OK everyone, we made it. It's officially summer, and with that means long weekends and lots of weekend beach reads. If you're lucky enough to have some summer Fridays on the calendar at work, or are planning to take a few weekend trips and lounge-around staycations, you're probably also getting your summer TBR in order. Luckily for you, there have been tons of hilarious, moving and wickedly smart humor books and memoirs hitting the shelves over the past couple of months. With everything going on all over the world, you're probably not only in need of some disconnected self-care time, you're also desperate for a laugh...and these books have more than got you covered.
Whether you're in the mood for essay collections, memoirs or just some seriously funny nonfiction, there is something on this list of 15 picks for you. Want to follow comedian Paula Poundstone as she takes on the pursuit of happiness? Or find out what it's like to grow up with a priest for a father? Maybe you're desperate to read David Sedaris's diaries, or honestly just want to know whether you could survive being swallowed by a whae (spoiler: probably not). If any one of the above applies to you, we've got at least one book you need to add to your beach bag or tote for the next long summer weekend.
1'When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments' by Kelly Oxford
Whether it is with the kind of tweets that led Rolling Stone to name her one of the Funniest People on Twitter, or creating the hashtag #NotOkay, where millions of women came together to share their stories of sexual assault, Kelly Oxford has a unique perspective on modern life. When You Find Out the World Is Against You is filled with the biting and laugh-out-loud insights her fans have come to expect. Whether she’s detailing her obsession with going to camp as an 11-year-old so she can become a “kissing bandit,” or taking us to ride shotgun as she stalks her husband on an accidental date with another man, this is Kelly at her most honest and disarmingly funny.
2'The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness' by Paula Poundstone
In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights — the pursuit of happiness. Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice!). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care.
3'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter' by Scaachi Koul
Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humor to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding, to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color, where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions and ethnic stereotypes... all as she tries to find her feet in the world.
4'The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell' by W. Kamau Bell
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell is a humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling a wide range of issues, such as race relations; fatherhood; the state of law enforcement today; comedians and superheroes; right-wing politics; failure; his interracial marriage; his upbringing by very strong-willed, race-conscious, yet ideologically opposite parents; his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, then his later days struggling to find his comedic voice; why he never seemed to fit in with the Black comedy scene... or the white comedy scene; how he was a Black nerd way before that became a thing; how it took his wife and an East Bay lesbian to teach him that racism and sexism often walk hand in hand; and much, much more.
5'And Then You're Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara' by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty
A gleefully gruesome look at the actual science behind the most outlandish, cartoonish, and impossible deaths you can imagine. What would happen if you took a swim outside a deep-sea submarine wearing only a swimsuit? How long could you last if you stood on the surface of the sun? How far could you actually get in digging a hole to China? Paul Doherty, senior staff scientist at San Francisco's famed Exploratorium Museum, and writer Cody Cassidy explore the real science behind these and other fantastical scenarios, offering insights into physics, astronomy, anatomy, and more along the way.
6'This Is Really Happening' by Erin Chack
BuzzFeed senior writer Erin Chack provides a collection of personal essays recounting everything from meeting her soulmate at age 14 to her first chemotherapy session at age 19 to what really goes on behind the scenes at a major Internet media company. Erin also offers a fresh perspective on universal themes of resilience and love as she writes about surviving cancer, including learning of her mother's own cancer diagnosis within the same year, and her attempts to hide the diagnosis from friends to avoid "un-normaling" everything.
7'We Are Never Meeting In Real Life' by Samantha Irby (May 30, 2017)
With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, "bitches gotta eat" blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making "adult" budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette, detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father's ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms, she's as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.
8'I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It: Stories from an Online Life' by Jess Kimball Leslie
Coming of age in suburban Connecticut in the late '80s and early '90s, Jess Kimball Leslie looked to the nascent Internet to find the tribes she couldn't find IRL: fellow Bette Midler fans; women who seemed impossibly sure of their sexuality; interns trudging through similarly soul-crushing media jobs. Through effortlessly comedic storytelling and looks at tech through the ages (with photos!), Jess takes you on a journey through the hilarious times that technology and the Internet changed her life.
9'Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home' by Amy Dickinson
By peeling back the curtain of her syndicated advice column, Amy Dickinson reveals much of the inspiration and motivation that has fueled her calling. Through a series of linked essays, this narrative explores central themes of romance, death, parenting, self-care, and spiritual awakening.
10'The Actual One: How I Tried, and Failed, to Avoid Adulthood Forever' by Isy Suttie
Isy Suttie—stand-up comedian, actress and songsmith—has reached her 30s and realized her life is never going to be what she expected. She'll never become that tennis champion, be an expert in birdsong or make a living from playing pinball. Yet Isy maintains her trusty "glass half full" attitude to life. Why? From goldfish-murdering mothers and housemates obsessed with VAT, to boyfriends who don't appreciate gifts of homemade human-sized penguins, Isy delves deep into the vaults of her memory, writing with warmth, agonizing honesty and sharp humor to bring to life all of the scrapes that optimism have led her into.
11'This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare' by Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels acclaimed movie Precious. In This is Just My Face, she shares her one-of-a-kind life story. Sidibe paints her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway. Sidibe tells the story of her first job as a phone sex “talker.” And she shares her unconventional rise to fame as a movie star.
12'Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To' by Annabelle Gurwitch
When Annabelle Gurwitch was a child, surrounded by a cast of epically dysfunctional relatives, she secretly prayed that it was all a terrible mistake. Maybe she was a long lost daughter of Joni Mitchell or a reincarnation of the Russian princess, Anastasia. A family of bootleggers, gamblers, and philanderers, the Gurwitches have always been a bit vague on the standard ideal of a loving and supportive family. Their definition includes people you can count on to borrow money from, hold a grudge against, or blackmail. And wherever she went, there they were. With her wry wit and hard-learned wisdom, Gurwitch explores the inescapable, yet rewarding, realities of life with her relatives and her southern Jewish roots.
13'Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002' by David Sedaris (May 30, 2017)
For 40 years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences. Now, Sedaris shares his private writings with the world. Theft by Finding, the first of two volumes, is the story of how a drug-abusing dropout with a weakness for the International House of Pancakes and a chronic inability to hold down a real job became one of the funniest people on the planet.
14'Would Everybody Please Stop?: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas' by Jenny Allen (June 6, 2017)
In Would Everybody Please Stop?, a collection of first-person essays and humor pieces, Jenny Allen asks the tough questions: Why do people say “It is what it is”? What’s the point of fat-free half-and-half? Why don’t the women detectives on TV carry purses, and where are we supposed to think they keep all their stuff? And haven’t we heard enough about memes. Allen addresses these and other more serious matters, like the rude awakenings of being single after 25 years, of mothering a teenager, and of living with a serious illness. She also discusses life’s everyday trials, like the horrors of attempting a crafts project, the anxieties of being a houseguest, and the ever-changing rules of recycling.
15'Priestdaddy: A Memoir' by Patricia Lockwood
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts and loves action movies. His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide.