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Old 01-17-2008, 11:14 AM
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Please recommend some comedic novels


My wife just finished reading a bunch of Dennis Lehane novels, and is just about finishing up "The Kite Runner." She liked them all, but for her next book, she says she doesn't want to read about anyone dying or getting abused. She's specifically looking for something that will make her laugh. I'm not much of a reader, so I thought I'd ask for some suggestions.

A few restrictions -- she dislikes fantasy and science fiction. So Douglas Adams, for example, is out. Also, she's interested in novels rather than collections of short stories, articles, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:21 AM
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If she isn't afraid of catching teh gay, anything by Robert Rodi.
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:28 AM
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Kinky Friedman's mysteries.
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:30 AM
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Comedic columnist Dave Barry has written two novels: Tricky Business and Big Trouble. Obviously, it helps that I normally find him highly amusing anyway, but both of these books had spots where I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe!
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:37 AM
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Your friend could do much worse than P.G. Wodehouse, in particular the Jeeves & Wooster novels, in more particular still (IMHO) The Code of the Woosters (others on this board may recommend other Jeeves & Wooster novels or even Wodehouse novels featuring characters other than Jeeves & Wooster, and they are quite welcome to do so).
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:40 AM
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Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:43 AM
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Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It's a little sexist, but if she can get by that it's pretty damn funny.
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:50 AM
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Most of these are comic crime/thriller/mystery novels, but I recommend them highly.

Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana
Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels
Thomas Perry's Island and Metzger's Dog
Ross Thomas' Chinaman's Chance and others
Keith Snyder's Coffin's Got the Dead Guy Inside
Just about any Carl Hiassen
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:04 PM
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Tim Dorsey. Serge Storms is the funniest serial killer ever.
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:26 PM
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The Straight Man by Richard Russo and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson both had me Laughing Out Loud. In Public.
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:31 PM
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Dave Barry's already been mentioned, but I'd like to point out that he has several books that aren't collections of his short pieces (although they aren't novels, either). Dave Barry Does Japan, for instance, is hilarious.



I'd recommemnd Christopher Moore's work, but there's an element of fantasy in each of them, even in Island of the Sequined Love Nun. But I recommend them highly

Last edited by CalMeacham; 01-17-2008 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by twickster
The Straight Man by Richard Russo and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson both had me Laughing Out Loud. In Public.
Funny, but I'm a big fan of Russo, and Straight Man is my least fave of his books. (Well, not LOL.IP funny...)
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Urquhart
Your friend could do much worse than P.G. Wodehouse, in particular the Jeeves & Wooster novels, in more particular still (IMHO) The Code of the Woosters (others on this board may recommend other Jeeves & Wooster novels or even Wodehouse novels featuring characters other than Jeeves & Wooster, and they are quite welcome to do so).
I second this recommendation. Wodehouse is my favorite author, and I think most anyone would agree that his Jeeves and Wooster novels are generally his best. My favorite (right now) is The Mating Season.

Sarah Caudwell's mystery novels are also very funny.
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Urquhart
Your friend could do much worse than P.G. Wodehouse, in particular the Jeeves & Wooster novels, in more particular still (IMHO) The Code of the Woosters (others on this board may recommend other Jeeves & Wooster novels or even Wodehouse novels featuring characters other than Jeeves & Wooster, and they are quite welcome to do so).
I third this. I was listening to an audiobook of The Code of the Woosters at the gym, and had to get off the Stairmaster, I was laughing so hard! The whole tone of the novels are so light and frothy too, it would be excellent after the other novels that you mention.
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:23 PM
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Christopher Buckley's stuff is great (humorous takes on DC):

Thank You for Smoking
Little Green Men

http://www.amazon.com/Thank-You-Smok...0597735&sr=8-2
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:09 PM
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This is my favorite laugh-out-loud read.

e by Matthew Beaumont. It's a year in the life of a London advertising agency through emails of it's employees.
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
I'd recommemnd Christopher Moore's work, but there's an element of fantasy in each of them, even in Island of the Sequined Love Nun. But I recommend them highly
I love Christopher Moore's books. My all time favorite is Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Last edited by Ludy; 01-17-2008 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:31 PM
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Jasper Fforde. Start with "The Eyre Affair."
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:33 PM
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I was going to suggest "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, but if she doesn't like fantasy, that probably won't work. Still, it's one of the funniest things I've ever read.

If she likes British-style humo(u)r, I heartily recommend "The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie (yes, Dr. House). It's a spy novel written in a very droll, comedic style.
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Old 01-17-2008, 02:53 PM
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The Other Schulman by Alan Zweibel, one of the original writers for SNL and creator of Roseanne Roseannadanna & Emily Litella.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:19 PM
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The Fletch novels by Gregory Macdonald have an element of humor to them. Which, BTW, bears zero resemblance to the comedy found in the Chevy Chase movie versions.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:24 PM
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I second the recommendation of The Gun Seller, and although it's not a LOLLERSTORM, I also think A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers is a welcome departure from heavy novels, by being a funny novel about someone who thinks they're WORTHY of a heavy novel.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Urquhart
Your friend could do much worse than P.G. Wodehouse, in particular the Jeeves & Wooster novels, in more particular still (IMHO) The Code of the Woosters (others on this board may recommend other Jeeves & Wooster novels or even Wodehouse novels featuring characters other than Jeeves & Wooster, and they are quite welcome to do so).
Fourthed. She might also enjoy Wodehouse's Blandings novels.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:50 PM
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Fourthed. She might also enjoy Wodehouse's Blandings novels.
True. I recently bought and read Life at Blandings, which has three Blandings novels. It was very funny, but I'm still partial to the Jeeves and Wooster novels.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for all the responses!

I see Jeeves and Wooster showing up quite a bit. I understand this is a series of books. Is there one she should read first, to familiarize herself with the characters, even though it may not be the best in the series? Or can she jump in anywhere?
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:13 PM
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Jeeves and Wooster are timeless and P.G.Wodehouse was a master of vocabulary, timing and background.

As the BBC puts it:
"Though Wodehouse constantly poked fun at a wide range of targets - from the English class system and the ivory tower of academe to institutionalised religion - his satire was of the sweetest and gentlest variety possible. In fact, it is this studied innocence that arguably provides his detractors with their only real ammunition.
It is worth pointing out that, despite Wodehouse's repeated intention only to write entertainment for entertainment's sake, his work has long been revered for its richness of language. Any one of Wodehouse's stories contains an astonishing variety of vocabulary, a capacity for literary allusion to satisfy the most intellectual of tastes, a wealth of witty dialogue, and an unsurpassed talent for simile. He has many fans in the loftiest reaches of literary study6, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1939.
It might also be mentioned that Wodehouse's work has given inspiration to countless other writers and comedians including Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A155891

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry really understood the characters, so there's a TV series to watch* after you've read a few books.


*though it's region 2 (Europe)...
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdown
Thanks for all the responses!

I see Jeeves and Wooster showing up quite a bit. I understand this is a series of books. Is there one she should read first, to familiarize herself with the characters, even though it may not be the best in the series? Or can she jump in anywhere?
The early Jeeves and Wooster stuff are not novels; they are stories which are ordered in roughly chronological form, but which don't have a unifying narrative arc. Since you said your wife doesn't want a collection of stories, I recommend she jumps into the middle stuff. I can't remember the name of the first actual Jeeves and Wooster novel; someone can help me out with it. But Bertie Wooster usually pauses to catch the reader up on the cast of characters and their relevance, in case he/she has not read the earlier volumes, so I don't think you have to worry about her not understanding the later stuff in virtue of not having read the earlier stuff.
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:19 PM
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Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is timeless and hilarious. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is sci-fi, but an homage to the earlier book and also hilarious.
  #29  
Old 01-17-2008, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdown
Thanks for all the responses!

I see Jeeves and Wooster showing up quite a bit. I understand this is a series of books. Is there one she should read first, to familiarize herself with the characters, even though it may not be the best in the series? Or can she jump in anywhere?
Carry On, Jeeves is a collection of short stories that starts with "Jeeves Takes Charge," in which Bertie Wooster (suffering from what he calls a case of "the morning head" after a late-night dinner party the evening before) meets Jeeves. The latter cures the former's troubles with a near-miraculous tonic (which makes its appearance several times in the J&W canon); based on the happy results, Bertie engages Jeeves' services immediately.

That stated, it's not at all necessary to read Carry On, Jeeves first, as Wodehouse does readers the service of making Jeeves & Wooster accessible from all points of entry. There are many secondary characters throughout the books, and Wodehouse describes each of them (through Bertie, the reader's point of view) in each.

If you use Amazon's "Search Inside" feature on Carry On, Jeeves (or any of the other Jeeves & Wooster books), you can read the first few pages and see if Wodehouse's style may be to your friend's liking.

The BBC series to which Glee refers is available on Netflix, by the by.
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Old 01-17-2008, 05:37 PM
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I strongly, strongly recommend the novels of Douglas Coupland -- not laugh-out-loud funny like Pterry Pratchett, but plenty absurd and hilarious in their own way, and totally mainstream, apart from a touch of magical realism here and there. Your wife will love them.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:12 PM
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If she likes legal mysteries, there's always Paul Levine's "Solomon vs Lord" and its sequels. I also enjoyed Brian Haig's novels. They may not be strictly comedy, but the main character/narrator, an army lawyer, doesn't take himself, or much else very seriously. There are also William Bernhardt's Ben Kincaid series (starting with Primary Justice)...again, this series isn't really a strict comedy one, but the main character is so hapless and and idealistic, you just have to laugh.

Of course, these are all mystery novels, so if she doesn't want people killed or abused, maybe she shouldn't read them, after all.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Urquhart
If you use Amazon's "Search Inside" feature on Carry On, Jeeves (or any of the other Jeeves & Wooster books), you can read the first few pages and see if Wodehouse's style may be to your friend's liking.
Or you could read some of his work at Project Gutenberg, such as My Man Jeeves.

Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 01-17-2008 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:22 PM
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The Road To Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum.

And if you're going to read the Fletch series by Gregory McDonald, you might as well read the Flynn series by the same author.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:25 PM
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The Road To Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum.
Ludlum went on to also write The Road to Omaha. with the same characters. They're very un-Ludlumish books.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:21 PM
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Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry really understood the characters, so there's a TV series to watch* after you've read a few books.

*though it's region 2 (Europe)...
It's out in region 1 as well.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:38 AM
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Anything by Tom Robbins....very fun...thought provoking and relevantly poignant.

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Old 01-18-2008, 01:42 AM
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Did you know that Franz Kafka wrote his creepy, claustrophobic stories mainly to make his sister laugh? Give 'em another look.

Anything by Daniel Pinkwater.
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:04 AM
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Bill Fitzhugh has done some good stuff - pretty dark in places, though.
You could try Pest Control to start with...
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:15 AM
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Or you could simply go to the greatest of them all. Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. Read it, enjoy it, and along the way notice that he invented so many tropes of humorous writing that have been recycled by others ever since.

Fans of Hugh Laurie (Jeeves & Wooster, House) may like to know he has written a novel, The Gun Seller, that isn't as well-known as it should be. It's a genuine action adventure story based on someone getting inadvertently mixed up with a modern criminal gang. Although the story is told 'straight', the writing is excellent and very, very funny.
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:18 AM
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Tim Dorsey. Serge Storms is the funniest serial killer ever.
I'll second that. I just started the ninth in the series, Hurricane Punch, and Serge is as wild and crazy as ever.
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:41 AM
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Anything by Bill Bryson- I can't read them in public because I invariably find myself laughing uncontrollably. Notes From A Small Island is one of the funniest books I've ever read, and it takes on a whole new layer of funniness if you've spent any time at all (an afternoon would suffice) in the UK.

I'm rather fond of P.J. O'Rourke's material as well, especially Holidays In Hell and Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut.

It's a shame your wife doesn't like science fiction, because The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy is pretty much the very definition of what she's looking for in a book, IMHO...
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Note: Please consider yourself and/or your acquaintances excluded from any of the author's sweeping generalisations which you happen to disagree with or have different experiences of.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 01-18-2008 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 01-18-2008, 07:27 AM
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Loyd Little's Parthian Shot is out pf print but well worth a search, IMHO. Before reading it, I would never have believed it possible to write a hilarious comic novel set in the Vietnam War.

And of course there's the old reliable Scoop by Evelyn Waugh.
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Old 01-18-2008, 07:54 AM
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Though its scope is far wider than just comedy, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was probably the funniest novel I've read besides the prohibited Douglas Adams books.

I'm not sure if you have to have been in the military to fully 'get it' though. Have any lifetime civilians here read Catch-22 and found as funny as I have? I remember not loving it when I read it in high school, but I'm not sure if it was because I was young and inexperienced, or if it was the not being in the military thing.
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Old 01-18-2008, 08:27 AM
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Donald Westlake has a bunch of humourous mystery books. I find Carl Hiassen to be a light humorous read. Elmore Leonard novels tend to have humorous moments. Brian Wiprud's Sleep with the Fishes was the same. Your wife might like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series - I didn't (stopped after 2) but my wife read them all. Starts with One for the Money and goes in numbers from there. Jasper Fforde, while funny, is fantasy misfiled in the fiction section; same with Christopher Moore. I love the latter, but find myself in no rush to read the 3rd book by Fforde, having read the first two. Lastly, I'll also throw my recommendation in for Christopher Buckley.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-18-2008, 10:43 AM
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The Sot Weed Factor-John Barth. It was really funny.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdown
Thanks for all the responses!

I see Jeeves and Wooster showing up quite a bit. I understand this is a series of books. Is there one she should read first, to familiarize herself with the characters, even though it may not be the best in the series? Or can she jump in anywhere?
I started with Code of the Woosters but I don't think there is really any need to go into a particular order, characters are re-introduced many times in the stories.

Since Hugh Laurie, and the series made by him and Stephen Fry has already been mentioned, allow me to add this link where Laurie discusses his opinion of Wodehouse. It is very funny, as is Fry's article (available on the linked page).

Last edited by Skara_Brae; 01-18-2008 at 01:40 PM.
  #47  
Old 01-18-2008, 01:52 PM
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AJ Jacobs: The Know it All in which the author attempts to read the entire Encyclopedia Britanica cover to cover (so to speak).

And The Year Of Living Biblically by the same author. In which the author (an agnositc jew) attempts to follow the bible as literally as possible for 1 year.

Both are hillariously funny, fast, fun, educational reads.

Also, in a simialr vein, almost anything by Bill Bryson (a Walk in the Woodswas recomended up thread, and is a good place to start).

I would also recomend Me Talk Pretty Someday even though it is a collection of short stories, they all tie together to form a whole narrative. David Sideras is sort of brilliant like that. And if your wife likes audiobooks, I think that the Sideras books are even better that way. But only when read by the author.
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Old 01-18-2008, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAF1138
I would also recomend Me Talk Pretty Someday even though it is a collection of short stories, they all tie together to form a whole narrative. David Sideras is sort of brilliant like that. And if your wife likes audiobooks, I think that the Sideras books are even better that way. But only when read by the author.
You'll probably have better luck if you look for Sedaris as the spelling of the author's name.
  #49  
Old 01-18-2008, 02:24 PM
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George MacDonald Fraser's The Pyrates is great silly fun.

Another vote for Christopher Moore, which, while having elements of fantasy, are often read by people who don't care for fantasy. I'd recommend Lamb or A Dirty Job to start.

If new to Donald Westlake, start with What's the Worst That Could Happen. His characters are fully developed by this book, but you don't need to have read any earlier ones. This just happens to be my favorite of his Dortmunder books.
  #50  
Old 01-18-2008, 02:32 PM
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Try the original M*A*S*H, by Hooker. Serious subject, but funny and well written book.
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