Literary Laughs

While the literary fiction genre can be full of hard-hitting tales that tug at the heartstrings and provoke thoughtfulness, oftentimes those stories can become a little too heavy. Luckily, my favorite literary titles fall into the lighthearted and sometimes kooky category. While many of them tackle tough topics — like missing mothers, loneliness, and the changing state of our world — they do so with levity and humor. I’ve gathered a collection of literary fiction that’s sure to provoke a laugh. Or, if you’re the stoic sort, at least a smile.



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This story was hilarious. I read it on a plane and spent the four-hour flight trying in vain to stifle my laughter. When Bernadette disappears, her daughter Bee is left to solve her mother’s vanishing act. As Bee digs through her mother’s paper trail — emails, secret messages, and official documents — she discovers that there’s more to her mother than she ever suspected. A marvelously touching and crazy tale, Maria Semple had me desperately flipping pages to keep up with Bee and her search for her missing mom.


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For anyone who loves bookstores, this was an adventurous tale about the magic and mystery that I’d like to imagine happens behind the scenes of every bookstore. When Clay Jannon loses his job as a web designer in the recession, he takes a job at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore. Aside from the kooky characters that frequent a 24-hour bookstore, he discovers that Mr. Penumbra is quite out-of-the-ordinary, as well –as in, member of secret literary society kind of extraordinary. While this story isn’t as laugh-inducing as some of the others listed here, it was an exciting and quirky tale.


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 Christopher Moore is the king of hysterical literature. In A Dirty Job, Charlie Asher is quite content being normal. Unfortunately for him, the forces in the world — particularly the underworld — aren’t as content. People begin to die wherever he goes, and Charlie is responsible for them in his unexpected and unwanted position as Death. Moore is a master storyteller of all things ridiculous and you can’t go wrong picking up anything he’s written. His dark humor is sure to crack a smile.


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Walter Moers is a German author who creates fantastical and slightly absurd stories about the fictional world of Zamonia. While The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear often borders on the outrageous — there are Hobgoblins and Mountain Maggots, after all — Moer is clever and endlessly amusing with his satire and subtle humor.


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Perhaps one of the classics in humorous literature, William Goldman’s retelling of S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride — the good parts, of course — is a fun and flighty tale of adventure, romance, and plenty of humor. You can almost imagine William Goldman narrating the story in your head and every straight-faced joke becomes even funnier.



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