As the weather is (sorta) improving, thought I’d share my recommendations for stuff to read by the pool, in the caravan, on the plane. This particular list is about humorous books, especially those written in short chapters or from newspaper columns.
How to be a woman, Caitlin Moran
The great Times journo published this in the spring last year, and it was still in the bestseller lists at Christmas – and for good reason. A genuinely hilarious and wonderful book which is sort-of-memoir, sort-of-treatise, sort-of-agonised shriek of irritation, and sort-of self help manifesto. Be warned, the opening chapters are a bit fruity, best not read out loud in front of your mum.
Moranthology, Caitlin Moran
Second book, only recently published, and bringing together some of Ms Moran’s best articles for the Times. However, she hasn’t just picked the ones she liked and written a half-arsed foreword, she’s actually assembled them into a logical structure, introducing sections with new stuff, and documenting further the true nature of a long-lasting marriage (which is apparently the ability to come up with suitable pet names for each other).
Making the Cat Laugh, Lynne Truss
If the only thing you know about Ms Truss is her campaign to improve punctuation in everyday life (her book Eats, Shoots and Leaves was a best seller) then you are missing out on some great comic writing in her other work. Another journalist who has compiled her work into a book, Making the Cat Laugh is quite splendid, funny and wise, with a pleasing line in self-knowledge.
Get Her Off the Pitch, Lynne Truss
Another book by the Brighton belle, this time about her foray into sports journalism. Dispatched by spiteful bosses to be the idiot at the feast (what with being a woman who knows nothing about sport, har har), instead she finds a wonderful affiliation and affection for many sports and the surrounding strangeness.
Life’s too F**king Short, Janet Street-Porter
JSP was a staple on television when I was growing up, and I was conditioned to loathe her grating voice, outspoken views, and ‘interesting’ look. She was parodied mercilessly on Not The Nine O-Clock News, and they were surely the arbiters of cool. However, as an adult, I can appreciate her amazing career, and how she did so much for women in journalism by simply refusing to change herself to suit a ‘type’. This book is her furious rant about everything that is wrong with society, men, women, and well everything really. A great chance to revel in some old school biting wit, with some recipes thrown in for good measure. This woman really is the total package.
Anything by Charlie Brooker
Oh poor Charlie, he really is so very cross about everything, including himself. Profanity abounds, together with television reviews, personal diatribes, and a rare ability to judge humanity so harshly, you’ll agree with him that we should all really be annihilated. This is not a ‘sideways look’ at anything, this is a full-face punch in the throat of everything large and small which is wrong with the world. And he really is very funny.
Anything by Alan Coren
The great wordsmith himself, a career spanning decades of great comic writing in the Times and Punch. His years in Cricklewood are documented with total mastery and observation of the minutia of suburbia, mixed with the surrealism of being an internationally renowned journalist.
Where Did It All Go Right?, Andrew Collins
A memoir of the Seventies written as the antidote to all those terrible child abuse tales which seem to fill my local library shelves. WDIAGR? is a joyful reminiscence of everything that was great about being a child in the seventies, from the food to the bikes to the telly.
Anything by E F Benson
The creator of the great Mapp and Lucia, his grasp of the viperous nature of some women in small towns in the 1930s is unparalleled. He writes equally spitefully about the men, and the whole series is an utter joy.
As I am a great lover of comic writing, I have not scratched the surface of what I could recommend, but this will do for a start, I think…