I love funny books. Not ones that are archly funny, always examining whether or not they’re funny all the time, but ones that seem to effortlessly reveal a hilarious new angle on life. I enjoy David Sedaris (his description of taking French in Paris is the best) and Bill Bryson’s take on American culture. They often are laughing at themselves as much as the people around them. And I always try to inject a little humor in the mysteries that I write (mostly making fun of hipsters).
But the best way to enjoy a funny book, to really laugh, is to read it out loud. Every Christmas Eve, my family sits around the living room after dinner and reads aloud from winter/seasonal literature that we’ve chosen to share and sings Christmas Carols. I love this tradition. It’s way more fun then the presents. Every year we have the usual stuff (my step-father reads an excerpt from the bible), and we often fall back on old favorites. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes some great Christmas chapters, and the story of catching the giant Christmas tree in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN always makes me laugh (and makes me teary). But it’s always “Ashtray Christmas” that really gets to me.
If you’ve never read CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, then you’ve really missed out. It’s a great book (and no, I haven’t bothered to see the movie—I know it’s not the same). Two efficiency experts have twelve kids and much hilarity ensues. And the book BELLES ON THEIR TOES continues the Gilbreth family’s adventures. It is their first Christmas without their father and one of the boys decides he’s old enough to buy his own Christmas presents for everyone in the family. So 12 strange shaped packages appear under the tree. No one can guess what the presents are, even though his sister and mother are great snoopers.
The story of Dan’s presents is so funny and poignant, no one in my family can possibly finish the reading on their own. As the first present is unwrapped revealing the most hideous ashtray in the world… I collapse into hysterics. The book must be then passed several times when the reader (myself, my brother, my mother…) each starts laughing, and of course each of the listeners can’t stop laughing either. But somehow we make it through, sing another carol, and reward ourselves with a big Christmas cookie feast.
What have YOU read lately that has been laugh out loud funny? Please share!
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