Today’s TTT is….books that make us smile!
10. David Liss. A writer of political & business thrillers, often set in the age of discovery, Liss’ sense of humor snared me
“You have my word as a gentleman.”
“You are no gentleman!”
“Then you have my word as a scoundrel, which, I know, opens up a rather confusing paradox that I have neither the time nor inclination to disentangle.”
From The Whiskey Rebels, a novel set during the early American republic.
9. Mary Roach. Between the taboo topics and her dry delivery, Roach’s unique science-journalism books never fail to amuse.
8. Bill Bryson. Although many of his travel books are grumpy and unpleasant, his book on Australia was a riot.
7. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline. RPO hits a sweet spot for me. I smile not because it’s funny, but because it’s cool. It’s awesome. It’s fun.
6. Night of the Living Trekkies, Kevin David Anderson. Where to begin with this one? A zombie outbreak has happened at a Star Trek convention, and the main character’s name is Jim Pike.
5. In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist, Pete Jordan. It’s not a funny book, but it makes me smile with bliss. I may be stuck driving to work and driving to the grocery store and driving for every darn-thing-else, but somewhere in this planet there are people who can bike for everything they need, and they don’t need helmets and lycra to do it because their city was built for people and not machines. There’s bliss and ease in the world, and that makes me smile.
There’s a reason Cornwell is my second-most read author, ever. The man is good — good at creating believable historic settings, good at creating characters and relationships that draw readers in, good at getting the blood rushing with speeches and actions — but good, too, at provoking belly-laughs.
“You did what, Sharpe? A duel? Don’t you know dueling is illegal in the army?”
“I never said anything about a duel, General. I just offered to beat the hell out of him right here and now, but he seemed to have other things on his mind.”
The world of Harry Potter is enchanted by humor as well as magic, especially when Gred and Forge are around. The two moments that stand out most for me are the twins teasing Harry during Chamber of Secrets (“Make way for the Heir of Slytherin! Seriously evil wizard coming through!”) and the Marauder’s Map insulting Snape when he tried to compel it to reveal its secrets.
“Harry — I think I’ve just understood something! I’ve got to go to the library!”
And she sprinted away, up the stairs.
“What does she understand?” said Harry distractedly, still looking around, trying to tell where the voice had come from.
“Loads more than I do,” said Ron, shaking his head.
“But why’s she got to go to the library?”
“Because that’s what Hermione does,” said Ron, shrugging. “When in doubt, go to the library.”
2. Max Shulman. I encountered Shulman in 2003, via The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and was so enamored of that work that I later read much more Shulman. While nothing after that really lived up to the first encounter, what I liked about Shulman was made perfect in P.G. Wodehouse’s stories.
“What major are you most interested in?”
“What’s the easiest?” I said.
“Home economics,” he said.
“What’s the next easiest?” I said.
“It’s between sociology and library science,” he said. “To my certain knowledge nobody has ever flunked either.”
“Which one got the most girls in it?” I asked.
(From I Was a Teenage Dwarf)
1. P.G. Wodehouse. You don’t know how funny English can be if you haven’t read Wodehouse. A few from Right Ho, Jeeves! :
“And yet, if he wants this female to be his wife, he’s got to say so, what? I mean, only civil to mention it.”
“In this life, you can choose between two courses. You can either shut yourself up in a country house and stare into tanks, or you can be a dasher with the sex. You can’t do both.”
These civilities included, I felt the moment had come to touch delicately on the past.
“I’m not saying I don’t love the little blighter,” he said, obviously moved. “I love her passionately. But that doesn’t alter the fact that I consider that what she needs most in this world is a swift kick in the pants.”
A Wooster could scarcely pass this. “Tuppy, old man!”
“It’s no good saying ‘Tuppy, old man!’”
“Well, I do say ‘Tuppy, old man!’. Your tone shocks me. One raises the eyebrows.
“I can never forget Augustus, but my love for him is dead. I will be your wife.”
Well, one has to be civil.
“Right ho,” I said. “Thanks awfully.”