Take a break.
I’m tired. I’m tired of worrying all the time. I’m tired of being stressed out when I remember [insert literally any current event], I’m tired of waking up alone and going to bed alone and sobbing in the middle of the day randomly, etc. I’m tired. I’m. Just. Tired. Are you? You are, too, right? You are. In some way, big or small, we all are.
That said: Do you want to take a break with me for a little while? Perhaps just turn off the world around you for several hours, and–as difficult as this might seem–laugh? Do you feel like laughing at something? I feel like laughing at something.
These books do that for me. These books make me laugh hard. Whether it’s a “this is so damn stupid” sort of laugh, or an “oh my god, I feel that way too!” relatable sort of laugh, these 10 reads are funny, smart as hell, and extremely necessary right now.
'Little Weirds' by Jenny Slate
In this book of personal essays about love, heartbreak, and just being a person in the world, we step into the whimsical and bizarre mind of Jenny Slate. The stories in this book vary from wonderfully strange to beautifully poignant and sometimes are both of these things simultaneously. Some of the essays are more straightforward, while others are completely upside-down in an Alice in Wonderland kind of way. While it defies genre as far as personal essays go, it’s a welcome change as we are currently living a world that feels sort of upside-down generally. We are all made up of “little weirds,” and Jenny embraces hers in this book and challenges you to embrace your own. You can almost hear her giggling as you read it, and it will make you giggle, too.
'The Princess Diarist' by Carrie Fisher
This 2016 memoir by Carrie Fisher is based on actual diary entries she kept as a young actress around 1977 during the filming of Star Wars. It is intimate, revealing, and very funny (in true Carrie fashion). The diary entries are filled with love-struck musings and poems about her crush on Harrison Ford, her costar—she was just a teenager after all. In addition to musings of vulnerable teenage angst, we also read her true feelings about what it was like being suddenly super-famous, and the unpreparedness that comes along with skyrocketing to intense fame as a teenager. The essays are filled with one-liners that will make you snort-laugh as you go on a journey with Carrie and she makes sense of her younger, former self.
'How to Date Men When You Hate Men' by Blythe Roberson
Part dating companion, part hilariously anxious voice inside your own head, this book, written by Blythe Roberson (of Late Night with Stephen Colbert fame), is the epitome of hanging out for several hours and listening to your cleverest girlfriend theatrically rant and vent as she paces around your apartment while holding a beer and flailing it about. You laugh and laugh because everything she is saying is both true and funny as hell. If you’re on pause from the world of dating due to coronavirus or if you just remember how horribly irritating dating is and feel gratitude for not having to do it anymore, this is a relatable and grin-inducing read that will make you feel less alone–and maybe a little glad to be taking some time off from dating.
'Hell and Damnation' by Marq de Villiers
We’re in an apparent hell, so why not learn a little more about Actual Hell? Author Marq de Villiers takes you on a journey into the depths of Hades, and all of our earthly imaginings of it, spanning thousands of years and many, many faiths. This book is supremely researched–and supremely self-aware. At some points, it reads much like a travel book and covers many bases–hell, itself, as a locale, the main players and beings who “run” hell, musings on what hell is REALLY like, and the different types of eternal torment (and who gets what torture assigned to them).
'You’ll Grow Out of It' by Jessi Klein
Comedian Jessi Klein (head writer at Inside Amy Schumer) was both a tomboy and a late-bloomer and grew up feeling like an outsider looking in at anything having to do with “being feminine” (in the book, she refers to herself currently as a “tom man”). This book is full of hilarious, confessional essays. They are as relatable as they are funny, and even when they are at their most “embarrassing,” they are supremely human–and will probably make you feel a lot less alone if you struggle with traditional femininity as Jessi does (and let me just go ahead and raise my hand here, for this one).
'Round Ireland With a Fridge' by Tony Hawks
What starts out as a parody of a travel book turns into something much more heartfelt and sweet in this 1997 memoir by British comedian Tony Hawks about the time he hitchhiked the full circumference of Ireland with a literal refrigerator. What started as a drunken bet turned into a very real expedition—and one in which Hawks tried to keep to himself, at first, until being approached by a radio host who asks him to call into the station with daily updates. This turned Hawks into sort of a local celebrity, with the people of Ireland cheering him along his journey and referring to him as “The Fridge Man.” This book is as much an homage to the jovial spirits of the Irish people as it is about a man, his fridge, and their pilgrimage–together.
'Theft By Finding' by David Sedaris
This book of diary entries by David Sedaris isn’t necessarily laugh-out-loud hilarious as it is cleverly observant—which, makes sense, since it’s literally journal entries. While some of the entries can be, uh, depressing and, at times, um, insensitive, it’s important to remember that they are diary entries–take that for what you will, I suppose, but either way, this book is a behind-the-scenes look into the mind and actual world of Sedaris as just…a guy. Reading someone’s journal entries are always fascinating, but reading those of such a unique mind is truly a trip–and, quite frankly, a treat.
'Nice Try' by Josh Gondelman
Josh Gondelman, an Emmy Award-winning writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, is a bit of an anomaly, as he is both a comedian and a genuinely nice man (he spreads kindness and gives pep talks on Twitter pretty frequently, and has been doing so for years). His first book is filled with essays of trying hard and failing hard despite having good intentions. It will make you feel good (because you will relate to it HARD), it will make you laugh, and it will make you want to follow Josh on Twitter and hear all of the other things he has to say.
'Animals of the Ocean, in Particular the Giant Squid' by Doris Haggis-On-Whey, Irene Ng, and Mark Wasserman
If you feel like not making much of a commitment and would rather read what appears to be a children’s book about squids, then this, friend, is the book for you. As stated in the very first sentence of this book by trio Doris Haggis-On-Whey, Irene Ng, and Mark Wasserman: “You have purchased this book and now you will learn.” Specifically, you will be learning about the animal known as the “giant squid.” You will learn how to tell if you are currently being eaten by a giant squid, as well as general sea facts, such as what the sea’s relationship is to bread, etc.
'Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations' by Simon Rich
In this collection of short stories, dialogues, and vignettes, comedy writer Simon Rich (Saturday Night Live, Man Seeking Woman) finds absurdist humor and impending doom in the most ordinary places of everyday life. Some of these stories are only a page or two long, some of them are in script form, and some of them are in no form at all–they’re just funny as hell. This book will bring you to the most extraordinary world of all, in this current time: the regular world. The topics change rapidly with every page, and the brevity of each piece is perfect for anyone who can’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than 45 seconds–so if you desperately need a laugh but can’t seem to focus on a single thing, this book is the perfect break of 57 two-page(ish) mini-breaks.