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Our new humour section is filled with books with elements of humour. Books that will make you laugh, chortle and chuckle as you read.
Gentle and pointed good humour abounds in this lovely read, Alexander McCall Smith excels in creating whimsical yet sharply observed novels with real heart. He was the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2015 with Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party which I absolutely adored, and The Second Worst Restaurant in France certainly lived up to my expectations. Food writer Paul Stewart escapes to France to stay with his cousin Chloe in order to finish his latest book, however, located in the village is the restaurant aptly known as second worst in France. Within a few pages I had an understanding of Paul, he very simply makes himself known and acts as a perfect foil to Chloe, who on occasion rather steals the limelight! A whole host of wonderful characters enter the story as Paul’s livelihood is threatened and everything is thrown into a delightful muddle. The Second Worst Restaurant in France is a gorgeously easy read, I smiled, I laughed, and enjoyed every moment… PS I would love to see Chloe feature in her own story, what a woman!
The Ginger in this book is unemployed and totally disheartened with family life and has no idea where he would end up. Being 18 doesn't mean you are having the time of your life and Ginger is bored of the whole thing, that is before he found a diamond ring in his fish and chip supper. When he found out the ring belonged to the local gangster he tried to get rid of it but it wasn't going to be that easy. I found the humour very dry and the story a little dark in places but I couldn't help loving the book. Ginger had some very 'odd' friends and the way they were written in the story kept the pace up and I couldn't put it down. Carol Peace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Life Expands' is the perfect read if you are planning a trip of a lifetime or if you already experienced this amazing adventure. If you haven't been on a journey like this it will give you a great taste of the highs and lows, the new friends yet to make and the beauty in the world. This is a brilliant read that will lure anyone to go travelling around the globe. Through some tough and hilarious stories, we get drawn into the emotions that travel brings from finding someone to love and working to do true good in the world. This is one of the best books that I have read that shows what modern day travel is really like. An ideal book to buy anyone who loves to travel or just the idea of travelling even if it’s just from a comfy chair and a good cup of coffee. Tracey Thomas, A LoveReading Ambassador
Murder, mystery, and mayhem abound in this amusing action-packed read. I missed out on Volume One, ‘The Truth About Archie and Pye’ and though I would suggest starting at the beginning, I was still able to enjoy this mad caper of a story without feeling as though I had been left behind. This may be a mathematical mystery series with mentions of coding and bitcoins to be found (eeek) but I think I coped rather well as someone who finds maths, shall we say, challenging! Tom Winscombe narrates this story, he is trying to locate his girlfriend, stolen computers, lots and lots of answers, oh, and a snake! Tom usually wanders or jogs into the centre of trouble, dead bodies have a habit of turning up at the same time he does, and in terms of ability, just imagine the opposite of James Bond! Jonathan Pinnock writes with dash and verve, creating interesting characters and plenty of eyebrow raising situations. ‘A Question of Trust’ is an entertaining read, it is beautifully easy to fall into and really enjoyable.
Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he's facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations. Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral for all the wrong reasons; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and - the most serious problem of all - their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He's a smart kid, but socially awkward and not fitting in. Fortunately, Don's had a lifetime's experience of not fitting in. And he's going to share the solutions with Hudson. He'll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world's best cocktail bar. Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life's obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking. If you liked The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, then you'll love The Rosie Project series.
After a brief introduction by Carole Matthews into the book’s background, narrator Emma Powell introduces us to the main character Molly Baker – an ex-teacher who now runs a farm for children with specific needs. Or in Molly’s own words, the farm is open to ‘bewildered, damaged and troubled animals and humans’. The book is written (and therefore narrated) in the first person. I felt as though I was listening to a good friend chatting about her life – her run-down farm, her difficult childhood and her lovable animals. It all seemed very personal, especially as Molly is funny and witty, down to earth and full of heart. She describes everything around her so well that I could visualise it, including ‘clouds drifting across the blue sky’. Hope Farm is filled with animals, from naughty goats and angry sheep to the diva alpacas – and for me, the animals are the main stars of the show. The supporting human cast felt very real too, especially moody teenage tearaway Luke who is grieving for his mother and craving his celebrity father’s attention. Happiness for Beginners would make an enjoyable holiday read, with its satisfying happy ending. The chapters are short – most range from around three minutes to 10 minutes, so they are easy to fit into a busy (or lazy) spring or summer’s day. As expected, there is plenty of romance alongside heart-warming moments and amusing animal antics. There’s also a farm at risk of demolition to provide land for a high-speed train line. If you’re having a bad day and need a book to give you a hug, this is definitely one for you!
What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second.
First Rhyme Mum is an entertaining journey through pregnancy and early motherhood - it made me laugh and reminisce. There are 40 poems in the book - all are fun, relatable and (mainly) humorous, covering wide-ranging topics that you wouldn’t usually expect to find in poetic form, such as needing a wee, a mother’s ‘baby brain’, the job description of motherhood, night shifts and ‘to-do lists’. The poems contain acute observations of everyday life and are varied and very well written, combining simple words to create powerful imagery. I could sense the emotion behind each poem - the excitement yet worry of the 40 weeks of pregnancy and the exhaustion and elation once baby arrives, all bound together by a mother’s love. I was particularly impressed by how the author fits so much descriptive language into each poem while still ensuring that each one manages to give a sense of rhythm and rhyme (even if this doesn’t always match exactly). It reminded me of some of Pam Ayres’s poems, with its sense of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. The book is easy to dip in and out of - each poem is short enough to slot into a few minutes during a busy day. It’s a lovely gift for new parents to remind them that they’re not alone and that others are going through the same emotional ups and downs. It also has wider-ranging appeal, as it reminded me of my own pregnancy experiences and made me chuckle as I recalled stories of early parenthood (my children are now in their mid to late teens). My only regret is that the book ended too soon, but fortunately there are more books on their way.
A group of Derry friends are on the giddy verge of the rest of their lives. While much of their energy is expended on the opposite sex, smoking, drinking and hanging out at the Cave, their collective coming-of-age plays out against a backdrop of The Troubles - the hunger strike in Belfast prison, rioters on the streets of their petrol-scented city – and a soundtrack that includes post-punk visionaries like Joy Division, Gang of Four and Siouxsie and the Banshees. There aren’t many opportunities for any of the group, especially the girls among them, and so as the strike continues, and the violence escalates, and one of their friends is killed, Christy and Paddy take an irrevocable course of action. This multi-narrative novel is - by turns - humorous, hard-hitting, poignant and plentiful in period detail (music, clothes, poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity for the working class). A distinct and powerful debut.
Oh I did enjoy More Than A Feeling, it gathered me up in smirks, love, and friendship. Annie finds herself exploring her past when her current life throws an unexpected spanner in the works. The prologue introduces the Annie from five years previously, a photographic assistant in the fashion world, she is bold, upbeat, and really knows how to party, then something awful happens, and we start chapter one back in the present day. Cate Woods opens up feelings and heartache allowing intimate access, I joined the group, supporting, giggling, caring about Annie and her friends. I have to admit I did on more than one occasion wince as certain decisions were made, and as I read, almost wanted to cover my eyes while simultaneously desperate to gallop through the pages so I could find out what happened. Delivering an amusing burst of energy More Than A Feeling is a feel-good read with a gorgeous squeeze of optimism and romance.
You don’t have to be a Mummy to read this, or in fact to absolutely adore it. I am not a member of the Mummy club, yet I laughed hard, I smirked, I felt the pain, and the love too. This is set over a year in the life of frustrated mum Ellen, who has an eleven and a nine year old (oh and a husband and dog who convincingly add to the chaos). I would imagine there will be parents breathing a huge sigh of relief as they think, ‘I’m glad it’s not just me’. Just in case you aren’t keen, yes there is a fair bit of swearing, including some fantastically imaginative pairing of words that I definitely want to remember. Gill Sims keeps the tone light and bright, yet the pressure of balancing work and children can definitely be felt. I feel as though Ellen could be my friend, I could hear her voice as clearly as anything as I read. I actually could have been on the phone to Ellen, with her offloading her woes (while I tried unsuccessfully to stop snorting with laughter). I simply raced through ‘Why Mummy Swears’, it is a knockout read, great fun, full of empathy, and highly entertaining.
While this anthology’s theme may sound niche, its appeal and scope is universal. Indeed, it’s underpinned by fundamental age-old questions: “What does compel someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? And then what happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?” The answers to such questions are voiced here by twenty women whose stories are vary vastly, with contributors hailing from places as diverse as Lebanon, Scotland, France, Germany, the USA, Mozambique, Spain, Brazil and more countries besides. Together their stories constitute a fascinating chorus of experiences borne from the author’s enrollment in an organisation created to help newcomers “feel at home in this beautiful country,” her desire to chronicle female oral history, and a belief in the human need for agency. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
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