Whether you’re a giggler, snorter or deep-belly laugher, here are our recommendations for novels to lift your moods and pleat your minds with joy:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
Liftoff laughs. It’s late, you’re tired, and you want a quick, fun and short read: this cult classic ticks all those boxes, under 200 pages and utterly ridiculous.
The Fire Starters Jan Carson
Mischievous magic realism. This moody novel deals with some pressing themes — violence, parenthood, nationalism — but the wry, wicked sense of humour allows you to dip in and out of a post-Troubles Belfast where there is far more than what meets the eye.
Very Nice Marcy Dermansky
Literary soap opera. A smart, nasty little novel with characters (and their emotional lives) that make you want to scream — in the best way possible. Spoiler: the last word of the book is ‘laugh’. Curious?
Mammoth Chris Flynn
Fossilised funnies. Filled with smile-to-yourself moments, this is a quirky and playful book narrated by a mammoth’s skeleton, traversing time and space to fill us in on all that has changed in the world throughout human history.
Less Andrew Sean Greer
Winning wisecracks. I loved this meandering narrative of Arthur Less gallivanting around the world frequenting literary events to avoid attending his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. It was uproarious and full of heart, hitting you right in the feels.
The End of Cuthbert Close Cassie Hamer
Keeping up appearances. Hamer’s enlivening portrayal of what starts as a close-knit community in Australian suburbia becomes juicy tabloid gossip as motherhood, friendship, family, money and a mystery trade blitz together for a hilarious and heartwarming treat.
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
Comic spree. An oldie, but a goodie. Read it for the mad dialogue and Ignatius J. Reilly who is, according to Vanity Fair, Bette Midler’s favourite hero of fiction.
Life isn’t so full of events, you dummies. Spend a day eating macaroni, before it’s too late.
It Sounded Better in My Head Nina Kenwood
Goofy growing pains. Dealing with that awkward time between high school and everything else with a tender but humorous hand, this book always brings a smile to my face, no matter how many times I’ve read it.
Too Much Lip Melissa Lucashenko
Dark family saga. One of the best books I’ve read this past year, speckled with a good dose of humour, heart, redemption, and mischief — all necessary ingredients for a great novel. It’s the type of book you read over one weekend, but one that stays with you for a long while.
Good on Paper Andrew Morgan
Satirical mystery. I love this novella for the rollicking journey it took me on — a witty, ingenious plot for an ostracised writer to regain his fame. Morgan’s vivacious choice of words peppers the laugh-out-loud triggers on almost every page.
The Wee Free Men Terry Pratchett
Parody and pixies. When I first read the blurb, I didn’t expect it to be as funny. This was perhaps a misguided impression (as any Pratchett fan would tell me). Fun and adventurous, it has everything you want from a novel, including hitting a fairy with a frying pan.
The Adversary Ronnie Scott
Sun-soaked sass. An unnamed narrator wrestles with his complicated feelings for the men around him amid a sun-dappled summer. His observations of social structures and the particularities of Melbourne living are wickedly funny and perceptive. Take this excerpt: ‘Life isn’t so full of events, you dummies. Spend a day eating macaroni, before it’s too late.’
Calypso David Sedaris
Seaside silliness. A novel about family, politics and depression and is both deeply moving and laugh-out-loud funny. I downloaded it as an audiobook but had to stop listening in public as I couldn’t control my eye-watering laughter on the train.