Humour can come in many different forms in literature, from boldly declaring itself from the very beginning to keep you smiling with feel-good emotions, right through to arriving with stealth and making you blurt with laughter while almost blushing at your own audacity. Laughter can be used to ease pain, highlight experiences and topics, or simply give you a welcoming hug. And of course, it is subjective, one person’s guffaw is another’s momentary cringe. Differences in life experience will affect our humour, something we found funny at eighteen might pass us by at seventy and vice versa of course.
Look hard enough and you can find humour in every genre. A skilled writer can hide moments of laughter in the most poignant and sensitive of places. Unexpected comedic moments can actually accent other emotions, and bring welcome relief before the reader heads back off into the darkness again.
One of my favourite books, Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald is a: “seriously fabulous, gritty and whip-cracking humour filled read… The first line smacked me in the face, I half flinched, half blurted with laughter. Just a note of warning, while I discovered a smirk lurking on early every page, some may see the humour as warped. It is the type of dark humour typical of anyone who has worked in some seriously difficult situations, where if you didn’t laugh you’d cry”. Helen is an author with a seriously skilled pen, she highlights emotions, heads into dark places, and yet brings laughter too.
Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe deservedly won the 2020 Comedy Women in Print Prize. This is a: “smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read… I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word, it’s just gorgeous!”. Nina Stibbe excels in the smallest of details that are beautifully observed and help paint a fully vibrant picture.
Spook Street by Mick Herron forms part of the Slough House Thriller Series. Maxim Jakubowski said: “Herron’s Slough House series just keeps on getting better and better, both on the sly humour front and with the Machiavellian variations it offers on the level of deception that operate within the British secret service”. I adore this series too, Mick Herron has formed a deviously twisted world, with plenty of smirky laughter blurting moments along the way.
Editorial Expert Joanne Owen loves The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa. She declared: “Hats off to the author for interweaving a rambunctious, read-in-one-sitting rollercoaster with shining a light on real-life struggles… Balancing outrageous entertainment with exposing ugly underbellies and a young woman’s realignment of a life swerved off-course, readers who enjoyed Sarong Party Girls will adore this.”
From crime to romance, horror to family drama, we’ve brought together a collection of books that contain elements of humour, whether it encourages a wry smile or smirk, right through to giddy inducing bursts of laughter. We hope you enjoy, and find plenty of moments to make you smile. Leave a comment below with books you've enjoyed and that are filled with humour.