Did you know there’s such a thing as bibliotherapy? That’s right, there are professional bibliotherapists whose sole job it is to “prescribe” books for their clients in order to treat them holistically. The practice can be applied broadly to anyone from prison inmates to elderly people suffering from dementia, and it relies on reading to treat everything from loneliness and depression to existential crises.
No wonder they say reading is good for the soul. Personally, we’ve found books that exercise the funny bone have a direct correlation on our moods. If you want an instant pick-me-up that costs way less than an actual therapy session, check out our list of nine laugh-out-loud books in the gallery below.
Photo: Courtesy of Ebury Press
'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling, the witty woman behind The Mindy Project, former writer for and actor in The Office, and all-around girl crush material, has a new book that will make you love her even more – if that’s even possible. As a follow-up to her popular tome Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling explores a major turning point in her life as she explores a new phase of adulthood. Fans and critics alike claim that this book is even funnier and more insightful than Kaling’s first.
Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler might just be one of the genuinely funniest women of all time. However pithy this book might be, it is also one seriously inspirational read about a woman challenging the status quo to rise to the top. Her autobiographical work traces her origins as a funny kid to her development at Second City in Chicago, and later as one of SNL’s most memorable cast members.
Tina Fey unleashes her unparalleled wit in a popular autobiography called Bossypants, a title that represents both her wry self-deprecation and the kind of juvenile mentality she encountered on her rise to the top. Strong women might intimidate some, but not us – we absolutely love Fey’s no-holds-barred portrayal of her life, ambitions, and surprising career shifts. She doesn’t dumb it down for a bigger audience at all, and her candor is both cutting and enlightening. You’ll laugh out loud, guaranteed.
While David Sedaris is one of the most prolific modern-day humor writers, we still return to his earlier work Me Talk Pretty One Day every time we need a genuine laugh. His stories have aged well and are still delightfully funny. Sedaris has such a way with words that at the start of a sentence, you won’t know you’re walking right into a joke set-up, but you’re thrilled to find the wittiest punchline imaginable by the end. This collection of Sedaris essays chronicles his early childhood struggles with speech, his hilarious and weird family (which includes his sister and comedienne Amy Sedaris), and his struggles to learn French as an adult. Trust us, your sides will ache every time you turn the page.
What do housewives do all day? Helen Ellis’ American Housewife answers that question in surprising, unexpected ways. In this collection of essays, the reader is taken everywhere from a haunted pre-war Manhattan apartment to the set of a reality show in search of the American housewife. What we find is a macabre underbelly that shows the unrest and disquiet of women trapped by their desire to appear perfect on the outside, while they yearn for a more adventurous life on the inside. As serious as that sounds, the book is actually quite funny and surprisingly touching.
'Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things' by Jenny Lawson
In Jenny Lawson’s second book, the author explores her personal philosophy of being “furiously happy”, despite her mounting depression. Mental illness is dealt with deftly by Lawson, who fights to create happy memories in spite of her depression by embracing off-kilter adventures like going to Australia to hug a koala (while wearing a koala suit, naturally). It’s funny, poignant, and charming, but most of all, it’s therapeutic for those dealing with their own problems of depression and anxiety.
Sloane Crosley’s debut collection of essays takes a non-stereotypical approach to the tales of the 20-something. Instead of being predictable, she delivers surprising punch lines, hilarious anecdotes, and sardonic observational humor. If you want a book that will make you laugh no matter how many times you read it, this is the one.
Shea Serrano takes a rap song from every year since 1979 to formulate The Rap Yearbook, coming up with a truly hilarious spin on the much-debated songs. Not only will you learn something new about the hip-hop world, but you’ll also find plenty of reasons to laugh with Serrano’s searing prose.
Nora Ephron rose to prominence as one of the strongest female voices of her generation, but continues to affect those who came after her with her enlightening prose. She makes us laugh even when discussing serious topics such as aging, relationships, raising children, and more. She’s like the witty, self-deprecating grandmother that everyone wishes they had, and this classic collection of essays is as close to flawless as any of Ephron’s works.