Welcome to the third installment of this weekly meme originating at The Broke and Bookish! Today I delve into hilarious book titles. I’ll admit that some of the following may be more “funny” than out-right “hilarious”, but I wanted to stick to titles most of us were more likely to have heard of. If you really want some laugh-out-loudness, a quick Google search will yield such results as “I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen” (Jasper McCutcheon), “Living with Crazy Buttocks” (Kaz Cooke), and “The Zen of Farting” (Carl Japikse) – but really, which of you has ever read or previously heard of any of those? My point exactly. Today, therefore, I stick to books that are still in print, or at least widely available. Now in no particular order, I give you the Top Ten Most “Hilarious” Book Titles.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Well, do they? I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t read this 1968 classic. I’m not really a Sci-Fi person, but after reading the Wikipedia synopsis, I might have to become one (a hard truth this closet geek thinks every time she does read science fiction). Apparently this book deals with questions of what it means to be human. So, you know, light fare. But more importantly, while we’re on the subject: why do so many sci-fi novelists insist on having a middle initial?
Everyone Poops – Taro Gomi
Ask any five-year-old, and they’ll confirm this universal truth: poop is hilarious. And there has never been a time when it wasn’t; I seem to remember a Jonathan Swift poem that deals quite heavily with this sticky matter. As adults we like to take the fun out of it by calling it “feces” or “excrement” (should we dare to refer to it directly), or worse, “Number Two”. But let’s face facts: EVERYONE POOPS.
Sliced Heather on Toast – Lissa Halls Johnson
Book 1 of a series I got semi-into as a pre-teen, my sister was none to pleased when my parents gave it to me one Christmas. You know, since her name is Heather and all. Anyways, I don’t remember much about it except it was about some girls at a summer camp, their dog named Bologna (which I didn’t know how to pronounce at the time, so thought his name was Bowl-log-nah), and the mean girl named Heather. I quit the series before any actual cannibalism took place.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume
Oh Judy. Telling it like it is, and making it onto banned book lists everywhere (this one deals with menstruation). I shouldn’t really have to tell you why this is a funny title – it just is. The book itself may still be popular, but c’mon. No one’s named Margaret anymore. Hilarious.
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison
Trust the British to come up with the dirtiest-sounding word for “kissing”. I haven’t read the books, but I hear this series is quite LOL-inducing. From the looks of the title (and, okay, watching the movie), I’ll believe it. But on a more important note, WHO names their kid Angus in this day and age? And how on earth can a boy named Angus be good-looking? I guess that’s the magic of literary talent. A good writer can weave anything into believeability. [It’s since been pointed out to me that “Angus” is, in fact, the name of the cat. The name of the boy is Robbie. Which is a significantly hotter name. Apologies.]
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
That is one long title. I have to wonder how Haddon landed on it. It’s not exactly the most easy-to-remember when a friend refers it – which is what people were doing when this book came out; and boy, were they hemming and hawing over what, exactly, it was called once they got to the library. The Strange Event with a Dog at Night? The Incident of a Poodle at Night-fall? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? I’m speaking from experience here. The complicated title alone made this book difficult to track down. But the search was worth it – a “mystery” solved by a boy with autism ended up being one of the best mysteries I’ve read.
All Families are Psychotic – Douglas Coupland
It’s outmoded, but the word “psychotic” sure is funny, if not emotionally charged. Which, incidentally, is the case with families. And yes, every family has its walking embarrassments – but none so much as the Drummonds, who [spoiler alert!] managed to infect their mother with HIV through a misfired-bullet, after the son has an affair with the dad’s second wife. And that’s just the first chapter. There’s still the grown-up Thalidomide baby turned astronaut, the Walt Disney World murder, and the weirdo girlfriend, Shw. Yes, her name is Shw. This whole book is as crazy as the title (and every bit as awesome).
The Stupids Die – Harry Allard (illustrator James Marshall)
More disconcerting than the fact that this is a children’s book is the number of times my library-shelving sister (the aforementioned Heather) puts it away every week. Apparently the Stupids are quite popular. Well, why shouldn’t they be? They think they’ve died with the lights go out. Ha! So stupid!
The Unbearable Lightness of Scones – Alexander McCall Smith
A riff on the unbearably dull-sounding existential novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, this one sounds significantly more entertaining. Part of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, other cohorts include Morality for Beautiful Girls and The Kalahari Typing School for Men. Methinks McCall Smith excels at good titles.
You Can’t Eat Your Chicken Pox, Amber Brown – Paula Danziger
What is it with kids always eating the inedible? (Again, I fear the answer comes from a five-year-old who hasn’t yet mastered the habit of picking their nose and eating it: sometimes it’s tasty.) Amber Brown herself was very funny. The book I remember best from this series is Amber Brown is Not a Crayon. So here’s another writer with a knack for fun titles. I’ll admit it – I wanted to know what chicken pox tasted like when I first saw this book (give me a break, I was seven). Unfortunately, since I got chicken pox at four, I had to wait for my first pimple to try out the eating-red-things-on-your-face-phenomenon (I wish I could beg an excuse for this one, but I was approximately eleven by then, and knew better). I was disappointed.