University of Fun: the Reading List

My daughter forwarded me a link to a video the other day. Have you seen this one? If you’re busy, you don’t need to listen to more than thirty seconds of it to get the gist. At least the first few minutes are family friendly, too.

I watched it while shaking my head, a smile cracking my face and then struggled to name the emotions flitting through me: joy, horror…envy. Yes, as chemically induced or artificial this guy’s bliss, I wanted me some of that, minus the pharmacy. See, the Tart has a shameful habit, which is to say she’s good at working her assets off, but often forgets to reward herself with play. I want to fix that. I need more silly in my life. 

Since I write and read, a logical place to begin is with books. You already know I adore James Herriot, so I’ll provide two different recommendations:


The first, Frederica, describes the escapades of a boisterous family to which I yearned to belong by the end of the book. It reads like a comedy of errors, but bears all the hallmarks of  Georgette Heyer’s work: snappy dialogue, which is so individualized it doesn’t require dialogue tags for pages; biting commentary on “polite” society; a Price-and-Prejudice-like romance. This one even features a hot air balloon ride; I suspect the guy in the video above would approve. 😉

Baby Making a Face

My second is written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who has been dubbed the Queen of Romantic Comedy by Jennifer Crusie. My favorite of hers for comedy is Match Me if You Can. I’d love to be able to quote from it, to give you an idea of its tone, but I can’t; Molly’s still sleeping and has swiped it for her eighth read, or so. 

MMiYC features an underperforming matchmaker, a too-suave sports agent who becomes her client — problematic when she falls for him — and a football team. I’d recommend this book for the house party scene alone. 

Phillips’ also wrote Natural Born Charmer, and to give you a taste of her writing, these are its opening lines:

It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard’s larger-than-life world. “Son of a…”  Dean slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed.

Now, hit me with your nominees. They do NOT have to be romantic. They do NOT have to be smutless. Just name a few books that have turned your frown upside-down or, even better, books which gave you a sidestich from laughter.  

*Can someone drive competently, video tape and be quite so enthused about Burger King? I smell manipulation, I’m just sayin’.


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18 thoughts on “University of Fun: the Reading List

  1. OMG funny books? P.G. Wodehouse has made me laugh out loud in public so many times I’ve lost count. The Jeeves & Wooster books are the best, although some of the other series are funny too.

    And I’m a sucker for Douglas Adams. So absurd!

  2. Fun? People have fun? Really? Gotta get me some that. 😉

    Actually, when I’m looking for fun, I can read absolutely anything by David Sedaris. I laugh so hard, I weep and squee, sometimes not exactly in that order. I love his humor. He’s funny without being mean, and I really like that.

  3. The whole “Lucia” series by E.F. Benson
    The “Provincial Lady” books by E.M. Delafield
    Anything by Angela Thirkell
    Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (never ceases to amuse)

  4. Lara, I really have to pick up Wodehouse. Thank you for the rec. Since your own writing makes me LOL, I have to take your comedic suggesion seriously. 😉 Also, his name comes up time and again.

    Teresa, oh noes. Life still kicking your butt? I’ve read only Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty”. At the time — likely a product of my mood — it seemed as though he was mocking his family. But I will give him another try! Do you have a favorite to recommend?

    Elizabeth, thank you! I’m not at all familiar with these ones. Most excellent.

  5. I really enjoyed Me Talk Pretty and Naked when I read them many years ago. It didn’t seem to me that he was mocking his family so much as his place with them. He seems like someone who has always seen himself as different, even among those who love him, and for him, it’s laugh or die. The essays seemed too over the top to be true, but he has a great way of manipulating reality to make it funny.

  6. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, always hilarious and brilliant. Also, Kim Stanley Harrison’s Escape from Katmandu, featuring Bigfoot disguised as a tourist. And Harry Harrison’s Technicolor Time Machine, explaining how the Viking discovery of America really happened and why Hollywood was involved.

    There, that oughta keep you busy.

  7. Great idea for a post – and I’m new to Tartitude so had no idea you liked James Herriot. Me too. I also adore Jilly Cooper’s early novels (and Riders, Rivals and Polo) and Ruby Ferguson’s Jill pony books.

  8. You know, I am so busy lately that it seems like the humor books are always last on the list. I am getting some good ideas here.

    The only David Sedaris book I have read is “When You are Engulfed in Flames.” Personally, I thought it was uneven. Parts of it were really funny; others not so much. He wrote the book when he was quiting smoking. Amusingly, one of the reviews I read said he was funnier when he smoked….

    One that I thought was hysterical was Steve Hely’s “How I Became a Famous Novelist.” One of my cats likes to sit on my lap while I read my Kindle. She hated this book because I was just constantly heaving with laughter. I’d highly recommend it and think that writers (aspiring or otherwise, LOL) would find it quite enjoyable.

  9. The video is down. 🙁

    When I want a laugh I read anything by Christopher Moore and Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole series. And a recent YA that made me laugh out loud was Julie Halpern’s “Get Well Soon.”

  10. Glinda, sorry you’re so busy, but thanks for taking the time to give a recommendation. 😀

    Medeia, I’m not sure if it’s the same guy, but he sure sounds the same. The first video was of him flipping out about a double rainbow. Here, it’s the Burger King:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG8zNSf0c9k&NR=1
    Hope that works.
    I have Christopher Moore’s “Lamb” in my pile, read “You Suck – a love Story” and definitelyl laughed aloud. Thank you for the other names!

  11. My favorite silly reads are absolutely Tom Robbins–my favorites are Skinny Legs and All and Jitterbug Perfume (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is pretty good too). I like that they are silly and mind-bendy, both–they always have sort of pseudo fantasy elements. Skinny Legs and All starts off with sex SO FABULOUS that it sends a stick, a sock and a can of beans on a transcendental journey… good stuff.

    1. Ha–and I own Naked (of course) and Sedaris is HYSTERICAL in that one… there is some family mockery, but the tone seems to be a ‘gotta love them’ mockery–tons on his grandmother who reminded me of the nutty one in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

  12. If you haven’t already, give “Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)” by Gail Carriger a whirl. It’s hilarious, fresh and an utter romp. 🙂 Alexia Tarabotti is an unforgettable heroine 🙂 Makes me laugh each time. Plus PG Wodehouse, absolutely 🙂

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