When Was the Last Time You Laughed?


Laughing is important, so for your sake, I hope you can answer my question with something like “just a few minutes ago.” But my question is actually book-related, and probably should have been a little more precise: When was the last time you laughed while you read?

I frequently cry when I read. Well, to be honest, I easily cry even when I don’t read. I can be moved to tears by a song, a picture, and even a smell. It’s no wonder that I always have a box of tissues handy. I don’t mind crying, even if it’s over a made-up story (though my kids sometimes give me odd looks…). When I read, I like to feel so much that it makes me cry. Some of my favorite books come with memories of hearty crying. The more gut-wrenching, the better.

Now, I have given up finding a “happy” book. When I made a list of the criteria that would make me consider a book to be happy (no self-help, no sappy romance, no death, etc.), I realized that it would make for a boring story. But what about a book to make me laugh? I can’t remember the last time I had a very good laugh while reading. I’ve smiled or giggled, but not laughed out loud.

So I’m turning to you, dear readers.

Can you recommend a book that really made you laugh?



  1. I had a hard time coming up with any books right after finishing your post, but other comments have inspired me 🙂 The J. E.’s mention of Tom Sawyer reminded me that Jane Austen often makes me laugh and Naomi’s mention of Ellen’s reminded me that humorous memoirs by women are some of my favorite books – How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran and Yes, Please by Amy Poehler are two I’d especially recommend. And A.J. Jacob’s Know-It-All was pretty great too. I think I may also have laughed out loud reading A Man Called Ove, although it also had some pretty heartbreaking bits.

    • You’re right about Jane Austen. I re-read Sense and Sensibility last summer, and I was surprised by how funny it was. A Man Called Ove had me laugh and cry, often at the same time. 🙂 Will have to check out How to Be a Woman…

  2. Oooh, fun question! My first thoughts are of books that make kids laugh when I read them aloud, whether my middle school students (Harris & Me by Gary Paulsen) or my own children (Dragon Tales by Dav Pilkey and Mr. Potter and Tabby Pick the Pears by Cynthia Rylant). But I know I laugh out loud while reading too, because people invariably ask why, and it’s never that easy to explain, since they don’t have the context. Let’s see, some books that have made me guffaw or chuckle are: Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (yes, the book about suicide is hilarious), The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and much of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. David Sedaris and Bill Bryson can make me howl with laughter.

    • Children’s books are good for humor. I am particularly thinking of Roald Dahl. I’ll have to check out your other suggestions, since I am always on the hunt for new books to read to and with the kids. The other authors you mention are all on my TBR list, so it’s good to know they might make me laugh. You have me most intrigued with your “suicide is hilarious” mention.

  3. I was reading the Adventures of Tom Sawyer on a plane, and one scene got me laughing so uncontrollably it was embarrassing. It was a few years ago, and I don’t even remember the circumstance in the story…I just remember laughing out loud, and then snickering for a at least 10 minutes after. There is also an outdoorsman, humorist named Patrick McManus. His various books, collections of short humorous stories evokes a genuine laugh.

  4. I found Me and Earl and the Dying Girl so funny I nearly injured myself repeatedly while reading. Danny Wallace’s books are very funny too. And I laughed a lot at Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I read a lot of stuff that isn’t funny at all so when I find something amusing it makes me laugh in a way that scares anyone around me.

  5. I often laugh when I’m reading but it’s mostly inner laughter. I sometimes laugh aloud though not always because the book is funny; I laugh at smart narrative, or when an especially nasty villain gets his/her come-uppance. One book I always laugh aloud at is non-fiction – 1066 And All That – which I mentioned in my recent post ‘Jane’s History.’

    • I certainly appreciate smart narrative, but I can’t remember now if that ever made me laugh. But having just read your review of Jane’s History, I think that that one would be highly entertaining. Thanks for the tip!

  6. “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome, which I read twice, long ago, and will read again in the future. Last time I was riding the subway and trying hard to stifle my laughter. It really is a gem. Plus, there’s a dog in it which makes it even more enjoyable.

  7. I laugh all the time when I read! Which is rather odd considering I like dark books lol. But I read a lot of urban fantasy, and I think that genre definitely has a way of mixing the two (humor and darkness), especially when it’s got snarky or sarcastic characters. I’m even rereading a paranormal romance series right now that is one of my favorites because of how hilarious it is. But it also made me nearly cry a bunch of times. So a book doesn’t necessarily have to be happy to make me laugh, I just take the laughs wherever I can get ’em 🙂

  8. This is timely because I feel like the book I’m reading now (The Shore) is really dragging me down emotionally. Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy is seriously funny. More recently, I found Girl Waits with Gun really funny in a clever sort of way, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass is laugh out loud funny if you like cats.

    • I do want to read The Shore eventually, but I’ve been putting it off because it seems like a book I might have to balance with a feel-good one. Girl Waits With Gun is one I definitely want to read, and clever humor is always appreciated. Thanks for the suggestions!

  9. Woehouse for definite, plus Three Men in a Boat, all work for laugh out loud moments. Searching for ‘laugh’ on my own blog for recent reads brings up (oddly) Salman Rushdie’s Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, which definitely did make me ‘lol’ in places…

    • I would have never picked Rushdie as a funny writer, but then I’ve never read anything by him. 🙂 I will have to check out Wodehouse; I remember reading several reviews that mention his books are funny.

  10. Just finished Irresistibly Yours, by Lauren Layne and there was a couple spots where I laughed out loud 🙂 And then a few weeks ago I read Nuts, by Alice Clayton-this one had me laughing so much I seriously was starting to worry that I was going to have an ‘accident’ lol. Such a great book!

    • Contemporary romance is not something I usually read, so I am not familiar with either book you suggested. But both sound like they are easy reads and good to turn to after a heavy emotional read. And if they make you laugh, then all the better. Thank you for your suggestions!

  11. This is such a good question. I am the same way as you – it’s so easy to make me cry. Anything emotional will make me cry, even happiness. But, it’s hard to make me laugh. Books that others tell me will make me laugh, usually don’t. I have tried a few books written by comedians (ones that make me laugh when I watch them), and they haven’t made me laugh. Like you, sometimes I smile or giggle, but that’s about it.
    Once in a book by Ellen Degeneres, Ellen was talking about how hard it is to use public washroom toilet paper and that had me laughing out loud because it is so true. And sometimes I laugh when I’m reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid out loud to my son – some parts are just so ridiculous, you have to laugh..
    And, you’re right, ‘happy’ books sound like they would be boring (and they probably usually are), but I think there are a few good ones out there. I think of feel-good books as happy books, even though they usually have conflict in them and touching moments that make me cry. Like AJ Fikry and the one you recently reviewed about a Broken Wheel? That one sounded pretty happy.
    I loved The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby. That one was funny and might have even made me laugh out loud a couple of times (I reviewed it on my blog). I also read one called Happiness (because of the title) by Will Ferguson, which was a clever book about what it is that makes us happy. It was funny and smart, but not always ‘happy’. I still think it might count as a feel-good book, though. (also on my blog) A couple of his other books have made me laugh at times, too. I usually keep his books in the bathroom (no offence, Mr. Ferguson). 🙂
    Sorry my response is so long, especially since I don’t even have many suggestions for you. I’ll be coming back to check and see if anyone else has ideas for you!

    • I love your lengthy response! 🙂 Kids’ books are definitely a good source of laughter. I like when they are clever enough to provide entertainment for both kids and adults. I haven’t had much luck with comedians’ books either. My mom gave me a book a few years ago that was all about how people misunderstand the lyrics of songs, and that had me in tears because I was laughing so hard. But those aren’t really stories; they are more like anecdotes. There was a time last fall when I spent a lot of time searching for happy books and didn’t like any of the search results, although I can’t even really remember anymore how I distinguished between happy and feel-good books. I guess it was because so many feel-good books are either unrealistic or try too hard to make you feel good (if that makes any sense). But you are right, AJ Fikry and the Broken Wheel book are two good examples of feel-good books that work. And Jojo Moyes books usually work well for me, too (although you can’t really call Me Before You a happy story!). I’ll be checking out your other suggestions. Happiness sounds promising. I vaguely remember your review, so I need to refresh my memory.

  12. It’s been a long time since I’ve picked one up, but whenever I’m need of a good laugh I tend to turn to P.G. Wodehouse. His Jeeves stories always do the trick for me. 🙂

  13. Yes! Jen Lancaster’s first two books made me laugh out loud until I cried. Bitter is the New Black is fantastic. I laughed until I cried on the train even – that was embarrassing.

    Augusten Burroughs Dry is another I think that made me cry laughing. For totally ridiculous, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series has definitely made laugh out loud. Less so now -there are too many – but they’re funny.

    • Bitter Is the New Black sounds like it would have the kind of humor I enjoy. And I forgot about Stephanie Plum. You are right, the first books in the series were hilarious. Even more so for me, because I used to work in a town next to Hamilton and Trenton, and everything she wrote about those towns is true. (I agree with you though that the series has been going on for too long now.) Thank you for your suggestions!

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