50 of the Funniest Books of All Time
Get ready to wake up whoever's sleeping next to you. Here are dozens of funny books guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
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Laugh-out-loud funny books
Between pandemic stress and geopolitical angst, we need laughter now more than ever. But good comedy doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. No, many of the best humor authors dive right in. Well-written humor often includes profound perspectives and self-aware stories about the author’s own foibles. And we firmly believe that some of the best books of all time are also incredibly funny books.
That’s why we’ve thumbed through bestseller lists, reader ratings and critical reviews to compile a list of books guaranteed to make you chuckle. Whether you enjoy fiction books or nonfiction books, memoirs, feel-good stories or something in between, there’s something for you in these hilarious and heartwarming picks.
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1. Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta
Let’s kick off your list of must-reads with Tom Perrotta’s 2022 novel, which People called “engrossing and mordantly funny.” So what makes this book about ambition and teenage politics so sidesplittingly caustic? Tracy Flick, the overachieving heroine of Perrotta’s 1998 book Election, is back in the post-#MeToo era, and she’s ready to shed more light on gender politics with Perrotta’s signature dark-comedic style. It’s not exactly satire, and it’s not exactly lighthearted fiction, but Tracy Flick Can’t Win is guaranteed to make you laugh. That’s one reason it’s such a worthy selection for your next book club read.
2. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk knows comedy. He’s been a writer for Saturday Night Live and an actor on the darkly funny hit Breaking Bad. So it’s no wonder his memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama, is one of the best funny books to read this year. Throughout the pages, Odenkirk details his career as an entertainer, and the result is a new showbiz classic that will elicit more than a few chuckles. Looking for even more great reads? Pick up a book based on your favorite TV show.
3. Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon
Put this down as one of the funniest books of the year. Perhaps you know Molly Shannon from her Saturday Night Live years. Or maybe you’re a new fan, thanks to Showtime’s fresh comedy series I Love That for You. Either way, Hello, Molly! is a win for comedy lovers. The comedian’s 2022 autobiographical book is equally hilarious and heartbreaking, funny and family oriented. After losing her mother at a young age, Shannon was raised by an ever-grieving father. Interwoven with behind-the-scenes showbiz stories is the tale of a woman navigating family, fame and the balance of both.
4. I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein
An essay collection might not be the first thing on your mind when asked to imagine a stack of funny books. But this 2022 New York Times bestseller about midlife and motherhood has gotten high praise from readers in search of wisdom and wit. Publishers Weekly nailed the description of the work: “Klein makes readers laugh while inspiring them, a feat that calls to mind the work of the late Nora Ephron.” After devouring this one, browse more books for mothers and daughters to read together.
5. Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
David Sedaris has facilitated an endless stream of wry humor for many years. His 2022 essay collection strikes funny bones again but this time with poignant, pricelessly droll takes on how life changed during and after pandemic lockdowns. The pages are filled with delicate, buoyant takes on everything from quarantine hobbies to the impending death of a parent. As always, Sedaris spins weighty topics into something we can all smile about, if only for a moment. It’s no travelogue, but this belongs on your list of beach reads.
6. Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
Hannah Gadsby has already made a name for herself as an international stand-up comedian. With Ten Steps to Nanette, she earns top marks as a debut author. But what makes this 2022 memoir stand out from the crowd of other funny books is its heartfelt dive into Gadsby’s fraught relationships with the comedy world. The book details her comedy career as a member of the queer community, her grappling with twin diagnoses of autism and ADHD and, finally, her commitment to raw honesty, whether it’s funny or not. Don’t miss this and more of the best LGBTQ+ books.
7. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Who’s ready for romance? Not the protagonist of Sarah Hogle’s 2020 debut novel, You Deserve Each Other. The trouble is that Naomi Westfield is engaged to be married to her exasperating, frustrating, oddly doting partner, Nicholas Rose. Breaking up with Nicholas is impossible since neither wants to foot the bill for the lavish, nonrefundable wedding reception. This hilarious, sarcastic enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story belongs on your short list of fictional comedy to read this year.
8. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Good news for fans of this 2021 novel: Dial A for Aunties is only the first in an entire series of funny books about Meddelin Chan’s meddling mother hens. The unfortunate events leading to Meddelin’s accidental murder of her blind date would make a great cozy mystery but for the fact that readers—and the protagonist—know who committed the deed. So instead of hunting a killer, Meddelin and her aunties are tasked with disposing of a body, going undercover at a high-society wedding and maybe even wooing back an old flame in the meantime. It’s comedy gold.
9. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan
Jessica Pan’s chronicle of a year of trying to become an extrovert was one of the funniest books of 2019. In a gentle, self-deprecating fashion, Pan describes her adventures in pushing herself past her comfort zone while inspiring readers to try to do the same. From taking an improv class to hosting a dinner, Pan’s hilarious escapades read as heartwarming and relatable to introverts and extroverts alike. When you’ve read the last page, check out the most anticipated books of 2022.
10. I’m More Dateable than a Plate of Refried Beans by Ginny Hogan
Are you fed up with the toils and tribulations of modern dating? If so, this 2022 read was made for you. Comedian Ginny Hogan offers a smattering of relationship tales about everything from first dates to breakups to weddings. The best part? They’re all told through a lens of self-awareness about the absurdity of relationship quizzes, dating apps and other newfangled attempts to unravel the mysteries of love. It’s infotainment at its finest—and the sort of relationship book you’ll want to pick up if you’re in the mood for something other than a romance novel.
11. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
Smash together humor writing, steamy romance and coming-of-age themes into a national bestseller. What do you get? Funny You Should Ask, Elissa Sussman’s 2022 novel about a reporter with the hots for her superstar interviewee. Told in two timelines—the fateful first interview, then a second that unfolds 10 years later—this book is a delight for fans of second-chance romances, sizzling meet-cutes and witty banter.
12. We Had a Little Real Estate Problem by Kliph Nesteroff
There’s nothing funny about the horrific history of Native Americans who were mistreated and discriminated against. But when comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff compiles the stories of early and modern Indigenous comedians, you get a beautiful blend of history, education and dark comedy. Dubbed one of the best books of 2021 by Esquire and NPR, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem should also inspire you to read more books by Native American authors.
13. You’re Funny for A… by Sophia Zarders
This illustrated collection of profiles of LGBTQ+ and female comedians will hit your nearest bookstore in November 2022. You’ll laugh, sure, but you’ll also be inspired and motivated by the stories of these scrappy jokesters. It’s the perfect coffee table book or holiday gift for comedy lovers. It’s also a stellar introduction to new and emerging talent in showbiz.
14. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Paul Beatty’s 2016 comic novel is for those who revel in intricate sentences that sparkle with such extreme wit that you pause, sit back, smile and think. This highly acclaimed book won multiple awards, including the Man Booker Prize. You’ll follow a caustic narrator on trial before the Supreme Court in a story that challenges American tenets around race, politics and history.
15. The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis
You may be familiar with Jenifer Lewis from her turn in the must-see sitcom Black-ish, in which she plays Ruby Johnson. Or maybe you’ve watched her in one of the hundreds of other roles she’s had in film and television, usually cast as a scene-stealing mom. Her hilarious and heartfelt 2018 memoir offers a gripping, can’t-put-it-down account of her career as an actress as well as a chronicle of the trials and triumphs in her personal life along the way. Her writing crackles with the same wit and dazzle she brings to the stage and screen.
16. Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Patricia Lockwood’s deeply funny 2018 memoir about an unconventional religious upbringing in Kansas won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. In Priestdaddy, she chronicles how she and her husband moved into her parent’s home, a rectory, throwing themselves, as she puts it, “on the mercy of the church.” From there, she details her coming-of-age amid her father’s conversion to Catholicism with sharp, funny prose that brims with insight and humor.
17. Vacationland by John Hodgman
John Hodgman fills Vacationland, his low-key travelogue subtitled True Stories from Painful Beaches, with his characteristic deadpan wit and wry self-deprecation. Published in 2018, Hodgman’s memoir chronicles middle age, masculinity and privilege with a blunt insight that’s a perfect fit for the subject matter. Cement yourself as child of the year by ordering a copy of the book for Father’s Day or your dad’s birthday.
18. Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell
Nell Scovell was in many of the rooms where it happens in Hollywood. Her memoir, Just the Funny Parts, takes the reader into what she calls the “Hollywood Boys’ Club,” revealing the inner workings of an industry in which she was often the only woman working in a group of men. Scovell wrote for David Letterman as well as for hit TV shows like The Simpsons and Murphy Brown. This 2018 title is both a hilarious and wise take on gender in the workplace.
19. Cool, Calm and Contentious by Merrill Markoe
In this 2012 series of poignant essays, comedian and writer Merrill Markoe displays what she calls her compulsive impulse to recast the disagreeable as funny. She starts off delving into the mysteries of her mother’s harsh but funny remarks and continues with laugh-out-loud stories that wrestle what’s difficult into full-fledged humor. Essay collections may not be your go-to book genre, but this bright and hilarious tale may convince you to give more of them a try.
20. Weird but Normal by Mia Mercado
Give your inner weirdo what it wants with this 2020 title. Mia Mercado’s refreshing and relatable brand of humor takes on the everyday foibles of being human and recasts them as harrowing and hilarious. Her comedic timing entwines with insights on race, gender and identity through honest observations about the norms and weirdnesses of our modern world.
21. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
Fans of Louise Rennison’s funny young adult novels adore her wild and witty heroines. Published in 2012, Withering Tights takes place at a performing arts college in the Yorkshire Dales, a setting our imaginative heroine considers just like Wuthering Heights—except with more drama. Lovable narrator Talullah has a series of comic misadventures in book one of a series filled with zany and awkward farce and frolic.
22. I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux
With boldness and brilliance that’s both funny and profound, Michael Arceneaux explores what it’s like to be Black and gay in America in his 2018 book I Can’t Date Jesus. In a penetrating and relatable voice, Arceneaux takes on cultural bigotry and division and shows everyone how to emerge unscathed, strong and emboldened. It’s a journey about unlearning the worst of the world and embracing who you are.
23. Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance by Riane Konc
Fans of Choose Your Own Adventure books already know the pleasures and anxieties of carving out a path for a book’s protagonist. That’s even harder during the holidays, especially when a muscular hunk is involved. Indulge the hilarity of Christmas and bask in the conventions of rom-coms with Riane Konc’s Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance. The interactive and deeply comic 2019 Christmas book is frisky fun for any time of the year.
24. Shrill by Lindy West
Lindy West’s brilliant, biting 2017 book about being a woman with lots to say was adapted into a Hulu TV show of the same name. And while it’s worth a watch, you’re going to want to read the book as well. In the bestselling Shrill, West writes about her experiences navigating her career as a writer—and a funny one—in a world in which women aren’t considered funny. She writes with scathing honesty about misogyny, fatphobia and her experience with internet trolls. West will inspire you to get brave and shows you how to find your inner courage.
25. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Fans of the famed humorist Davis Sedaris have a hard time picking out their favorite book or essay from his chuckle-inducing, bestselling collection, which is why you’ll find more than one of them on our list. In Me Talk Pretty One Day, published in 2001, Sedaris chronicles his fish-out-of-water adventures in Paris with brilliant wit, proving why he’s considered one of the best humor writers of all time.
26. The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell hosts CNN’s United Shades of America and is known for the affable humor he brings to difficult subjects, such as structural racism. His insightful, funny 2018 memoir blends pop culture commentary with educational truth-telling. His awkward thoughts are anything but as they pull readers into a narrative worthy of a stand-up comedy routine that changes hearts and minds.
27. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
John Kennedy Toole won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his epic 1987 novel. In short, A Confederacy of Dunces is a modern masterpiece and hands-down one of the greatest comedy books of all time. Prepare for a madcap adventure with hilarious descriptions and a brilliant plot that follows the tragicomic hero, Ignatius J. Reilly, through a series of zany scenes and exploits.
28. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey’s 2011 memoir bubbles over with wry observations about her life experience and the human condition itself. Fey describes events in her early years, how she finally got a writing gig on Saturday Night Live and the ins and outs of being a woman in the entertainment biz. Fans of this book describe laughing out loud and erupting in giggles all the way through.
29. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Two stellar writers teamed up in 1990 for this uproarious romp about the end times. Even the subtitle—The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch—is a laugh. Both authors are known for their powerfully original and hilarious novels about all things madcap and fantastical. You’ll be amazed by their joint foray into the world of witches, angels and demons, a fast-paced tale that’ll keep you rapt and laughing throughout. When you’re done, you can catch the TV show on Amazon Prime.
30. Will Not Attend by Adam Resnick
Adam Resnick masters the hilarity of woebegone cynicism in this 2014 series of stories that includes a riff on avoiding parties as a child and resisting his fellow second-graders—especially boys “with their cretinous obsession with weaponry and construction vehicles.” Get ready for witty writing that pulls you into tales about being neurotic, human and comically antisocial.
31. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was the screenwriter behind rom-com gems Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, and as I Feel Bad About My Neck proves, her writing is as powerful on the page as onscreen. In this 2006 essay collection, she wrote with humor and relatable honesty about her observations as a woman of a certain age. You’ll laugh, cry and feel like you’re listening to a close friend. For more great reads that tackle what it means to be a woman, check out these feminist books.
32. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel This Is Where I Leave You follows the dysfunctional antics of the Foxman family. They’ve gathered together for their father’s funeral, but the loss brings buried angst to the surface in a way that’s both heartbreaking and funny. Get ready for acerbic quips and a family that tosses one-liners at one another like grenades.
33. Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Students may complain that classic books are dense and dry, but here’s proof that older titles can still leave you laughing. First published in the U.K. in 1925, P.G. Wodehouse’s Carry On, Jeeves serves up classic British humor in the form of short stories. The collection zeroes in on the inept aristocrat Wooster and his manservant, or “keeper,” Jeeves. Wooster and his bevy of hapless friends constantly get into trouble, while Jeeves saves the day. The writing is full of upper-crust wit that will impress you while making you giggle.
34. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, writes with effortless wit and intelligence as he characterizes the absurdity of being “born a crime”—in South Africa, the union between his (white) Swiss father and (Black) Xhosa mother carried a prison sentence of five years. In this 2016 memoir, Noah tells stories of his difficult boyhood alongside a fearless mother determined to protect him. His wisecracks punctuate tales that won’t fail to move you.
35. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson’s 1998 comic tale (adapted for film in 2015) is the official travel guide of the Appalachian Trail, the 2,100-mile stretch along the Eastern seaboard that he calls the “granddaddy of long hikes.” He chronicles his experience in a book that’s ultimately about the American wilderness: its conservation and its history. But the topic is secondary to his command of the English language—the driest details become comedy gold when spun through his hilariously literary voice. Fans of A Walk in the Woods can follow up their reading by watching the movie adaptation of the same name.
36. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
Issa Rae, of the hit HBO show Insecure, recounts what it’s like to be a social misfit in a way that’s effortlessly lovable and totally relatable. Her 2015 book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, shares a name with the hit web series that catapulted her to stardom. Being awkward is rarely this brilliant, brave and beautiful, and in Rae’s insightful writing, it’s also incredibly funny.
37. It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro
Published in 2011, Laurie Notaro’s hilarious slice-of-life memoir turns mundane challenges into comedy treasures. This bestseller begins in the dressing room of a chic boutique, and Notaro’s riffs on shopping, price tags and the fantasy of what a great blouse might do for you are sidesplittingly funny. She muses that stores should have “courtesy volcanoes” outside dressing rooms so women can toss themselves in after discovering their total inadequacy in certain lighting. You won’t be able to stop reading, and you’ll laugh the whole time.
38. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
Justin Halpern found himself living back at home with his parents after his girlfriend unexpectedly dumped him. His recently retired dad spent his time speaking in a charmingly crude vernacular, what Halpern characterizes as a “mixture of honesty and insanity.” When Halpern posted his father’s witticisms to Twitter, they took off. The 2010 Sh*t My Dad Says book picks up where the viral tweets left off. It includes more stories and a compilation of his dad’s best quotes on a variety of subjects, like this bit of slumber-party advice: “There’s chips in the cabinet and ice cream in the freezer. Stay away from knives and fire. OK, I’ve done my part. I’m going to bed.”
39. Lamb by Christopher Moore
Comic horror novelist Christopher Moore may be well known for his biting take on the vampire novel, but his spin on the gospel is perhaps even more worthy of your time. In Lamb, his popular 2002 novel, the early life of Jesus is retold by his bestie, Biff. It’s as poignant as it is hilarious, and fans admit to laughing out loud during the entirety of the story.
40. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
Fans love Carl Hiaasen’s over-the-top novels for their zany writing and bizarre scenarios. This 2013 story follows former cop Andrew Yancy as he investigates a severed arm that turns up at the end of a fishing line. The middle finger is somehow frozen in a raised position, a harbinger of the crude and funny madcap investigation to come.
41. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde’s famous play, written in 1915, is still considered a rollicking read. Wilde was a master of witty repartee, and the dialogue here delivers. The story concerns two men romancing two women, and it’s filled with madcap chaos and hilarious twists and turns. Lose yourself in timeless language that still induces an impressive amount of giggles. Next, check out dozens of fantasy books that’ll transport you to magical worlds.
42. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Nobody does self-effacing humor quite like Jenny Lawson, whose Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is the hilariously irreverent book you’ve been meaning to read. Get caught up in Lawson’s lively style filled with asides, cussing and truly alluring sarcasm. This 2013 memoir became a much-loved bestseller because Lawson’s life stories are heartwarming, relatable and gut-bustingly funny.
43. Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
A riff on Judy Blume’s classic children’s book, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea sees the comedian turning to her idea of a higher power: booze. Handler’s 2009 musings are clever and engaging enough to keep you turning pages and full of enough humor to keep you laughing. With a raunchy, offensive style filled with comic punches, she lets readers in on the details of her life, both the outrageous and the mundane.
44. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
In Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel (published in 2011), you’ll follow the exploits of a department store lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter. The eponymous Jersey girl is known for her wisecracks, cynical outlook and adventures in capturing her erstwhile hook-up, the hottie Morelli. She needs the money, so why not try to apprehend an old fling? Add in some laugh-out-loud antics, and this is escapist reading at its best.
45. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling’s signature wit comes with heaping doses of brilliance in this 2012 memoir about her life as the daughter of immigrants and how she became known for her comedy. She was a writer and performer on the critically acclaimed, ever-ironic and hilariously soulful The Office. She also starred in, wrote and executive produced the hit show The Mindy Project. You’ll love laughing as you fall hard for her honest, tell-it-like-it-is voice. When you’re done, pick up one of these other great books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors.
46. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Maria Semple’s brilliantly satirical and unconventional 2013 book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, follows the story of a Seattle mom who disappears two days before Christmas. It’s up to her 15-year-old daughter to figure out what’s become of her. The women’s fiction novel unfolds through emails, texts, letters, bills and all the paperwork that makes up contemporary life. Semple infuses the story with a wry sense of humor and characters you won’t soon forget.
47. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
This 2011 book is the perfect bedtime story for weary parents of small children. But be careful! You don’t want to wake up the kids—and you won’t get through it without cracking up. Adam Mansbach’s hilariously obscene bestselling picture book stole the heart of every parent who’s ever tried to get their kid to finally fall asleep. With lulling, cuss-word-laden lines of poetry and gorgeous illustrations of children sleeping near wildlife, this classic gag book remains a favorite. Just keep this one away from the kids—these children’s books about diversity are better suited to the younger set.
48. Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
If you’re the kind of person who finds the epistolary form amusing and the antics of insufferable academics funny, pick up a copy of Julie Schumacher’s 2015 novel, Dear Committee Members. Told through a series of letters and emails, this effortlessly riotous tale centers on the chapfallen professor Jason Fitger. He’s a whiz at writing passive-aggressive letters of recommendation and other complaints. The plot follows up on his bleak love affairs and even bleaker grad student. It’s the best kind of sad and funny.
49. You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Stand-up comedian Phoebe Robinson explains several important things in her bestselling 2016 book You Can’t Touch My Hair—and you’ll find them both casually riveting and brilliant. Her prose jumps from profound to hilarious to essential, tackling topics like pop culture, gender and race in a narrative voice that’ll grip you from the start. If you’re looking for more books by Black authors to round out your reading, be sure this gem is on your list.
50. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby’s books and blogs are always funny and wise. Her 2017 essay collection, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, delivers similar profundities about our absurdist culture disguised as jokes. This one starts with her application to be on The Bachelorette, and when asked if she has any children, her answer is, “I’m counting the cat here. So, yes.” (Its name is Helen Keller.) Her hobbies include “scrolling through Facebook quickly enough that people’s stupid videos don’t start playing automatically.” Irby’s seemingly offhand quips will quickly enrapture you.
Additional reporting by Leandra Beabout.