I Love to Laugh, by Deb Meredith

_mg_4081_ppI 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!

13 Replies to “I Love to Laugh, by Deb Meredith”

  1. Oh, how lovely! I have such wonderful memories of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, especially the Christmas chapters. Not only were they fascinating and heartwarming and sweet, but it always reminded me how lucky we were. True, our family wasn’t wealthy by any means, but to consider Laura counted herself blessed to have cakes made with white sugar instead of brown, and an orange in her stocking, always brought me down to earth. I can’t wait to pass on those books to my daughter (and son, if he’s interested!)

    Agreed on reading out loud bringing out the hilarity. I’m another big Sedaris fan. Have you read his new one yet? He’s in top form and that long last section on quitting smoking in Japan is hysterical.

  2. I haven’t read the latest Sedaris–but I think the book has a lot of the stories that were already printed in the New Yorker. I think I missed the one about quitting smoking in Japan, though. I’ll have to pick up the book.

  3. What a great tradition! I love “Cheaper By the Dozen.” As for a book that makes me laugh out loud… hmm… this might be cheating, but Gary Larson’s “Prehistory of the Far Side” is probably the funniest book in existence, if you’re a fan of his work.

  4. I love the Far Side, Katie! I was so sad when he stopped drawing the cartoon for the newspaper. Although he was starting to repeat himself a bit (same joke, but this time with snakes) he was still one of the funniest cartoons in the funny papers.

  5. Oh, the Far Side! There was a cartoon of his showing a kid pushing with all his might on a door clearly marked “Pull” and the sign on the door said “Midvale School for the Gifted.” Among my college roommates, that became our slang for “Duh” as in, “Way to go Sarah, you’re a star pupil at the Midvale School for the Gifted.”

  6. Another writer friend just recently turned me onto David Sedaris. Had I ever been missing out!

    A book that I haven’t read in years but loved in high school was Richard Hooker’s M*A*S*H. Yes, the book upon which both the movie and TV show is based. The book’s humor is even more irreverent. I still think of “the pro from Dover.” And Trapper John’s unorthodox “fundraiser.”

  7. I recently listened to The Spellman Files and laughed myself silly (although, I then found out it was abridged! Horror of horrors! I was cheated!). I am going to read it soon-ish…after I get through all the stacks of other stuff! Also, Susan Juby makes me laugh out loud.

    We don’t really celebrate Christmas, but I do dig out Betsy-Tacy and read a Christmas chapter around the holidays just because I love them so much. I don’t think I’ve read CBD but I’ll put it on hold at the library right now!

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever read the M*A*S*H book, Rhonda! I’ll have to check it out.

    Oh–I used to love Betsy & Tacy, Joelle. I’ll have to get my mother to dig them out so I can read the Christmas chapter again. Glad to turn someone else on to CBD!

  9. Thanks Lexie–I’ll check it out.

    That’s interesting about finding the villain’s deaths funny. Sometimes the funniest things in books for me are really things that aren’t meant to be funny.

  10. “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” was once my favorite book, read it many times. Maybe because I am from Brooklyn…but I loved that book.

  11. Thanks for mentioning that there was a sequel to “Cheaper by the Dozen.” I never knew that and will have to request it at the library.

    You mentioned the movie and I didn’t know whether you were aware that there was an earlier version that came out in 1950 starring Clifton Webb that is much closer to the book than the more recent movie.

Comments are closed.