Growing up is a bad thing because it’s hard to find books that are funny for adults. As far as I can tell, kids seem to get the best jokes, from classic Roald Dahl books like The Fantastic Mr. Fox to more recent favorites like Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back. Here, you can go back in time and relive your childhood. Adult books can be very funny, too, and we looked around and found a lot of them. We’re going beyond famous authors like Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams to show you some truly funny hidden gems.
Here are nine books for adults that are sure to make you laugh. With a straight face, read any of them.
By Flann O’Brien
At Swim-Two-Birds is an Irish literary classic. It tells the story of an unnamed narrator who goes to University College, Dublin. An author of cowboy romance novels becomes friends with the student, who spends more time working on his novel than going to class. From there, an adventure that is both hilarious and heartwarming comes to life. Do not believe us? James Joyce and Graham Greene both said Flann’s book was “really funny,” and they said it was “one of the best books of our time.”
Call Me Ishtar
By Rhoda Lerman
Ishtar is the Queen of Heaven, the Angel of Death, the Mother Goddess, and the Whore of Babylon. She is also the Goddess of the Sun. Now, she’s on Earth, pretending to be a suburban housewife so that she can go out. It was her job. To destroy the patriarchy, overthrow the male gods and return to her former position of power and glory. Ishtar is described by the New York Times Book Review as “wildly funny, achingly spiritual, profoundly Jewish, and feminist.” Her rowdy adventures, from using satanic rituals to make a rock band famous to rising from the coffin at her own funeral, all serve to help her achieve her goal and make you laugh out loud.
we are never meeting in real life: essays by samantha irby
This book will make you laugh. It’s a collection of essays by one of the funniest writers of our time. She talks about how her difficult childhood made it hard for her to make “adult” budgets, how to deal with friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms, and more.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
When Carrie Fisher died, she made this her only memoir and it’s amazing. It was based on her one-woman show that was a huge hit. Fisher talks about everything from growing up with famous parents and making a lot of money at the age of 19 to dealing with mental health issues and having a lot of relationship problems.
made for love by alissa nutting
This absurd and hilarious story is told from the point of view of a woman who moves into a trailer park for senior citizens. Her roommates are her father and Diane, a very lifelike sex doll.
I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyonce by Michael Arceneaux
Arceneaux was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where he was both black and gay. He had to learn to accept himself in a world that wanted him to change. In his first book, he talks about everything from coming out to his mom to how he almost became a priest.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
It could have been any of Sedaris’s great books that made this list, but this one’s title story (about how the author tried to learn French after moving to Paris) makes it even better.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before she came up with Liz Lemon or Kimmy Schmidt, Fey was a weird kid from Pennsylvania who wanted to be a stand-up comedian. This is how she came up with them: She wrote a book about everything that happened in between. It’s very good.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy eccentric who lives with his mother, is the star of this zany book about his crazy adventures in New Orleans that was written by Toole’s own mother. (And won a Pulitzer Prize, too.) NBD.)
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede is a Nigerian woman whose sister, Ayoola, has a bad habit of killing her boyfriends. This dark comedy is about Korede and her sister, Ayoola.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
During her first job, Crosley accidentally angered her first boss, so she called the cops on her mysterious neighbor. She also played the Oregon Trail computer game. Then, cross that river!
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
What do I need to show that I can be both funny and inspiring? Serious issues like institutional racism and misogyny are also talked about in Robinson’s book. She talks about things like being a U2 fan and her love for the Magic Mike movie.
The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
Silverman’s memoir is honest, poignant, and sometimes dirty. It talks about everything from her childhood love of swearing to her unfortunate habit of bed-wetting.
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
The movie is great, but Updike’s original source material about three women who have been rejected is even better.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette is an architect and mother who doesn’t talk to anyone. A funny picture of a misunderstood woman is made by her daughter as she looks for her mother.
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Inside Amy Schumer’s head writer talks about everything from being an adult tomboy (a tom-man) to why some women are wolves and some are poodles. (She’ll tell us what she thinks.)
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
Our favorite author has written an honest and dryly funny look at women who are getting older and the things that come with it.
The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty
A scathingly funny debut novel about an awkward black surfer bum who goes from being an outsider in his neighborhood to a basketball star and then a reluctant messiah.
Everything I Know about Love: A Memoir by Dolly alderton
It’s a memoir by journalist and former Sunday Times columnist Alderton. In it, she vividly and hilariously retells how she fell in love, got drunk, got dumped, found out that Ivan from the corner shop might be the only reliable man in her life, and more.
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The classic British humorist talks about Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. Jeeves saves Wooster from being arrested, lynched, and accidentally getting married.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
She talks about how it’s hard to be both an introvert and black in this book, which is named after her popular web show (read: supposed to be cool).