New York City in 1964. The traffic in NYC is horrendous (even back then), and the truck owners blame the hand-propelled pushcart peddlers for slowing them down. The truck companies secretly decide to remove this “impediment” and collectively smash the pushcarts. The peddlers fight back, using pea shooters to blow tacks into the truck tires, and defy both the police and the truck owners. Thanks to the bravery of the pushcart peddlers, the streets of NYC belong to the pedestrians. 

Buy your copy here.

14. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces follows the misadventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, a 30-year-old lazy, obese misanthrope with a master’s degree in Medieval History. He lives with his mother in 1960s New Orleans. After his mother gets drunk and crashes their car, Ignatius must get a job for the first time in years to help pay for the repairs. As Ignatius flits from one low-wage job to the next, he has adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

Buy your copy here.

15. If Only They Could Talk, by James Herriot

If Only They Could Talk is the first book in the autobiographical series by James Herriot, a vet in the English countryside in the 1930s. Not only is Herriot a phenomenal writer, but each book of the series contains the most hilarious true stories about animals and people, heartwarming moments, and delightful descriptions of the English countryside that will make you want to move there ASAP. I have never laughed so hard and so much!

Buy book one of the series here.

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