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11 Good Books to Read If You Need a Laugh

11 Good Books to Read If You Need a Laugh

We’re all for binge-watching the latest Netflix or network television hit, sometimes you need to conserve some much needed battery power and save the great stand-up specials in favor of some good old fashioned written comedy. Penned by some of the best comedians out there, these books include hilarious stories that you’ll immediately want to retell to friends, family and random people you meet at the bar.

Quick note, these aren’t fiction picks. If you’re looking for more traditional novels or short stories, we suggest the best books of the last decade, or the books to read at least once in your life. Or both. Contrary to popular belief, life’s not that short.

Naked Pictures of Famous People

Jon Stewart is a name and face that requires no introduction. Even though Naked Pictures of Famous People is close to twenty years old—hell, the Amazon reminders show we purchased it almost a decade ago to the month—it remains as energetically entertaining as it was the first time we read it. A collection of almost twenty different stories ranging in subject matter from politics to religion to celebrity are presented over the course of almost two hundred pages with the same biting wit and edgy comedy that made the former The Daily Show host such a hit… even though this book was published before he ever went toe-to-toe with Colbert or the modern political machine. $7

Dad Is Fat

Dad Is Fat is a book that all of us can relate to by comedian and author Jim Gaffigan—described as someone “best known for his legendary bits on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees and McDonald’s—that is as much a cry for help as it is a love letter to his children that are nowhere near old enough to read it yet. We can all relate to the Hot Pockets, bacon and McDonald’s Gaffigan is famous for, but this almost 300 page tome is smart, insightful and gut-wrenching in ways the comedian doesn’t generally approach in his stand-up. Even if you don’t have a family this book will leave you laughing out loud in public on more than one occasion. As with all things Gaffigan, it’s incredibly witty and funny while still hitting you right in the feels and making you contemplate your own existence. $7

Seriously… I’m Kidding

Whether you know her as Dory, one of her hosting gigs, one of her TV shows, EllenTube or for work she did that resulted in one of her 29 Emmys, Ellen DeGeneres is a cultural icon that’s downright funny while still being responsible for things you can actually discuss with your grandma during the holidays. Seriously… I’m Kidding is Ellen’s best-selling book that is part memoir, part essay collection, part comedic inspiration and all around hilarious exploration into the world of Ellen as written for infrequent and informal viewers that can only be told by one of the world’s most famously positive individuals herself. $7

I Am America (And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) is delivered with the same irreverent comedy, attention to detail (or lack thereof), and “knee jerk beliefs” that made The Colbert Report one of the greatest, highest-rated television shows for almost a decade. It’s insightful. It’s politically charged. It’s an obvious extension of his show’s brand of satire. From faith and family to politics and hygiene, Colbert hilariously touches on plenty of hot button topics that are as relevant now as they were when he originally wrote the book. If you long for The Colbert Report of the past, this is the only book that will scratch that itch. Well, besides its sequel$7


Tina Fey is one of the most hilarious people on television. Her style is consistent, so Bossypants reads (or sounds, depending on how you like to consume your literature) like an episode of Saturday Night Life with a collection of sketches that tows the line between autobiography, laugh out loud hilarity and snarky narrative. To be clear, Bossypants isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a fan of Fey’s unique style of comedy—and you have a little 30 Rock knowledge to draw on—this is a great book to read if you need a laugh. Underneath the surface of what some might call Fey’s memoirs you’ll find life lessons delivered so cleverly you won’t even feel like you’re learning anything. Sure, it could use more on screen Fey impressions, but this is a book after all. $7

My Custom Van

My Custom Van has been described by funny people as everything from “Fun to read while you’re pooping” (Silverman) to “even the most simple-minded among us can occasionally create works of genius” (Colbert), and that’s exactly why we love this book. Actor, writer and comedian Michael Ian Black strips away all the bullshit and presents a collection of over fifty “mind-blowing essays that will blow your mind all over your face.” Does it require you to enjoy his particular blend of comedy? Absolutely. Will some of you find this vulgar and in no way funny? Maybe. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll find this book impossible to put down. $7

Modern Romance

Based solely on the front cover, you’d think this would be an exploration of, well, modern romance akin to some of Aziz Ansari’s work on his Netflix show Master of None. You’d be partially right, but it’s so much more than that. The book combines the modern trials and tribulations of finding love (pizza emojis, Combos and dick pics) with actual behavioral data and surveys to create a narrative that is just as much a giant massive research project and social experiment as it is a downright funny and unforgettable tour of a brave new world. The result of a team-up between Ansari and NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, Modern Romance is just as much a universal advice column as it is a comedic overture about the current state of dating. $11

Paddle Your Own Canoe

We can count on a closed fist how many things Nick Offerman is responsible for that we didn’t love. The mustachioed, wood working, meat eating, lady wooing man behind all the best Parks and Rec memes combines his best comedic voice with his real-life expertise to create a collection of stories and values in Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living that will leave you hating technology, loving scotch and offending vegans… just like the author himself. He might be profane, technologically-averse and not as much Ron Swanson as you’d imagine, but Offerman is still downright hilarious and filled with a quite a few good stories and life tips you might actually find useful. $10

This Is a Book

Demetri Martin has a unique delivery and dry wit that you wouldn’t think would be translatable to book form. This Is a Book proves that that couldn’t be further from the truth. This New York Times best-seller combines narrative essays, short stories and conceptual pieces with Martin’s absurd creations to create a collection of jokes, characters and surprises that will transport you through time and space while laughing from cover to cover. The book does contain some material from Important Things with Demetri Martin that die-hard fans will recognize, but that doesn’t make Martin’s foray into prose any less interesting or enjoyable than his performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show or his own acclaimed TV show. $10

The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room

Described as everything from “quirky, witty, literate” to “a breath of fresh air in a genre desperately gasping for some,” The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room is Rainn Wilson’s three hundred plus page tale from “bone-numbingly nerdy” to his time as everyone’s favorite work nemesis and beet farmer on The Office. The man behind Dwight Schrute bares all in an honest and humorous account of A to Z that, while definitely a memoir, is delivered in such a way that never feels long-winded, is incredibly easy to read and is hilarious from beginning to end. Whether you like him for his work on The Office, his Twitter, or his underrated career in film, Wilson’s book is worth reading. $11

Yes Please

From Upright Citizens Brigade and SNL to Parks and Recreation and Blades of Glory, Amy Poehler has crafted one hell of a comedic resume over the years. Poehler straight up admits in the foreword of the book that she had no business agreeing to write it, but Yes Please as final product is equal parts memoir, scrapbook, story time and deep dive into what made all of us fall in love with the comedienne in the first place. Filled with stories and lists and poetry and photos and guest spots, Yes Please is smart, funny and ultimately inspirational in a way that makes it perfectly Poehler and a great respite from re-runs of Parks and Rec on Netflix. $14