The best books on therapeutic humor & laughter

Who am I?

Allen Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist®”. Through his books, workshops, and keynote speeches, for the past 30-plus years, he has been showing audiences worldwide how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is a pioneer in the therapeutic humor field and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”


I wrote...

The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

By Allen Klein,

Book cover of The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

What is my book about?

The Healing Power of Humor has become the quintessential book in the therapeutic humor field. Brimming with pointed, humorous anecdotes and learn-to-laugh techniques, this book combines the wisdom of the world’s great spiritual teachers with the insights of famed humorists, comedians, and others to help you turn life’s negatives into positives. It is the ideal book for anyone going through troubled times—whether it’s the loss of a wallet, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or a stay in the hospital.

Perhaps one Amazon reviewer captured the essence of the book best when they wrote: “I was taking a training that was particularly difficult. At lunch and breaks I would open this book and read. It is like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. It is fun and serious at the same time.”

The books I picked & why

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Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

By Norman Cousins,

Book cover of Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

Why this book?

This is the book that started the therapeutic humor movement. Cousins reveals how laughter helped him heal from a life-threatening illness. When he was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.

Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

By Norman Cousins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies' capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor's genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient's talent was in mobilizing his body's own natural resources,…


Humor and the Health Professions: The Therapeutic Use of Humor in Health Care

By Vera Robinson,

Book cover of Humor and the Health Professions: The Therapeutic Use of Humor in Health Care

Why this book?

Another pioneer in the therapeutic humor field: this one written for the health professions. In spite of that, any reader can get a lot from this book. It introduces the benefits of humor not only as a healing tool for the patient, but as a stress management tool for the health professional as well. Certainly, any reader dealing with stress can benefit from the coping characteristics of humor.

Humor and the Health Professions: The Therapeutic Use of Humor in Health Care

By Vera Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humor and the Health Professions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extensive coverage of humor in interpersonal relationships, patient education and the work environment greatly enhance the value of this book to all health care professionals. Humor and the Health Professions introduces the benefits of humor not only as a healing tool for the patient, but as a stress management tool for the health professional as well.


Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny

By Annette Goodheart,

Book cover of Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny

Why this book?

The first part of this book provides a theoretical framework for understanding laughter and why it is cathartic. The second part contains 25 ways to help you laugh or relearn to laugh in order to maximize healing. As the subtitle states, it will show you How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny.

Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny

By Annette Goodheart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Laughter Therapy is a two-part book. Part one is a theoretical framework for understanding laughter and other forms of catharsis. Included are case studies and examples of laughter. Part one and two are liberally sprinkled with appropriate quotes. Part two contains 25 ways to help yourself laugh and how to relearn to laugh without ridicule in order to maximize healing and connection with ourselves, each other and the universe.


Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

By Robert R. Provine,

Book cover of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

Why this book?

If you are curious about the ins and outs of why we laugh, this is the book to read. Among other things, it will answer such questions as to why we laugh, is laughter contagious, and has anyone ever died laughing. Written by the world’s leading scientific expert on laughter.

Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

By Robert R. Provine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Do men and women laugh at the same things?
Is laughter contagious?
Has anyone ever really died laughing?
Is laughing good for your health?

Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the world's leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates such aspects of his subject as its evolution, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms, and its health benefits. This is an erudite, wide-ranging, witty, and long-overdue exploration of a frequently surprising subject.


Laughter the Best Medicine: A Laugh-Out-Loud Collection of our Funniest Jokes, Quotes, Stories & Cartoons

By Reader’s Digest,

Book cover of Laughter the Best Medicine: A Laugh-Out-Loud Collection of our Funniest Jokes, Quotes, Stories & Cartoons

Why this book?

It is useless to talk about how humor and how laughter can be therapeutic without experiencing it. I’m therefore suggesting this series of books published by Reader’s Digest. Each one contains 1,000 jokes, quotes, and cartoons. With that many funny things, it is most likely you will find something to tickle your funnybone.

Laughter the Best Medicine: A Laugh-Out-Loud Collection of our Funniest Jokes, Quotes, Stories & Cartoons

By Reader’s Digest,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Laughter the Best Medicine is a collection of Reader's Digest magazine's funniest jokes, quotes, stories, cartoons, anecdotes, and laugh-out-loud captions.  A little chuckle every day will keep the doctor away.

This hilarious collection offers up some of the funniest moments that get us through our day, in the form of jokes, gags and cartoons that will have readers laughing out loud.

Editors have mined the Reader’s Digest archives to bring readers Laughter the Best Medicine, All-Time Faves, a collection of the most hilarious jokes and anecdotes we’ve come across over the years. As you turn the pages of our newest…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in laughter, humour books, and therapy?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about laughter, humour books, and therapy.

Laughter Explore 9 books about laughter
Humour Books Explore 77 books about humour books
Therapy Explore 12 books about therapy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Humor, Seriously, I Heard God Laugh, and Happy Here if you like this list.