people laughing

Guest post

7 Reasons Why Funny Writing Is Important

We believe that funny writing is important – it makes people smile, which is our mission at Farrago. We asked Paul Flower, author of The Great American Cheese War and The Great American Boogaloo why he believes funny writing is important.

By Paul Flower
17 November 2022

1. Funny writing makes us laugh

My wife is a retired elementary school teacher. She’s a fan of children’s books, and for Christmas I typically buy her a few new ones to read to our spectacularly advanced grandchildren.

This year’s prize title was I Eat Poop by Mark Pett. I bought it not because the subtitle, “A Dung Beetle Story”, promised keen scientific insight for developing minds.

I bought it because it made me giggle at the thought of this precious next-generation of our clan wanting their parents to read I Eat Poop to them.

It was a form of payback for my kids’ keeping me awake for most of the 1980s and 1990s.

2. It makes important topics easier to digest

Pett’s approach is hilarious and smart. Our grandkids enjoy the book, not because of the seemingly disgusting title. They like it because the humor makes a scientific and ecologically important topic––animal dung––interesting and easier to digest. (Sorry.)

3. Funny writing helps expand our minds

Funny writing makes us laugh at almost any aspect of life. And that’s not just good for our souls; it helps expand our minds, gives us perspective on serious issues, and––if we’re lucky––it can make us shoot milk out of our noses. And who doesn’t love that?

4. Comedy keeps us sane

Also, comedy keeps us sane.

Back when kids were torturing my wife and I with sleep deprivation––and, seriously, it’s awful––someone gave me Babies and Other Hazards of Sex by Dave Berry.

Today, when I encounter a screaming infant, one of the scenes from Barry’s hilarious take on baby-rearing invariably pops into my head.

In it, he describes two parents standing a few feet apart while passing a screaming child back and forth and saying, to paraphrase: “I don’t know, could she be sick?” “Maybe it’s her tummy?” “Do you think it’s an ear infection?” “Maybe it’s nothing. Do you think it’s nothing?”

There aren’t many parents, traumatized by hours of a screaming, miserable newborn, who haven’t played that game.

Barry’s funny version makes his readers feel a little less overwhelmed and, importantly, a lot less alone.

5. It celebrates the wonderfulness of weirdness

At the other end of the comedy spectrum is the wonderful weirdness of David Foster Wallace’s mad masterpiece, the novel Infinite Jest.

At more than 1,000 packed pages (and head-bending footnotes), it’s a dark and brilliant take on America’s infatuation with entertainment, among other themes.

You’ll never read anything that makes you think and laugh so hard, often at the same time.

6. It can hold a deeper meaning

Garrison Keillor’s novels, on the other hand, offer a folksy, American midwestern brand of comedy that sneaks up on readers, as it did on listeners when he hosted “Prairie Home Companion” on National Public Radio.

His tales of life in the mythical town of Lake Woebegon are warm and witty.

But there’s often deeper meaning lurking in the shallows. For instance, he opens his novel Pontoon with: “Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.”

See what he did there? Made you laugh. Made you wonder. Funny writing can do that.

7. There’s lots of funny writing to read

Wander around the Farrago site, and you’ll finds dozens of brilliant examples of funny writing in action.

Do some digging. And some giggling.

Who knows what you’ll discover?

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A Very French Christmas with Ian Moore

A French Christmas with Ian Moore and his family in Loire Valley

Death and Papa Noel with Christmas decorations

With the release of his new Christmas murder mystery, Death and Papa Noël, in hardback we asked Times-bestselling author Ian Moore what a very French Christmas is like at the Moore household.

Ah, the traditions of Christmas chez Moore

Ah, the traditions of Christmas chez Moore. The Radio Times and a highlighter pen, being told to turn off James Brown’s ‘Funky Christmas’ CD, the argument over whether the lights go on the tree before or after the decorations, the children deciding a week before Christmas Day that their current interests are old hat, thereby rendering all unopened presents already obsolete and, of course, huge numbers of Natalie’s family descending on us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Ian Moore with Santa hat
Ian Moore

Growing up, Natalie was always used to big Christmas gatherings hosted by her grandparents and for the last five years we’ve carried on that tradition and have twenty or so guests over the two days of Christmas (they don’t do Boxing Day here, which is a shame as Boxing Day, once the pressure is off, is the best day of Christmas) and I look forward to it.

Christmas Day fare is the usual stuff, turkey and so on, but Christmas Eve has always been my night – a new recipe or a twist on a classic. It’s my chance to show off. I love the planning, the preparation, the cooking and, as a stand-up comedian who just needs to be loved, the ‘applause’. It’s my night and I love it, even the stress. And, as you can imagine, an Englishman cooking for a large number of French people does not come without its pressures.

I love the planning, the preparation, the cooking and, as a stand-up comedian who just needs to be loved, the ‘applause’

Last year, in an act of madness I decided to cook a fish curry. The sheer magnitude of it all only dawned on me mid-afternoon when I was preparing the meal. I broke out into a cold sweat as I realised that I was making a meal I had never cooked before for twenty-odd French gourmets (all French people think they are gourmets) and who, for the most part, had never eaten fish curry. Not only did I not know what I was doing, I did not know what I was doing on a massive scale. And it was fish; I might kill someone!

Thankfully, the meal was a success, but while every child found it difficult to sleep that night in anticipation of Christmas Day, I didn’t sleep either, convinced that I may have started a food poisoning epidemic.

An Englishman cooking for a large number of French people does not come without its pressures

A packet of three andouillette sausages
Andouillettes – not for the faint-hearted!

I had planned a safer menu for this year with a selection of English and French sausages; well the sausages were English but the boudin noir (black pudding) were French and the andouillettes were definitely French.

It’s difficult to describe andouillettes, except to say that they are not for the faint-hearted; they are a local speciality, a large white sausage made up from the parts of animals usually reserved for the strings on tennis rackets or spare patches on a puncture repair kit. Needless to say they are something of an acquired taste and even fans of them very rarely manage a whole one.

All of my planning for this Christmas Eve had been in vain

All of my planning for this Christmas Eve had been in vain, though; I’d been usurped.

Natalie’s grandparents had both died a few years earlier, ‘Papy’ from a long and inevitably doomed battle with cancer and ‘Mamie’ a few months later, officially from an embolism but also because maybe she just wanted to. It happens quite a lot I think, when one half dies after a lifetime spent together – in this case fifty-eight years of marriage – the other finds the physical and mental demands of being alone just too much and it takes its toll.

Their house, a massive, almost Gothic monstrosity on the edge of town had been standing empty ever since, partly due to a very depressed local housing market but also because who in their right mind would want it? It’s on a busy road, opposite a builders’ merchants, next door to a kebab shop, and its rooms are so cavernous that heating alone would cost a fortune.

In the meantime, one of Natalie’s uncles had moved into the empty house and although it was lovely to have family back on our doorstep, to celebrate his move back home and the fact that his boyfriend had moved in with him, they would be doing Christmas Eve.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t upset, but the decision was taken while I was away, possibly quite rightly, that I was strung out enough as it was without hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

To me it just represented another chipping away at my life in France, something else I had to give up

It was a decision taken as much with my interests at heart as anything, but that had never stopped me from throwing my toys out of the pram before and it didn’t this time either.

To me it just represented another chipping away at my life in France, something else I had to give up. It’s inevitable of course; one of the many problems of being away so much is that, certainly on a domestic front, jobs that should be mine have to be done by someone else, and so when I do return, I feel a little left out, a bit spare. Obviously there are jobs that could only ever be mine; despite the harrowing journey back the previous week, the first thing I did when I got in was to start re-arranging the fridge which was frankly, after so long away, an organisational shambles but also the perfect ‘come down’ for an OCD-ridden fruitcake high on caffeine supplements.

A La Mod front cover
À La Mod by Ian Moore (Summersdale)

But it’s the little things. I no longer prepare Natalie’s pre-dinner gin and tonic for instance, that responsibility now lies with Maurice, who clearly has some talent in that area.

The one small advantage of not ‘doing’ Christmas Eve was that I had more time for other things

The one small advantage of not ‘doing’ Christmas Eve was that I had more time for other things. The trampoline that had blown away the previous week needed to be removed from a neighbour’s garden across the road, which was quite some task; I was tackling it truculently and wondering how such a heavy, metal structure could possibly just ‘blow away’ when a passing farmer told me that it was right to get it out of sight, ‘otherwise the Roma might have it away.’

But by now the thing was useless, so in the end I decided to leave it in full view and hope that the local Romani population would indeed live up to their stereotype and ‘have it away’, that’s not me being lazy you understand, that’s just recycling.

My Christmas Eve ‘unemployment’ also meant that everything was ready. The presents were all bought, wrapped and hidden, though Natalie’s was, as ever, a trial as she veered violently between ‘I don’t want you to buy me anything’ and ‘I’d love a Pomeranian puppy’.

The dogs had had their visit to the ‘Doggy Parlour’, a twice-a-year shampoo and set which tends to leave them a bit confused. Natalie had returned from the parlour with horrific tales of what the Spanish do to greyhounds – apparently Sylvie, who owns the parlour, belongs to a rescue charity and greyhound foster home which is good news for greyhounds, but I suspect bad news for me.

Thankfully, Natalie hadn’t returned with an actual greyhound this time, though I feared a New Year Crusade coming on.

My Christmas Eve ‘unemployment’ also meant that everything was ready

C'est Modnifique front cover
C’est Modnifique! by Ian Moore (Summersdale)

She actually missed an opportunity. I was so pleased to be home, so happy to be back, that she could have turned up with half a dozen and I probably would have just laughed it off; I was full of festive spirit. I love being part of big family Christmases. Christmas is a control freak’s time of year: so much to plan, organise and delegate. Orders to be barked, strops to be thrown – I love it. And the boys are obviously excited too. Samuel and I had already done the final big supermarket run.

Orders to be barked, strops to be thrown – I love it. And the boys are obviously excited too. Samuel and I had already done the final big supermarket run.

‘Daddy,’ he asked as we cut a swathe through Christmas- shopping dawdlers, ‘is this shopping list in the same order as the shop layout?’

‘Yes,’ I replied, a touch defensively, ‘otherwise it’s just chaos.’

‘Good,’ he said. ‘It’s the only way.’

He really was becoming more like me, which while no doubt flattering, isn’t necessarily the best way to go for his own sanity. He had even started performing.

I love being part of big family Christmases. Christmas is a control freak’s time of year: so much to plan, organise and delegate

The highlight of this particular Christmas Eve was Samuel and Maurice singing ‘One More Sleep ’til Christmas’ from The Muppet Christmas Carol, which is, in my view, the best Christmas film of all time (sometimes I veer towards It’s A Wonderful Life, but Samuel and Maurice haven’t acted out those scenes yet).

The Muppets Christmas Carol
The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – Ian’s favourite Christmas film

They had secretly been practising for the previous week with Natalie’s dad on guitar and it was tear-jerkingly lovely.

It’s something of a tradition at French family gatherings, or this French family at least, that people get up and ‘do a turn’, something which I know to my cost.

The first time I met Natalie’s extended family (and there are hundreds of them) was at the wedding of an uncle and it was felt that the best way for me to ingratiate myself with the entire clan would be to perform.

This wasn’t my idea obviously – I would have been happy to write a card of introduction and buy each of them a drink, but that wasn’t an option, so I had to sing a song. It was quite, quite terrifying – and long before I’d started stand-up.

The Muppet Christmas Carol… the best Christmas film of all time

Even now I feel like I was the victim of some grand practical joke, part of some elaborate initiation test. I performed a drunken, mumbling rendition of Elvis’s ‘Love Me Tender’ and after that, to most people’s relief, this tradition seemed to fade away.

The fact my eldest children, lovely though their performance was, appeared to be mounting some sort of resurrection of this tradition was a bit worrying and there were some anxious expressions around the table, memories of previous karaoke horrors coming back from the distant past and encouraging some of the more deranged members of the family to insist on doing it every year.

Well, you won’t catch me warbling away, that’s for sure; this Elvis has definitely left the building.

Ian once had to do a rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’ for his French in-laws at Christmas!

Though I bang on about planning and menus and the like, Christmas Day is actually relatively stress-free.

There may be twenty-three people in the lounge, but everybody will have contributed to the meal.

Natalie will have prepared the foie gras, someone else will have brought the oysters and someone else the smoked salmon.

This Elvis has definitely left the building…

Natalie’s mum might have part-cooked the two turkeys, while I prepared the vegetables. Somebody else will have brought the cheese, another the bread. A fruit salad will be rustled up, other homemade desserts will arrive and someone else will have made a Christmas log. Brian, Natalie’s dad, will have baked homemade mince pies and a Christmas cake. Someone will have brought dessert wine (a Jurançon or a Sauternes), someone else the red wine, and there’ll always be bottles of the ‘family’ champagne.

Papy once owned some land in the Champagne region, where he was born, and the ‘new’ owners now provide us with a few cases of the stuff, in what some of the family see as recompense for the underhanded way in which they obtained the land in the first place.

Finally, and after having taste tested various high-class Christmas puddings throughout December, a winner will have been decided upon on and the whole thing will finally be set fire to by someone wobbling after hours of rich food and wine indulgence and wearing a dangerously angled, highly inflammable, paper crown. The children, of course, are spared all this and are excused most of the sitting down; not that they miss any courses.

So everybody does something. It’s obviously one of the signature meals of the year and the French want to be part of the preparation not just the execution, a case of too many cooks definitely not spoiling the broth.

Having said that, though, Christmas Day didn’t start too well for me.

Everything was pretty much under control by midday; presents had been opened, wrapping paper folded up and put away for future use (not my OCD this time, but Natalie’s), the table was laid, the turkey was on, the vegetables were ready to go, teams of oyster-openers were outside in the watery winter sun and already hitting the wine for their trouble.

And then sartorial disaster struck.

Bottle of sauternes next to foie gras on dinner table
Sauternes with foie gras

Christmas Day didn’t start too well for me

I had a chorizo sausage hanging in the larder, drying out for post-Christmas, non-turkey leftover meals; but it was in a precarious position and so really I only had myself to blame.

I reached into the larder without concentrating, not looking at what I was doing, until I felt something fall onto my arm.

It was the chorizo, as yet undried, and my arm was now covered in its oil.

Only it wasn’t just my arm, it was my sleeve. My beautiful new jumper, my heavy wool Breton- style sailing jumper which I had got only that morning was soaked in red chorizo juice; I looked like I’d been shot.

Of all the potential Christmas calamities that could have befallen me – like undercooking the turkey, dropping the champagne, leaving the cats in charge of the smoked salmon – there is absolutely nothing worse for a mod than gaudy coloured sausage juice on your new sweater.

chorizo sausage on cutting board with knife
Ian had a bit of a chorizo-related nightmare!

Now, I like swearing and I think there’s an art to it; those who say that it’s neither big nor clever or that it shows a lack of vocabulary haven’t heard it done properly and are also cutting themselves off from the most vibrant and organic parts of language.

Badly timed, unnecessary swearing is crude and jarring, but when your best jumper has just been covered in spicy oil there is an opportunity for some really inventive expletives.

I like swearing and I think there’s an art to it

I prefer the use of alliterative word plus friendly word juxtapositions and Christmas time offers a whole range of opportunities for the switched-on potty mouth.

I was in the larder for a good couple of minutes, giving it the full invective, and eventually emerged to find everybody standing there, open-mouthed, staring at me.

The look on their faces was a mixture of shock and awe, like a particularly well-endowed streaker had just skipped through the kitchen.

Most of them weren’t even aware of what I was saying, but when such venom and poison are spouted, clearly the actual language element is no barrier. So I scurried back to the vegetables and pretended nothing had happened.

My favourite part of Christmas Day has always been the turkey and stuffing sandwiches in the evening

Personally my favourite part of Christmas Day has always been the turkey and stuffing sandwiches in the evening but that’s not really an option in France, not unless I eat them before we actually finish dinner.

The meal lasts all day and it’s not difficult to see why: firstly, there are about ten courses, each demanding a different wine, and each course is ambled through – there is no rushing here.

A turkey and stuffing sandwich cut in half
Turkey and stuffing sandwiches in the evening – Ian’s favourite part of Christmas Day

Each new plate seems to set off another philosophical debate or moral dilemma which must be debated at full volume. Nothing passes at the Christmas table without comment or counter comment, nothing.

And just when you think things may be flagging another course is introduced (the turkey was the sixth course to arrive) and if conversation gets a little dull, things are always easily livened up with a cracker.

The French, unsurprisingly, don’t do crackers; it’s a distraction from the important job at hand, which is eating.

Most of Natalie’s family are aware that Christmas at our house is an Anglo-French affair, the Anglo bits are Stilton, Christmas pudding, crackers and the music, and the French bits are everything else.

Watching a novice Frenchman having a cracker explained to him then by another equally sceptical Frenchman is a bit like watching two Americans discuss the rules of cricket.

The French, unsurprisingly, don’t do crackers

Death and Papa Noël with bespoke Christmas cracker set
Death and Papa Noël-inspired Christmas cracker set

‘We pull these things as we sit down to eat.’ ‘Why?’

‘Er…’

And you know that at this point he wants to say, ‘Because it keeps Ian and his kids happy. Just do it, for God’s sake, don’t set him off.’

‘And we have to wear this paper thing?’ ‘I’m afraid so.’

‘Why have I got a luminous paperclip?’ ‘Ah, foie gras! Thank God.’

I’m not going to defend any of the ‘jokes’ in the crackers. Most sentient English folk read them, groan and move on. But watching a clutch of French people cope with crackers while already having been through a good portion of champagne, oysters, sweet white wine and a full-bodied Burgundy is funny enough in itself.

‘OK, OK, I ’ave one. Oo ’elps a rabbeet get dressed?’ one of the throng asked to uninterested silence.

‘An idiot!’ someone said after a while.

‘Rabbeets don’t wear the clothes! Is eet a reedle?’ another said, a response that set off a flurry of philosophical debate about what constitutes a riddle.

Then came the punch-line: ‘An ’are-dresser. Sorry. A hare dresser.’

Silence.

The French don’t get sillier the more they drink, they get more earnest

‘I don’t get it,’ someone else said, and then came a number of explanations, all of them giving the rather tired pun far more gravitas than it deserved.

The French may love their slapstick and puns of their own, but there is simply no room, it seems, for frivolity at the dinner table.

The French don’t get sillier the more they drink, they get more earnest.

Christmas cracker jokes
The French aren’t really in to Christmas cracker jokes!

When at last it was explained that it is just a joke, a deliberately poor one as is traditional in crackers, a few of them looked at me, clearly bridging the gap between a joke in a cracker and my job as a stand-up comedian, holding me responsible for this nonsense and wondering just how secure my children’s future really is if it’s built on this sort of flimsy, substandard punnery.

Eventually, sated enough to render turkey and stuffing sandwiches unnecessary, we all retired to the living room and flaked out like a pride of lions after a particularly good kill.

Natalie, having put my injured sweater in to soak earlier, emerged from the bathroom with it miraculously restored to its former glory and I felt magnanimous or festive enough to allow even the cats and dogs in to join us.

Immediately Flame jumped on me and settled on to my chest as he usually does, started doing that non- claw pawing that cats do, purring heavily and then – as apparently male cats are wont to do – sprayed the foulest excretion this side of a dirty protest in a Bangkok prison cell all over my bloody jumper!

Christmas at our house is an Anglo-French affair, the Anglo bits are Stilton, Christmas pudding, crackers and the music, and the French bits are everything else

Death and Papa Noël by Ian Moore (Farrago)

UK only.

Available on all devices.

Like I said, this family likes a performance at a gathering and they got a full five minutes of juicy Anglo-Saxon of the kind that some people would happily pay for. Quite magnificent swearing, to add to the already impressive effort I had made in the larder earlier.

It had been a long day and as Natalie and I put Maurice to bed the excitement he was still feeling, as children do for the whole of the Christmas period, was still very much there.

We talked for a bit about his presents and what, inevitably, he wanted next year and he began to drift off. I got up and went to switch his light off and then he said sleepily, ‘Daddy, what’s a festive-feline-fuck-knuckle?’

Natalie looked at me aghast. ‘Right,’ she said, ‘there have to be some changes around here.’

[This extract was taken from Chapter 11 of À La Mod: My So-Called Tranquil Family Life in Rural France by Ian Moore with permission of Summersdale Publishers]

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Top 10 Funny Books brought to you by comedian and bestselling author Ian Moore. Want to find the funniest books of all time? Who better to suggest than one brilliantly funny comedian who has successfully translated laughter from the stage to the page.

Twenty-six years I’ve spent as a stand-up comedian.

I have performed all over the world, in cities, tiny villages, war zones, on boats, on beaches and one time, in a hotel suite in front of seven Harley-Davidson executives. It wasn’t the only gig I’ve done that felt more like a hostage situation. I’ve played to royalty, politicians, powerful CEOs, criminals, footballers, nurses, Freemasons, and an entire audience in Bahrain that spoke no English at all.

The fact that I have kept that going for twenty-six years means that you would think I’d know something about ‘funny’. Now, what I have also learned in half a century of wider experience is that ‘nobody knows nothing’, especially when it comes to comedy.

‘Nobody know nothing’, especially when it comes to comedy

It is that most subjective of things, and there can be absolutely no universal agreement, so don’t let anyone tell you that something is empirically funny and that if you don’t agree you are simply wrong and boneheaded. This goes for stand-up, screen comedy, TV and film, and theatre.

In my opinion, it’s even more so for books.

You imbibe the humour in books differently, you read the words, you re-read the words (repetition and scrutiny are the death knell for humour) and then you can take your time to decide whether it is funny or not.

You might not agree with my personal list of Top 10 funny books

Or, it hits you immediately on a gut level and you just can’t help yourself and that is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve with prose.

What I’m saying is, you might not agree with my personal list of Top 10 funny books – and that is your absolute right – because frankly five minutes after writing this, I will probably have changed my mind anyway.

Ian Moore

Ian Moore’s Top 10 Funny Books

1. The Code of the Woosters

P. G. Wodehouse

Everybody starts a list like this by cutting off dissenters at the pass and saying ‘in no particular order’… and that is true for this list of Top 10 funny books, except for the number one spot.

P. G. Wodehouse is utterly peerless in the art of comic writing. Anything before him wasn’t as good, and anything after him owes him at least a passing nod if not an enormous debt of gratitude.

The Code of The Woosters is the very best of a quite phenomenal output, and if you don’t agree you are simply wrong and boneheaded.

2. Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher

The late Carrie Fisher’s autobiography is one of the rawest, most heartfelt and honest memoirs I have ever read.

It is also the funniest and therefore sits confidently in spot number two of my Top 10 funny books. She talks about her life constantly teetering on the edge of sanity and addiction and often falling over that edge. Fisher pulls absolutely no punches at all and does so with an acerbic, self-deprecating humour that at times will have you wincing, then laughing and then shaking your head in admiration.

It is brutally funny and drops so many names it’s like an A-Z of pop culture.

3. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4

Sue Townsend

Along with Douglas Adams, the modern comic writing behemoth.

I was 12 years old, I read it and two things struck me. First, Adrian is a bit of a berk and secondly, how is this woman in my head?!

As with Carrie Fisher the humour comes through excruciating situations and the human response to them. Knowing that that human is basically you is very painful indeed, but absolute comic genius.

4. The Thin Man

Dashiell Hammett

I’ve always loved the The Thin Man film series, William Powell and Myrna Loy firing snappy dialogue at each other. They are timeless although the first one was made fully eighty-six years ago.

What I didn’t know was how much of that dialogue was lifted directly from Hammett’s book. I thought it was a Hollywood-ized version of a more hardboiled noir. It isn’t.

All the fun and humour are in the original and yet the mystery is top notch too. This has to be an absolute basic of ‘comedy’ thriller writing: it must work as a comedy on its own and as a thriller on its own.

5. Catch 22

Joseph Heller

Humour doesn’t get much darker than this and yet while dealing with massive existential subjects like war, fear and greed Joseph Heller absolutely nails it.

This is a book peopled by grotesques in a grotesque world, all except Yossarian who tries to plead insanity to be sent home.

Only there’s the catch, only a sane man would claim insanity in a war… At times it’s a painful read, but also another work of comic genius that belongs in my Top 10 funny books list.

6. The Wimbledon Poisoner

Nigel Williams

I’ve tried to concoct this list from books as I remembered them. I haven’t gone back to re-read or do a load of research. I wanted it to be honest – books that made me laugh, that stay with you because of that.

Nigel Williams was my favourite author for a while. His novels, mostly set in London SW19 were brilliant portraits of apparent suburban mundanity but with a wicked sense of humour and again great plots.

It left a big impression on me of what life I eventually wanted. Not to be a suburban murderer of course, but a comic writer. Then, he just stopped writing books and that’s a big shame.

7. Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective

Leslie Thomas

Another one dredged up from the deep recesses of memory. It was another inspiration for me.

Comedy writing doesn’t have to be about big themes and grand thoughts, it’s about detail. Successful stage stand-up comedy largely is about observation, taking a detail that the audience knows all about and extending it, sometimes only slightly, and mining for the humour.

A run-down, bottom of the pile detective is perfect fodder for that.

8. Going Off Alarming

Danny Baker

As I say, I have tried to do this from memory, but I think the specific incident I’m talking about is from Danny Baker’s second autobiographical instalment. It involves a caravan and kept me in laughter tears for a full week.

As I said earlier it is mighty difficult to create a laughing gut reaction in prose, but Baker does this ridiculously often through three volumes of his memoirs.

And if you think three volumes is putting on some side, read them. There is nothing wasted here – what a memory, what a life, what a storyteller.

9. Heartburn

Nora Ephron

There’s a connection here with Carrie Fisher in that Nora Ephron wrote When Harry Met Sally and Carrie was in that film.

This is a ‘fictional memoir’, but like Fisher’s it is brutally, honestly written and concerns the breakup of Ephron’s marriage to Carl Bernstein when she was pregnant.

In all my time as a stand-up there is a common complaint, and it comes frighteningly often from women, that women ‘just aren’t funny’. You really are wrong and boneheaded if you carry that around with you. This is wonderfully funny, moving, superb and thoroughly deserves a spot in the Top 10 funny books selection.

10. Me, Cheeta: The Autobiography

James Lever

I didn’t know whether to love this or hate it when I first read it. It tramples all over my Golden Age Hollywood sacred ground.

This is written from the point of view of a chimpanzee, a lucky chimpanzee, wrenched from his mother in the jungle but who ends up in Hollywood playing in the Jonny Weismuller Tarzan films.

It is a wonderfully caustic view of entitled human behaviour that never drags.

Enjoy Ian Moore’s Top 10 Funny Books? Try out his bestselling Follet Valley murder mystery series set in rural France, perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Janice Hallett, or MC Beaton.

Death and Croissants

A Follet Valley Mystery (Book 1)

death and croissants ian moore

Richard is a middle-aged Englishman who runs a B&B in the fictional Val de Follet in the Loire Valley. Nothing ever happens to Richard, and really that’s the way he likes it.

One day, however, one of his older guests disappears, leaving behind a bloody handprint on the wallpaper. Another guest, the exotic Valérie, persuades a reluctant Richard to join her in investigating the disappearance.

Richard remains a dazed passenger in the case until things become really serious and someone murders Ava Gardner, one of his beloved hens… and you don’t mess with a fellow’s hens!

Death and Fromage

A Follet Valley Mystery (Book 2)

A scandal erupts in the nearby town of Saint-Sauver when its famous restaurant is downgraded from three ‘Michelin’ stars to two. The restaurant is shamed, the town is in shock and the leading goat’s cheese supplier drowns himself in one of his own pasteurisation tanks. Or does he?

Valérie d’Orçay, who is staying at the B&B while house-hunting in the area, isn’t convinced that it’s a suicide. Despite his misgivings, Richard is drawn into Valérie’s investigation, and finds himself becoming a major player.

Praise for the Follet Valley Mystery series

‘Very funny… Fantastique!’
Adam Kay
‘Joyous!’
Alan Carr
‘Ian Moore is a brilliant, funny writer’
Josh Widdicombe

More posts

The Truth About Writing and Comedy

If you find reading comedy difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy. You just haven’t found the right funny book for you. But what about writing comedy? We asked the author of the witty Mathematical Mystery series, Jonathan Pinnock.

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Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

We’ve selected twenty of the funniest books out there. Books that make you smile, snort, splutter, cackle, howl, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, roar, bust a gut, snigger, giggle, and have your sides splitting like never before.

death and croissants inspiration

Death and Croissants – l’inspiration

Death and Croissants has inspired many readers, including us. So, we turned it around and asked comedian and bestselling author Ian Moore… “What inspired you?”

bill fitzhugh the unlawful birth of rick shannon

The Unlawful Birth of Rick Shannon

How do you write a crime story? Commit a crime yourself, apparently! Well, that’s what award-winning author of eleven or so comic and satiric crime novels Bill Fitzhugh is saying.

The Comedy Short Story Prize

The first award celebrating the funniest short story writing by women

In partnership with Comedy Women in Print (CWIP)

Farrago has joined forces with Helen Lederer’s game-changing Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) to curate The Comedy Short Story Prize, the first award celebrating the funniest short story writing by women. The shortlisted entries will also be published by Farrago, the home of humorous fiction, in a special anthology in September 2023.

This is the newest addition to CWIP’s annual published and unpublished prizes and is set to showcase even more of the wittiest wit written by women – this time in a shorter form of between 5,000-15,000 words per story.

These celebrated writers will be welcomed into the CWIP family which already hails Dolly Alderton, Jesse Sutanto, Nina Stibbe, Laura Steven, and Candice Carty-Williams as celebrated alumni. Honorary awards received by Ruth Jones, Meera Syal, Jilly Cooper, and Deborah Frances-White both support and recognise the world of witty writers.

CWIP, now in its fourth successful year, recognises, celebrates, and encourages witty women authors. The Unpublished Comedy Novel prize each year is a book deal with HarperCollins. The Longlist for all categories will be announced on 14 December 2022 and the Shortlist on 22 February 2023. Recent judges have included Maureen Lipman, Lolly Adefope, and Joanne Harris. Earlier judges included Marian Keyes, Joanna Scanlan, Pauline McLynn, and Shazia Mirza. The winners will be revealed with much laughter and irreverence at the Groucho Club on the 17 April 2023.

The competition is open to female (identified) authors, including non-binary, writing in the English language, of any nationality over the age of 18 on the closing date: 14 October 2022. Writers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to enter. There is no fee to enter.

All shortlisted authors for the Comedy Short Story prize will receive from Farrago £100, and the winner will be awarded a further £1,000.

Submissions for the award open 5 September. For more details and full terms and conditions visit the website www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk.

More posts

The Truth About Writing and Comedy

If you find reading comedy difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy. You just haven’t found the right funny book for you. But what about writing comedy? We asked the author of the witty Mathematical Mystery series, Jonathan Pinnock.

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

We’ve selected twenty of the funniest books out there. Books that make you smile, snort, splutter, cackle, howl, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, roar, bust a gut, snigger, giggle, and have your sides splitting like never before.

Death and Fromage

(A Follet Valley Mystery, Book 2)

Ian Moore

PRAISE FOR IAN MOORE AND THE FOLLET VALLEY SERIES

‘Joyous’ ALAN CARR

‘Fantastique!’ ADAM KAY

‘A writer of immense wit and charm’ PAUL SINHA

‘Ian is one of my favourite writers’ JANEY GODLEY

‘Ian Moore is a brilliant, funny writer’ JOSH WIDDICOMBE

‘Very funny indeed’ MILES JUPP

‘Ian is a master of wit on stage, and he has translated that to the page brilliantly’ ZOE LYONS

‘Good food and a laugh-out-loud mystery. What more could anyone want in these dark times?’ MARK BILLINGHAM

‘Like going on a joyous romp through the Loire valley with Agatha Christie, PG Woodhouse and MC Beaton. A delight’ C. K. MCDONNELL

‘A relentless rollercoaster ride of laughs and twists’ MATT FORDE

‘Sharp, slick and surprising – like the author himself – Loire Valley’s answer to Murder on the Orient ExpressCALLY BEATON

‘Funny, pacy and very entertaining’ ROBIN INCE

‘In Richard, Ian Moore has created the perfect hero for our times – a man who just wants to be left alone, but life has other, stranger, funnier ideas’ EDDIE ROBSON

death and fromage
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Funny Sci-fi Books: Why You Should Read Them

dune book

A few serious reasons why you should have more funny sci-fi books in your life

A lot of people I know struggle to see the funny side of space and sci-fi books. Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of aliens, or dark and distant planets. Perhaps they’ve never seen Elon Musk’s hair plugs up close. Yet when it comes to science fiction, many of us seem to think dark and serious books and films are ‘proper’ works of the imagination and anything set in space that contains jokes is a tentacle’s breadth from being Jar Jar Binks.

I’d challenge people to reconsider this and embrace funny science fiction – and this isn’t only because I write it. This is because, as the OG daddy of psychology, Sigmund Freud, pointed out, there’s little trivial about making someone laugh. Humour can do far more than bring us happiness (which is obviously important when we’re looking for our next read). Used in the right way it can also help us to confront and work through the things we repress in ourselves and stigmatise in others. As such it’s an immensely powerful tool for science fiction authors like me because it lets us manoeuvre readers into a place where we can explore dense and difficult ideas in a way that feels lighter than the atomic weight of helium.

Including for Kindle

This is what I set out to do when I started writing my Battlestar Suburbia series, the third of which, Sashay to the Centre of the Earth is out now. Yes, I wanted to use these books as a means of writing jokes about Internet culture and what might happen if smartphones ever worked our they were smarter than their owners. Yet I also wanted to explore how we, as people, struggle against and hopefully overcome forces like social inequality, environmental disaster and the threat of war. (If this is sounding a bit like the news, this was intentional).

I’m far from alone in this, however. For decades, authors of science fiction have used the way that laughter can also make us look at things differently to say something profound about the way we live now. And quite a few of them have also been far more successful than writers of so-called serious fiction in guessing the direction that the future might take.

So if you’re convinced that maybe it’s time to take put more funny science fiction on your TBR pile, here are a few suggestions that will make you think as much as they make you laugh.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams’ book follows Arthur Dent as he and the people around him search for the answer as to why the meaning of life was “42”. Yet as enjoyable as the plot is, the star of this novel is the book within the book.

As an infinite repository of knowledge (much of which is apocryphal) that you can hold in your hand the Hitchhiker’s Guide is an eerily accurate prediction of the Internet, right down the sense of possibility and panic it instils in every reader.

best sci fi books

Ubik

Philip K. Dick

We mainly know Philip K. Dick from the gorgeous but ultra-serious Bladerunner, which was adapted from his novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. But Dick’s humorous work is also entertaining, offering a roaring critique of how technology would strip us of power by offering convenience.

In this book, the hero is trapped in his own apartment by a ‘smart’ door who refuses to open until it gets paid three cents. It’s a frothy, often absurd read but, if you’ve ever stood there in the dark for minutes at a time pleading for Alexa to turn on the lights, you will also know that making a home smart just means giving Jeff Bezos the key to your front door.

Space Opera

Catherynne M. Valente

Pop music is a political business. Just ask all those people who upset K Pop fans on the Internet last year. Or the British public, who have sent everyone from Bonnie Tyler to Engelbert Humperdinck to bat for them at the Eurovision Song Contest only to limp home with little more than ‘nil’ points year after year.

In this book, Valente explores the healing power of art, the self-loathing that lies at the heart of every artist and the heady ridiculousness of geopolitics through the lens of an intergalactic song contest that may or may not be based loosely on Eurovision. Read it with Steps in your head and Brexit in your heart.

snow crash

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson must be pissed. In this 1994 dystopia he was decades ahead of technology in imagining a world in which people increasingly lived most of their lives in a virtual online space as ‘meatspace’ outside descends into a hell of anarchy and hyper-capitalism. The name he gave to this world: the Metaverse.

I sincerely hope Mark Zuckerberg is paying Stephenson royalties for the embarrassment he’s causing, both to him and his work. In any event, however, this is a great book and well worth your time.

Chris McCrudden was born in South Shields (no, he doesn’t know Cheryl) and has been, at various points in his life, a butcher’s boy, a burlesque dancer and a hand model for a giant V for Victory sign on Canary Wharf. He now lives in London and, when not writing books, works in PR, so in many ways you could describe his life as a full-time fiction.

Follow Chris on Twitter.

More posts

The Truth About Writing and Comedy

If you find reading comedy difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy. You just haven’t found the right funny book for you. But what about writing comedy? We asked the author of the witty Mathematical Mystery series, Jonathan Pinnock.

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

We’ve selected twenty of the funniest books out there. Books that make you smile, snort, splutter, cackle, howl, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, roar, bust a gut, snigger, giggle, and have your sides splitting like never before.

More Chris McCrudden

Battlestar Suburbia
(Book 1)

“Festooned with cunning punnery, sharp turn of phrase”

Financial Times

Including for Kindle

Battle Beyond the Dolestars
(Book 2)

“A comic novel of our times”

James Lovegrove

Including for Kindle

Including for Kindle

Myths about New Year reading resolutions

Isabel Rogers

Myths about New Year reading resolutions

Isabel Rogers, author of the wonderfully bonkers Stockwell Park Orchestra series, debunks the myth of the January urge to purge and provides us with an alternative New Year’s resolution list – a reading one!

“All those ads for ‘New Body, New You’ start to niggle”

We’ve all done it.

After you’ve hoovered the last crushed Terry’s chocolate orange segment from under the sofa before the dog gets to it and you all have to traipse to the vet for his special charcoal vomiting cocktail (sorry — I’m having a flashback to Christmas Past), your January mind turns to self-improvement.

All those ads for ‘New Body, New You’ start to niggle. It’s no matter those same ad pushers were, a mere fortnight earlier, telling you “MORE CHOCOLATE NEEDED”. Hush. They don’t want us to remember.

“So, you buy a gym membership”

So, you buy a gym membership.

You nearly dislocate a shoulder trying to get your juicer out of the twirly kitchen corner cupboard where you shoved it last February.

Yoga classes, but with meerkats. Goats are so last year darling.

This year, your Apple watch shall think you worthy.

This year will be different.

The January urge to purge sometimes extends to your mind.

A detox for a syrupy winter diet of cosy mysteries (another yacht, Mr Osman?) or escapist crime.

Surely this is the year when you finally master philosophy, putting the can into Kant and nailing down with certainty exactly which consonant comes next in Nietzsche’s name.

“I’m here to tell you — stop. Relax.”

I’m here to tell you — stop. Relax.

We’ve made it through the scariest couple of years any of us can probably remember.

By all means do mental crunches on weighty academic tomes, but you are allowed to leaven it with stuff you enjoy.

Here are my ten reading resolutions.

Ten reading resolutions:

1. Never be tempted into calling them ‘bookish’ resolutions.

2. If your To Be Read pile is teetering with stern hardbacks, sneak a cheeky Farrago paperback in there too (why yes I’m biased).

3. Ask your friends what the last book was that made them laugh. If you’ve already read it and agree, laugh with them. If not, buy or borrow it and cultivate new laughter lines.

4. Tell your friends what the most recent book is that made you laugh. Insist they read it too.

5. Always believe reviews that tell you to put hot drinks down before you read that book. Nobody wants bedtime hot chocolate all over your duvet just because of uncontrollable giggling.

6. If you prefer Netflix, that’s ok.

7. If you think you prefer Netflix, imagine who would be cast in the film of your current book. (I have lost hours to this daydream and have no regrets.)

8. Eschew guilt about not reading enough. There is no point. I love my online friends and wouldn’t be without them for the world. Books will always wait for you.

9. Re-read. Find comfort in the familiar. What you think are the same words may take you by surprise.

10. Get yourself a wind-up torch. Appreciate the reliability of a paper book. Even in a January storm’s power cut, there will be a story for company.

I hope 2022 will be better for all of us.

Isabel Rogers writes poetry and fiction, but never on the same day. She won the 2014 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, was Hampshire Poet Laureate 2016, and her debut collection, Don’t Ask, came out in 2017 (Eyewear). Life, Death and Cellos is her first novel to be published.

She had a proper City job before a decade in the Scottish Highlands, writing and working in the NHS. She now lives in Hampshire, laughs a lot, and neglects her cello. She is on Twitter @Isabelwriter.

Isabel Rogers author

The Stockwell Park Orchestra series

Including for Kindle

life death and cellos isabel rogers

Life, Death and Cellos

The Stockwell Park Orchestra is in trouble – could this be their final performance?

Including for Kindle

bold as brass isabel rogers

Bold as Brass

An orchestral project to spread community harmony threatens to do quite the opposite…

Including for Kindle

continental riff isabel rogers

Continental Riff

An orchestral tour of Europe doesn’t go quite as planned!

Including for Kindle

the prize racket isabel rogers

The Prize Racket

With a huge reward on the line, the Stockwell Park Orchestra will need to play on a whole new scale to win.

Including for Kindle

More posts

The Truth About Writing and Comedy

If you find reading comedy difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy. You just haven’t found the right funny book for you. But what about writing comedy? We asked the author of the witty Mathematical Mystery series, Jonathan Pinnock.

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

We’ve selected twenty of the funniest books out there. Books that make you smile, snort, splutter, cackle, howl, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, roar, bust a gut, snigger, giggle, and have your sides splitting like never before.

Top 20 Funny Books You Must Read

Top-20-Funny-Books-You-Must-Read-death-and-croissants-ian-moore-banner

Why aren’t you reading more funny books?

Writing funny books isn’t easy. But what about reading them?

Whether it’s satire, cozy mystery, feel-good romance, comic sci-fi, social comedy, or just generally witty reads, funny books have arguably never captured people’s attention in the same way that films, TV series, and comedy gigs have.

‘Why?’ – you may ask. Maybe reading funny books isn’t as easy as watching funny people on a screen or a stage? Perhaps comedy is more accessible, or acceptable, when you’re sharing laughter with others? If you’re thinking ‘yeah, they’re good points, Farrago’ or ‘wow, Farrago, you’re so deep’ then give yourself a slap. The real answer: you’re not reading the right books.

A truly funny book will have you howling on the bus, giggling in the doctor’s waiting room, crying with laughter in McDonalds, inadvertently spitting coffee at your partner as they lay next to you in bed, or – something we find super cute – catching yourself smiling when you least expect it. Put simply, a genuinely comical book will make you laugh whether you want to or not.

Reading funny books is easy, you just need to find the right one for you.

That’s where we can help. We’ve selected twenty of the funniest books out there. Books that make you smile, snort, splutter, cackle, howl, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, roar, bust a gut, snigger, giggle, and have your sides splitting like never before

Social Comedies

Some of the best comedies are simply those about the different lives we choose to lead.

1. A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

Is Ove is the grumpiest man in the world? He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, and shop assistants who talk in code. In the end, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible…

A bittersweet delight, Fredrik Backman’s heartwarming debut is a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step.

Follow the author on Twitter.

Man called over front cover
Grown Ups Marian Keyes cover

2. Grown Ups

Marian Keyes

Described by the Guardian as “comic, convincing and true”, Marian Keyes’ Grown Ups is a clever and honest look at family relationships – secrets, betrayal, turmoil, the whole shebang.

This subtle and sophisticated saga centres around the Casey brothers – Johnny, Ed and Liam – and their glamorous partners, whose experiences encompass life at its most painful, occasionally joyful, and dull.

Follow the author on Twitter.

3. The Flatshare

Beth O’Leary

Shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020

Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met…

“Bright, feel-good and quirky” (Irish Times), Beth O’Leary’s wonderfully uplifting debut is a spirited concoction of comic misunderstanding and endearing romance between two residents of the same flat who happen to have never met.

Visit the author’s website.

The Code of the Woosters cover

4. The Code of the Woosters

P. G. Wodehouse

In this classic piece of Wodehouse silliness, Bertie Wooster, his formidable Aunt Dahlia and (obviously) Jeeves scheme to steal an 18th-century cow-creamer during a weekend party at an English country house.

“Flexible, fresh and fun” (Guardian), The Code of the Woosters fizzes with memorable characters, ingenious slapstick, preposterous plots and nostalgic settings. Cow-creamers, Aunts and ersatz Fascists combine to create a sublime slice of classic Wodehousian farce.

5. Mr Finchley Discovers His England

Victor Canning

In Mr Finchley Discovers His England, Mr Edgar Finchley, aged 45, is told to take a holiday for the first time in his life. He decides to go to the seaside. But fate has other plans in store…

Victor Canning‘s gentle comedy was a runaway bestseller on first publication in the 1930s, has been dramatized twice for BBC Radio, and retains a timeless appeal today.

Cozy Mysteries

Cozy crime comes in all shapes and forms. Here’s a few classic, funny cozies – perfect reading for an evening on the sofa, with Kindle in one hand and a glass of wine (or bottle, we don’t judge) in the other.

Thursday Murder Club cover

6. The Thursday Murder Club

Richard Osman

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards Crime & Thriller Book of the Year 2021

From the creator of popular BBC quiz show Pointless, this bestselling “cozy crime caper” (Guardian) sees amateur sleuths in an upmarket retirement village investigate a murder a bit too close to home…

One for cozy crime readers who are fans of mysteries laced with killer one-liners and artfully constructed twists.

7. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

M. C. Beaton

M. C. Beaton is one of the finest modern proponents of light-hearted, village whodunnits and the first of her Agatha Raisin books finds our eponymous sleuth moving to the Cotswolds and promptly being arrested for murder.

Written with great charm and ingenious plotting Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is just one “delicious romp” (Publishers Weekly) in what really is a wonderfully entertaining series.

Discover the TV series.

picture miss seeton heron carvic cover

8. Picture Miss Seeton

Heron Carvic

The classic British cosy mystery series from Heron Carvic – Meet Miss Emily Seeton, an art teacher with an unexpected talent…

“A most beguiling protagonist” (New York Times), Miss Seeton steps in where Scotland Yard stumbles. Armed with only her sketch pad and umbrella, she is every inch an eccentric English spinster and the most lovable and unlikely master of detection.

9. Death and Croissants

Ian Moore

The first unputdownable mystery in the enthralling Follet Valley series by TV/radio regular and bestselling author Ian Moore.

In this wonderfully witty whodunnit, a peace-loving British B&B owner in rural France turns sleuth when one his guests disappears. Optioned for TV by the producers of Sky One’s Agatha Raisin and described by Alan Carr as “a joyous read”.

death and croissants paperback

10. A Quiet Life in the Country

T. E. Kinsey

Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life…

Set in Agatha Christie country but with a more modern, egalitarian air, this is a well-paced read with sparky humour and intriguing characters.

Follow the author on Twitter.

Satirical Crime

“If satire is to be effective, the audience must be aware of the thing satirised.” – Gore Vidal

Luckily for us, humorous fiction readers are a knowledgable bunch… *coughs and splutters out tea awkwardly*

11. One for the Money

Janet Evanovich

Meet Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. In Stephanie’s opinion, toxic waste, rabid drivers, armed schizophrenics, and August heat, humidity, and hydrocarbons are all part of the great adventure of living in Jersey.

“Funny, self-assured, astute and raunchy” (Publishers Weekly), first novels with this much savvy are rare. This is one for readers who love a feisty and funny heroine.

Follow the author on Twitter.

One For the Money janet evanovich
My Sister the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite

12. My Sister, the Serial Killer

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019

As smart and murderous as Killing Eve, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

But this isn’t just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller. Braithwaite’s blistering debut is also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal and a story which turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope.

13. A Man With One of Those Faces

Caimh McDonnell

A Man With One of Those Faces is the first book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin Trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

With the help of a nurse who has read one-too-many crime novels and a renegade copper with a penchant for violence, Paul Mulchrone must solve one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history… or else he’ll be history.

Follow the author on Twitter.

A Man With One of Those Faces cover
tropic of stupid tim dorsey cover

14. Tropic of Stupid

Tim Dorsey

Part spree killer, part local historian, Serge Storms has carved a trail of destruction through Florida, and he’s just getting started.

Described by Independent as “a wacky celebration of violence, depravity and the weirdness of Florida”, Tim Dorsey will appeal to readers who think that Carl Hiaasen is too (yes, too) subtle.

15. Squeeze Me

Carl Hiaasen

From the bestselling author of Bad Monkey and Razor Girl comes this hilarious new novel of social and political intrigue, set against the glittering backdrop of Florida’s gold coast.

Irreverent, ingenious, and highly entertaining, Squeeze Me perfectly captures the absurdity of our times. As Janet Maslin writes in The New York Times, “if you could use some wild escapism right now, Hiaasen is your guy.”

Follow the author on Twitter.

Comic Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Tired of this insincere and predictable world? We are too. That’s why we throw ourselves recklessly into the enigmatic realms of these funny science-fiction and fantasy reads. Join us.

16. Mort

Terry Pratchett

Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.

Death is the Grim Reaper of the Discworld, a black-robed skeleton who must collect a minimum number of souls in order to keep the momentum of dying, well… alive. But to do that, he’ll need to hire some help… it’s an offer Mort can’t refuse.

“Cracking dialogue, compelling illogic and unchained whimsy” Sunday Times

17. Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film.

Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world.

“To read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is to step into the garden shed of a maverick genius while he’s out” Guardian

a night in the lonesome october cover

18. A Night in the Lonesome October

Roger Zelazny

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite.

“The last great novel by one of the giants of the genre.” George R. R. Martin

19. Darkwood

Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

A witty, modern retelling of classic fairy tales, albeit with storylines and characters a little different than we’re used to.

But it’s also more than that. Gabby Hutchinson Crouch has created a series with a strong heart and social conscience, interspersing laugh-out-loud humour, seat-of-your-pants adventures, and a scorching social commentary.

darkwood cover
To say nothing of the dog connie willis cover

20. To Say Nothing of the Dog

Connie Willis

Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, 1999

Gleeful fun with a serious edge” (Kirkus), Connie Willis offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy.

When too many jumps back to 1940 leave Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities make Ned’s holiday anything but restful with the entire course of history at stake.

More posts

The Truth About Writing and Comedy

If you find reading comedy difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy. You just haven’t found the right funny book for you. But what about writing comedy? We asked the author of the witty Mathematical Mystery series, Jonathan Pinnock.

bill fitzhugh the unlawful birth of rick shannon

The Unlawful Birth of Rick Shannon

How do you write a crime story? Commit a crime yourself, apparently! Well, that’s what award-winning author of eleven or so comic and satiric crime novels Bill Fitzhugh is saying.

In Conversation with Ian Moore at Wolverhampton Literary Festival

Wolverhampton Literature Festival

Join Wolverhampton Literature Festival for a conversation with leading stand-up comedian Ian Moore to discuss the inspiration behind his funny Murder Mystery series set in the Loire Valley.

Hear from the author himself about his new book Death and Croissants and be transported to France through this hilarious whodunnit story?

Performer: Ian Moore

Date: 4 February 2022

Time: 16:00-17:00

Venue: Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Price: Free (booking required)

death and croissants

Death and Croissants
(A Follet Valley Mystery 1)

Unputdownable mystery set in rural France – perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, Julia Chapman, or M.C. Beaton.

Including for Kindle

death and papa noel ian moore

Death and Papa Noël
(A Follet Valley Short Story)

A NEW CHRISTMAS SHORT STORY by TV/radio regular and bestselling author Ian Moore

Including for Kindle