Earlier this week, I read an odd piece from Mark O’Connell on The Millions in which O’Connell argued that Flann O’Brien‘s Poor Mouth was the funniest novel ever written. Reviewing books is necessarily subjective. And recommending a book is even more subjective. Proclaiming something the adjective-est of anything is probably the most wildly subjective thing you can do. I’ve read a lot of articles declaring that such and such a book is the funniest ever written, but O’Connell’s the most interesting. Not only does it put forth a book I’ve never heard of, but O’Connell has a more sophisticated sense of humor than the writers of those other articles. I highly recommend that article, if not the book.
|Funny and weird.
The best combination.
O’Connell’s article inspired me to come up with my own list of funniest books I’ve read. My sense of humor is not as sophisticated as O’Connell’s. It’s irreverant and I have a greater fondness for whimsy and silliness than most people. These books, presented in no special order, are the ones that had me chuckling and chortling and even guffawing with laughter.
- Doughnut, by Tom Holt. Physics can be hilarious. But then, anything written by Tom Holt will be hilarious and this is his best book.
- Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This book has a lot to answer for when it comes to my spirituality. It asks all the questions I had in Sunday school, but I enjoyed the answers Pratchett and Gaiman came up with better than anything my pastor came up with.
- A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. This books has been suggested as the funniest book ever written several times, and I’d say it’s pretty close to the mark. The humor is well out of the ordinary, so I don’t think it will appeal to everyone. It’s the best picaresque written in the last 100 years.
- Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. I love a good satire. So many novels pile misery on their common sense-lacking characters that I get frustrated with them. This book turns all that on its head.
- Lamb, by Christopher Moore. This book is on my short list of favorite books of all time. Like Good Omens, this book explores religion through humor. It’s more than just laughs, though. The ending is so moving that it gives the book heart.
- Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. This book is the silliest thing I have ever read, hands down. This has also been a candidate for funniest novel ever written and I’m glad, because silly is vastly underrated.