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Staff Recommendations: Books That Made Us Laugh


Be it a full-throated rapture from the bottom of the stomach, a witch’s cackle, a high-pitched whoop or a softer chuckle, we love books that make us put them down (albeit for a brief moment) and laugh out loud. Champaca staff recommends their favourite funny reads.


Club You To Death, Anuja Chauhan

“Half an hour later, Bhavani is cloistered with the chief in the latter’s office, while the still slightly sulky Padam Kumar cools his heels outside. ‘What do you know about the Delhi Turf Club, Bhavani?’ ‘It’s like an Amitabh Bachchan, sir,’ Bhavani ventures, after considering the hallowed institution for a while. ‘Ageing superstar, thoda irrelevant in these times, surviving mostly on reputation.”

Anuja Chuhan’s novels are known to be packed with funny one-liners, and weird but believable characters. Club You To Death, a murder mystery set against the backdrop of the Delhi Turf Club, is no different. The book has cold-blodded murder, ex-lovers reuniting, hot zumba instructors, a veteran ACP, and much more! Along with giving us a thrilling whodunit, Anuja Chauhan takes apart the posh Delhi club and its wealthy members with her irreverent, witty humour. I loved her descriptions of elite club celebrations, the politics around club elections, and her ability to poke fun at every character. 


The Most of Nora Ephron, Nora Ephron

“Why do people write books that say it's better to be older than younger? It's not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you are constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday. Even if you are in great shape, you can't chop an onion the way you used to and you can't ride a bicycle several miles without becoming a candidate for traction. If you work, you are surrounded by young people who are plugged into the marketplace, the demographic. The zeitgeist, they want your job and someday soon they’re going to get it. if you are fortunate enough to be in sexual relations, you are not going to have the sex you once had. Plus, you can’t wear a bikini. Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone is young and reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”

When I grow old(er), I hope I can be as sassy, funny, and unapologetically irreverent as Nora Ephron. Personal essays and memoirs have always appealed to me and Ephron’s crackling wit makes these bunch of essays absolutely delightful.


Party Fun with Kant, Nicholas Mahler

“For many people, philosophers are tiresome night owls who annoy them during sleep”

This book captures the essence of a selection of influential Western philosophers through witty cartoons captioned with a humorous distillation of their core philosophy. Each philosopher is introduced in a separate section with their own funny moniker, like a very irritable Schopenhauer who appears under “Schopenhauer’s Driving School”. Each section deals with the philosopher in that particular context. Schopenhauer is illustrated throwing down a heavy tome with a background of a traffic sign projected on a screen with the caption, “For many people, philosophers are tiresome night owls who annoy them during sleep”. Simone de Beauvoir, under her dedicated section on “A Dream Wedding with Simone de Beauvoir”, completely demolishes the aspirations of a couple on the day of their wedding with her feminist theories. Very accessible, relatable and hilarious. 


The Sundial, Shirley Jackson

“After the funeral they came back to the house, now indisputably Mrs. Halloran’s. They stood uneasily, without any certainty, in the large lovely entrance hall, and watched Mrs. Halloran go into the right wing of the house to let Mr. Halloran know that Lionel’s last rites had gone off without melodrama. Young Mrs. Halloran, looking after her mother-in-law, said without hope, “Maybe she will drop dead on the doorstep. Fancy, dear, would you like to see Granny drop dead on the doorstep?”

“Yes, mother.” Fancy pulled at the long skirt of the black dress her grandmother had put on her.

You might find it surprising that the first book I could think of that made me laugh out loud is by horror writer Shirley Jackson. In it, we meet the Halloran family, who become convinced that the world is ending, and they will be the only people who survive. Within its eerie premise, The Sundial is wickedly funny, full of sardonic wit, essentially a comedy of manners about a big grand family in a big grand house, where all their petty rivalries play out. Shirley Jackson has this incredible eye for detail. She picks apart social mores and relationships, zeroes in on the funniest, weirdest, nastiest parts of her characters – and by extension, ourselves – and puts it all on paper for us to enjoy, years later. 


Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors by Aravind Jayan

“I almost said out loud: my family is insane.

I cannot recall the number of times I have wanted to say this out loud myself, and the urge to do so is especially strong during extended family gatherings. In this book, we see how a family deals with what can be considered a scandal in any middle class household. The scandal is a secretly filmed video of the elder son and his girlfriend, which has been uploaded to a pornographic site. We see these events unfold through the eyes of the younger son, a character I related to the most. As the story progresses, we get an insight into Indian society, intergenerational differences, teenage angst and much more, all told to us through a lot of dark humour. 


Tiffany Aching Series, Terry Pratchett

“I get up Aching, and I go to bed Aching,' she whispered to herself, smiling. One of her father's jokes, and she had rolled her eyes when hearing it again and again as a child, but now its warmth curled over her body.” 

Tiffany Aching is the main character in The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and The Shepherd's Crown set in Discworld, written by Terry Pratchett. These books are suitable for people from 9 to 90 years of age. A good funny book, according to me, must be naughty, have a great storyline, allow me to cackle with the characters, and must help me shed some happy tears too. This series ticks ALL the boxes.


This Is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay


“My poker face has served me well over the years. It’s seen me through an eighty-year-old telling me about his use of a colossal butt-plug called The Assmaster and gently explaining to a couple in an infertility clinic that massaging semen into her navel isn’t quite going to cut it, conception-wise. I sit there nodding along blankly like the dog from the Churchill advert. ‘And which size of Assmaster, sir?” 

This is Going to Hurt is by a gynaecologist in the NHS, UK, and boy, does medicine sound terrifying and wonderful and crazy all at once. The book absorbs you into a general mood of slightly manic laughter, removes you from your current location and take you to the clinical ward for delivering mothers, and the nether regions of mankind.

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