The best parody books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about parody and why they recommend each book.

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My Lovely Mamá!

By Mathilde,

Book cover of My Lovely Mamá!

My Lovely Mamá! parodies the decadence and ennui of Bonjour Tristesse. The narrative toys with the sort of decadence Sagan captures, by having Mathilde believe her mother is having an affair and hence attempt, unsuccessfully, to seduce her mother’s lover. The very funny novel hyperbolizes the world-weariness of Sagan’s characters. “I was terribly immature last September,” Mathilde writes, “I’ve aged a lot since then. Inwardly I’m an old, old woman now.” While it parodies certain tropes of teen girl fiction, My Lovely Mamá! nonetheless gives voice to authentic adolescent feelings, especially about sexual desire. When Mathilde receives a marriage proposal, she opts to keep things open-ended, maintaining her freedom: “I was only seventeen and everything was only just beginning, after all.” 


Who am I?

As a feminist and cultural historian, I'm interested in recovering aspects of the past that we have forgotten, especially when the past turns out to challenge our taken-for-granted views. We often have a nostalgic vision of the fifties that portrays our mothers and grandmothers as innocent and naïve. In contrast, we attribute notions of freedom and authenticity to masculine figures like the Beats. When doing research on the film Gidget, and the novel that inspired it, I found myself re-reading these books, all of which suggest in different ways that, long before the sexual revolution, girls were curious, sexually aware, and desiring freedom. These books make me remember how hip those girls could be.   


I wrote...

Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Transmedia Franchise

By Pamela Robertson Wojcik,

Book cover of Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Transmedia Franchise

What is my book about?

Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Media Franchise examines multiple books, films, TV shows, and merchandise that make up the Gidget-verse from the 1950s to the 1980s, arguing that Gidget is an important early transmedia franchise for girls. The book examines how the real-life experience of surfer Kathy Kohner gets turned into first a novel, then a series of feature films, TV series, and made-for-TV movies. The book considers Gidget in various historical contexts, including the rise of surf culture; the rise of California as symbol of middle-class white teen culture; the annexation of Hawaii; the invention of Barbie; and Hollywood’s reluctant shift to making movies for teens. Each Gidget text is also considered in relation to other books, films, and TV shows to show how Gidget shapes the cultural landscape.

Cold Comfort Farm

By Stella Gibbons,

Book cover of Cold Comfort Farm

We are all guilty of taking ourselves too seriously sometimes and Cold Comfort Farm never fails to make me smile. Flora Poste is an unusual and engaging heroine who finds herself in rather desperate personal circumstances but who rises to the occasion magnificently. It is in her nature to straighten out and tidy up messy situations which she does with a breezy, unflappable assurance, seeing straight into the hearts of Cold Comfort Farm’s very mixed and conflicted inhabitants. The book always conveys to me a sense of great optimism and the author’s light touch is wholly admirable. We all need a bit more of Flora Poste in us.


Who am I?

Life has its ups and downs for everyone and we all find ways of coping. Ever since childhood I have dealt with the downs by disappearing into a good book, or making up stories in my head. Time out gives the brain a break from confronting the inevitable bumps in the road, whether simply adapting to a new school or job or facing life’s more serious challenges. Nothing is more consoling than a familiar book with characters you already know. Words on a page paint a picture or kindle an emotion or give a moment’s pause for thought. Connecting to other worlds helps put your own into context, resetting the balances. 


I wrote...

Women of the Dunes

By Sarah Maine,

Book cover of Women of the Dunes

What is my book about?

As an archaeologist myself, I spend a lot of time in the past. As a writer, it became just too tempting to use a story to strip back the layers and expose past misdeeds and long-buried truths. Where better to start, I thought, than with a body discovered in a much more ancient grave mound. And who better to go seeking answers than someone personally invested in the past. The protagonist, Libby Snow, is a young archaeologist who comes to the dramatic west coast of Scotland bringing her field school students, and questions of her own. 

But as Libby peels back the layers of sand and secrets hidden in a Viking’s grave, she uncovers a great more than she had bargained for.

Colony

By Paul R. E. Jarvis,

Book cover of Colony: Life on Mars

Lots of stories are set on Mars, and each author makes the planet their own. I enjoyed how this story picks up steam as malfunctions and irritable colleagues balloon into deadly danger. I can see myself in this near-future crew, and I relate to the characters because they make mistakes as they prepare for the main colony's arrival. I was totally engaged.


Who am I?

Growing up, I loved discovering how things work. That led me to a career in engineering, but I never left a certain quirkiness behind. Why else would I have raised llamas for thirty years? Or loved the stories I find in science fiction? Especially books that start in a real place occupied by believable people, then demand a leap of faith, a reach beyond what's known today. We have so much to learn – about planets and people – that possibilities spiral out into the universe. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.


I wrote...

Glory on Mars: Colonization Book 1

By Kate Rauner,

Book cover of Glory on Mars: Colonization Book 1

What is my book about?

The first settlers on Mars may be the last.

The tiny colony's psychologist just walked out of an airlock, but despite misgivings, Emma Winters takes the one-way journey to Mars. She gave up everything to explore with her walkabout robots, and each of her fellow colonists has a dream that only Mars can fulfill. But as more deaths and illnesses plague humanity's fragile foothold, Emma must discover the truth before the Red Planet kills them all. 

The Cruise of the Talking Fish

By W.E. Bowman,

Book cover of The Cruise of the Talking Fish

W.E. Bowman’s comic novel, The Ascent of Rum Doodle, has achieved a cult status among mountaineers as well as aficionados of spoof adventure stories. But the sequel is much less well-known, and that’s a shame, for it is absolutely its equal in terms of humour and invention and, if anything, even more absurd and fantastical in the development of the plot, which concerns a voyage on a raft (in the manner of Thor Heyerdahl) in search of a fabled school of talking fish. I am convinced that Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns was influenced by Bowman’s work, and if not, then this is a case of great minds thinking alike.


Who am I?

The world is a strange place and life can feel very weird at times, and I have long had the suspicion that a truly imaginative and inventive comedy has more to say about reality, albeit in an exaggerated and oblique way, than much serious gloomy work. Comedy has a wider range than people often think. It doesn’t have to be sweet, light, and uplifting all the time. It can be dark, unsettling and suspenseful, or profoundly philosophical. It can be political, mystical, paradoxical. There are humorous fantasy novels and short story collections that have been sadly neglected or unjustly forgotten, and I try to recommend those books to readers whenever I can.


I wrote...

My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand

By Rhys Hughes,

Book cover of My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand

What is my book about?

A novella that makes use of playful experimental techniques to tell the strange story of an entertainer who specialises in creating rabbits from shadows. He creates twelve special shadow rabbits who communicate with him via stories and poems that are fully contained works but also interact with each other to form a bigger story. These twelve narratives are set in a frame by another story and it turns out that this framing story is also potentially framed in a much larger cosmos. My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand is a fantasy tale, a romance, and an example of philosophical speculative fiction with a humorous slant.

How to Lose All Your Friends

By Nancy Carlson,

Book cover of How to Lose All Your Friends

For ages 4-6, this silly parody of a How-To book gets a laugh from young elementary school children, while also helping them recognize the impact of various common but ungenerous behaviors. It offers backward “tips” such as: “Be a poor sport. When you play tag and someone tags you, lie and say they missed.” Kids enjoy feeling smarter than the book. It ends on a warm note and also prompts children to share their ideas of how to be a good friend.

Who am I?

Growing up, my family moved about every three years, so I became an expert at making friends at a young age! As a clinical psychologist and a mom of four, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with kids about friendship issues. I’ve also studied the scientific research on children’s friendships. I’m a professor for The Great Courses, serve on the advisory board for Parents magazine, and my blog, Growing Friendships on Psychology Today, has over four million views. I’ve written six books for parents or kids about children’s feelings and friendships, and I have two more kids’ books on the way.


I wrote...

Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

By Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Christine McLaughlin,

Book cover of Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

What is my book about?

A funny and useful guide to help children (ages 6-12) build the friendships they crave. It’s filled with cartoons showing common friendship challenges and research-based solutions…plus a silly cat and dog character who make goofy suggestions along the lines of “He should sniff their butts!”

Knuffle Bunny

By Mo Willems,

Book cover of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is more than the story of a child’s missing beloved object. It is about the everyday things that a father and daughter do together. It is about the lengths a dad will go to fix a problem he was slow in figuring out. It is about the love between father and daughter. This story is so relatable, you can’t help but falling in love, and reading over and over with your kids. Or by yourself. Just because.


Who am I?

As a picture book author and mom, I am constantly inspired by the world around me. I love watching my children, and I love how they adore their dad and he adores them in return. So many of my stories have been inspired by their interactions. While I am no expert on fatherhood, I have been fortunate to have had a loving dad who played “Monster in the Middle,” who took us for rides on his motorcycle, and reminded us that we could accomplish anything we put our mind to. I love books that remind us of the power of a loving father-child relationship and hope you, too, will be lifted by these joyful stories.


I wrote...

Help Wanted, Must Love Books

By Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson (illustrator),

Book cover of Help Wanted, Must Love Books

What is my book about?

Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team.

Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

Confined Space

By E.M. Shue,

Book cover of Confined Space: An Everyday Heroes World Novel

Confined Space is a book that clutches your heartstrings, pulling you in, and demanding you find out what secrets Coral is hiding. I love the way that Rowdy loves Coral and wants to protect her. How he wants to give Archer love too and take care of him. Even after the pain, Coral suffers she can find love again and move on.

Who am I?

Everyone wants to find romance. Some of us find it within the pages—or more than once. I also think romance gets a bad rap, but I for one love to fall in love repeatedly. It doesn’t matter if they’re fictional because when you read a story; you get lost in their world, as though you’re their friend, too. That is what I strive for when I write my characters. I write them as someone you could go out for a drink with and just have a good time. However, most of my characters experience life or death situations, but that just makes them stronger in the end, especially when I base them on my real-life experiences like in Tattooed Dots.


I wrote...

Tattooed Dots

By Kimberly Knight,

Book cover of Tattooed Dots

What is my book about?

Easton Crawford put his modeling career before his marriage until it was ending in divorce. Years later, he is finally learning how to be the father his daughter needs him to be. He’s not looking for someone to step into the mother role—just nightly casual hook-ups. When his best friend convinces him that a good way to meet single women is to go on a singles cruise, he finds more than just a one-night stand.

At age thirteen, Brooke Bradley became an adult, raising her younger sister while her mother continually ignored her parenting responsibilities. Since then, Brooke has continued to take care of the people in her life, including her deadbeat boyfriend, Jared. For Brooke’s thirtieth birthday, her best friend surprises her with a cruise but fails to mention it’s a singles cruise. When Brooke meets Easton, the one man willing to be her constant, will she finally find the courage to leave Jared? 

Queen Victoria

By A.E. Moorat,

Book cover of Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter

If you love reading about English royalty and history as I do, then it’s not too hard to let go of reality and let the legendary Queen of England, Queen Victoria, take on an even larger role in her vast empire. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see keep the kingdom free from zombies and demons than a strong-willed Queen willing to vanquish evil with her scepter.


Who am I?

Growing up in Chicago, I’ve always had a fascination for history, (even if it was sometimes a bit gory!), from Capone and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to reading about monsters and the unique worlds created by favorite author Stephen King. So, it’s probably not too surprising that I combined both interests and offered a new solution to the infamous Lizzie Borden axe murders of 1892 in my own book series. I enjoy reading, and writing, the serious to the not-so-serious, often incorporating touches of humor, or at least the absurd, where and whenever I can. 


I wrote...

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter

By C.A. Verstraete,

Book cover of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter

What is my book about?

One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy, and greed. But what if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?

Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them. Read the continuation in Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall!

A Day, a Dog

By Gabrielle Vincent,

Book cover of A Day, a Dog

A book begs you to sit up and take notice when Maurice Sendak writes this cover blurb: “Astonishing drawings!...An entirely unique work of art.” This wordless picture book with remarkable charcoal sketches shows the heartwrenching abandonment of a dog and shocking aftermath. Does the open-ended finale offer a flicker of hope for our canine hero? You decide. No dialogue needed, but this book is sure to spur conversations with young animal lovers (keep tissues handy).

Who am I?

I’ve been speaking up for animals since I learned to talk, and I haven’t shut up yet. My goal in writing books is to enlighten and inspire young readers to have compassion for all creatures great and small while making sure that my own empathy shines through on every page. Kids are thrilled when I bring along my rescued pets—dogs, rabbits, and a chinchilla—to book events, where I spread the “adopt, don’t shop” mantra. After volunteering at animal rescues for 30+ years, I’m excited to see so many pets getting a second chance!


I wrote...

The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-To-Royalty Puppy Love Story

By Nancy Furstinger, Julia Bereciartu (illustrator),

Book cover of The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-To-Royalty Puppy Love Story

What is my book about?

A heartwarming story about a beagle and the Duchess who adopted him, this picture book is inspired by the true story of Meghan Markle and her rescue dog, Guy. When he was a pup, Guy was just like any dog in the shelter; he liked to bark and follow his nose, and dreamed of a forever home above all things. But when Guy met Meghan, he had no idea he was about to star in his own Cinderella story.

This rags-to-riches story of how one regal beagle got a second chance at life is a happily-ever-after tail worth chasing!

The Canterville Ghost

By Oscar Wilde,

Book cover of The Canterville Ghost

Not strictly written for children, this classic parody provides the model for countless hilarious hauntings that have cropped up in children’s books ever since. The style is somewhat outdated but that won’t stop you from enjoying the frustration of 16th century Sir Simon de Canterville meeting his match in the Otises, a no-nonsense 20th century American family. Horrific bloodstains are whisked away by Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent; clanking chains around Sir Simon’s skeletal wrists and ankles are oiled with a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator; and most humiliating of all, the ghost’s bloodcurdling night wanderings are rendered ludicrous by traps created by the young Otis twins, involving buttered staircases and jugs of water over doorframes. 


Who am I?

I write adventure and mystery stories for children aged 9 - 13, involving battles with mythical creatures, dangerous pacts with demons, and other supernatural chills. My first book, Ante’s Inferno, won the People’s Book Prize and a Silver Wishing Shelf Award. For The Fall of a Sparrow, I drew on my love of ghost stories, not just for their scariness but also for their emotional complexity: ghosts don’t haunt just for the sake of it. They need something only the main character can give. Friendship, perhaps, a companion in their loneliness… or something much darker. Here’s my choice of classic stories in which ghosts pursue a wide – and sometimes terrifying – variety of agendas.


I wrote...

The Fall of a Sparrow

By Griselda Heppel,

Book cover of The Fall of a Sparrow

What is my book about?

Desperate to escape her past, 11-year-old Eleanor is sent away to a spooky school run by a mysterious great-aunt she has never met. There she finds herself followed around by a strange, awkward little boy who – to her horror – knows all about her. Who is he, and why won’t he leave her alone? Unravelling the mystery draws her into a dark web of family secrets, luring her into deadly danger. 

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