The best books on laughter

2 authors have picked their favorite books about laughter and why they recommend each book.

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Laughter

By Robert R. Provine,

Book cover of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

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.


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.”

I Heard God Laugh

By Matthew Kelly,

Book cover of I Heard God Laugh: A Practical Guide to Life's Essential Daily Habit

If all the other books I’ve recommended are like going on a good spiritual retreat, I Heard God Laugh is like hanging out at a backyard barbecue with your favorite neighbor. That’s not to say that Matthew Kelly isn’t a spiritual master (he is), but he writes in a colloquial, friendly style, preferring personal anecdotes and homey little parables over explicit callbacks to Scripture and other Christian mystics. That’s not to say his approach isn’t solidly rooted in the Christian tradition; it is, but here his aim is to encourage the reluctant pray-er by stripping away anything that might get in the way and offering lots of encouragement. Kelly’s approach is most similar to my own; we both have a heart for helping people to begin their conversation with God. As he says, “Once the conversation has begun, it can lead anywhere.”


Who am I?

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up writing so many books about spirituality and religion. I started out in journalism, after all, driven by an endless curiosity about people and the planet. I wanted to tell all the untold stories! Funny thing, chasing those stories deeper and deeper eventually led me to write about spirituality, and ultimately, prayer. I picked up an MA in pastoral ministry, spent a few years editing high school religion textbooks for Saint Mary’s Press, and then started writing my own books. Most of what I write is aimed at helping beginners learn to pray, which is why I made this list.


I wrote...

Imagine You Walked with Jesus: A Guide to Ignatian Contemplative Prayer

By Jerry Windley-Daoust,

Book cover of Imagine You Walked with Jesus: A Guide to Ignatian Contemplative Prayer

What is my book about?

What would it be like to walk with Jesus along the roads and seashores of ancient Palestine…to eat with him, to hear his words, to witness his miracles? For centuries, Christians have “walked with Jesus” through the practice of imaginative prayer. Imagine You Walked with Jesus is your guide to this ancient method of prayer, taking you on a journey through forty Gospel-based encounters with Jesus, from his birth to his resurrection. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you'll immerse yourself in each scene, interacting with Jesus just as his contemporaries did two thousand years ago. And like those men and women of ancient Palestine, you might find these intimate encounters with Jesus leave you forever changed, in ways both healing and hopeful.

Laughter Therapy

By Annette Goodheart,

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

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.


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.”

Anatomy of an Illness

By Norman Cousins,

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

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.


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.”

Humor, Seriously

By Jennifer Aaker, Naomi Bagdonas,

Book cover of Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and How Anyone Can Harness It. Even You.)

Why include a book about humor in a business writing list? Because it can make a major impact on the business environment. This book shares research about how humor influences behavior, affects negotiations, and strengthens bonds. That’s all relevant to the workplace!

You’ll find advice here that might inspire you to infuse a little levity into your emails. And, as you might expect, the book itself is entertaining to read.


Who am I?

After spending years as a freelance writer and content marketer, I turned my attention to exploring the inner workings of why writing works and how it fails. I’m an unabashed nonfiction geek on a mission to help people make a positive impact with their words—whether they’re writing emails, blog posts, or nonfiction books. 


I wrote...

33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails

By Anne H. Janzer,

Book cover of 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails

What is my book about?

Love them or hate them, everyone writes business emails. Too often, we screw them up. We move too fast, leaving out necessary or sending them to the wrong people. Our messages are misunderstood, misfiled, or ignored.

If you do nothing else to improve your business writing, work on your email skills. This short book is stuffed with practical advice and tips you can use immediately. Learn how to rise above the inbox clutter. Your teammates, clients, and everyone will appreciate it. Your career may thank you, too.

Laughter the Best Medicine

By Reader’s Digest,

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

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.


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.”

Now Everybody Really Hates Me

By Jane Read Martin, Roz Chast (illustrator),

Book cover of Now Everybody Really Hates Me

This hilarious picture book makes me laugh out loud every single time I read it, even when I had to read it consecutively to my children during their bedtime. I think humanity is nothing without laughter. Do animals make jokes and laugh? Sometimes we think writing and learning from the accumulation of knowledge is one of the most important human traits, but what about laughter? What about not taking ourselves seriously? What about the ability to poke fun at ourselves and our crazy actions and thoughts? Einstein was definitely a genius and we are all in awe of him, but I think people who can make us laugh are also brilliant. I’m grateful for laugh creators.


Who am I?

Growing up in Iran, I never thought I would one day become an author in a language other than my mother tongue, and live clear across the world from my birthplace. An eclectic assortment of literature, representing core human themes of thinking, love, laughter, and science are subjects that help me bond with my fellow humans. Books have constantly reassured me of our similarities and encouraged me to make connections. The magical threads of our shared humanity are tools which help us thrive in our global village. They remind us we are more similar to one another than we may think.


I wrote...

My Grandma and Me

By Mina Javaherbin, Lindsey Yankey (illustrator),

Book cover of My Grandma and Me

What is my book about?

While Mina is growing up in Iran, the center of her world is her grandmother. Whether visiting friends next door, going to the mosque for midnight prayers during Ramadan, or taking an imaginary trip around the planets, Mina and her grandma are never far apart. At once deeply personal and utterly universal, Mina Javaherbin’s words make up a love letter of the rarest sort: the kind that shares a bit of its warmth with every reader. Soft, colorful, and full of intricate patterns, Lindsey Yankey’s illustrations feel like a personal invitation into the coziest home, and the adoration between Mina and her grandma is evident on every page.

This beautiful ode to family celebrates small moments of love that become lifelong memories.

Be Pregnant

By Eugenia Viti,

Book cover of Be Pregnant: An Illustrated Companion for Moms-To-Be

I’ve never been pregnant before, but Viti’s book is one of the few things I’ve ever read that makes the idea seem appealing. Not because she sugarcoats the rougher parts, but because I now know that if I do get pregnant, I’ll have this hilarious book to keep me company. I’ve shared this book with all my friends who have ever been pregnant, and they agreed that it was a wholly original take on the endeavor. 


Who am I?

I’m a humor writer and stand-up comedian. I spend much of my time trying to get my comedy into the shortest form possible so it can “go viral,” but I’d rather work on projects that have space to breathe, like books. I don’t think enough people appreciate how funny books can be. Often, humor seems like the purview of more visual mediums. However, while books are quieter than TV shows and live performances, they have just as much capacity for humor. When a book truly makes me laugh out loud, I want to tell everyone. And the following five books do.


I wrote...

I'm More Dateable Than a Plate of Refried Beans: And Other Romantic Observations

By Ginny Hogan,

Book cover of I'm More Dateable Than a Plate of Refried Beans: And Other Romantic Observations

What is my book about?

Through hilarious, absurd-yet-relatable short stories, quizzes, over-think pieces, and more, Hogan details every stage of a modern relationship—from meeting on an app to becoming official, to breaking up or getting married, to being single. Find out how to successfully ignore any and all red flags. Take a quiz to see if that anxiety attack you're having means you're in a new relationship or if it's that cold brew you just chugged. Read chilling tales about the unfortunate few who actually did lose their phones (they didn't mean to ghost you, they promise).

Begging to be shared with friends or sat next to your phone full of Tinder notifications, I'm More Dateable than a Plate Of Refried Beans is the ultimate humor book for anyone who is dating or has ever dated.

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