My favorite books about serious subjects that are also hilariously funny

Why am I passionate about this?

In my first career as an actress, I often got cast as the “comic relief” in more serious films and plays. I cut my acting chops on improv comedy before getting my BFA in drama from NYU and performing in everything from Shakespeare to Seinfeld. I wrote and performed in stage shows at Disneyland and Disney World and screamed myself hoarse in B-horror films. As an author, I like to write about serious topics but I just can’t help being funny. I received my MFA from Antioch University and have had over 30 short stories and essays published. While I read voraciously (and genre-indiscriminately), my favorite books are often “darkly comedic” or “funny yet poignant.”


I wrote...

Amish Guys Don't Call

By Debby Dodds,

Book cover of Amish Guys Don't Call

What is my book about?

What’s more awkward than finding out you’re dating a vampire or a werewolf? Finding out you’re dating an Amish guy. That’s the dilemma facing Samantha Stonesong. After the acrimonious divorce of her parents, Sam thinks everything is finally going her way when she befriends Madison, who helps her get accepted into a clique of popular girls in her class: Hillary and the Sherpas. When Sam starts dating Zach, he seems too good to be true. But she begins to suspect he might be a player because he’s suspiciously guarded. However, the truth is that Zach was raised Amish. When Sam’s new friends find out she’s “dating Amish” and cyberbully her, Sam falls back into old self-destructive habits.

Kirkus Reviews calls the novel “funny and engrossing.”

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Best Awful

Debby Dodds Why did I love this book?

Any book by the magnificent Carrie Fisher could be on my list. I love them all. This novel covers the difficult territories of drug abuse, failed marriages, and manic depression yet Fisher’s trademark biting wit and razor-sharp observational skills give us lines like this: Doris Mann was a famous fifties movie icon whose three failed marriages had left her publicly humiliated, bankrupted, and bankrupted again. "Anyway, think of it this way; we've had every kind of man in this family. We've had horse thieves and alcoholics and one-man bands and singers—but this is our first homosexual!" She punctuated her congratulatory speech with raised eyebrows and trademark grin and outflung arms.

By Carrie Fisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a revealing, darkly humorous sequel to Postcards from the Edge, a woman struggles to cope with a descent into psychosis and to make her way through a challenging stay in a psychiatric institution to build a new life for herself. 125,000 first printing.


Book cover of Cat's Cradle

Debby Dodds Why did I love this book?

I could include any of Vonnegut’s smart and darkly funny books on this list. This one satirizes science, technology, and the arms race. Vonnegut also presciently touches on an allegory for climate change. My very favorite facet of this novel is the commentary on the purpose of religion. “Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either” remains one of my favorite quotes ever.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Cat's Cradle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of America's greatest writers gives us his unique perspective on our fears of nuclear annihilation

Experiment.

Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it.

Solution.

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to…


Book cover of Wifey

Debby Dodds Why did I love this book?

I first came across this book when babysitting at a neighbor’s house as a young teen. I was a giant Judy Blume fangirl and I was confused. I thought I’d read all of her novels. When I picked this one up, I managed to find a “dirty part” quite quickly while flipping through it and I stole the book to show that passage to all my friends. Scandalous! When I was out of college, I actually read the whole book and found it a poignant, but still funny, look at dreams deferred, marriage, motherhood, and sex.

By Judy Blume,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With more than four million copies sold, Wifey is Judy Blume's hilarious, moving tale of a woman who trades in her conventional wifely duties for her wildest fantasies-and learns a lot about life along the way.

Sandy Pressman is a nice suburban wife whose boredom is getting the best of her. She could be making friends at the club, like her husband keeps encouraging her to do. Or working on her golf game. Or getting her hair done.

But for some reason, these things don't interest her as much as the naked man on the motorcycle...


Book cover of Skinny Legs and All

Debby Dodds Why did I love this book?

Another author that I found it hard to choose which book to feature is Mr. Robbins. While Jitterbug Perfume and Another Roadside Attraction are tied for my favorite novel of his and Still Life with Woodpecker was my first (coincidentally it was recommended by my first serious boyfriend), I chose this one because it fit the theme of my list so well. How can you make an examination of prejudices, war, politics, religion, art, and the impending end of the world funny? The answer lies in Robbins’ brilliant mind.

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Skinny Legs and All as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Arab and a Jew open a restaurant together across the street from the United Nations....

It sounds like the beginning of an ethnic joke, but it's the axis around which this gutsy, fun-loving, and alarmingly provocative novel spins, in which a bean can philosophizes, a dessert spoon mystifies, a young waitress takes on the New York art world, and a rowdy redneck welder discovers the lost god of Palestine-while the illusions that obscure humanity's view of the true universe fall away, one by one, like Salome's veils.

Skinny Legs and All deals with today's most sensitive issues: race, politics,…


Book cover of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Debby Dodds Why did I love this book?

Although Moore is one of my favorite authors, most of his books are not exactly about austere topics. His brand of absurdism features outlandish characters such as demons, vampires, stupid angels, tricksters, and lustful sea beasts. Yet Moore writes with a superlative intelligence that never disappoints me. This novel was an easy pick for my list. In it, Moore retells the story of Christ with a paradoxically reverent irreverence. It’s well-researched and details facts about Eastern religious traditions and Roman history as well Biblical events. I’ve recommended this book to so many people. And only a few of them were deeply offended. :-)

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lamb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years - except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in this divinely hilarious, yet heartfelt work 'reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams' (Philadelphia Inquirer). Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes, Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the…


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Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

Book cover of Let Evening Come

Yvonne Osborne Author Of Let Evening Come

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a family farm surrounded by larger vegetable and dairy operations that used migrant labor. From an early age, my siblings and I were acquainted with the children of these workers, children whom we shared a school desk with one day and were gone the next. On summer vacations, our parents hauled us around in a station wagon with a popup camper, which they parked in out-of-the-way hayfields and on mountainous plateaus, shunning, much to our chagrin, normal campgrounds, and swimming pools. Thus, I grew up exposed to different cultures and environments. My writing reflects my parents’ curiosity, love of books and travel, and devotion to the natural world. 

Yvonne's book list on immersive coming-of-age fiction with characters struggling to find themselves amidst the isolation and bigotry in Indigenous, rural, and minority communities

What is my book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through young adulthood. Miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are displaced from their land by multinational energy companies. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie’s aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.

Stefan promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his story, has grown sympathetic to his cause and complicit in his pushback against prejudiced accusations. Their mutual attraction is stymied when Stefan’s older brother, Joachim, who stayed behind, becomes embroiled in the resistance, and Stefan is compelled to return to Canada. Sadie, concerned for his safety, impulsively follows on a trajectory doomed by cultural misunderstanding and oncoming winter.

Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

What is this book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through the pitfalls of young adulthood.
Hundreds of miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are forced off their land by multinational energy companies and flawed treaties. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie's aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.
Stefan, whose own father died in prison while on a hunger strike, promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his…


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