Liberty Hardy’s Perfect Comedy Summer Reading List: 42 Comedy Books


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Need new comedy books to put on your list?  We’ve got em in our 2014 Comedy Summer Reading List!  Summertime  means outdoor grilling, trips to the beach, road trips and poolside sitting.  And summer reading is a mandatory part of all of those things.  Let us help you find some great comedy books to take along with you all summer long.  This year we are celebrating 42 of the funniest, smartest, and most interesting books that have comedy as a component.  A few books written by your favorite comedians, novels from some of the world’s funniest writers past and present, and a few quirky off-beat options thrown in.

Read great books! Support independent booksellers!

All of this years picks were chosen by Liberty Hardy, owner and operator of RiverRun Bookstore, in Portsmouth New Hampsire. Support great authorship by picking your summer reads this year from this great list, and support local independent booksellers by ordering them from our friends at RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth New Hampshire.  For 12 years RiverRun has been bring great reads, great events, and recommendations to the readers of Portsmouth.  RiverRun also hosts amazing author events with incredible guests like David Sedaris, Gloria Steinem, and Mike Doughty.

Liberty Hardy is a bookseller and Civil War nerd living in Kittery, Maine. She is also a contributing editor for Book Riot and runs Paperback to the Future.

Liberty Hardy’s Perfect Comedy Summer Reading List: 42 Books

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1.  Fobbit by David Abrams.

Witty dark comedy about the soldiers in Iraq during the war who were not fighting but instead working desk jobs. Based in part on the author’s own time in Iraq. Perfect for M*A*S*H fans.   Order Fobbit by David Abrams from RiverRun Booksellers

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

Science fiction silliness filled with intergalactic space travel, chronically depressed robots, alien ex-hippies, and the answer to everything. Douglas Adams left us way too soon.  Order The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams from RiverRun Booksellers.

3.  I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood by Dave Barry. 

My personal hero, this is one of Barry’s newer collections, humorous essays making a case for not growing up as we age.  Order I’ll Mature When I’m Dead by Dave Barry from RiverRun Booksellers

4.  The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman.

An avant-garde set designer in the 1930s Berlin, whose unrequited love for a girl named Adele Hitler (no relation) leads him to have zany adventures in Paris and Los Angeles. Worth it for the iguana scene alone.  Order The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beaman from RiverRun Booksellers.

5.  Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh.

Brosh hilariously illustrates tales from her own life, both old and new. My favorites are “The God of Cake” and anything involving her dogs.  Order Hyperbole and a Half from RiverRun Booksellers.

 

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6.  Last Words by George Carlin.

A memoir by one of our undisputed comedic geniuses, Carlin was working on this book up until his death. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up without Carlin.  Order Last Words by George Carlin from RiverRun Booksellers.

7.  America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert.

Colbert’s talk show swagger routine put to page, touting the “Americeptional”-ness of the United States.  Order America Again by Stephen Colbert from RiverRun Booksellers

8.  What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life by Tim Conway.

A small comedian with a big heart, Conway recounts funny stories from his life, including his time on The Carol Burnett Show.  Order What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life by Tim Conway from RiverRun Booksellers.

9.  Still Foolin’  ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? By Billy Crystal.

One of our favorite funnymen sharing tales from the funnybiz. Does anyone else think it’s a crime that Billy Crystal ages.  Order Still Foolin Em by Billy Crystal from RiverRun Booksellers.

10.  It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs by Rodney Dangerfield.

The tsar of self-deprecation, and master of overindulgence, Dangerfield talks about his road to stardom, and the wild times he had Order It’s Not Easy Being Me by Rodney Dangerfield from RiverRun Booksellers.

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11.  Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. By Rob Delaney.

The witty Twitter green-Speedoed phenom proves that he’s not just another pretty 140 character face.  Order Rob Delaney by Rob Delaney from RiverRun Booksellers

12.  Bossypants by .

Forever in our hearts as Liz Lemon, Fey recounts her dream of growing up to be a comedian. From her childhood in Pennsylvania to college to SNL and 30 Rock, she is unfailingly funny and smart. That cover image is super-creepy, though.  Order Bossypants by Tina Fey from RiverRun Booksellers

13.  Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.

Did you know Jim Gaffigan has five kids?! That amounts to a book filled with endless bits of hilarious material. Children are comedic gold. It’s like he’s breeding comedy routines.  Order Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan from RiverRun Booksellers

14.  Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.

Yes, this was a Twitter account first, and yes, the television show of the same name did not do well, even with The Shatner, but this book is really funny. Halpern collects his father’s pearls of wisdom, such as “Sometimes life leaves a hundred-dollar bill on your dresser, and you don’t realize until later it’s because it fucked you.”  Order Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern from RiverRun Booksellers.

15. How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely.

One man attempts to reach literary fame, with funny consequences. If for no other reason, read this to learn how to not behave at your ex’s wedding. Really, really.

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16.  Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry and Joe Henry.

A wonderful biography of one of the best. It makes me so sad to think that children are now growing up not knowing about Richard Pryor. Parents, please fix this.  Order Furious Cool from RiverRun Booksellers.

17. Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks.

One of my favorite comedians, Bill Hicks roused as many tempers as he did laughs with his humor. (Google his Goatboy piece for a taste.) Love him or hate him, he’s cited as a huge influence by a lot of today’s young comedians. Order Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks from RiverRun Booksellers.

18.  Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.

I only recently read this classic novel from 1889, and am sad that I went so long without it in my life. It’s a laugh-out-loud account of three ne’er-do-wells who take a boating holiday in England. Cannot recommend it enough.  Order Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome from RiverRun Booksellers.

19.  Texts from Dog by October Jones.

Jones has taken advantage to recent technology to take screenshot captures of phone text conversations with his “dog.” Hilariously filthy and funny and full of great four-letter words.  Order Texts from Dog by October Jones from RiverRun Booksellers.

20.  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Utterly delightful memoir about Kaling’s nerdy childhood, her off-Broadway play about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, her time on The Office, and more.  Order Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? from RiverRun Booksellers.

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21.  You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam.

Klam is one of the funniest writers working today, and also a champion of rescue dogs. In this book, she talks about her beloved Boston Terriers, and all the crazy things that come with owning a dog, or five. I seem to remember there was a bit with a squirrel that made me snort Diet Coke out my nose.  Order You Had Me at Woof from RiverRun Booksellers.

22.  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.

Lawson is better known by her Internet nom de plume, The Bloggess. In this, her first book, she talks about things like growing up in Texas with a taxidermist father, the crazy things she dealt with when she worked in HR at a large company.  Order Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson from RiverRun Booksellers.

23.  The Ask by Sam Lipsyte.

The first of three hilarious midlife crisis novels on this list, The Ask is about a man trying to make ends meet for his family by taking on a series of strange jobs. This book is the source of one of the greatest sentences in the English language: “I don’t give a slutty snow monkey’s prolapsed uterus what your office politics are.”   Order The Ask by Sam Lipsyte from RiverRun Booksellers.

24.  Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood by Drew Magary.

Magary’s refreshingly honest take on parenting and raising a family in the 21st century. His novel, The Postmortal, is also a must-read.  Order Someone Could Get Hurt from RiverRun Booksellers.

25. Handling Sin by Michael Malone

A great American road trip novel, in which a man agrees to go on a zany trip across the country at the request of his ailing father. More peopel should know about this book.  Order Handling Sin by Michael Malone from RiverRun Booksellers.

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26.  Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

Biff tells of the adventures he has with Jesus before his rise to fame as the son of God, which include drinking and sex (on Biff’s part), demons, and kung fu. And if you like your funny a little bawdier, check out Moore’s novel “Fool.”  Order Lamb from RiverRun Booksellers.

27.  xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe.

The smartest webcomic going, period. (Who needs drawing skills when stick figures beautifully illustrate your point?)  Order xked: volume o by Randall Munroe from RiverRun Booksellers.

28.  Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman.

A frustrated writer deals with his soul-sucking corporate job and failing marriage, while trying to get out from under the shadow of his famous author father. Despite that description, it’s really funny, I promise.  Order Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman from RiverRun Booksellers.

29.  Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants by The Oatmeal.

One of the greatest gifts the internet has offered up, this is The Oatmeal’s most recent collection of hilarious and wonderfully disturbing comics.  Order Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants from RiverRun Booksellers.

30.  Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman

Offerman, who plays manly-man Ron Swanson on “Parks & Recreation” offers up some manly advice interspersed with stories of his own life.  Order Paddle Your Own Canoe from RiverRun Booksellers.

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31.  Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by .

People (ie, people under the age of, oh, let’s say forty) often forget that Martin was a wildly successful stand-up comedian before he was a huge movie star. This is his own account of his rise to fame.  Order Born Standing Up:  A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin from RiverRun Booksellers.

32.  The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information by The Onion.

A collection of unusual facts you’ve probably never thought much about, from the country’s leading satirical news site. Order The Onion Book of Known Knowledge from RiverRun Booksellers.

33.  Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis

Charles Portis is one of the greatest American writers (he wrote a little thing you may have heard of called True Grit) and this is his funniest novel, about a man who starts a religion based on a book supposedly from the lost city of Atlantis.  Order Masters of Atlantis from RiverRun Booksellers.

34.  Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

The king of comedic essays returns with more tales from his everyday life, told with the wit and perfect timing that has made him famous.  Order Let’s Explore Diabetes from RiverRun Booksellers.

35.  Live From New York: An Uncensored History of , as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales

A glimpse backstage at one of the longest-running shows on television. Lots of interesting gossip and trivia, and a recurring theme through the show’s years: Everyone thinks Chevy Chase is an asshole.  Order Live From New York by Tom Shales from RiverRun Booksellers.

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36. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by .

Silverman, one of the nation’s top comics, is frank and filthy in this memoir filled with embarrassing anecdotes and photos.  Order The Bedwetter from RiverRun Booksellers.

37.  Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

A teenage boy battles his hormones and giant bugs as man-eating praying mantises threaten to overrun his hometown. Labeled for young adults, but awesome for all ages. Well, not young kids. It’s a little raunchy. Order Grasshopper Jungle from RiverRun Booksellers.

38.  Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler.

Tyler, a stand-up comedian, talk show host, and actress, smartly doubles her jokes and anecdotes by including footnotes on almost every page.  Order Self Inflicted Wounds from RiverRun Booksellers.

39.  Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut

All of Vonnegut is wonderful and weird, possibly this one most of all, concerning a teenage boy who accidentally takes a life, combined with the eradication of most of the country. “But…that doesn’t sound funny,” you say. Ah, but when Vonnegut does it, it is. Bonus points: Watch Vonnegut’s cameo in the Rodney Dangerfield film, Back to School.  Order Deadeye Dick by Vonnegut from RiverRun Booksellers.

40.  The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

The beginning of this book, where the main character goes out for milk and ends up stoned with a bunch of kids, sets the tone of the novel, about a man trying to keep his life from falling apart, with often disastrous results.  Order The Financial Lives of the Poets from RiverRun Booksellers.

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41.  Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Wooo, boy, should everyone read Chuck Wendig! He is funny, profane, and hella talented. This is the first in a series, about a foul-mouthed woman named Miriam Black who has the ability to see how people will die. Come for the awesome story, stay for the wild hijinx.

42.  The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death by Colson Whitehead

Author Whitehead documented his time competing in a Las Vegas poker tournament. His humor is often so subtle and sharp, you often don’t even know it has happened until you realize you’re bleeding.  Order The Noble Hustler from RiverRun Booksellers.


 

Visit RiverRun Booksellers located  in Portsmouth New Hampshire

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Read 42 More Great Books For Your Summer Reading List from 2013

Read 42 Great Books For Your Summer Reading List from 2012

Join the conversation!  Let us know your favorite comedy books.  Help other IBangers find the best local independent booksellers around the country by letting us know where you go to shop for books, and why you love them so much.

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Liberty Hardy is a bookseller and Civil War nerd living in Kittery, Maine. She is also a contributing editor for Book Riot and runs Paperback to the Future.

14 Comments

  1. EMC

    June 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Is it me, or is “A Confederacy of Dunces” by JK Toole NOT on this list?

  2. yoyogod

    June 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    There are quite a few good books on this list, but a list of comedy books with no P. G. Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett books on it is a sadly incomplete.

  3. deliciousv

    June 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    how can such a list exist without the late, great Lewis Grizzard?

  4. HankQuncy

    June 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Wanda Hickeys Night of Golden Memories – Jean Shepherd

  5. Lil Ricky

    June 16, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    If anybody is looking to read the entire list in short order, check out Spritz.  It’s an app that will seriously increase your reading speed (for e-books).  http://www.spritzinc.com/

  6. Tom Foolery

    June 17, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Chris Elliot’s Daddy’s Boy should be on there.

  7. Tom Foolery

    June 17, 2014 at 1:07 am

    No SJ Perelman either.  Some good new ones are Chris Gehtards
    A Bad Idea I’m About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure and Adam Resnicks Will Not Attend.

  8. Shaftsburry

    June 17, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Tom Robbins should be on this list, either Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates or Another Roadside Attraction would be my picks.  ARA has the distinction of being the book that Elvis was reading when he was shitting himself to death.

  9. DonnieFrankBreach

    June 17, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Letters From a Nut – Florida Road Kill – Dave Barry’s second novel Tricky Business – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  10. MacHarris

    June 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    No Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas…
    No M.A.S.H…
    No Catch 22…

  11. dick

    June 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I’d rather read anything by Mark Twain than any of the garbage on this list.

  12. Albedo

    June 18, 2014 at 4:59 am

    “The Diary Of A Nobody” (1892) by George and Weedon Grossmith is short but funny. “The Gun Seller” by Hugh Laurie is also good – part Ian Fleming spy novel, part Woody Allen silliness. The first half has a joke in every paragraph. Three Men in a Boat (1889) by Jerome K. Jerome is also good.

  13. Hoboken Guy

    June 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

    @EMC Confederacy of Dunces should definitely be on the list.  It’s strange though I read it years ago and had to put it down I was laughing so hard.  I read it again last year and it just didn’t have the same effect.  I’m not sure if it was me or the book though.

  14. Hoboken Guy

    June 18, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I like reading memoirs and they can be very funny, but this list is a little too biography and memoir-heavy for my taste.  It just seems to me that the best laugh-out-loud humor is through fiction and there’s not much of that here.