/ by A.K. Freeland / photography by Eli Warren

Literature transports us and our perspective. Whether your sense of humor calls  for bizarre, ridiculous or witty commentary, the following authors offer timeless, yet timely humor. Lighten your grip and enjoy. There is nothing more cleansing than a good laugh.

A Comedy of Errors

If you enjoy reading  about someone who’s awkward dilemma  compounds, this is your book. Judd’s marriage  is publicly collapsing  and he is returning to  his childhood home to sit shiva to mourn the death of his father. Seven days and seven nights of hilarious and raw family situations are both relatable and heartwarming. “Never marry a beautiful woman… You will never stop feeling like a gate crasher at your own party.”

This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

Edgy, Quirky Wit

John Irving is a master  storyteller. His writing  dazzles as much as his knowledge of humans.  This story is quirky and though wild, believable. “Was this rooster  disoriented by karaoke music?” says Juan Diego,  the protagonist who is a writer on a journey. Irving has mastered irreverence. The characters he meets along the way are  memorable, timely and hilarious.

Avenue of Mysteries,  by John Irving

Laugh Out Loud

Published posthumously, this novel is on every  “funniest book” list. Ignatius J. Reilly is one of the most memorable characters of all time. A set-in-his-ways know it all, Reilly could not be less self-aware or more imposing. The dialogue is laugh out loud funny and still fresh after forty years. When explaining to his mother that he was fired from his job, Ignatius replied, “My excellence confused them.”

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Wry with Spot on Commentary

Zadie Smith’s collection of essays proves she is as skilled with human observation as she is creating a fictional narrative. Her subjects center current culture and politics and her own life. Though not laugh out loud funny, Smith’s wit provides momentum as she moves from one topic to the next. Start with “The House That Hova Built,” an essay about her interview with rapper Jay-Z. “He likes to order for people. Apparently, I look like the fish sandwich type.”

Feel Free, by Zadie Smith

Period humor that transcends time

Originally published in 1889 as a farcical travel guide/boating excursion for Victorian England, the narrator is as funny as the nutty situations he is describing. Three friends boating down the Thames provide a glimpse into Victorian England and social satire that emerges as timeless. “I knew a young man once, he was a most conscientious fellow, when he took up fly fishing, he determined never to exaggerate his hauls by more than twenty five percent.”

Three Men and A Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome