The best laugh-out-loud comedies about found families and the absurdities of the workplace

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing and reading about comedy, friendship, and satire. I also love making fun of the absurdities in our society that we tend to accept without thinking. The world is a dark and scary place, and it’s my honor to help people leave their anxieties behind for awhile. I hope you enjoy the books on this list and the escape they provide as much as I do.

I wrote...

You Should Smile More

By Anastasia Ryan,

Book cover of You Should Smile More

What is my book about?

Vanessa Blair’s telemarketing job pays the bills and feeds her foster kittens, but offers only one other perk: her friendships with Jane Delaney and Trisha Lam. But, as mind-numbing as her job is, things are about to get worse. Xavier Adams, her shoeless, self-absorbed boss, calls Vanessa, a star employee, into his office and fires her. For her resting bitch face.

After a girls' night of schnapps, Vanessa awakens to find her friends took their revenge strategy, based on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, a little too seriously. At first, Vanessa wants nothing to do with it. She wants to move on, possibly with the cute, cat-loving unemployment rep assigned to her case. But when Xavier contests her unemployment claim, Vanessa is all in...

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Lessons in Chemistry

Anastasia Ryan Why did I love this book?

I loved this book for so many reasons.

First, it’s incredibly funny, and humor is my favorite genre to read. The real world is scary enough. 

Second, the heroine is a strong, take-no-prisoners chemist dealing with all the harassment and discrimination women faced in the 1950s and 1960s, issues that women still experience in our current society.

Elizabeth is unapologetically brilliant, and she never gives up, despite repeated attempts to derail her, all traits that I admire. But this book has a bonus.

I’m an animal lover, and the best character may be Six-thirty, Elizabeth’s dog, a dropout from bomb-sniffing school, who narrates his scenes.

That’s priceless.

By Bonnie Garmus,

Why should I read it?

64 authors picked Lessons in Chemistry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, GoodReads

"A unique heroine ... you'll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional." —Seattle Times…

Book cover of Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Anastasia Ryan Why did I love this book?

At the heart of this book is an important message: creativity cannot and should not be suppressed.

I’m a creative person, and if I’m not writing, I’m making things with my hands—paper crafts, water coloring, miniatures, cross stitchyou name it.

In this book, Bernadette gives up her joy of creativity because of relentless criticism, lack of appreciation for her work, and self-imposed responsibilitiesuntil she discovers it’s the work that matters.

There is so much to love about this interesting, thought-provoking book. Bernadette is an awesome character—a brilliant architect whose early success has stopped her cold.

And without her creativity, she’s a mess. A very funny, well-meaning mess. Until she finds it again.

By Maria Semple,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Where'd You Go, Bernadette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A misanthropic matriarch leaves her eccentric family in crisis when she mysteriously disappears in this "whip-smart and divinely funny" novel that inspired the movie starring Cate Blanchett (New York Times).

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle --…

Book cover of Anxious People

Anastasia Ryan Why did I love this book?

What I love most about Anxious People is two-fold: first, it is a funny and ridiculous story (in the best way), and second, it deals with the support and caring of friends.

This is one of my favorite themes and one that I love to write about myself.

In this case, however, they’re strangers, who only happen to come together because they’re accidentally kidnapped during a house showing by a bank robber who’s been fired (not for their face like my character, but for equally inane reasons.).

The beauty of this book is how people can come together and do what’s right, though not necessarily what’s right by societal standards.

Everyone needs friends to get them through life, and everyone has the potential to be a friend.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Anxious People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The funny, touching and unpredictable No. 1 New York Times bestseller, now a major Netflix TV series

'A brilliant and comforting read' MATT HAIG
'Funny, compassionate and wise. An absolute joy' A.J. PEARCE
'A surefooted insight into the absurdity, beauty and ache of life' GUARDIAN
'I laughed, I sobbed, I recommended it to literally everyone I know' BUZZFEED
'Captures the messy essence of being human' WASHINGTON POST

From the 18 million copy internationally bestselling author of A Man Called Ove

It's New Year's Eve and House Tricks estate agents are hosting an open viewing in an up-market apartment when…

Book cover of Bridget Jones's Diary

Anastasia Ryan Why did I love this book?

Bridget Jones’s Diary is just as fun and relevant today as when it was first published in 1996.

It focuses on her romantic life and her insecurities, which are just as relevant to women today. The workplace, however, has changed remarkably in 26 years.

Bridget goes to work and comes home. No encroaching on personal time by the “Company.”

That’s where I find the “funny” in working today. Bridget has covered the romantic angle as well as any book. Now it’s time to find the absurdity of our current work lives.

When I started working, I seriously thought a job did not extend past the scheduled hours. I was so, so wrong.

By Helen Fielding,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Bridget Jones's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million copy number one Bestseller

A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget's first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Helen Fielding's first Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones's Diary, sparked a phenomenon that has seen…

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Anastasia Ryan Why did I love this book?

It might seem strange that this outrageous and thoroughly enjoyable comedy wound up on my list of workplace comedies.

In the original version of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet was stuck in a Regency-era comedy of manners. Her only choice of life “careers” was “wife.”

Grahame-Smith has taken Austin’s words and turned this classic upside down by giving her a very important job—Zombie Killer.

It’s a hilarious take on the power of women, and, strangely enough, adding a Zombie apocalypse has made some of the characters’ motivations much more understandable.

Elizabeth’s workplace is her small village in England, and, always on call, she has lots of work to do.

I loved this book, and I think Austin would have, too. It’s my kind of humor.

By Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone crunching zombie action.

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A Particular Man

By Lesley Glaister,

Book cover of A Particular Man

Lesley Glaister Author Of A Particular Man

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

About myself: As a novelist I’m crazy for detail. I believe it’s the odd and unexpected aspects of life that bring both characters and story worlds to life. This means that I try to be an observer at all times, keeping alert and using all five – and maybe six – senses. My perfect writing morning begins with a dog walk in the woods or on a beach, say, while keeping my senses sharp to the world around me and listening out for the first whisper of what the day’s writing will bring.

Lesley's book list on relationships and sexuality in post-World War II Britain

What is my book about?

This book is a literary historical novel. It is set in Britain immediately after World War II, when people – gay, straight, young, and old - are struggling to get back on track with their lives, including their love lives. Because of the turmoil of the times, the number of losses, and the dangerous and peculiar circumstances people find themselves in, sexual mores have become shaken and stirred.

But what happened after the war, in the time of healing and settling down? This novel examines the emotional, romantic, and sexual lives of three characters searching for a way to proceed.

A Particular Man

By Lesley Glaister,

What is this book about?

Love never dies in this novel by “a writer of addictive emotional thrillers” (The Independent).

Told from three perspectives A Particular Man is about love, truth and the unpredictable consequences of loss.

When Edgar dies in a Far East prisoner-of-war camp it breaks the heart of fellow prisoner Starling. In Edgar’s final moments, Starling makes him a promise. When, after the war, he visits Edgar’s family, to fulfil this promise, Edgar's mother Clementine mistakes him for another man.

Her mistake allows him access to Edgar’s home and to those who loved him, stirring powerful and disorientating emotions, and embroiling him…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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