20 of the funniest books for a guaranteed laugh

When times are tough, or merely okay, or even just a little dull . . . there's no tonic quite like a few hours on the sofa with a comic read. This is our pick of the funniest books to bring a smile to your day.

Whether your taste in funny reads runs to slapstick, satire or the sardonic, we've got something to make you laugh. From the cunning adventures of a French gentleman thief to the honest confessions of lonely forty-something, and from celebrity domestic disasters to fictional family dramas, these reads will take you into other worlds and offer humorous escapes from the humdrum.

Bridget Jones's Diary

by Helen Fielding

Accompany Bridget Jones as she pours her thoughts and feelings about dating, friendship, work and family into her much-loved diary – and chortle throughout. Whether it’s Bridget crashing home after one too many glasses of Chardonnay at her favourite haunt Cafe Rouge, or attempting to keep things cool with the enigmatic Daniel Cleaver by leaving a would-be seductive message on his answering machine which she then frantically attempts to delete, this uplifting book is guaranteed to leave readers in stitches.

Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up

by Alexandra Potter

Life hasn't quite worked out for Nell. While all her friends seem to be living the Insta-perfect dream, Nell is feeling distinctly washed-up and lonesome. But then she starts a clandestine podcast and forges an unusual friendship with eighty-something widow Cricket, and things don't seem quite so bad. Laughs, a few tears, and a reminder that we are all in it together.

Mother for Dinner

by Shalom Auslander

One would think a book about a cannibalistic family is quite hard to make funny, but Shalom Auslander proves us wrong. This outrageously tasty comedy about identity and inheritance sees Seventh Seltzer attempt to grant his mother’s dying wish. When his mother whispers in Seventh’s ear the words ‘Eat me,’ he is far from shocked. The Seltzers are Cannibal-Americans, a once proud and thriving ethnic group. But getting his eleven brothers together for such a feast will prove tricky, and the only person who knows how to perform the ancient ritual is their far from reliable Uncle Ishmael. 

Daring, provocative and controversial . . . the outrageous nature of the comedy is done perfectly . . . This is a work of genius.

The Other Black Girl

by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Book cover for The Other Black Girl

Editorial assistant Nella is the only Black person at Wagner Books, so she's delighted when Hazel joins the team and she has someone to compare micro-aggressions with. There the twists and turns begin, as Nella's star fades, and Hazel becomes the office favourite. And then notes start to appear on Nella's desk reading: 'leave Wagner now'. This sharply readable satire, driven by the author's own experience in the publishing industry is reminiscent of Raven Leilani's prize-winning Luster, and also acts as a call for genuine and meaningful diversity.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began life as a Radio 4 show in 1978 and has since spawned adaptations across almost every format, making it a staple on every respectable list of the best sci-fi books. But, unlike most sci-fi, it's also well-deserving of its place on a list of funny books. It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent when the Earth is demolished to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he's an alien. Arthur is hurtled through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the words: DON'T PANIC.

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The Talk of Pram Town

by Joanna Nadin

This book from Joanna Nadin about mothers, daughters and second chances is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It’s 1981, and eleven-year-old Sadie adores her mother Connie, who dreams of making it big as a singer. It’s always been the two of them, until the unthinkable happens . . . Jean hasn’t seen her good-for-nothing daughter Connie since she ran away from home as a pregnant seventeen-year-old. Then she gets a call asking her to come and collect the granddaughter she’s never met . . . 

The Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief

by Maurice Leblanc

Many of us fell head over heels for the gentleman thief at the heart of Netflix series Lupin. And this was the inspiration: a French Robin Hood who outwits the police and gives to those who need help. First published in 1907, these dazzling stories feature impossible escapes, daring heists and bewildering disguises. And Lupin even has an encounter with English counterpart Sherlock Holmes along the way . . .

Three Men in Boat

by Jerome K. Jerome

For readers who want a classic to make them smile, Three Men in a Boat remains one of the best-loved and most entertaining comic novels. Join our young heroes J., George and Harris (not forgetting Montmorency, the mischievous, irascible fox terrier) as they take a boating holiday along the Thames. Their aim is to escape the weary workaday world and improve their health, but they are ill prepared for the various escapades. The storyteller, J.'s, narration gives the book not only a wonderful endearing freshness but also a series of hilarious moments of timeless comedy.


by Fran Ross

Oreo has been raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note. Oreo’s quest is to find her father, and discover the secret of her birth. What ensues in Fran Ross’s opus is a playful, funny and modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb.

Diary of a Somebody

by Brian Bilston

Part tender love story, part murder mystery, part hilarious description of a wasted life, and interspersed with some of the funniest poems about the mundane and the profound, Diary of a Somebody is a stunningly original novel from Twitter sensation, Brian Bilston. It’s January 1st and Brian Bilston’s life needs to change. His ex-wife has taken up with a new man, he seems to constantly disappoint his long-suffering son, and at work he is drowning in a sea of spreadsheets and management jargon. Brian's resolution is to write a poem every day; poetry will be his salvation. 

Glorious. I will be astonished if I read a more original, more inventive or funnier novel this year.
Adam Kay

Love is For Losers

by Wibke Brueggemann

This laugh-out-loud YA romantic novel is a life-affirming story of love and loss. As far as Phoebe is concerned, love should be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? She’s seen her friend Polly fall head over heels and forget about her friends, become obsessed with sex and talk constantly about the guy in question, and Phoebe definitely isn’t going to make the same mistake. But then she meets Emma . . . 

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by Candice Carty-Williams

Book cover for Queenie

Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she's constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on life, love, race and family, Queenie will have you nodding in recognition, crying in solidarity and rooting for this unforgettable character. 

Cold Comfort Farm

by Stella Gibbons

Book cover for Cold Comfort Farm

One of the BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time. When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly-named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders. But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand.


by Adrian Edmondson

From brutal schooldays to 80s anarchy, through The Young Ones and beyond, Berserker! is the one-of-a-kind, fascinating memoir from an icon of British comedy, Adrian Edmondson. His star-studded anecdotes and outrageous stories are set to a soundtrack of pop hits, transporting the listener through time and cranking up the nostalgia. But, as one would expect, these stories are also a guaranteed laugh as Ade traces his journey through life and comedy. 

Is This Ok?

by Harriet Gibsone

Harriet spent much of her young life feeding neuroses and insecurities with obsessive internet searching and indulging in whirlwind ‘parasocial relationships'. But after a diagnosis of early menopause in her late twenties, her relationship with the internet took a darker turn, as her online addictions were thrown into sharp relief by the corporeal realities of illness and motherhood. An outrageously funny, raw and painfully honest account of trying to find connection in the age of the internet, Is This Ok? is the stunning literary debut from music journalist, Harriet Gibsone. 

Persistently funny, ill-advisedly honest and deadly accurate . . . My mind is blown.
Caitlin Moran

Went to London, Took the Dog: A Diary

by Nina Stibbe

Ten years after the publication of the prize-winning Love, Nina comes the author’s diary of her return to London in her sixty-first year. After twenty years, Nina Stibbe, accompanied by her dog Peggy, stays with writer Debby Moggach in London for a year. With few obligations, Nina explores the city, reflecting on her past and embracing new experiences. From indulging in banana splits to navigating her son's dating life, this diary captures the essence of a sixty-year-old runaway finding her place as a "proper adult" once and for all.

This is Going to Hurt

by Adam Kay

97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. The life of a junior doctor may not sound funny, but Adam Kay’s memoir certainly is. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, this is a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Winner of four national book awards and now a major BAFTA nominated BBC comedy-drama, This is Going to Hurt is almost literally painfully funny. 

I’d prescribe this book to anyone and everyone. It's laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreakingly sad and gives you the lowdown on what it’s like to be holding it together while serving on the front line of our beloved but beleaguered NHS.
Jonathan Ross

A Funny Life

by Michael McIntyre

Comic Michael McIntyre specialises in pin-sharp observational routines that have made him the world's bestselling funny man. But when he turns his gaze to himself and his own family, things get even funnier. This bracingly honest memoir covers the highs, lows and pratfalls of a career in comedy, as Michael climbs the greasy pole of success and desperately attempts to stay up there.

Theroux the Keyhole

by Louis Theroux

In Theroux the Keyhole Louis takes us into his own home, where Covid kept him from his journalistic penchant of chasing the weird and wonderful world. Instead, Louis is struggling to keep up with Joe Wicks, and his video-game-obsessed kids. Meanwhile, he muses on podcasting, far-right radicalisation and the power of the pandemic to make us face up to the most important things in life.

I Wanna Be Yours

by John Cooper Clarke

John Cooper Clarke is a phenomenon: Poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, cultural commentator. I Wanna Be Yours covers an extraordinary life, filled with remarkable personalities. Interspersed with stories of his rock and roll and performing career, John also reveals his boggling encyclopedic take on popular culture over the centuries. This is a memoir as wry, funny and vivid as its inimitable subject himself. This book will be a joy for both lifelong fans and for a new generation. 

Discover more funny books to make you laugh out loud in this episode of Book Break.