As the world continues to move into unparalleled territory, it might be time to dive into the timeless and socially distant universe of books.
Amidst the growing pandemic, turning away from glowing screens and opening up a book might prove to be pretty therapeutic these days.
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We’re going to focus on light reads here, books that are easy to get into and fulfilling to finish. For obvious reasons, we’ll try not to include too many apocalypse-style reads.
Here are a few suggestions of contemporary and older reads that are thought-provoking as they are enjoyable.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris, a master of self-deprecating humor, brings his readers on a journey through 28 short and laugh-out-loud essays, focusing primarily on his personal experiences as a student with a speech impediment.
It’s a dark world out there right now, so being able to laugh at yourself might prove to be pretty valuable going forward.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
Besides being well known for his role as Ryan Howard on The Office, B.J. Novak is a successful writer who tackles a wide range of subjects, tones, themes, and voices in his collection of short stories (and other stories).
Along with observational humor – presumptively from his days as a stand-up comedian –Novak brings a sharp eye, some playful attitude, and an electric spirit to over 60 fiercely entertaining tales.
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Every reader should get lost in a Kurt Vonnegut vortex, and whether or not you’re new to the American novelist, Breakfast of Champions is a good place to start (or reread).
The novel follows Kilgore Trout, one of Vonnegut’s most beloved recurring characters, as he finds out that a Midwest car dealer is taking his works of fiction as truth.
Vonnegut tackles war, sex, racism, politics, success, pollution, all in his classic satirical tone.
Once you’re done with Breakfast of Champions, if you’re still itching for more Kilgore Trout, the fictional character pops up in equally entertaining Slaughterhouse-Five, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Jailbird, and Timequake.
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
Dear Girls is a book made up of the comedian writing chapters to her young daughters, covering everything she thinks they need to know in life like dating, being a working mom, and the adventures of childhood.
The chapters, often written as letters, are funny, frank, and interesting cautionary tales about life in an intriguing format.
Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
Another collection of shorts, Spoiled Brats is Simon Rich’s take on the dazzling tales, absurd situations, and zany characters (including chimpanzees and hamsters).
If you’re looking to really step away from our crazy world, take a few days off and dive into Rich’s.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before Earth is demolished, the novel’s main character, Arthur Dent, is plucked off the planet by a researcher who’s trying to revise a new edition of a galaxy-wide encyclopedia.
This one might be up the alley for readers who, say, wouldn’t mind getting yanked off of Earth right now.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Comedy writer Mindy Kaling approaches her biography as if you were sitting in a coffee shop and chatting with her.
Her passages are easy to follow featuring a bunch of great anecdotes while getting to know the star a bit better.
From her time as a child of immigrant professionals, to a playwright, television star, and everything in between, Kaling is an interesting as she is funny.
(Which is saying a lot.)
Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham
Reads don’t get much lighter than this strange yet charming collection of hilariously absurd poetry, writing, and illustration from Bo Burnham, the musically rooted stand-up comedian and director.
Shut off your mind and dive into the absurd but equally entertaining world of Burnham and the delightful drawings of Chance Bone.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is a classic book that certainly opens up the
pages doors for debate.
Despite being written in the 1950s, the coming-of-age tale, which focuses on 17-year-old Holden Caulfield, holds true today featuring complex themes of rebellion, identity, and independence.
It may not tickle your funny bone like other options on this list, but it’s an interesting and quick read that’ll surely trigger plot conversations amongst other J.D. Salinger fans.
The Far Side by Gary Larson
If you’re looking for light and funny, it doesn’t get much better than Gary Larson’s The Far Side.
Centered around the surreal, The Far Side is a collection of one-off cartoons in situations that are downright genius and somehow thought-provoking.
Featuring animals and creatures who are drawn anthropomorphically, you might never again be able to look at a cow without laughing.
Besides, excerpts like this are all too relatable these days: “The party was going along splendidly – and then Morty opened the door to the wolverine display.”
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh is an American blogger who essentially brings the Internet to book form.
The book is a retelling of the author’s life (with some exaggeration) in cartoon form that makes it easy, enjoyable, and laugh out loud funny.
Find some sunshine and get lost in the zany world of Brosh.
Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen’s genre can be classified as humorous crime fiction, often featuring themes of environmentalism and political corruption in his hometown of Florida.
Sick Puppy is a mix of humor, mystery, adventure, and political fiction, for readers who really want to get a hefty cocktail of mixing styles.
Skin Tight, Skinny Dip, Bad Monkey, and Lucky You are all up the same alley from Hiaasen if you really want to get isolated.
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
If you’re looking for an autobiography, just the blurb on the back of Tina Fey’s book should be enough to get you hooked: “Totally worth it.” — Trees.
Dive into the life of the Saturday Night Live alum in this book that’s more than just a memoir. It’s a blend of humor, introspection, and critical thinking from one of comedy’s brightest minds.
Based on a True Story: A Memoir by Norm Macdonald
Speaking of Saturday Night Live alum, Norm Macdonald’s book – as the title suggests –tells the semi-story of the funnyman’s upbringing on a farm in the backwoods of Ontario to his days as a prominent cast member of SNL.
The book will leave you wondering what’s real and what isn’t. Sound familiar?