What To Read When When You Need A Laugh


Unfortunately, both everything and nothing is funny right now.

But sometimes you just want to laugh from your tummy.  Or simply smile quietly to yourself.  Or do one of those appreciatory blow-air-out-of-your-nose-but-not-really-laugh laughs. I’m a firm believer in having dessert. You’ve probably been inundated with emotional vegetables—reading scary, sad statistics or trying not to let your blood pressure rise every time you get a New York Times alert. You deserve something sweet, some candy, something silly and stupid, or silly and smart.

You deserve some delicious, much-needed levity.

Read the following list below, and things won’t seem so terrible (for a moment, anyway).

Click on the title to purchase.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

From Samantha Irby, beloved author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “tv executives slash amateur astrologers” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s new life. Wow, No Thank You. is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable.

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

You may “know” Jenny Slate from her Netflix special, Stage Fright, as the creator of Marcel the Shell, or as the star of “Obvious Child.” But you don’t really know Jenny Slate until you get bonked on the head by her absolutely singular writing style. To see the world through Jenny’s eyes is to see it as though for the first time, shimmering with strangeness and possibility.

As she will remind you, we live on an ancient ball that rotates around a bigger ball made up of lights and gasses that are science gasses, not farts (don’t be immature). Heartbreak, confusion, and misogyny stalk this blue-green sphere, yes, but it is also a place of wild delight and unconstrained vitality, a place where we can start living as soon as we are born, and we can be born at any time. In her dazzling, impossible-to-categorize debut, Jenny channels the pain and beauty of life in writing so fresh, so new, and so burstingly alive, we catch her vision like a fever and bring it back out into the bright day with us, where everything has changed.

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

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

With several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? proves that Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so strongly that she even became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.

The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal single life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and gross) for all.

Weird But Normal by Mia Mercado

Birth control. Body hair removal cream. Boobs. It’s all weird, but also pretty normal.

Navigating racial identity, gender roles, workplace dynamics, and beauty standards, Mia Mercado’s hilarious essay collection explores the contradictions of being a millennial woman, which usually means being kind of a weirdo. Whether it’s spending $30 on a candle that smells like an ocean that doesn’t exist, offering advice on how to ask about someone’s race (spoiler: just don’t, please?), quitting a job that makes you need shots of whiskey on your lunch break, or finding a more religious experience in the skincare aisle at Target than your hometown Catholic church, Mia brilliantly unpacks what it means to be a professional, absurdly beautiful, horny, cute, gross human.  With sharp humor and wit, Mia shares the awkward, uncomfortable, surprisingly ordinary parts of life, and shows us why it’s strange to feel fine and fine to feel strange.

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