he actual sound of an “lol” is dead silence or a small puff of air through the nostrils. In the 12 years I’ve been sending texts I know this to be categorically true. Sometimes, when I’m watching a movie by myself, I’ll think, This is hilarious, without so much as a smirk. It sounds vaguely psychopathic, but laughter is largely a social signal — we do it to connect and communicate with others. I laugh far more at a live comedy show, for example, than when I watch comedy clips on YouTube. When I’m alone, it takes something really funny to make me laugh out loud. When I do, it’s a delightfully strange experience.

For this season’s MR Book Club, I asked the Man Repeller team to think of a book that made them genuinely laugh out loud. Scroll down to see our picks and then tell us yours, too.

Look Alive Out There

by Sloane Crosley

Recommended by: Edith Young
Genre: Nonfiction essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: A compendium of amusing and sometimes strange/serendipitous/cosmic snippets from Crosley’s experiences in New York City and beyond.
Why it made her laugh: Excerpts like these: “In Chelsea, I lived above a piano player, who practiced scales. When I could stand it no longer, I sheepishly knocked on his door. He apologized and vowed never to practice scales in the house again. Which is how I wound up listening to ‘I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy’ every day for a year.”
How she heard about it: I went to Sloane Crosley’s talk at The Wing recently where she read from her new book and gracefully answered all the crowd member’s questions about her craft (though my first encounter with her was on Man Repeller’s Oh Boy podcast!).

Crazy Rich Asians

by Kevin Kwan

Recommended by: Louisiana Gelpi
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s about these crazy rich (haha) families in Singapore and the gossip and drama that occurs when the boy from one of the families brings home his American-born Chinese girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
Why it made her laugh: I’m from Singapore, so it was really entertaining to read about since the nuances and things they do and talk about in the book are so spot on.
How she heard about it: My mom actually read this book years ago, when it first came out, but I only read it once I heard they were making a movie. (I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse

by David Mitchell

Recommended by: Jasmin Aujla
 Nonfiction essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: There isn’t so much of a plot as it is David Mitchell picking on a topic, from travel to TV to Brexit, and going in on it in his uniquely dry, funny, but also very smart way. It’s not a new book but I just love it and him.
Why it made her laugh: Have you ever watched Peep Show? It’s written by the same guy, so it’s the style of typically British humor that I truly love more than anything. He walks the fine line between sarcasm and cynicism to just moaning about everything, but he does it perfectly.
How she heard about it: By being a fan of David Mitchell and his work.

The Last Black Unicorn

by Tiffany Haddish

Recommended by: Nikki Bent
Genre: Humor
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Disclaimer: I’m still reading it! The book is full of Tiffany’s personal stories. While the topics themselves are sometimes somber, she finds a way to crack hilarious jokes on every page.
Why it made you laugh: Each story is told like a good joke with a solid setup and punchline.
How I heard about it: I was hanging out with a friend who LOVES Tiffany Haddish and could not believe I didn’t know who she was. After a few YouTube clips, I was hooked and bought the book. Also worth reading: Caity Weaver’s amazing GQ profile on her, a.k.a. the source of the “who bit Beyoncé” controversy.

Bossy Pants

by Tina Fey

Recommended by: Amelia Diamond
Genre: Nonfiction essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s a collection of essays about Tina Fey’s life (and how she came to be, essentially) that somehow read like your own personal collection of essays, even if you have no recollection of any of the things she’s going on about. She talks about her childhood, her career trajectory, her creative process, what it’s like being a woman in power who is constantly reminded of that female qualifier, the lows that come with the highs of being Tina Fey in general, how she “deals” with all of it — and all of it in such a way that, when you finish a chapter, you want to be her best friend even more than you did when you began, but also, you feel comforted. And inspired!
Why it made her laugh: I haven’t read this book since 2011 so specifics don’t stand out, but I remember laughing out loud so hard during a trip home for Christmas that my mom came downstairs to check on me. She has a way of making every single thing — even the pretty depressing or shitty-at-the-time-things seem funny.
How she heard about it: I think it was everywhere at the time!

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

Recommended by: Ashley Hamilton
Genre: Science-fiction
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway and now, Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect are on a journey through space.
Why it made her laugh: I’ve never been a science fiction person but this book was recommended to me so many times I had to pick it up. This book is so far beyond what I typically read. The characters and situations are completely absurd and this book catches you off guard with every single turn.
How she heard about it: Everywhere.


by David Rakoff

Recommended by: Leandra Medine
Genre: Nonfiction essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Essays from a shrewdly intelligent and wildly hilarious observer of Earth (which lost him too soon) about the idiosyncrasies of both being human and a gay Jew from Canada living in New York.
Why it made her laugh: In one essay, the fiercely uninitiated Rakoff attends Paris Fashion Week during couture season for a glossy magazine that assigns him a feature profile on Karl Lagerfeld. The way in which he describes the experience and the conversation is slap-your-knee-until-it-turns-red funny.
How she heard about it: When I was on my own book tour four years ago, I basically picked up every book in the humorous essays section of McNally Jackson to keep me busy while on planes, on trains and in automobiles. This was one of them. Once you’re done, I’d recommend Don’t Get Too Comfortable, also by Rakoff.

Don’t Worry It Gets Worse

by Alida Nugent

Recommended by: Emily Zirimis
Genre: Nonfiction essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: A post-grad talks about the struggles of trying to find a job while living at home with her parents.
Why it made her laugh: It’s the most relatable book I’ve come across in terms of being someone who a) had recently graduated college, b) was looking for a job, c) was living at home with her parents, and d) was swimming in student loan debt, all while being sarcastic and self-deprecating. I love how real she is about being a broke student. Quote from the book: “A few years ago, I graduated college, diploma in one hand, margarita in the other, completely oblivious to the shit storm that was coming my way. Here’s a preview: becoming a living, breathing, job-having, bill-paying, responsible adult? Really fucking difficult.”
How she heard about it: I started following her on Twitter forever ago while I was still in college.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

by Samantha Irby

Recommended by: Nora Taylor
Genre: Nonfictions essays
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s a series of essays about love, sex, loss and publicly pooping.
Why it made her laugh: The writing is just so sharp and vulnerable, it’s like a hilarious master class on how to tell a story. Irby is unflinchingly honest about the good and bad, and her razor-sharp observations make her _very_ specific anecdotes universal. Her willingness to take things that most people would never tell a soul about and turn them into gold is pretty inspiring.
How she heard about it: I started reading her blog Bitches Gotta Eat a million years ago and have been obsessed (I stopped her on the street once) ever since.

George’s Marvelous Medicine

by Roald Dahl

Recommended by: Harling Ross
Genre: Children’s literature
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: George, the protagonist, is staying with his grandmother while his mother goes shopping. His grandmother happens to be quite a grump (she’s always complaining, never smiles, etc.) In typical Roald Dahl fashion, things take a twisted yet hilarious turn when George decides to poison her…
Why it made her laugh: Once George administers his “marvelous medicine” a.k.a. poison (it includes everything from brown shoe polish to anti-freeze) to his grandmother, chaos ensues, and it’s very, very funny. My dad read this book to my sisters and me when we were kids and I have vivid memories of us laughing so hard we literally cried.
How she heard about it: My dad (he read us all the Roald Dahl books).

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

by Trevor Noah

Recommended by: Patty Carnevale
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: A coming-of-age story from someone whose very existence was against the law under apartheid. I was already a little in love with Trevor Noah (hilarious host of The Daily Show), but after reading his story I’m absolutely in awe of his mom Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah.
Why it made her laugh: There are many scenes that made me smile, chuckle, shake my head, hold my hand over my heart, but there is one that moved me to outright laughter and one that moved me to full-blown tears. The former takes place in Chapter 3, when he takes a shit at his grandma’s house. I’ll leave it at that. ENJOY!
How she heard about it: A friend invited me to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Trevor Noah be interviewed at the PEN America Festival last year. It was incredible, and we received both Born a Crime and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions to take home. Highly recommend both.

And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready

by Meaghan O’Connell

Recommended by: Haley Nahman
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Meaghan O’Connell and her fiance are living in New York and on the precipice of pursuing a bunch of personal goals — that definitely don’t involve a child — when she gets pregnant by accident. This book follows the journey from her boobs mysteriously hurting to her becoming the mother she didn’t feel ready to be.
Why it made me laugh: I’ve been following Meaghan’s writing for a long time — from back when she was just posting on a Tumblr blog to when she started writing for tons of different online publications. Her Tinyletter newsletter is the only one I read consistently and right away. Her writing is hilarious, honest, insightful and also just plain good.
How I heard about it: From her whining about how hard it is to write a book on her newsletter for literal years. <3

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Cat

    Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris.

    • K

      Yes! I came to the comments section for the sole reason of recommending David Sedaris. Reading his story “Six to Eight Black Men” (- not at all what it sounds like: it’s about Dutch Santa) I literally wept with laughter.

      • Cat

        That story is so good! I was stunned not to see any of his books on this list.

    • CamBam

      When I saw the title of this article, that’s the first book that came to mind!
      It was the first book, first author actually, that has legitimetaly made me stopped reading because I was laughing so much.
      I’m going to small reading/ Q&A with him next month! I can’t wait to meet him!

      • Cat

        I met him at a reading in Philly a few years ago. I was so starstruck I just giggled and blushed and was speechless. He’s as fun as you could ever hope. 🙂

        • Dani

          David Sedaris once gave me a bite of his half eaten cream puff at a book signing for Theft by Finding.

          • starryhye

            I went to a book signing and instead of having us line up, Mr. Sedaris stood on a chair and offered to sign a book right then and there for $5. I did it and got a fun little doodle too!

      • starryhye

        You will LOVE IT! Enjoy 😀

    • Kim

      Pretty much any book by Sedaris is a safe bet.

      • Mel K

        Yes!!! Naked was my first David Sedaris book and it’s rarely mentioned buy my god it was HILARIOUS

      • Emmie

        i was coming to the comments to say the exact same thing

    • Yaaaasss!! That book is insane! He is so hilarious, and I love all the stories he reads on This American Life.

      Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

    • starryhye

      YES!!! I was actually shocked that David Sedaris didn’t make this list.

  • Jules

    THE DISASTER ARTIST !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    my recommendation: watch The Room and then read this book……… so freakin hilarious I laughed out loud constantly

  • Yes to Sloane!!! Also I see that someone else has already recommended David Sedaris, but his essay “Letting Go” which ran in the New Yorker is also hilarious.

  • kay

    seconding we are never meeting in real life, i DIED. samantha irby is now my standard for how generous a writer can be with her readers.
    if you like british humor, lucky jim by kingsley amis is suuuuuper funny.

  • Olivia Lauren Hawk Moore

    I’m sure you guys have plugged it before, but i’m about 3/4 of the way through Leandra’s book and cant stop cry laughing. Huge recommendation to anyone who hasn’t read it before!!

  • Alie Cathryn

    Bossy Pants is even better on audiobook!
    Tina Fey narrates herself- it felt like a six-hour comedy show. SO good.

  • Kim

    If you haven’t read The Princess Bride yet, drop everything and go buy it!

  • I just finished Crazy Rich Asians and it was SO GOOD! And now I’m onto the sequel China Rich Girlfriend.

    • Yeah, I liked it a lot too, both of them 🙂 Enjoy part 2!

  • Basil

    I read “Born a Crime” at the end of last year, and it was one of the oddest experiences of my life – I grew in Johannesburg at the same time as Trevor (but VERY different background). It’s not a city that gets featured much in films or books, so reading about all these places and times I knew was a weird weird experience.
    It’s being made into a movie with Lupita Nyongo playing his mother, which is just so right. His mother is my shero

  • Halle Elizabeth

    Mindy Kaling’s books are also hilarious enough for me to laugh with tears and snot pouring down my face on the subway

  • Maddie Woda

    Yes yes yes to people saying Mindy Kaling! Also Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy. I have never laughed so loudly or so long from a written work.

  • gracesface

    I have been laughing out loud all week reading Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. It is SO funny. If you like Wes Anderson movies, deadpan humour, irony, David on Schitt’s Creek – this is the book for you! It totally took me by surprise. The plot is SUPER basic but it is so engaging.

    • vvv03

      I really loved Standard Deviation! Also This is Where I Leave You has some pretty funny parts.

      • gracesface

        I am stretching out the reading of this book because I’m enjoying it that much! I’ll have to look up This Is Where I Leave You, I’ve only seen the movie.

  • Abbie

    “You’ll Grow Out of It” by Jessi Klein had my entire book club rolling on the floor laughing. Jessi is a head writer/producer for Amy Schumer’s show, SNL writer, and collaborated with Nick Kroll on Big Mouth. She is just so spot on about so many painful/hilarious transitions in life, from buying a wedding dress to getting an epidural to growing up a tomboy to going on shitty dates. I LOVE THIS BOOK! https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/books/review/amy-schumer-writer-jessi-klein-youll-grow-out-of-it.html

  • Taylor Coil

    I loooved Crazy Rich Asians. It felt kind of voyeur to read because the subjects’ lives were so incredibly different than my own.

    This is a old-ish one, but Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman is so, so funny. Highly recommended.

  • Margot

    Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood!!! It’s a memoir from the poet daughter of a Catholic priest and that is all you really need to know

    • Cy

      It’s the best book i’ve read in a long time! Hilarious, and it lingers for a long time on you after you’re done reading

  • Kristin

    I can’t recommend You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein enough!!!!! Every essay is so spot on. I have made my mom, sister, and multiple friends read it.

    • Voovoo

      I was just going to recommend Jessi Klein too! I LOVED this book.

  • Great picks! I’m really interested in Crazy Rich Asians – just the bold title gets me excited. And I probably should have already read Bossypants by now. I really needed these suggestions because I’ve been reading way too many romance novels and depressing stuff (including the Bell Jar which nearly made me into an insomniac).

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  • Andrea

    Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, which covers dealing with mental illness and taxidermy. All David Sedaris books.

  • Ema Dell’Orto

    Many essays in this list. In fiction there is Dalva from Jim Harrison that can make you laugh by yourself. And also You shall know our velocity from Dave Eggers, really, really funny and absurd.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Shrill by Lindy West is HILAR and engaging and everything good…

    • kay

      omg lindy west!!! it’s not a book, but her movie reviews from back in the day are weak knee pants pee insane funny. she has no equal in the use of all caps.

  • Hunter

    The Idiot by Elif Batuman!!! Oh man, the characters are so sharp and witty, the humor so dry. I kept sneak-reading it at work and thought I was getting away with it until my coworker pointed out I had tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing!

  • BK

    Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (actually anything by Bill Bryson)

    • Yes yes yes! 🙂

    • Claire

      I read Notes from a Small Island by him and I thought he was really mean. Like actually a jerk :[ Are all his books like that? lol. Maybe I don’t get his sense of humor.

      • BK

        I haven’t read Notes From a Small Island so cant accurately compare. I loved Mother Tongue and a Short History of Nearly Everything

  • Mariel

    I love when you guys give recommendations even if those books will never touch my country

  • These are perfect!!

  • Claire

    Crackpot. John Waters.

  • Noelle

    Scaachi Koul – One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter. My favourite read of 2017!

  • tiredofthis

    this is some of the whitest most elitist book recommendations I’ve ever seen….Tina fey? are you for real? Let me just drink my 30 dollar kombucha in my stella mcartney leggings and go to equinox lmao

  • Jenny Lawson’s books kill me every single time I pick them up. I mean, can’t breathe because I’m crying laughing kind of dying.

  • Jenna

    I must be the only person who didn’t like Bossypants–I didn’t think it was funny as much as it was self-indulgent.

    The funniest books I’ve ever read are usually fiction meant for either teen girls or women. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging and the following books are sooooo ridiculously laugh out loud funny.

    • L Winfree

      Angus Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is an amazing series! I didn’t get it the first time around trying to read it as a middle schooler, but a few years later it clicked. Seriously laugh out loud funny.

      • Jenna

        You are so right! I don’t think middle-school me understood it.

        I remember calling “Macbeth” “MacUseless” all throughout studying it in college because of Georgia. And also I remember hiding the second book, “On the Bright Side I am Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God” from my mom because I was *so* scandalized. Lol Georgia was like 14 in that book and sexually active.

        • L Winfree

          I still keep the series on my bookshelf to this day because it’s such a comforting/nostalgic thing to read whenever I need a pick-me-up. The book equivalent of Bridget Jones’s Diary. It just perfectly captures the embarrassment you felt as a teenager, but less painful because you can laugh about it.

          As I recall there was one scene in a club where Georgia’s eyes get glued shut because she used too much adhesive on her fake lashes. My BFF and I had a good laugh over that scene which we thought was surely made up. Anyways, a few years down the road I was doing my BFF’s makeup for NYE and…I accidentally glued her eyelids shut while applying falsies.

          • Jenna

            Me too! I loaned the first one to some random girl in middle school and she never gave it back, so I don’t have a complete set.

            Didn’t she call her fake eyelashes her “boy entrancers?” I can’t believe your life imitated art. Although, there are a couple of times I’ve felt knocked out by my nunga-nungas…

          • L Winfree

            Ugh what a tosser, stealing your book.

            My BFF had a bit of a nervy b. until we got her eyelids unstuck. The experience doesn’t seem to have put her off using boy entrancers though. My nunga-nungas are generally alright, but they long to roam and hate being cooped up (much like free range chickens).

  • Isabel

    Dress Your Family in Cordurory and Denim- David Sedaris
    Laughed out loud alone throughout the book
    Also David Mitchell is one of the funniest and most intelligent people so big heart for him appearing!

  • David Couvillon

    Only one novel in the bunch? Carl Hiassen anyone?

  • Lindsey Hook

    All of David Foster Wallace’s essays are hilarious and heartbreaking and poignant, but “Big Red Son” in Consider The Lobster (about attending the pornography awards in Las Vegas) might be the funniest.

  • Mzbrown2u

    Unabrow by Una Lamarche and Superstud by Paul Feig

  • CarmenK

    In the fiction section: The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared. Truly absurd.

  • Emmie

    I also love The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey (anything by Jack Handey!)

    And Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman – she’s wonderful and there’s great analysis of wonderful 80’s films


  • Weronika Michta

    Yes please – Amy Poelher!

  • Naty Diaw

    lol. I want to pick one up!

  • Monique

    I don’t think its necessarily supposed to be funny but The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood made me laugh out loud multiple times

  • Katharina

    If you speak German you have to read Joachim Meyerhoff’s books! Unfortunately I don’t think they’ve been translated but they are just so so hilarious. He writes about growing up as the child of the director of a psychriatic hospital and day drinking with his grandparents as an acting student. He is actually an incredible stage actor and this is just his side hustle.

  • Nichole K

    BRB going to the library to check all of these out. Aside from Bossypants since I own and LOVE. Also adding to the list: A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. I can’t even think about Zippy without feeling like laughing. Also on that Bill Bryson thread – A Walk in the Woods.

  • Mary Ann Parker

    Any book by Laurie Nitaro

  • doublecurl

    Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman is the best/funniest thing ever written full stop

  • Priest – Patricia Lockwood split my sides.

  • Ingrid Jensen

    Such good suggestions!! I want to read allll of them.
    ‘The importance of being earnest’ is another hilarious read, and Nancy Mitford’s novels about the Radlett family are always quietly hilarious and bittersweet.

  • pbj231

    Soooooo happy to see the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy here! I truly believe Douglas Adams made me who I am today – I read this as a child, and several times since (currently reading a shiny new copy of all five books in one). His absurd English sense of humour will never, ever be topped.

  • Katie