I don’t go looking for a funny book. I don’t think, “Today I could do with a laugh, pass me a laugh out loud book”. That is not to say I don’t like funny books, I just don’t go looking for them, I read books for other reasons. It could be that I like the author, that someone has recommended it or that it is in a broad genre that I like e.g. urban fantasy, chick-lit etc. It could be completely coincidental that the book turns out to be funny.
With this in mind, I am sometimes surprised by how funny a book can be. When I first picked up One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, I expected it to be light-hearted crime fiction, which it is, but to me, it is also much more. It is a book that has spawned my undying love for the Stephanie Plum series of books (we are up to Notorious Nineteen) and the gloriously funny cast of characters within. There have been moments when Grandma Mazur and/or Lola have made me cry with laughter, whether it is Grandma Mazur’s tendency for causing havoc at the funeral home or Lola’s ability to diet while eating a bucket of fried chicken. You can read the first chapters of the Stephanie Plum series on www.evanovich.com – if you fancy it, you don’t have to… but it might be nice! Words of caution:
- One for the Money was written in the early 90s – there are some lovely 90s fashion references
- This is a funny, frothy and sometimes ridiculous book – don’t expect a literary masterpiece.
Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is another series that has inspired devotion in me. The first book, The Eyre Affair, is a wonderfully clever and funny book. I love the ideas behind the book – an alternative universe where people enter and live in works of fiction, where Jane Eyre can be kidnapped, dodos are pets and there is a Toast Marketing board. The series is full of brilliant characters – my favourites are Miss Havisham and Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, formerly known as Cheshire. It is hard to explain fully what the books are about, so in Jasper’s own words:
“They are a series of books based upon the notion that what we read in books is just a small part of a larger BookWorld that exists behind the page.”
Brilliant, that is all.
There are others that I could witter on about (Lisa Lutz’s wonderful series, starting with The Spellman Files, for example), but I want to hear from you now.
What makes a book funny? Who is your favourite comical writer? Let us know…
Twitter reading group – 26th March 2013 at 8 p.m. – #NPTLOL, guys!