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Old 08-22-2008, 03:34 PM
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Recommend a truly funny book (again)


Millions,

A while back, I posted a similar (okay, identical) request and ended up with a veritable library of hilarity. Handling Sin (by Michael Malone) remains, to this day, my favorite novel and it was gifted to me in that thread. Straight Man, Evolution Man, and PG Wodehouse also entered my library thanks to that discussion.

A few of my own recommendations:

- The Thirteen and 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear: A fantasy for adults with exquisite illustrations. A great gift book too.

-Handling Sin. I obviously can't talk this up enough. Malone, in general, is fantastic (and underappreciated out of the South, it seems) and I stand behind everything he's done that I've read, with Foolscap being his silver medal, I think. I always come back to Handling Sin though. Just writing about it makes me want to reread it. Again.

-Lastly, I'd like to thoroughly pimp James Morrow's "Corpus Dei" trilogy (which contains Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abbadon, and The Eternal Footman). I adored and devoured them all. Basically, God dies, falls to earth, and hilarity ensues. And, beyond the humor, there's some meaty theodicy in these books. Not to sound like a blurbist, but..."If you liked Good Omens, you'll LOVE Towing Jehovah!"

So, let's do this again. I've got some looooong drives coming up and would love some gems to get me through.
  #2  
Old 08-22-2008, 03:41 PM
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Anything by Tim Dorsey. Start with Florida Roadkill, then move on to Hammerhead Ranch Motel and the rest. Never in literary history have the adventures of a serial killer been more entertaining and hysterical.
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Old 08-22-2008, 03:43 PM
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Legal Daisy Spacing: The Build-A-Planet Manual of Official World Improvements is out of print, but available used. I bought several copies of this when it was first published, and gave them to friends and relatives. It's hard to describe this book, since I've never encountered anything quite like it. Suffice it to say that I think most Dopers would love it.

Last edited by pinkfreud; 08-22-2008 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:07 PM
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Any of Tom Sharpes books.

Start with Blott on the Landscape and carry on from there
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:24 PM
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Another tour, eh? Coming to NY at all?

Stuck on Blackberry but I bet in the last thread I recommended The Last Hurrah by O'Conner (great look at politics in America) and Catch-22, which is up there with Confederacy for 20th Century funny.

Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row are more charming than funny but with some laugh out loud moments - but they're so damn good you'll love 'em anyway...
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:30 PM
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There are some excellent recommendations here. Gee, I love this kind of thread. Some of the best books I've ever read were recommended by Dopers.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:56 PM
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"Pride of the Bimbos" by John Sayles. About the Brooklyn Bimbos, who compete in women's softball league that plays the carnival circuit. What's special about the Bimbos? They're all men in drag!

"The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual Of Survival & Manners" by J.P. Donleavy" Easily the funniest non-fiction book I've ever read in my life.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:34 PM
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You can't beat the masters.

Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens' comic masterpiece and quite possibly the funniest novel ever written.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:36 PM
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pinkfreud: I totally agree about Dopers having fine, fine taste in literature. I've got my Dad, my ex-boss, and the Dope and that's all I've ever needed as far as that goes. Thanks also for the similar/identical thread.

And I'm loving these already. Tom Dorsey I'd heard of but forgotten (thankfully this time memorialized on the interwebs) but the rest are new to me (except Catch 22, obviously. Loved that, at least the second time I read it. Tried as a high school freshman and was oh so confused).

And Wordman: Yes indeedy. We'll be opening up for this British band at the Bowery on November 1st. It's been quite a while since we've tread over on the Right Coast---I'm ecstatic.
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:00 PM
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I have also heard of this "Dickens" character you speak of.
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:10 PM
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Towing Jehovah, like everything else I've ready by Morrow, seemed overly didactic and dry to me. Not to my taste.

The book I'm currently recommending is in part because it's freakin hilarious. The Lies of Locke Lamora is sort of what you get if the cast from Ocean's Eleven got dumped in Thieve's World and saddled with the luck of Dortmunder with dialogue and action scenes written by Quentin Tarantino. There were several times where I laughed aloud while reading it--something I rarely do--and several times where the cons going on made me gasp in admiration. Excellent read. The humor comes almost entirely from the title character's dialogue.

Daniel
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:12 PM
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Anything by the fabulous David Sedaris.

Ladies will most likely enjoy Laurie Notaro.
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:17 PM
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A walk in the Woods.
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don't fight the hypothetical
That's what I came in here to mention! That book was part of my inspiration to hike the trail (much to the dismay of trail grumps, I'm sure.) I was all set to go in the spring of '07 and just weeks before my departure date my hiking partner dropped out and financial hell broke out in my life. It sucks because it was probably the last chance I had to thru-hike it for several decades, so now I plan on section-hiking it over the course of several years. Enough of my babbling, the book is hilarious.
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Old 08-22-2008, 07:05 PM
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Since I was the one who recommended Handling Sin, I'll try throwing out a few more titles I've enjoyed. Some of these, it's been a few years since I read them, which may be a good thing (that they've stayed in my memory that long) or a bad thing (as in, if I read them today, would I wonder what I saw in them?). Following the OP's example, I'll stick with humorous novels (as opposed to non-fiction).

Jasper Fforde: His Thursday Next books are amazing, stuffed full of more clever ideas and literary in-jokes than anyone else's I know. They're a mix of genres, including classic literature, suspense, chick lit, several different sub-genres of sci-fi, metafiction, and absurd humor. It's best to read them in order, starting with The Eyre Affair, though IMHO some of the later ones are better. His "Nursery Crimes" books featuring Jack Spratt are fun also (they sort of do for fairy tales and nursery rhymes what "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" did for cartoons).

Clyde Edgerton: Another Southerner. Killer Diller was his first that I read, and it had at least one laugh-out-loud moment (involving Santa Claus's car), but it's a sequel to the even better Walking Across Egypt.

Robertson Davies: The great Canadian novelist. I haven't read anything by him that I haven't liked. Though his "Deptford Trilogy" (starting with Fifth Business) is generally considered his masterpiece, his earlier Salterton Trilogy, starting with Tempest-Tost, is funnier and more light-hearted.

Garrison Keillor: Wobegon Boy is both funny and moving. It's the book that got me to think of Keillor as a genuine novelist and not just that guy on the radio.

Nick Hornby is well enough known that I hesitate to mention him, but his novels have both humor and depth and are very good.

I was tempted to mention the fiction of G. K. Chesterton, especially The Man Who Was Thursday (which is on my personal Top Ten), but a search reveals that you were the one who started a thread about him several years ago.

And, anyone who wants a funny book to read and has not read Alice In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass must do so. Immediately. A huge amount of humor, especially British humor, that has come along since shows the influence of Lewis Carroll. For extra insight, get Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice.
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Old 08-22-2008, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco
That's what I came in here to mention! That book was part of my inspiration to hike the trail (much to the dismay of trail grumps, I'm sure.) I was all set to go in the spring of '07 and just weeks before my departure date my hiking partner dropped out and financial hell broke out in my life. It sucks because it was probably the last chance I had to thru-hike it for several decades, so now I plan on section-hiking it over the course of several years. Enough of my babbling, the book is hilarious.
Good luck. And here's to hoping you get another shot at it. I haven't had my chance either.

Last edited by Don't fight the hypothetical; 08-22-2008 at 07:38 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco
That's what I came in here to mention! That book was part of my inspiration to hike the trail (much to the dismay of trail grumps, I'm sure.) I was all set to go in the spring of '07 and just weeks before my departure date my hiking partner dropped out and financial hell broke out in my life. It sucks because it was probably the last chance I had to thru-hike it for several decades, so now I plan on section-hiking it over the course of several years. Enough of my babbling, the book is hilarious.

Ditto...I know he has his detractors, but I think Bryson is funny and engaging...all of his books. Don't know if one wants to read about traveling while traveling, but not all of it is that way. His latest is about growing up in Iowa. No, really, it's interesting...and funny.

Another, if you haven't already read it could be Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.



Oh, and I'm totally gonna come see y'all play if you hit DC...
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Don't fight the hypothetical
Good luck. And here's to hoping you get another shot at it. I haven't had my chance either.
Thanks. I told my wife just the other night I was going to start hiking it 2 weeks per year after I finish school and she asked how long that would take. I paused to do a little head math and then said . . . about 24 years. We both burst out laughing. It's a daunting task but I really want to do it. I grew up about an hour and a half from the trail so I knew some people who did it and it was always in the back of my mind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by An Arky
Ditto...I know he has his detractors, but I think Bryson is funny and engaging...all of his books. Don't know if one wants to read about traveling while traveling, but not all of it is that way. His latest is about growing up in Iowa. No, really, it's interesting...and funny.
Yeah, I've read most of his books. The Thunderbolt Kid was really good but not as laugh out loud funny as A Walk in the Woods. Although the part about his friend's dad going off the high dive had me in stitches.
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:00 PM
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Damn - we have a gig that night. Any other stuff?

And I second Robertson Davies hugely - read'em all but find The Rebel Angels to be a great intro (first of the Cornish trilogy - he's all about trilogies...)
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:01 PM
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John Dies at the End, written by (former) webmaster of pointless waste of time (which was dissolved after he became assistant editor of Cracked.com). It's hilarious and genuinely scary.

The original story (written as the prologue) was a one time thing that was meant to be a once-a-year short story, but got so much support from his readers that he retconned it a bit and made it into a full length novel, published as an online serial. It eventually got picked up by a publisher and edited further, the re release has now replaced the original online. You can read it at johndiesattheend.com or buy it at Borders if you want to read it on the train/toilet/skydiving lesson/world tree after Ragnarök.

It's not the best written thing, but considering it's narrated in first person by a college dropout it works well. (It's not terrible at all, just don't expect Tolkein). It still reads a lot like something published in chunks online and as such you may find yourself putting it down for a while and coming back, depending on how engaging you find it.

The general gist of the story is that a bunch of people at a party take a drug called Soy Sauce, which causes several of them to die (or other strange things, such as drop out of time), the main character accidentally takes it and a bunch of really, really disturbing stuff happens. It's also very funny though, it's not completely dark humor, a lot of it has to do with some of the histories of items (Soy Sauce gives you heightened senses, to the point where you can see everything that has happened to any given object in the past, including the parts before it was created, it also simulates mind reading in a similar way, they can read every little line of your facial features and body language).

It's not everyone's book though, and it is a bit crude in its humor, and is very disturbing (and genuinely scary) in its horror sections. But if it sounds like you'll like it go for it.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:22 AM
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An oldie but a goodie, I always enjoyed National Lampoon's Bored Of The Rings. It has been out of print for a few years, but you can find it if you look hard enough. Even better now that the trilogy has been made with all the CGI and what not, but I can honestly say that every time I have loaned out my copy of the book it never gets returned.

This is honestly a sit down, get stoned and piss yourself laughing book. IMO.

I no longer loan out any books. AT ALL.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:46 AM
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Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart, is a hilarious romp through a fantasy China. The adventures of Master Li and Number Ten Ox are funny enough in themselves, but the style in which they're described puts them right over the top. I've read it many times over the years, and it still makes me laugh. The other two books in the series, The Story of the Stone and Eight Skilled Gentlemen aren't quite as funny, but are still excellent stories.

(For fans of the books who also like PC games: You might check out an older game called Jade Empire. I don't know if material was lifted with permission or not, but the game incorporates several names and ideas from the books, notably Henpecked Ho and the Marvelous Bamboo Dragonfly. The game is pretty fun in itself, too, in parts.)
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:41 AM
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My favorite funny book of all time is The Milagro Beanfield War, by John Nichols. I've probably read it five times and it cracks me up every time. Perhaps it's just my odd sense of humor.
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:42 PM
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Christopher Buckley, Boomsday. If you enjoy skewering of the baby boomers and generational politics.
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmonster
- The Thirteen and 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear: A fantasy for adults with exquisite illustrations. A great gift book too. Again.
Speaking of bears, how about The Bear went over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle. It's a send-up of the publishing industry, featuring a bear who steals a manuscript and gets it published.

And of course, almost anything by Terry Pratchett.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:02 AM
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Anything by Patrick McManus..A Fine & Pleasant Misery, The Night the Bear Ate Goombah, Never Sniff a Gift Fish. A master of the short story, Pat McManus writes about his experiences growing up in rural Idaho during the depression. My favorite stories are about his childhood adventures with his friend Crazy Eddy Muldoon. (My all-time favorite is The Skunk Ladder).

Wonderful stuff.

Love, Phil
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:46 AM
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A Confederacy of Dunces.
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:07 AM
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The linked thread mentioned Christopher Moore, and specifically Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Which was indeed funny but had a sad overtone because, well, you know what's going to happen to "Josh" (and of course Biff doesn't know about the whole resurrection thing, so there's a lot of grief on his part at the end). I've only read one other - "The Stupidest Angel, A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terrror" and that was pretty funny too.
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:25 AM
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Anything by Christopher Moore is a great read (and impossible to not quote from). I discovered him with Island of the Sequined Love Nun and immediately knew I had a new favorite author. Start with his lighter early books - Practical Demonkeeping, which you could follow with The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and The Stupiest Angel - they all take place in the same locale. Or you could start with Bloodsucking Fiends, followed by A Dirty Job and You Suck, a lovely series about young vampires and Death, all loosely related and set in a San Francisco you'll really enjoy visiting through his eyes. One of my favorites that I really have to re-read is Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings. It's an amazingly imaginative story about a marine biologist - but that falls so short of a decent description. I'd suggest you read the exerpt in the link and let it convince you. His next book Fool comes out in February, and I'll be pre-ordering it from Amazon as soon as it's available.
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:31 AM
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Try any of The Pirate adventures by Gideon Defoe. I was in hysterics nearly every other page of the ones I've read. This has two stories in one book, so would make a good starting point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amazon
Scientists: 1837: the Victorian Era approaches. Worried that his pirates are getting bored with a life of winking at pretty native ladies, sitting about on tropical beaches, and trying to stick enough jellyfish together to make a bouncy castle, the Pirate Captain decides it's time they had an adventure. A chance encounter with the young Charles Darwin leads the Captain and his rag-tag crew from the exotic Galapagos Islands to the fog filled streets of Victorian London, where they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, a diabolical Bishop and the Elephant Man. Whaling: Since she sailed away after the pirates' adventure with scientists, the pirates' boat has been somewhat battered by the rigours of ocean life. The Pirate Captain decides he must pay a visit to Cutlass Liz's boat yard and trade his ship in for a newer model. Dazzled by the swan-lined curtains and tennis courts of 'The Lovely Emma', and frankly, by Cutlass Liz's lovely face, the Pirate Captain makes a rash decision and finds himself with a debt of six thousand doubloons, and very little time in which to pay it before the sands of Liz's hourglass run out and he and his crew are gutted like fish.

Last edited by ivan astikov; 08-25-2008 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:46 AM
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carl hiassen. any of them.
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Old 08-25-2008, 08:07 AM
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Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates http://www.amazon.com/Fierce-Invalid...9669468&sr=1-1

He's just wonderful.
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Old 08-25-2008, 08:10 AM
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carl hiassen. any of them.
Seconded.
ETA: Though it's Hiaasen, if you're looking for his books.

Last edited by Sigmagirl; 08-25-2008 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:35 AM
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Look what I found. A free sample!
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:40 AM
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I, Lucifer, Glen Duncan - the devil gets a chance at redemption, providing he can live a blameless(-ish) life for a month as a dissolute writer in London - but does he actually want to? (Glen Duncan has some very dark books to his name, but this one's nicely pitched.)

The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber, Mark Gatiss (one of the writers/actors from the League of Gentlemen) - the sordid and thrilling adventures of a bisexual raconteur and spy extraordinaire as he repeatedly saves the world.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:43 AM
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Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy. It's about the time he spent in marketing at a record label. It's hilarious.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:56 AM
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Just about anything by David Sedaris, but I find I like his books on tape much more than his books. Half (or more) of the fun is in his delivery of his own material. Try Barrel Fever, Holidays on Ice and Naked before his later stuff.

Another vote for P.G. Wodehouse, if you like sly, dry British humor. The Jeeves and Wooster books are great!

Pat Conroy's The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline are serious books, but both have very funny scenes that left me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.

Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame co-wrote (with Mark Carwardine) a very funny nonfiction book about endangered species called Last Chance to See. Highly recommended, even if you didn't like Hitchhiker's.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is a truly hilarious book about suicide. Seriously! Well worth a read.

Brainiac is a very funny, very well-written nonfiction book by Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, about his many appearances on the show and society's enduring love of trivia.

Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin is the funniest science fiction book I've ever read, with a serious message (about overpopulation, environmentalism and the dangers of absolute power) but a lot of laughs along the way.
  #38  
Old 08-25-2008, 12:55 PM
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Ah! I was away on a long, computer-less weekend (camping though, so it was glorious) and returned to so many goodies. Thanks. A few responses:

- LOVED The Bear Went Over the Mountain. Think I got that one of that previous thread too. It lasted two days. Barely. Ha..ha...sorry.

- Left Hand of Dorkness: I understand that. I really enjoyed the pedagogical bent in his writing and think the characters still shine through, but to each his own. For my money, I've always found Tom Robbins a bit maddening. I feel like his novels have so much promise and then just kind of peter out at the end---Fierce Invalids was still great though. I feel like everyone should give him a try but he doesn't give me that "must read" feeling, personally.

- Thudlow: Thanks again. HS has been purchased for at least 5 people in my life, all to rave reviews. Like I said, truly my favorite book. And non-fiction would be just fine.

- I too love Buckley. Thank You For Smoking, obviously, is a gem, but so are Little Green Men and Florence of Arabia, the latter of which is quite timely right now.

- And yeah, keep 'em coming.
  #39  
Old 08-25-2008, 01:02 PM
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On the music tip:

- An Arky: we're doing the always glorious Black Cat (the little room) on October 5th. Come say hi if you do come. I've got a mop of black hair, play the bass, keys, banjo & mandolin. Should be easy to find.

- Wordman: Drat. And double drat. That's it for us, unless we find a college or two to pay us (and pay for our gas home). We're trying though.
  #40  
Old 08-25-2008, 01:14 PM
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The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (aka Dr. House). A very funny James Bond-style spy novel done in quirky British style. If you like British humor, you'll probably like this.
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:20 PM
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Any of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich UP to and including the ninth book called "To The Nines"

Best of the lot

"Three to Get Deadly"
"High Five"
"Seven Up"
"To The Nines"
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmonster
On the music tip:

- An Arky: we're doing the always glorious Black Cat (the little room) on October 5th. Come say hi if you do come. I've got a mop of black hair, play the bass, keys, banjo & mandolin. Should be easy to find.

- Wordman: Drat. And double drat. That's it for us, unless we find a college or two to pay us (and pay for our gas home). We're trying though.

Well - keep me posted; if you get something close to NYC, I would love to try.

and I agree with winterhawk - The Gun Seller is a great, wryly funny read in a 007 vein...the fact that it was written by Hugh Laurie makes it all that more impressive.

Oh - oh! - I got one: Homeboy by Seth Morgan. Kinda Carl Hiaasen-ish but not nearly as cartoony even though it stretches things. The author grew up with money but ended up a junkie strip-show barker and dealer before turning straight, writing this book to great critical reviews and then dying in a motorcycle accident soon after it was published. Definitely read with a smile...
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:44 PM
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Kinky Friedman
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:28 PM
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I always hve to recommend The Philosophical Strangler as one of the funniest and most enjoyable books I've ever read.

Non-spoiler: The cat's name is Schrdinger (sic)
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