The best books to make tea shoot out of your nose

Craig Anderson Author Of Level Up
By Craig Anderson

Who am I?

There’s always time for a good laugh, the kind that makes your beverage of choice try to escape out your nostrils. There’s something magical about a book that can make you laugh, because comedy is so personal to each of us. I have a very strange sense of humour. It’s an odd hybrid of British sarcasm, Australian swearing, and Canadian self-deprecation. Because of this, when I find something that clicks and genuinely makes me giggle, I won’t shut up about it. I’ll tell the postman, the pizza delivery person, the police officer who keeps telling me to put trousers on when I’m out in public. Now I’m telling you!

I wrote...

Level Up

By Craig Anderson,

Book cover of Level Up

What is my book about?

Level Up tells the story of what happens when reality breaks and starts following video game rules. Marcus finds himself thrown into familiar situations that poke fun at gaming tropes, all whilst trying to figure out how he can win the game and level up. 

Also, there’s a squirrel called Nutsack. If you stifled a snigger at how immature that name is, you’re the target audience.

The books I picked & why

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Good Omens

By Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Good Omens

Why this book?

I’ve been a Terry Pratchett fan for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall at exactly what age I read my first Discworld novel, but I must have enjoyed it because I promptly devoured the rest of them. You should too!

I appreciate that recommending a 41-book series straight out of the gate may be a tad ambitious. We should probably grab a bite to eat and get to know each other before I shoehorn two years’ worth of reading into your TBR pile.

If you’d prefer to start with a quick snack, Good Omens is a great choice. In this standalone, Terry teams up with the equally fantastic Neil Gaiman. The book follows an angel and demon that conspire to slack off work as much as possible. Who can’t relate to that! It’s packed to bursting with memorable characters and the kind of witty dialogue that results in hot beverages taking the emergency exits.

Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

By Grant Naylor,

Book cover of Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

Why this book?

Don’t worry, I’m not just rattling off books by British writing duos. Except the previous one. And this one. I promise that’s it!

If you’re old(ish) like me, you might have seen the Red Dwarf TV show. I loved it, but I enjoyed the books even more. They follow the story of Dave Lister, a total slob who finds himself floating through space with a small gang of misfits, a hologram, a robot butler, a malfunctioning A.I., and a guy that evolved from cats. Hijinks ensue. The books deal with some really interesting concepts, like time travel, loneliness, and that one person that always drives you up the bloody wall. 

I can still remember reading the last three paragraphs of Chapter 1 for the very first time. I had to stop reading because I was laughing so hard. I can still recite those paragraphs word for word, a quarter-century later. You’ll know which bit I’m referring to when you get there. 

Dungeon Crawler Carl

By Matt Dinniman,

Book cover of Dungeon Crawler Carl

Why this book?

See, I told you I wasn’t only going to recommend British duos!

This is where I tip my hand as a long-time gamer. Dungeon Crawler Carl is in the GameLit genre, which means it blends gaming elements into the story. Sometimes this is done in a very stat-heavy way (which is fine if that’s your jam!) but in DCC, the stats are on the lighter side. It leans into the gaming aspects when Earth gets thrown into utter chaos, followed shortly by being thrown into an actual dungeon, which is also a game show. Matt creates a cast of genuinely funny characters and then throws them into the wackiest situations. It’s hard not to laugh at the insanity of it all, and just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it kicks it up another notch. It takes itself just the right amount of seriously, which makes it all the funnier. All hail Princess Donut!

Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir,

Book cover of Project Hail Mary

Why this book?

This book is a little different from my other recommendations because it’s not satirical. It is however an absolute masterclass in sharp and witty dialogue. One of my favorite tropes is the ‘fish out of water,’ where two people from very different backgrounds are thrown together and expected to communicate. Their misunderstandings make us question our own assumptions and ways of doing things. This book takes that to a whole new level. I adored the back and forth between the two main characters, the banter was top-notch. I enjoyed the book enough to also grab the audiobook, which made me belly laugh several times whilst out walking my dog. My neighbors finally stopped giving me funny looks and now just slowly back away as I cackle gleefully to myself.

Vainqueur the Dragon

By Maxime Julien Durand,

Book cover of Vainqueur the Dragon

Why this book?

This book takes the fish out of water trope I just spoke about in a whole different direction. In Vainqueur, it’s not so much a fish, as a hungry shark that finds itself out of its usual element. 

A dragon wakes up from a lengthy nap and finds that the whole world is now an RPG-style game. It can level up, gain abilities, and accept quests. Thankfully, it’s a bloody big dragon, which makes some of the quests a tad easier to complete.

The dragon really steals the show and behaves exactly as you’d expect a grumpy old murder machine might. The book has wonderful dialogue and a fresh perspective on some of the genre tropes. It’s a nice easy read, with the perfect amount of groveling minions.      

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