Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Books that Make Me Laugh Out Loud

Last Sunday we discussed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the book club (yes, on Towel Day, though I do still prefer the glorious 25th of May as Wear the Lilac Day, because well, Discworld trumps everything.) But discussing Adams' zany brilliance was fun and since humour has been on my mind, I decided to list the Top Ten Books that Make Me Laugh Out Loud for this week's Top Ten Tuesday Freebie!

Clicking on the titles will take you to the Goodreads pages. Instead of posting summaries, I've posted some of my favourite dialogues - let me just say, though, these are all books I'd recommend you to read. Delightful, witty (some more than others) and the kind that deserve to be taken a lot more seriously than you'd think!

1. Good Omens - The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

2. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it's the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it's just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. So let's just say that Ankh-Morpork is as full of life as an old cheese on a hot day, as loud as a curse in a cathedral, as bright as an oil slick, as colourful as a bruise and as full of activity, industry, bustle and sheer exuberant busyness as a dead dog on a termite mound.

3. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it? 
Ford: We're safe. 
Arthur: Oh good. 
Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet. 
Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.

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

My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery.  I dream that I haven’t packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it.  And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.

5. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Authors, she soon decided, were probably best met within the pages of their novels, and were as much creatures of the reader's imagination as the characters in their books. Nor did they seem to think one had done them a kindness by reading their writings. Rather they had done one the kindness by writing them.

6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C. when Saul and Delilah Korn's inadvertent discovery swept across Western civilization. (Before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy, because although everyone agrees with the formula of affection times purity times intensity times duration, no one has ever been completely satisfied with how much weight each element should receive. But on any system, there are five that everyone agrees deserve full marks. Well, this one left them all behind.

7. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Lady Bracknell: I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.

8. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

She was used to apologizing for her use of language. She had been encouraged to do a lot of that in school. Their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn't love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe.

9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.

10. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. I really think that the people who buy these books have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back.


I had an amazing time making this list. Mostly because I went through all the quotes on each of their Goodreads pages and was laughing all the way through. I'm sure I've missed some and do encourage recommendations. Which books make you literally laugh out loud?

10 comments:

Midnight scribbles said...

I love this list thanks to the classic listing! I shall look forward to the ones I haven't read as yet from the list!
Ps have you heard of tristam shandy? Aah it's quite the read!

confessionsofabookgeek said...

Great topic - I have to say I haven't finished Hitchhiker yet but I really struggle with the sense of humour in the written form, which is strange as I'm very sarcastic in real life. I think the "ridiculous-ness" of it stops me enjoying it. Humour in writing is such a weird thing, but some of these examples (which are books on my TBR) made me smile.

My TTT: http://confessionsofabookgeek.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/top-ten-tuesday-remembering-alfie/

Alex said...

Great topic! I really need to read The Princess Bride. It's been sitting on my shelf for too long.

Margo Berendsen said...

I'm reading my first Terry Pratchett right now and grinning all the way. Love Neil Gaiman too. I laughed out loud several times in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I haven't read Kurt Vonnegut in a long time, didn't think of him as being funny but definitely wry. Loved that Mark Twain quote especially!

Priya said...

Sabeeha - Glad you do. No one beats the oldies when it comes to humour, for me, anyway! And thanks for the recommendation, will definitely check out the book. :)

confessionsofabookgeek - Oh the only way to enjoy HHGG is to be okay with the complete utter silliness of it, I struggled the first time I read it too - I mean it is pretty bizarre; but maybe you will like it by the end.

Alex - That is one book you should get to quickly! Definitely worth the read, hope you like it when you get around to it. :)

Margo Berendsen - Ooh the idea of a first Pratchett is good, that means you've over thirty left! I agree, Vonnegut isn't usually laugh-out-loud, but he has his moments. I haven't read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, but I will now. Thanks for stopping by!

Datta Ghosh said...

Awesome listing, my personal favorite Three Men in a Boat

Priya said...

Datta Ghosh - Thank you! That's a book I'll never get tired of re-reading. :)

Delia D said...

That's a great list, I've read some of them, let's see...
Good Omens - I really tried but after a while the humor was lost on me and I began to feel annoyed with the book for some reason.
I haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide but another one from the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, quite a funny book. I love Marvin.
Three Men in a Boat - my favorite when I'm feeling blue. I still remember the cat (or was it the dog's) contribution to dinner - a rat. A wonderful book that had me laugh out loud on my subway trips to the city.
The Importance of Being Earnest - very entertaining, I enjoyed it.
The rest I haven't read but thanks for the post, it's good to know about a fun humorous book to read every now and then.

@girishvr said...

No P. G. Wodehouse ?

Priya said...

Girish, I have only read a couple of books by Wodehouse! They did make me laugh out loud, but here are mostly books I've reread over the years. :)

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