The best short story collections to give you a laugh at the absurdity of human nature

Betty Adams Author Of Humans Are Weird: I Have the Data
By Betty Adams

Who am I?

Humans are absurd. We are. Short stories that present this in a true and honest fashion, without being cruel or vulgar are a rare and delicious gem. In all of these books there is not a single ounce of malice or bitterness. Humans are born, we live, we suffer, and then we die. These books don’t deny this, or ignore it, instead they choose to focus on the funny, the fun, the absurd lives that we live. 


I wrote...

Humans Are Weird: I Have the Data

By Betty Adams, Adelia Gibadullina (illustrator),

Book cover of Humans Are Weird: I Have the Data

What is my book about?

What will our little green friends think of us? Humans are weird, and after the shock of first contact is over the aliens will have to deal with us in all of our absurdity. Star Trek meets Monty Python in this book that explores the strangeness of human nature through the “eyes” of our alien friends. 

This human insists that this broom, identical down to the molecule to every other broom in the base, is the “wrong” broom. That human is getting far too close to the lava for no apparent reason. The other human is humming and literally climbing the walls? Why? Discover the answers along with our confused little friends.

The books I picked & why

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The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

By Patrick F. McManus,

Book cover of The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

Why this book?

The pure and real absurdity of the stories in this book kept me coming back again and again. The cranky old backwoods-man, the paranoid mother, and the hard-as-nails grandmother all felt like real people to me, and you never knew when Strange the dog would show up. Experience the world through the eyes of a child growing up in early 20th-century backwoods America.

The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

By Patrick F. McManus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

America’s “most gifted outdoor humorist” (Detroit Free Press) regales readers with this collection of gut-busting, man vs. nature tales originally published in such magazines as Field & Stream and Outdoor Living.

Patrick F. McManus’s hilarious and comic stories of camping and other nature-oriented activities reach ridiculous proportions in The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. From teaching his stepfather the methods of madness behind farm work through his best friend’s grandmother’s fear of bears, McManus reveals that human behavior is even wilder than the wilderness.


The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

By Erma Bombeck,

Book cover of The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

Why this book?

Life happens. The septic tank overflows. Girls get in fights. Boys track dirt over your best carpet. You are absolutely going to ruin their lives with your attempt to explain the facts of life. Erma Bombeck takes these realities and laughs at them. You can’t help but laugh along with her from her tiny suburban home to her efforts to “forgive her enemies.”

The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

By Erma Bombeck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The “marvelously funny” and much-loved humorist explores the perils of suburban living in this New York Times bestseller (Vogue).
For years, the Bombecks have heard rumors of a magical land called Suburbia where the air is clean, the grass is trimmed, and children don’t risk getting mugged on their walk to school. After watching their friends flee the city for subdivided utopias like Bonaparte’s Retreat and Mortgage Mañana, Erma and her family load up their belongings and cry, “Station wagons . . . ho!” But life on the suburban frontier is not as perfect as they had hoped. The trees…


All Things Bright and Beautiful: The Warm and Joyful Memoirs of the World's Most Beloved Animal Doctor

By James Herriot,

Book cover of All Things Bright and Beautiful: The Warm and Joyful Memoirs of the World's Most Beloved Animal Doctor

Why this book?

To little grade school me this book was high fantasy. A healer with amazing powers walking through another world. A vet doing his rounds in Pre-WWI Yorkshire. I laughed at every absurdity. The poodle that believed she was pregnant. The boxer that wouldn’t stop farting in his high-class lady’s house. Everything made me laugh while transporting me to a world where old men drink pints in pubs while their “wee bron doggie” sits under their stools.

All Things Bright and Beautiful: The Warm and Joyful Memoirs of the World's Most Beloved Animal Doctor

By James Herriot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Things Bright and Beautiful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of All Creatures Great and Small: more true stories of a veterinarian in small-town Yorkshire, England.
  After his first day on the job, James Herriot’s mentor warns him that the life of a country veterinarian is full of small triumphs and big disasters, but that he’d never be bored. From night visits to drafty barns during freezing northern England winters, to the beautiful vitality of rural life in the summertime, to the colorful menagerie of animals—and their owners—that pass through his office, Herriot experiences new challenges and joys every day. In these pages,…


Partners in Crime

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of Partners in Crime

Why this book?

Murder, espionage, and weight loss clinics make up the challenges faced by Tommy and Tuppence in what I consider to be Christie’s most engaging book. The concept of a loving pair getting bored and deciding to use their energy to solve crimes was delightful. Christie takes a long honest look at human nature, and despite the murder and betrayal, laughs, for we are absurd. 

Partners in Crime

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Six short stories from the Queen of Crime, featuring our favourite young detectives, Tommy and Tuppence.

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford were restless for adventure, so when they were asked to take over Blunt's International Detective Agency, they leapt at the chance.

After their triumphant recovery of a pink pearl, intriguing cases kept on coming their way: a stabbing on Sunningdale golf course; cryptic messages in the personal columns of newspapers; and even a box of poisoned chocolates.


Cranford

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Book cover of Cranford

Why this book?

This book truly transported me to another world. We see a glimpse of a time, of a place that dissipated long before our grandparents were born through the eyes of a bemused young woman. Slice of life when it was written these short stories have long since faded into mythology. Life in the town of Cranford is thrown into chaos! An unmarried gentleman has arrived! He is loud. He is friendly! He is...a man. However he does save the life of Betty Barker’s cow, whether or not he intended to. So perhaps he isn’t all that bad. I go back and reread this book more every year. 

Cranford

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Gaskell was a British author during the Victorian era. Gaskell's novels are notable for detailed descriptions of the different classes of society in 19th century Britain. Cranford is a novel about a fictional town modeled closely after one Gaskell was familiar with. The story features a series of episodes in the life of Mary Smith.


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