Tagged: humour

The Works of Oscar Wilde

works of oscar wilde abbeydale press golden heritage 2000The Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde, 5/5

Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite authors and I have read (and re-read) his major works, such as the entrancing novella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the impossibly witty play The Importance of Being Earnest.  However, there were a few of his short stories, plays and poems that I’d never encountered before, so this collection was a delightful mix of old favourites and new discoveries.

Why I read it: this collection was a birthday present from my dad.

Crap Towns

crap towns jordison kieran boxtree 2003Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK, edited by Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran, 3/5

Towns filled with soulless concrete architecture and jobless, shell suit-wearing inhabitants are prominent features in this entertaining collection of complaints and critiques (many of them written and submitted by each town’s own inhabitants).  Almost more entertaining than the variety of inventive insults and tongue-in-cheek taunts are the rebuttals by MPs and county council members, which are hilarious in corresponding degree to their seriousness.

[Why I read it: the title caught my eye as I was browsing in the thrift store.]

Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down

Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse by Forrest Griffin and Erich Krauss, 3/5

be ready when the shit goes down back cover forrest griffin erich krauss be ready when the shit goes down forrest griffin erich kraussThis book is extremely crude and full of hilariously bad advice, but is also somehow endearingly funny.  Definitely not a book you’d want to read in public or, for that matter, send your mom and little sister to pick up for you at the library (true story)…

[Why I read it: I enjoyed Griffin’s other book Got Fight.]

 

Graham Crackers

graham crackers chapmanGraham Crackers: Fuzzy Memories, Silly Bits, and Outright Lies by Graham Chapman, compiled by Jim Yoakum, 4/5

This strange little compilation of miscellaneous writings by the late Graham Chapman (of Monty Python notoriety) is entertaining and provides some welcome insight into the inner workings of one of England’s funniest groups of writers.

[Why I read it: I found it in the thrift store.]

 

Mulliner Nights

mulliner nights pg wodehouseMulliner Nights by P.G. Wodehouse, 5/5

This book is just as hilarious as the other two in the series, Meet Mr Mulliner and Mr Mulliner Speaking (and indeed, anything else by P.G. Wodehouse).

[Why I read it: Sadly, this is the last Mulliner book I had left to read.  However, it always seems that a new Wodehouse book turns up just when I thought I’d read them all.  How rare to find a quality writer who is also prolific!]

Mr Mulliner Speaking

mr mulliner speaking pg wodehouseMr Mulliner Speaking by P.G. Wodehouse, 5/5

There are few books that make me laugh out loud and want to inflict excerpts on anyone who happens to be nearby as much as the Mulliner series of short stories do.  How delightful that there’s more to P.G. Wodehouse than Jeeves and Wooster…

[Why I read it: distracted by the numerous Jeeves and Wooster novels, I somehow neglected the Mulliner series (Meet Mr MullinerMr Mulliner Speaking, and Mulliner Nights) until now!]

Meet Mr Mulliner

meet mr mulliner pg wodehouseMeet Mr Mulliner by P.G. Wodehouse, 5/5

These short stories are chock-full of the inimitable wit that is the Wodehouse trademark.  Meet Mr Mulliner is the first in the series, which includes Mr Mulliner Speaking and Mulliner Nights.

[Why I read it: I’m always a fan of Wodehouse and have a particular fondness for these stories because of the hilarious Wodehouse Playhouse dramatizations.]

Grooks 1–5

Grooks 1 2 3 4 5 piet heinGrooks 1–5 by Piet Hein, with the assistance of Jens Arup, 5/5

Poetry doesn’t come more witty, concise and hilarious than the gems found in this collection, which contains just a small sample of the over 7000 “grooks” written by Danish polymath Piet Hein.

Here are a couple of my favourite examples from the first book:

Consolation Grook

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
     compared to the pain
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
     the first one again.

 

The Road to Wisdom

The road to wisdom? — Well, it’s plain
and simple to express:
                   Err
                   and err
                   and err again
                   but less
                   and less
                   and less.

 

Sadly, these books are long out of print and, since little information is available about the different versions that were published in Denmark, Canada and the U.S., it is a confusing task to try to assemble a matching set.  I settled for Doubleday editions from the mid-1960s to early-1970s and was able to buy the books individually from AbeBooks (relying on ISBNs, not cover images, which were often missing or incorrect).

[Why I read it: the first three books were a random find at the thriftstore and I passed them along to my brother after enjoying them.  Years later, I happened to be visiting him and saw these books on the shelf.  They were so funny a second time that I decided to buy a complete set for myself.]

The gallery below contains large images of the front covers, so you can get a feel better feel for the artwork and style of poetry:

 

Laughing Gas

laughing gas p g wodehouseLaughing Gas by P.G. Wodehouse, 5/5

Definitely the most bizarre Wodehouse story I’ve encountered, this tale of an English Earl who inadvertently swaps bodies with a Hollywood child star during a routine tooth extraction is told with a rate of quips and quibbles quaint per paragraph that your average author would be thrilled to achieve per chapter.

[Why I read it: Wodehouse is one of my favourite authors, so I was pleased to find a title I didn’t recognize in the rather impressive selection of Wodehouse books at Michael’s Books in Bellingham, WA.]

Hyperbole and a Half

hyperbole and a half allie broshHyperbole and a Half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem and other things that happened by Allie Brosh, 4/5

Brosh’s blog is without doubt one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, but the book format didn’t really work for me.  I feel that her hilarious stories are meant to be scrolled through, not read at the rate of two panels and a paragraph per page, and her weirdly expressive artwork suits the computer screen best, in my opinion.  Also, there is soooo much swearing.  Usually, I’m a fan of expletives used for comedic purposes, but I guess I don’t like seeing them in print.  In action movies: great.  TV shows: fine, if it’s clever.  Online content: ditto.  Books: no thank you I can’t believe they typed that my eyes are burning.

[Why I read it: I love the blog.]