The best books for people who don’t take themselves too seriously

Why am I passionate about this?

I read Lolita as a college freshman and laughed out loud as Nabokov made me love the goofy, intelligent, and clearly sociopathic Humbert Humbert. Nabokov’s fun was palpable; it made me want to write. And knee-jerk criticisms of Lolita drove me crazy – how can people take themselves so seriously as to be offended by fictional characters? To me, an author’s ability to inspire genuine empathy for characters with distorted, irreverent, or socially unacceptable perspectives is both genius and riotously fun (something that people too busy looking for a reason to be offended will unfortunately never appreciate). Hope you enjoy this book list for people who don’t take themselves too seriously!

I wrote...

Book cover of Managed Care

What is my book about?

Is it too much to ask that a managed care facility refund a year's advance payment when your grandfather dies before he can move in? Frank Johnson doesn't think so, which is why the thirty-three-year-old moved himself into a nursing home, purely out of spite.

When a stuttering foster kid and a spunky suicidal tween are thrust into Frank’s stale life, it launches a string of absurd decisions, inappropriate behaviors, and unexpected glimpses of tenderness that ultimately turn a New Jersey suburb upside down. A laugh-out-loud celebration of bad choices for good causes, Managed Care is an offbeat story about three misfits on the social fringes of suburbia and their ridiculous campaign to introduce an unfiltered version of intimacy to their vapid, impersonal community.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Finding Jimmy Moran: Codicil to The Claire Trilogy

Joe Barrett Why did I love this book?

I loved all of McCaffrey’s The Claire Trilogy books and recommend reading them first, but Finding Jimmy Moran will always occupy a special place in my heart.

McCaffrey is a born storyteller – he pulls you into his world and makes it feel like your own. The book is gritty, hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenching and (while allegedly fiction) it is also one of the most accurate representations of the wild west reckless abandon enjoyed by New York kids growing up in the 1970s and ’80s.

It’s the type of book that makes you want to break out a bottle of good Irish whiskey and read in a single sitting.

By Tom McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Jimmy Moran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prequel to the bestselling novel, The Wise Ass.

"The Claire Trilogy gives us Jimmy Moran, resurrected mob lawyer turned alien godfather of a crew of mystical misfits, including Claire the Mule. Finding Jimmy Moran shows the world the magical origins that make Jimmy tick. Don't miss this." -Ivy Logan, author of Broken (The Breach Chronicles)

Who is Jimmy Moran? It starts with a lucky penny. Then a muse who bestows a mystical gift. Or maybe a curse? Family, friends, and fights abound as Jimmy breaks the law, looks for love in all the wrong places and experiences loss that transforms…

Book cover of Negotiations with God 2

Joe Barrett Why did I love this book?

Sowrider is so unfiltered that it makes you wonder if he’s even aware that social boundaries exist.

NWG2 is a bizzaro, acid trip karmic rebirth journey through history and while the plot is a lot of fun, what really stands out to me is the author’s voice. He’s like the funniest guy in a high school locker room – taking bawdy right to the point of cringe, never afraid to cross a forbidden line, never failing to crack you up.

I just hope he never gets into any kind of psychological treatment, because it might ruin a perfectly insane author. 

By R.W. Sowrider,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Negotiations with God 2 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Apathy and Other Small Victories

Joe Barrett Why did I love this book?

I’ve probably read Apathy and Other Small Victories a dozen times.

The first time was on an international flight, and I was laughing so hard that I was legitimately concerned that the seat next to me was going to call for an air marshal to lock me down. Like a modern-day, more introspective cousin of JP Donleavy’s The Ginger Man, this book will either offend the hell out of you or have you laughing out loud on just about every page. It will always be one of my all-time favorites.

By Paul Neilan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Apathy and Other Small Victories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A scathingly funny debut novel about disillusionment, indifference, and one man's desperate fight to assign absolutely no meaning to modern life.

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist.

When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't…

Book cover of The Other Hotel

Joe Barrett Why did I love this book?

The Other Hotel was my first Jack Stroke book and after the first few pages I was hooked.

The writing is easy, authentic, and unpretentious – reading it quickly made me feel like I was hanging out with an old friend. The plot is twisted, the characters are off-the-hook, and Stroke has the unique capacity to inject a sense of apathetic calm into situations where all hell is breaking loose – making the book a tremendous amount of fun.

I highly recommend the whole series.

By Jack Stroke,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Tales from the Gas Station: Volume One

Joe Barrett Why did I love this book?

I recommend starting with Volume One of the series, which is fantastic. But I’m calling out Volume Two in this particular list because it’s where Jerry, one of my favorite characters ever, really hits his stride.

Not to take anything away from Jack (the first-person protagonist who exhibits a dry, laid-back sense of humor in the face of all kinds of outrageous paranormal absurdities) but for me Jerry is a perfect example of a character that doesn’t take himself, or anything else in the world, seriously at all.

Without a doubt the best dark humor series set in a gas station that I’ve read in years.

By Jack Townsend,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales from the Gas Station as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drunk customers. Shoplifting raccoons. Otherworldly visitors. As night shift clerk at the twenty-four-hour gas station at the edge of town, Jack has pretty much seen it all.

That is, until his best friend reveals the body of a local politician hidden in the trunk of a car, setting off a chain of events with apocalyptic potential. Soon, Jack finds himself entangled in a supernatural conspiracy involving monster hunters, sociopaths, doomsday cultists, and... garden gnomes?

Armed with nothing but his wits, sarcasm, and alarming amounts of coffee, can Jack stay alive long enough to see another morning shift? Or will he,…

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Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic Storyteller Teacher Mother Seeker

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Looking for clean romantic suspense with spiritual undertones?

Look no further than the Acts of Valor series by Rebecca Hartt. With thousands of reviews and 4.7-5.0 stars per book, this 6-book series is a must-read for readers searching for memorable, well-told stories by an award-winning author.

A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

-- Present Day, Virginia Beach, Virginia --

A dead man stands at Eden Mills' door.

Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…

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