Top 10 Books that made me Laugh

Welcome to the first Top 10 post voted for by you, my loyal Bookbaggers! The poll was really close all the way through and in the end I even had to vote myself because there was a tie on the closing day. The theme that tied with this one was Book to Screen Adaptations and since I had already announced this theme as the winner in my last post I thought I should stick with it. To be fair I will be doing the screen adaptations one next month and afterwards will post another poll with the remaining themes so you guys will have the power for a while 🙂 Also it should be noted many of these are not single books but series’ that made me laugh because I found it too hard, and not fair to choose just one from each series.

Now sit back and enjoy my Top 10 Books that made me Laugh.

1. Discworld series By Terry Pratchett

(The Colour of Magic; The Light Fantastic; Equal Rites; Mort; Sourcery; Wyrd Sisters)

The books I have read of this fantastic humor/fantasy series (listed above) have done their part to make me look like a giggling moron on a bus 🙂 They are the perfect public transport buddy as they are compact, easy to get into and make riding on the bus or train surrounded by strangers a pleasant experience. Normally when I’m reading I try not to laugh out loud unless I’m at home, but with the Discworld novels I don’t have much choice. Not only have I giggled inanely I have even snorted on occasion and burst out with an explosive “HA!”. The way that Terry Pratchett writes creates moments for jokes to sneak up on you – sometimes it is just a line that is so ridiculous or witty or unexpected that laughter just bubbles up and can’t be stopped. One of my favourite funny non-sensical bits was from Sourcery:

It looked like a piano sounds shortly after being dropped down a well. It tasted yellow and felt paisley. It smelled like a total eclipse of the moon. Of course, nearer to the tower it got really weird.

If you want to appear totally sane in public then maybe save these for the comfort of your own home, but if like me you don’t give two hoots about people staring at you then read away!

My Discworld collection...so far 😉

2. Good Omens  by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

This book combines the comic and fantastical genius of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman into a hilarious apocalyptic saga. The characters, the dialogue and the situations in general had me giggling and hooting with laughter all the way through and the plot was also pretty gripping. If you like the Discworld novels or Neil Gaiman, or even if you like the humor of Discworld but find it a bit too fantasy based and you want a bit of dark humor then I urge you to pick up this book! Pratchett and Gaiman work so well together and it really shows in this little gem of hilarity – truly a work that is greater than the sum of its parts and one of my fave reads of last year.

The matching Crowley and Aziraphale covers that were a more recent printing of the novel. I have the Crowley one 🙂

3. The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

I think I have encountered this classic tale in almost all its guises – I have read all the books of course (including the end of the series that was written my Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl books, after Douglas Adams’ death); I have listened to the radio series that was broadcast through BBC Radio 4 (a recording of the broadcast not when it was originally played as I wasn’t born yet when it first aired in 1978); I have watched the TV series ;and the movie. The only forms I haven’t encountered yet are the video game; the stage productions; the DC comics and the definitive form: the towels that feature text from the first novel. And why are the towels the definitive form? Because a towel is the most useful item an intergalactic traveller can have with them and one should always know where there towel is! Fans of the series have even gone so far as creating Towel Day where they carry around a towel on the 25th of May to show their love for Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers series (I have yet to celebrate Towel Day, but now that I know about it I will be ready with my towel on the 25th of May!).

Douglas Adams was a extremely funny and gifted writer and the Hitchhikers Guide will always be on my list of funniest books. If you haven’t read them yet and you love a good, silly, intergalactic laugh then go find them – and don’t forget your towel!

The trilogy of four

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I wish that books like these were around when I was a kid! I discovered the Series of Unfortunate Events books when I was in my late teens and borrowed the first one – The Bad Beginning – because it was short and looked like a really different kids novel. And boy are they different! The series is a blend of mystery, adventure and humor with some really funny quirks such as the author/narrator constantly urging the reader to put the book down and find something more cheery, and wonderfully hilarious definitions of difficult words used throughout. From the first page I was hooked and went on to devour the following twelve in the series whenever I could find them (mainly waiting anxiously for the one I wanted to return to the library). This is a great series that doesn’t patronize children by dumbing things down or wrapping events up nicely with a happy ending, which I think is why they have been so popular. But don’t think that they’re not for you just because they’re in the children’s section of your local bookstore or library! These are books that make you feel like a kid again and give you a good laugh for a couple of hours, and isn’t that what we all want sometimes after a long week in the adult world?

Oh, how I wish I had this box set!

5. Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

This is another “children’s” series that most adults won’t think to read but should be reading. I started it because my brother owned the first couple and recommended them and I have had a ball through every moment of the last 5 books. Not only is this series filled to the brim with action and magic, but it also has a plethora of hilarious dialogue moments between the characters that surprise you in some of the darker moments. If you like your humor dark and witty and your detectives to be straight out of a Noir film but a bit more skeletal then you would love Skulduggery Pleasant. I personally am bursting with excitement because I bought the newest book – Death Bringer – for my bro which I’m presenting to him this afternoon, and because I know he devours this series quicker than a shoal of piranha on a buffalo, I will get to read it very soon 😀 YAY!

The new book

6. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

As I have said before I saw the Hayao Miyazaki anime based on this book before I even knew that there was a book! The movie was spectacular and had amusing moments but isn’t particularly a funny movie so I was expecting the same from the book, but once I started I realised that Miyazaki had focused on and enhanced the fantasy elements of the book and added his own brand of humor to it, but the real charm of the story came from the laugh-out-loud little nuances, mainly between the characters. Sophie was surprisingly funny character whose wry comments and thoughts on Wizard Howl and the situations he got himself in were classic. I still love the movie, and think it was a great adaptation that stayed true to the book, but it was Diana Wynne Jones’ words that really entertained me. The sequel – The Castle in the Air – was also really entertaining and funny but I chose Howl’s Moving Castle rather than the series as a whole because while I was reading it at my ex girlfriends house I had to stop every few minutes and explain to her what was so funny that I had burst out laughing.

7. Anything and everything by Roald Dahl

It was too hard to pick a single Roald Dahl book for this list as I have loved (and laughed at) every one I’ve read since I was a little girl. As a kid Roald Dahl books were like a special secret world we had away from grown ups, where crazy, disgusting and cheeky stuff happened and we could giggle away without our parents being any the wiser. I remember getting this rush every time I read one of his stories because often there would be stuff in them that felt naughty but you were allowed to read it because it was Roald Dahl, which all parents saw as perfectly acceptable reading material. I especially remember Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts which I read over and over, delighting in the gross re-imaginings of classic fairy tales and disgustingly hilarious animals stories. I even borrowed an audio recording from the library and made a cassette copy (yes cassette!) and listened to that so many times that I pretty much knew every one by heart and would laugh pre-emptively when it came up to the best bits (to my immature self that was when ‘slut’ was said during Cinderella, and when Red Ridding Hood’s knickers were mentioned :P).

Other favourites included: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; James and the Giant Peach; The Twits; The BFG; Esio Trot; The Witches; Matilda and Roald Dahl’s autobiography, Boy. I didn’t outgrow Roald Dahl either. A few years ago at the age of 19 or 20 I asked for The Roald Dahl Treasury for Christmas and had a grand time reading all the funny little snippets from his books and tittering away to myself 🙂

8.  The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

I had never even heard of Robert Rankin before my friend Sarah passed this book on to me along with a bunch of other old books she didn’t want anymore many years ago. It was the title that got me at first because I couldn’t think of anything less likely to cause the apocalypse then hollow chocolate bunnies and with a title like that It was bound to be a good laugh. The book is set in Toy City, a place that is inhabited by toys and characters from Nursery Rhymes. But it isn’t a happy carefree kind of place that you would imagine, instead it is very like an ordinary seedy City with crime families, prostitution and serial killers. The plot revolves around the bizarre murders of famous Nursery Rhyme characters such as Little Jack Horner, Jack Spratt and Mother Goose and it’s these murders that provide the comic element. There is something so wrong but satisfying about reading the gruesome deaths of characters from Nursery Rhymes that you find yourself laughing for the sheer audacity of it. I haven’t read any other books by Rankin since, but he has a large range of books in a similar vein that I would love to get to one day.

Help! Chocolate bunnies!!

9. Awful End/Dreadful Acts  by Philip Ardagh

Awful End and Dreadful Acts are the first two books in the Eddie Dickens Trilogy. I have only included those two rather than the whole trilogy because when I was reading the series (around age 13) I couldn’t find the third book anywhere and so made do by reading the first two books over and over again. In the space of about a year I must’ve read both books 5 or 6 times including a couple of times where me and my friend/neighbour who was a couple of years younger than me read them out loud to each other pausing throughout as we fell down on my bed in fits of laughter. What makes Awful End and Dreadful Acts so funny is the language used. For example, they are filled with nonsense lines and literal interpretations of common sayings (such as a character suggesting that another take a seat and then demanding that they return it when the seat of the carriage is torn out). One of my favourite parts was the explanation of the illness that the main character’s parents are afflicted with, which is how Awful End begins:

When Eddie Dickens was eleven years old, both his parents caught some awful disease that made them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly round the edges, and smell of old hot water bottles.

From that moment on I was a goner, falling into fits of laughter every few lines. The hilarity was enhanced by strange little illustrations by David Roberts  that were at the start of each chapter and at random points throughout. I have such fond memories of reading about poor Eddie Dickens’ adventures that while writing this post I looked up the third book – Terrible Times – on the Joondalup Libraries catalogue, requested it and found out today that its waiting for me at Joondalup. I also found out that Philip Ardagh wrote a follow-up trilogy about Eddie Dickens, so I’ll probably find those too and enjoy some very light, and very funny holiday reading 🙂

10. Love Bites: 101 Tips for Dating Guys with Fangs by Claire Hooper AND The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn

I know, I cheated. These books aren’t a series, in fact they aren’t even remotely related but I’ve done that before so it’s not that much of a surprise. I chose both of these books because I obtained and read them around the same time (Christmas/new years 2010) and couldn’t decide which made me laugh more and I thought it would be good to include some non-fiction in the list (‘tho the non-fiction link is quite tenuous here).

Love Bites: 101 Tips for Dating Guys with Fangs kind of speaks for itself. It’s a how-to guide for girls dating vampires that is a satirical look at dating guides and the recent fad of vampire romance novels/shows/movies etc. The book is a humourous mix of actual fan-girldom and poking fun at the girls/phenomenon that the book appears to be aimed at. On top of this its done quite cleverly with the tips really being things girls would have to think about when dating the undead, such as telling your parents, moving in with your vamp bf and how to be safe if you break up. Hooper is a very funny Australian comedienne that seems adorable and cheery and then says something really cutting and unexpected which is evident in the book and made it a very funny read on a lazy Boxing Day afternoon.

The Bro Code is a totally different kettle of fish. It is a guide for men (or bros) to live by and maintain the sacred rules of brodom. If you have seen the sitcom How I met Your Mother then you may remember Barney Stinson referencing The Bro Code, and this book is basically that code on paper with accompanying tips, graphs and diagrams to illustrate the various rules of brodom as well as violations of the code. I giggled most of the way through this book because I’m a fan of the show, and especially Barney and it was so well done that it really could have been made by Barney himself. A short note of warning: The Bro Code is meant to be funny, not gospel that you actually live your life by so I urge you, if you have a feminist streak don’t take it too seriously!

Well there you go, the 10 books (or more :P) that made me laugh the most. Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll post the second part of this theme – the Top 10 Books that made me Cry.

Top 10 Male Characters

1. Jeffrey Lu

Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey

Jeffrey Lu was the first character that came to mind when I started to compile this list because despite not being the main character of Jasper Jones (Which is Charlie Bucktin) or the character that the book is named after, he is the character that stuck in my mind the most. Jeffrey Lu is Charlie’s best friend and neighbour, he’s Vietnamese and obsessed with cricket. The reason why he’s so memorable is he is so funny, goofy and resilient and I cheered him on throughout the book when I wasn’t wishing that he was my best friend when I was that age (13)! Because of when and where Jasper Jones is set – rural Western Australia in the ’60s – Jeffrey has to face a lot of racism, and this prevents him from enjoying his one true love, cricket, as the other boys won’t alow a “gook” to play. The scene when he is finally allowed to play a game (because they lost a player and he’s the only one there) and absolutely saves the team is one of the highlights of the book and had me cheering out loud (which says a lot as cricket is like a foreign language to me :P)

unfortunately there has not been a movie or tv adaptation of Jasper Jones (yet!) so no pic of Jeffrey. I imagine him as a short Vietnamese boy with a giant grin 😀

2. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin

Ender’s Game  by Orson Scott Card

I read this book late last year and was instantly intrigued by the protagonist, Ender. Ender is the “third” in his family in a futuristic Earth society that only allows two children per household. Ender was allowed to be born because his two older siblings, Peter and Valentine were incredibly intelligent but not suitable for military training. Ender however is chosen and is shipped off to a space station to begin extensive war “games” in preparation for fighting the “buggers” an insect-like alien race. Ender is a very complex character – at first he seems quiet and somewhat sinister, and he is undoubtably highly intelligent. As the book goes on you discover so many layers of his character and reasons behind his actions. I don’t think I’d want to be best friends with Ender like I do with Jeffrey Lu, but he would be interesting to talk to 🙂

Ender in the Battleroom (picture from a video game based on the book that has been put on hold indefinitely)

3. Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

A love the sometimes anti-hero of this series – the teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl the second. From the first book I couldn’t get enough of his fiendish money-making/blackmail schemes, his posh irish schoolboy demeanor and his softer side that appears when people he loves (such as his family or bodyguard Butler) are in trouble. The witty back-and-forth between himself and various other characters is classic, whether he’s the bad guy or the good guy. I’m only up to the 5th book (out of 7) and I’m loving how his character is changing and maturing, because of age and his gradual shift to the good side.

Gotta love a criminal mastermind that hasn’t left school yet!

4. Arthur Dent

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

Ah Arthur Dent – possibly the most unfortunate Englishman in the Universe. I can’t help but love his bumbling helplessness and constant longing for tea, whether it’s in the book series, the BBC tv series (1981) or the movie (2005). I’ve read all the original Hitchhiker’s books (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless) as well as the last book that was written by Eoin Colfer (And Another Thing…) and through them all the character that really made me laugh was Arthur. I don’t know what it is about him – maybe it’s the fact that he’s a human surrounded by a cast of bizarre aliens, or the fact that absolutely anything bad that could happen to him does, or that he does all his adventuring in an old bathrobe – but most likely it’s that the poor bugger never gets a proper cuppa!

“I just want a bloody cup of tea!”

5. Rubeus Hagrid

Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling

From the onset of the Harry Potter series Hagrid has been one of my favourite characters and I think he’s one of the only characters that was cast perfectly in the movies (go Robbie Coltrane!). I love everything about him – his giantness, his crazy hair and beard, his flying motorcycle, the pink umbrella that he hides his wand in because he’s not meant to do magic, his love/blind-spot for dangerous beasts, and how he will do anything for Harry, Hermione and Ron. I was sad when several of the HP characters died *SPOILER ALERT!* like Sirius, Dumbledore, Hedwig, Dobby, Lupin, Tonks and Fred, but if Hagrid had died I don’t know if I would’ve kept reading. I want my very own Hagrid!!!

Awww look at his giant button-hole flower! ^-^

6. Adrian Mole

Adrian Mole  series by Sue Townsend

The Adrian Mole diaries (namely The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole) were a guilty little pleasure of many kids my age (when I was about 11) because they really did bare all! Adrian wrote about pimples, his parents failing marriage, his love for Pandora and even the changing size of his penis! His slightly pathetic, nerdy, sentimental character was always endearing to me which is why I bought Adrian Mole : the Cappuccino Years when I saw it years later. Even at 30 Adrian’s diary is still very personal and filled with hilarious misfortune. The series has 7 books in all, taking Adrian from 13 and ¾ to 39 and ¼ (Adrian Mole : the Prostrate Years which was published in 2009) but I’ve only read about half of them.

Gian Sammarco as Adrian in the tv adaptation

7. Roux

Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

If any of you have seen the movie Chocolat (2000) you will probably remember the handsome gypsy nicknamed Roux, played by Johnny Depp. The character is slightly different in the book, but I love how Johnny Depp played the mysterious playful wanderer that is cautious of sympathy and “handouts”. I can’t resist a gypsy – I love the folklore, the camaraderie, the music, the magic and the romance of them – and the gypsy troupe that Roux is a part of are river gypsies which I thought was even more romantic. I thought his untamed passion and mystery was a perfect match for Vianne, the main character of Chocolat, so I was pleased when he reappeared in The Lollipop Shoes. If I were to turn straight I would run off to live with Roux on his travelling riverboat 🙂

Johnny Depp makes a good gypsy 🙂

8. Christopher John Francis Boone

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher is a very unique character. Firstly he has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a type of Autism, and with this comes an incredible intellect and attention to detail hand in hand with a misunderstanding of people and emotions. The book is narrated by Christopher and in it he tells us about himself while trying to unravel the mystery of his neighbours dead dog. Christopher knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He likes animals but doesn’t understand people, especially the faces they make, and he hates to be touched. He likes red but can’t stand yellow and brown. The book is really an exploration of Christopher’s character and his growth throughout. I was intrigued with him from the start and loved how the book was set out as if it really was written by him, with writing being interspersed with diagrams and mathematical equations.

A great book – worth a looksie

9. Brian Robeson

Brian’s Saga by Gary Paulsen 

I was amazed and inspired by the survival instincts of 13-year-old Brian in Hatchet, because I was almost 13 at the time and couldn’t imagine going through what he did! In case you haven’t heard of Hatchet or haven’t read my Top 10 books from childhood post, the book tells the tale of 13-year-old Brian Robeson, who while on the way to visit his dad the pilot of his light plane has a heart attack and the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Brian then has to learn how to survive with only the clothes on his back and a small hatchet that his mother gave him. Brian’s character grows tremendously throughout the book as he has to face some harsh truths, and then is explored more in the 4 sequels – Hatchet: the Return (also called The River); Hatchet: Winter (also called Brian’s Winter); Hatchet: the Call (also called Brian’s Return); and Brian’s Hunt (the only one I haven’t read).

Brian kicks Canadian wilderness ass!

10. Charlie Gordon

Flowers for Algernon by  Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a beautiful book and you would have to be heartless not to feel for the book’s main character Charlie Gordon. Charlie is a intellectually disabled man who undertakes a procedure to increase his IQ. The procedure had previously been done on a lab mouse called Algernon, that at the start Charlie resents as he sees him as a smarter rival, but learns to love. The book is written as a series of progress reports written by Charlie as he is getting treated and you can physically see his progress as his spelling and sentence structure improves. In the beginning Charlie is blissfully ignorant of how others treat him but as he gains intelligence he slowly realises that his work-mates, which he considered friends have been ridiculing him and leading him into situations that would result in him making a fool of himself. He also starts to develop feelings for his adult literacy teacher, Miss Kinnian and discovers that the adult world and intelligence is more complicated and harmful then he thought. I’ve read Flowers for Algernon a couple of times and have seen a performance based on the book, and Charlie’s various struggles always make me cry.

Cliff Robertson as Charlie Gordon in the 1968 adaptation, Charly