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Funny Fiction

Recommending a funny novel is no laughing matter! Ironically, it's one of the hardest reader's advisory questions our fiction librarians get. A book that has one reader dissolved in giggles may leave another completely cold. Some fiction readers like literary satire, others prefer wacky farce, and still others want only gentle humor.

With this variety of tastes in mind, we've divided the following list by genre and added a few more clues where we could to help you choose something that will amuse you. Sometimes we list a favorite title, but many of these authors have several humorous titles or series you may enjoy.

This is just a sample, of course. And nothing beats a personal recommendation from someone who knows your likes and dislikes. So ask your librarians for more suggestions.

Books by many of these authors are available in large print and in audio formats.

Historical Fiction

Thomas Berger
Little Big Man
(revisionist frontier history from an underdog's point of view)

George MacDonald Fraser
Flashman series
(the history of a 19th-century English cad)

Harvey Jacobs
American Goliath
(a comic novel about a 19th-century scam that would have made P. T. Barnum proud)

Van Reid
Moosepath League series
(gentle, Dickensian historicals set in Maine)

Horror and Supernatural Fiction

Kinglsey Amis
The Green Man
(a literary, satiric ghost story)

Neil Gaiman
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
(hilarious parody)

Greg Kihn
Horror Show
(B-movie camp horror)

Christopher Moore
(demonically zany and highly original spoofs)

Roger Zelazny
A Night in the Lonesome October
(a delightfully silly take-off on classic horror)

Mysteries and Suspense

Donna Andrews
Murder, with Peacocks
(an elaborate wedding goes farcically and murderously awry)

Lawrence Block
Bernie Rhodenbarr "Burglar" series
(the adventures of a semi-reformed thief turned bookseller)

Steve Brewer
Bubba Mabry mysteries
(a Southern-fried p.i. is transplanted to Albuquerque)

Anthony Bruno
Tozzi and Gibbons series
(fast, funny adventures of mismatched FBI partners)

Sarah Caudwell
Hilary Tamar series
(arch and elegant English mysteries)

Ze'ev Chafets
Inherit the Mob
(wickedly funny sendup of Mafia novels)

Jill Churchill
Jane Jeffry series
(punny, cozy, small-town mysteries)

Nora DeLoach
Mama series
(South Carolina cozies set in a small African-American community)

Michael Dibdin
Dirty Tricks
(literary, British satiric suspense with a not-so-innocent narrator)

Janet Evanovich
Stephanie Plum mysteries
(New Jersey girl turns bounty hunter)

Kinky Friedman
Kinky Friedman series
(irreverent, countercultural sendups of p.i. mysteries)

Anne George
Southern Sisters mysteries
(gentle humor with two 60-something sleuths)

Jaqueline Girdner
Kate Jasper mysteries
(comic California cozies)

Sparkle Hayter
Robin Hudson series
(wild adventures of a single girl in New York)

Gar Anthony Haywood
Dottie and Joe Loudermilk series
(a retired cop and his wife meet adventure in their Airstream trailer)

Joan Hess
Maggody mysteries
(the ultimate in wacky, Southern mysteries)

Carl Hiaasen
(one of the founding fathers of South Florida satiric suspense)

Komo, Dolores
Clio Browne, Private Investigator
(a widowed, 40-something African-American woman in an appealing take on the p.i. novel)

Joe R. Lansdale
Hap Collins and Leonard Pine mysteries
(raw and raunchy South Texas humor)

Dallas Murphy
Artie Deemer mysteries
(a unique short series featuring jazz-loving Artie and his pet, an independently wealthy advertising "celebrity spokesdog")

Leslie O'Kane
Molly Masters series
(witty, fun mysteries starring a greeting-card entrepreneur)

Tim Parks
Juggling the Stars
Mimi's Ghost
(satires featuring the self-justifications of an opportunistic Englishman)

Marissa Piesman
Nina Fischman series
(a 30-something, New York Jewish woman comments on life's mysteries, like dating)

Alan Russell
Am Caulfield series
(the misadventures of a hotel manager)

Laurence Shames
(more South Florida satiric suspense)

Sarah Shankman
Sam Adams mysteries
(an over-the-top series with a smart-mouthed heroine)

Ross Thomas
(wry, impeccable Cold-War suspense satires from a master)

Donald Westlake
(caper novels usually featuring incompetent criminals)

Polly Whitney
Ike and Abby series
(breezy, New York mysteries featuring a divorced but still star-crossed couple)

Romance and Relationships

Margaret Atwood
The Edible Woman
(a feminist novel still as funny as it was in 1969)

Sarah Bird
(satires of modern relationships)

Valerie Block
Was It Something I Said?
(romantic comedy of modern Yuppiehood)

George Constable
Where You Are
(a charmingly comic satire of contemporary romance)

Jennifer Crusie
(comic romances with well-done mystery elements)

Trey Ellis
(modern romance and modern life from the point of view of an African-American man)

Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones's Diary
(a modern Pride and Prejudice, featuring a young Londoner with a disastrous love life; if you like this genre, try Anna Maxted, Melissa Nathan, or Marian Keyes, too)

Nelson George
One Woman Short
(a 30-something L.A. publicist suddenly realizes he may have missed the one woman who was right for him)

Jane Heller
(witty comedies of modern romance, sometimes with suspense elements)

Georgette Heyer
(traditional Regencies with sparkling wit)

Nick Hornby
About a Boy
(a directionless young Londoner finds a new pool of dating material--a single parents' group--in this contemporary satire)

Susan Isaacs
(several romantic suspense capers)

Diane Johnson
Le Divorce
(transatlantic satire of a young American in Paris)

Kristin Hunter Lattany
Kinfolks
(two former Black Panther members turn up some surprising secrets in this often funny story of an unusual family)

Elinor Lipman
Isabel's Bed
(one of several contemporary, satiric romances)

Terry McMillan
(her characters' fresh, often funny voices are one reason for the popularity of McMillan's contemporary romances)

Barbara Pym
(mild, church-going, mostly spinster Englishwomen observe their society with anthropological clarity)

Jennifer Weiner
Good in Bed
(witty and tender romantic debut)

Van Whitfield
Something's Wrong with Your Scale
(an African-American man fights the battle of the sexes and the battle of the bulge in this romantic comedy)

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Douglas Adams
Hitchhiker series
(classics of satiric science fiction)

Piers Anthony
(punny, light fantasy)

Terry Brooks
Landover series
(comic high-fantasy spoofs)

Lois McMaster Bujold
Vorkosigan saga
(tongue-in-cheek space adventure)

L. Sprague de Camp
(classic comic fantasy with a reluctant hero)

Philip K. Dick
(dark satire)

Harry Harrison
Stainless Steel Rat series
(the shenanigans of the Stainless Steel Rat are legendary)

Jonathan Lethem
(weird and truly original cross-genre satires)

Terry Pratchett
(classic fantasy comic parodies)

Spider Robinson
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories
(tales from an intergalactic watering hole)

Christopher Stasheff
(lighthearted fantasy)

Kurt Vonnegut
(countercultural satires with science fiction elements)

Connie Willis
Bellwether
To Say Nothing of the Dog
(brisk, intelligent, futuristic satires)

Sports

David Carkeet
The Greatest Slump of All Time
(a whole baseball team suffers from depression)

Dan Jenkins
(vulgarly hilarious novels, many about football)

Rick Reilly
Missing Links
(possibly the funniest golf novel ever written)

Charles Rosen
The Cockroach Basketball League
(a funny and honest look at life in the basketball minors)

John Sayles
Pride of the Bimbos
(an unlikely softball team tours the deep South)

Westerns

Jack M. Bickham
The Apple Dumpling Gang
(boys help the sheriff round up some outlaws)

Max Evans
The Rounders
(a contemporary western about a pair of losers)

Old-Fashioned Humor

H. E. Bates
Larkin series
(rural British satire)

E. F. Benson
(waspish English comedies of manners)

Ben Lucian Burman
Catfish Bend series
(gentle, allegorical animal stories from a Kentucky author)

Fred Chappell
Joe Robert Kirkman series
(heartwarming and funny stories of a North Carolina teacher)

Robert Crichton
The Secret of Santa Vittoria
(Italian villagers subtly resist their American occupiers during World War II)

Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Papers
(classic English picaresque humor)

Paul Gallico
Mrs. Harris stories
(gentle British humor about an indomitable Cockney woman)

Giovanni Guareschi
Don Camillo stories
(sly and sweet comic stories about an Italian village priest)

Miss Read
(quaint and kindly English village stories with humorous elements)

Booth Tarkington
(sweet comedies of the American heartland at the turn of the century)

Mark Twain
(classics of American humor)

P. G. Wodehouse
(delightfully daffy adventures of upper-class English twits)

Regional American Humor

Rita Mae Brown
(wacky, Southern humor)

Clyde Edgerton
(down-home stories of the South, filled with humor)

Donald Harington
The Cockroaches of Stay More
(one of his satires set in a fictional Arkansas town)

Garrison Keillor
(the famous chronicles of a little Minnesota town)

Jim Lehrer
"One-Eyed Mack" novels
(Oklahoma political spoofs and down-home humor)

Armistead Maupin
Tales of the City
(an innocent abroad in San Francisco's bohemian heyday)

T. R. Pearson
(richly comic tales of small-town life in the storytelling tradition of the South)

More American Humorists and Satirists

The list is a rather mixed bag of cultural commentators, countercultural satirists, and literary and academic novelists who use humor as just one of their tools in writing serious (but funny!) works of fiction.

More British Humorists and Satirists

Once again, this list features some writers of "serious" literary humor. But there's also some wildly farcical, over-the-top British silliness.