The best funny novels with writing that will make you laugh out loud

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been teaching “Writing Humor and Comedy” at Drexel University (where I’m an English professor) twice a year forever, and I’m proud (and still a little awed) that at least one of my students has gone on to have a successful humor-writing career. My very first publication was a satirical story back in 1996, and in more recent years, my humor has been published in The Oxford University Press Humor Reader, McSweeney’s, and Points in Case. Writing funny fiction is my main focus as a novelist, and my sequel, The Great American Betrayal, was named one of "The Best Comedy Books of 2022" by New York magazine's

I wrote...

The Great American Deception

By Scott Stein,

Book cover of The Great American Deception

What is my book about?

The Great American Deception is a science fiction comedy detective satire set in an absurd future mall-fortress society that spans the continent, narrated by a footnoting robot coffee machine. “Sure to appeal to fans of Douglas Adams, this zany, uproarious mystery is a constant delight.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review and PW Picks)

Private detective Frank Harken could really, really use a cup of coffee. Can you blame him? His new case features a missing woman, a flaky client, a cranky security officer, a mysterious assassin, an overbearing mob boss, an ice-cold enforcer, and the best mini-golf the world has ever seen. Did we mention the fate of millions is at stake?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Code of the Woosters

Scott Stein Why did I love this book?

The Code of the Woosters might be the best funny novel of them all. The all-knowing valet Jeeves and the hilarious narrator Bertram Wooster helped inspire the relationship in my novels between the coffeebot narrator Arjay and private investigator Frank Harken. Wodehouse’s plotting is superb and beyond clever, but it’s the prose—the playful and inventive sentences and paragraphs—that makes me come back to read this book again and again. A sample sentence: “He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled, so I tactfully changed the subject.”

By P. G. Wodehouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Code of the Woosters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow the adventures of Bertie Wooster and his gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves, in this stunning new edition of one of the greatest comic novels in the English language. When Aunt Dahlia demands that Bertie Wooster help her dupe an antique dealer into selling her an 18th-century cow-creamer. Dahlia trumps Bertie's objections by threatening to sever his standing invitation to her house for lunch, an unthinkable prospect given Bertie's devotion to the cooking of her chef, Anatole. A web of complications grows as Bertie's pal Gussie Fink-Nottle asks for counseling in the matter of his impending marriage to Madeline Bassett. It seems…

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Scott Stein Why did I love this book?

The whole series is full of hilarious madcap adventure, but book one, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is my favorite. The sheer joy of invention evident on every page encouraged me to take chances when writing my Great American series, to break rules and refuse to write what anyone else would write. I wouldn’t say this book is why my novels ended up having so many footnotes, since Douglas Adams only used a couple, but it did help me believe that if I thought something was funny and worked, no matter how ridiculous it was, I should write it. Sample sentence: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

Book cover of Big Trouble

Scott Stein Why did I love this book?

Dave Barry is most famous as a humor columnist and nonfiction writer. His first novel Big Trouble, with a story that reads like a suspenseful thriller, is full of comedic events and clever twists. It’s worth reading, however, for the prose alone. Sample sentence: “En route to the polling place, the old man picked up seven other voters, all men, some quite aromatic.”

By Dave Barry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Trouble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dave Barry makes his fiction debut with a ferociously funny novel of love and mayhem in south Florida.

In the city of Coconut Grove, Florida, these things happen: A struggling adman named Eliot Arnold drives home from a meeting with the Client From Hell. His teenage son, Matt, fills a Squirtmaster 9000 for his turn at a high school game called Killer. Matt's intended victim, Jenny Herk, sits down in front of the TV with her mom for what she hopes will be a peaceful evening for once. Jenny's alcoholic and secretly embezzling stepfather, Arthur, emerges from the maid's room,…

Book cover of The Gun Seller

Scott Stein Why did I love this book?

You might know Hugh Laurie as the actor who played Dr. Gregory House in House, though he’s been great in lots of other stuff, including playing Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster. He’s also a hell of a writer. The Gun Seller has the pacing of a spy novel and the sentences you might expect if P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler went into that gene-combining teleportation portal from The Fly and emerged as P.G. Chandlerhouse. Sample sentence: “But Rayner was also three inches taller than me, four stones heavier, and at least eight however-you-measure-violence units more violent.”

By Hugh Laurie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gun Seller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Thomas Lang, a hired gunman with a soft heart, is contracted to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts instead to warn the intended victim - a good deed that doesn't go unpunished.

Within hours Lang is butting heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femmes fatales, whilst trying to save a beautiful lady ... and prevent an international bloodbath to boot.

A wonderfully funny novel from one of Britain's most famous comedians and star of award-winning US TV medical drama series, House.

Book cover of The Futurological Congress

Scott Stein Why did I love this book?

I first read Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress in a literature of science fiction course as an undergrad around 1991 and I’ve reread it a bunch of times since then. Lem’s endlessly creative wordplay and brilliant satirical style have been major influences on all of my fiction, especially the Great American series. His novel might seem less like an overt haha comedy than the others I’ve listed here, but I still laugh every time I read it. Sample sentence: “Still, the sight of a man at your side crumpling to the floor under heavy fire is not among the most pleasant, even if it is the result of a simple misunderstanding, which ends with an exchange of diplomatic notes and official apologies.”

By Stanislaw Lem,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Futurological Congress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A giant of twentieth-century science fiction' Guardian

'This Room Guaranteed BOMB-FREE. From the Management'

Hapless cosmonaut Ijon Tichy has been sent back to earth to attend the Eighth Futurological Congress in smog-bound, overpopulated Costa Rica, holed up with an assortment of scientists in a luxury hotel (fully equipped with tear gas sprinklers in case things get out of hand). But when an unfortunate incident occurs involving a revolution and hallucinogenic drugs in the water supply, Tichy finds himself shot, frozen and thawed out in a future beyond anything he could ever have imagined.

You might also like...

Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

Book cover of Rewriting Illness

Elizabeth Benedict

New book alert!

What is my book about?

What happens when a novelist with a “razor-sharp wit” (Newsday), a “singular sensibility” (Huff Post), and a lifetime of fear about getting sick finds a lump where no lump should be? Months of medical mishaps, coded language, and Doctors who don't get it.

With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling artistry of an acclaimed novelist, Elizabeth Benedict recollects her cancer diagnosis after discovering multiplying lumps in her armpit. In compact, explosive chapters, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity, she chronicles her illness from muddled diagnosis to “natural remedies,” to debilitating treatments, as she gathers sustenance from family, an assortment of urbane friends, and a fearless “cancer guru.”

Rewriting Illness is suffused with suspense, secrets, and the unexpected solace of silence.

Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

What is this book about?

By turns somber and funny but above all provocative, Elizabeth Benedict's Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own is a most unconventional memoir. With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling skills of a seasoned novelist, she brings to life her cancer diagnosis and committed hypochondria. As she discovers multiplying lumps in her armpit, she describes her initial terror, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity as she indulges in "natural remedies," among them chanting Tibetan mantras, drinking shots of wheat grass, and finding medicinal properties in chocolate babka. She tracks the progression of her illness from muddled diagnosis to debilitating treatment…

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