I’ve been getting bogged down in some truly depressing novels of late. It seems that in everything I’m picking up there are either far too many unpleasant characters, or the likeable characters are undergoing such hideous suffering that I can’t bear to read on. My desperate desire for something cheerful led me to write today’s top 5: quite simply, it’s my pick of the books that never fail to make me laugh. If like me you’re stuck in a rut of literary misery then maybe one of these is the way forward!
- “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K Jerome – An oldie but a goodie, this nineteenth century classic proves that disastrous holidays have been a feature of life since time immemorial. Three men (and their dog) decide to take a break from the tedium of everyday living with a relaxing boating holiday. Unfortunately their ineptitude combined with a series of unforeseen disasters result in a trip which is a very long way from the one they had in mind. A hymn to the British determination to persevere with a plan no matter what, it’s a very funny read.
- “Stark” by Ben Elton – This early Ben Elton novel does what many of his books do: it makes a serious comment on an aspect of modern society in a side-splitting and riotous way. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by him, but this one has a special place in my heart as it’s the first one I tried. Its theme is the environment, and it’s at once ridiculous, extreme, farcical – a scarily, a little bit believable.
- “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M. Delafield – If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you’ll know that I wrote a review of this a few days ago. She may be a creation of the 1930s but the Provincial Lady is just like any one of us (I particularly appreciate the way in which she fends off the melancholy of her financial woes by going shopping!) Her neighbours are as hilarious as they are hideous, and it is with great wit that the heroine endeavours to maintain her integrity in a stratum of society where keeping up appearances is the name of the game.
- “Does my bum look big in this?” by Arabella Weir – I never took to Bridget Jones as a character, and in fact would go so far as to say I found her incredibly unlikeable at times. This, however, is what “Bridget Jones’ Diary” would have been like if it had a more naïve and endearing heroine. The subtitle is “The diary of an insecure woman”, which tells you exactly what you’re going to get: jokes about cellulite, sex and dress sizes abound, and pretty good jokes they are too. It might all sound a bit hackneyed, but for a bit of girly silliness you can’t do much better.
- “Down Under” by Bill Bryson – I knew I had to get a Bill Bryson book in here, as no author has ever made me laugh quite as uncontrollably. The question was which one to choose; in the end I went for this one purely because there’s a scene involving a visit to a small, provincial museum that is as close to comedy perfection as you’ll ever get. Bryson can come across as somewhat curmudgeonly on occasion, but there’s no doubting his comic gift.
Well, that’s brightened my evening no end! As always I’d love to hear your thoughts – which books make you laugh out loud?