The best books for my offbeat sense of humor

Amethyst Marie Author Of A Snag in the Tapestry: Thalia's Musings Volume 1
By Amethyst Marie

Who am I?

When people ask what kind of books I like to read, I can’t answer with a genre. As a kid, I’d come home from the library with mysteries, Westerns, fantasies, non-fiction books, and comic books in the same stack. I’ve always liked books that introduce me to fun characters, take these characters on fantastical adventures, make me laugh at least a little, and leave me with a sense of hope and triumph. They can be anything from cheesy romcoms to dark thrillers to complicated biographies. This is reflected in my fantasy series, Thalia’s Musings, which has been praised for its realistic treatment of abuse and also compared to Friends.

I wrote...

A Snag in the Tapestry: Thalia's Musings Volume 1

By Amethyst Marie,

Book cover of A Snag in the Tapestry: Thalia's Musings Volume 1

What is my book about?

Thalia is the Muse of Comedy. She doesn’t affect real life with her powers the way the Twelve Olympians do. She spends her days making mortal playwrights jump through hoops in exchange for comedic inspiration, and totally not flirting with the god Apollo. But when Thalia helps Apollo raise a cursed nymph from the dead, the Fates want to test her limits. Thalia takes the Fates’ tests in stride with the same glib, bubbly snark that she brings to the Olympian Court’s drama—until her sister becomes a target for Zeus’s attention and Hera’s vengeance, and Thalia’s growing powers may be the only thing that can protect her.

The books I picked & why

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A Prince on Paper

By Alyssa Cole,

Book cover of A Prince on Paper

Why this book?

It was so hard to pick just one of Cole’s royal romances. This one has elements that I don’t often see in contemporary romance. The heroine, African royal Nya Jerami, is a virgin. It’s not because of cultural demands, and it doesn’t make her less of a sexual person. She’s believable as an equal partner to her more experienced love interest, European step-prince Johan von Braustein, who identifies as “not straight.” This romcom gave me so many laughs. Not one was at the expense of Nya’s virginity or Johan’s queerness. And these factors don’t define them. We mostly know Nya as a shy gamer girl who wants to take a more active role in governing, and Johan as a charming extrovert who’ll do anything to protect his younger sibling.

Fortune Favors the Dead: A Pentecost and Parker Mystery

By Stephen Spotswood,

Book cover of Fortune Favors the Dead: A Pentecost and Parker Mystery

Why this book?

This murder mystery deals with some dark topics. But the snarky narrator, Willowjean “Will” Parker, brings an upbeat, devil-may-care vibe to the book. I love Will for being clever and hilarious. I also love her for presenting as gender-nonconforming, not in an “ahead of her time/normal for our time” way, but in a way that’s historically accurate for a butch girl in the 1940s. And rather than framing Will as Not Like Other Girls, the book gives her a badass matronly mentor, a femme fatale, and a whole world of women, men, and others who live outside of 1940s gender norms in spite of the consequences.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers,

Book cover of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Why this book?

You know how Star Trek can have you pondering the human condition one moment and laughing at the antics of a quirky, diverse crew the next? This science fiction novel gave me that same feeling, and I loved every minute of it. There’s action, adventure, and, if you look closely enough, a plot. But the heart of this book is its ensemble cast. I kept coming back to it to see how the different personalities, backstories, and creative fictional cultures of the Wayfarer’s crew would guide their interactions with each other. The scenes where everyone converses over a dinner lovingly prepared by their alien chef don’t feel like fillers or segues. They’re every bit as vital as the epic space chase scenes, if not more.

How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

By Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer,

Book cover of How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

Why this book?

This non-fiction book is probably the most categorically comedic on my list. Greenberg, a comedian, and Meinzer, a critic, are the hosts of a podcast called By the Book, in which every episode documents their attempt to follow a new self-help book to the letter for two weeks. After a few years of doing this, they co-wrote their own self-help book based on their experience and narrated the audio version. The result is insightful, irreverent, and hilarious.

Dial A for Aunties

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Book cover of Dial A for Aunties

Why this book?

You would think a book in which a woman accidentally kills the man who tried to date-rape her and enlists her mother to help hide the body would be a gritty, intense thriller or a thought-provoking work of literary fiction full of social commentary. Sutanto turns this premise into a comedy about intergenerational female bonding, and it freakin’ works. Meddlin Chan’s manslaughter and cover-up take place against the bubbly backdrop of a Chinese-Indonesian resort wedding and a reconnection with her first love. What even is this book’s genre? Crime? Romance? Chick lit? Whatever it is, I laughed out loud through the whole thing.

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