I have to say, when I’m depressed, the only thing I want to do is die quickly, with no time to spare on second thoughts or reading books of any kind. However, blue moods only happen to me once or twice in a century so I have managed to keep breathing for a fair length of time.
For those who believe laughter augments their desire to stay alive, these are a few of the books which—for me, at any rate—never fail to tickle the chuckle bone.
- Mark Twain’s short stories, such as The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, continue to be some of the funniest writing on the planet. Something to do with the deadpan delivery and the convoluted turns of phrase "... and quicker’n you could wink, he’d spring straight up, and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor again as solid as a gob of mud..." Great for reading out loud.
- James Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times is another wonderful compendium of deliriously funny writing. My favourite is The Night The Bed Fell—perhaps because Thurber manages to universalise his family till they and their eccentricities become fully as real as one’s own parents, aunts and grandparents.
- Anything by Dave Barry is funny. This is a guy who can transform a blank wall at a cemetery into a laugh riot. Really. Even the titles of his books are funny: "Claw Your Way to the Top: How to Become the Head of a Major Corporation in Roughly a Week"; "Stay Fit and Healthy Until You’re Dead"; "Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months With Tools You Probably Have Around the Home". For those who can’t wait, here’s a link to his
- Calvin & Hobbes compendiums, by cartoonist Bill Watterson, are also fail-safe sources of chuckles. In case some of you feel that comics do not belong on a list of books well...maybe this world IS too dark for you, after all.
- And while we’re on the subject of humour—there’s the entire collection of Monty Python’s Flying Circus television shows which are wet-your-pants, scream-out-loud funny. But okay, I was asked specifically for books, so...umm... have I mentioned A Fish Called Wanda yet? Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis? Okay, Okay! Only books! I’ll stop.