Check It Out: Make reading a laugh riot with these hilarious titles

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at did the left eye say to the right eye? Between you and me, something smells. Ba-dum tshh.My apologies for the bad joke, but April is National Humor Month, so I was pretty much obligated to start this column with something funny. Or not. Oh well, humor comes in all forms, so if that silly joke left you hearing crickets, don’t worry, I’ve got a million more! Just kidding. Seriously, though, I’m here to help you find something to tickle your funny bone. We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, and with the rising cost of health care, I’d much rather “yuk it up” than “doc it up” if you know what I mean. Because humor is such a personal thing, I can’t guarantee the titles included in the recommendations below will amuse you. And that’s OK — I won’t take it personally. Well, maybe a little. But I can encourage you to visit your local library to seek out material that does satisfy your inner comedian.Remember what Groucho Marx said: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”• “Are You Dissing Me? What Animals Really Think,” by Simon Winheld. If you like your humor on the edgy side, “Are You Dissing Me?” might be for you. Small in size but big on wackiness, this book captures the inner thoughts of a medley of animals. Some are slightly unhinged like the bush baby on the book’s cover (“Are you dissing me? … Are you?”), others are naughty (no need to give an example — you’ll find them), while others seem to be caught in a web of angst or ennui or both (the hippo who states, “My MFA is totally useless”). Be prepared for a weird, funny ride if you decide to add this to your reading list.• “The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Husband,” by Jason Hazeley. Do you remember the Dick and Jane readers? OK, picture those in your head then add an unusual topic like “husband,” sprinkle in a generous amount of cynicism and sarcasm, and voila, you have a droll take on marriage. What’s the purpose of such a book? Well, it’s quite simple, according to the book’s introduction: “This delightful Fireside book is the latest in a series that have been specially imagined to help grown-ups learn about the world around them.” Readers will certainly learn a great deal about husbands, including this tidbit: “The husband hears as much as 30 percent of what is said to him. Many husbands are traditional and do not believe in listening before marriage.” Huh, that’s interesting. I did check to see if a companion volume had been written called “The Wife,” but no, no such title is part of this series. Well, I guess husbands are just more misunderstood.• “How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom,” by Patricia Carlin. I have two cats. I am convinced they could be the biggest YouTube stars EVER. But Gracie and Dewey made us sign a “claws” during the adoption process that prohibits us from exploiting them online, in person, anywhere, EVER. Bummer. But you and your feline darlings might have a chance to ride the litter box to fame and fortune by following the advice in Patricia Carlin’s book. You know you’ve come to the right place when you read on page eight, in bold letters no less, “No financial opportunity will give you a greater return on investment than your cat.” Forget stocks and bonds, become a stage cat-mom (or cat-dad) and put Kitty to work! Incidentally, cardboard boxes are pure gold when it comes to turning Fluffy into a star. Get lots of them.• “Just Joking LOL!: 300 Hilarious Jokes about Everything, Including Wacky Tongue Twisters, Silly Puns, Funny Photos, and Much More!” by Rosie Gowsell Pattison. Keep the wee ones in stitches by checking out this kid-friendly joke book. By the way, the library has a great collection of riddle and joke books for young readers, so be sure to take a look for call number 818 the next time you head to the children’s collection.• “Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion,” by Natalie Kossar. I have a soft spot for sewing patterns especially those from the 1960s and 1970s because my mom made most of my clothes when I was a kid. We spent many an hour in the pattern area of various fabric stores, and I loved going to the big metal file cabinets to find a specific pattern. So, of course when I saw this title, I had to check it out. Well, let me tell you, it’s a hoot. Each vintage pattern cover (real covers selected from the McCall Pattern Company’s archives) is accompanied by a witty caption, capturing the imagined thoughts of the pattern’s models. Described by the publisher as “combining retro fashion and modern wit” and “[shining] a light on the outdated social ideals of yesteryear,” this is a fun mash-up of nostalgia and snarkiness.• “Spurious Correlations,” by Tyler Vigen. If you enjoy looking for connections between two dissimilar things, say poodles and gooseberries for example, maybe you need a different hobby. No? Then you need to add “Spurious Correlations” to your reading list. A Harvard Law student at the time his book was published, Tyler Vigen enjoyed looking at how variables work together so much that he “designed software that scours enormous data sets to find unlikely statistical correlations” (publisher’s annotation). Funny correlations started to emerge, so he created a web site,, to share his “spurious correlations” with others, and then came the book. What does a spurious correlation look like? How about the divorce rate in Maine correlating with the per capita consumption of margarine? Or, sunlight in New Jersey versus the number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in? Odd? Incongruous? Yes, yet strangely appealing. Vigen is careful to say in his book and on his web site that “correlation does not equal causation,” so the graphs he posts are truly meant for entertainment purposes rather than any attempt at serious research. So, go right ahead and think about poodles and gooseberries. It’s perfectly acceptable.• “The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten: The Tweets of Steve Martin,” by Steve Martin. I don’t use Twitter, I have never tweeted, and my life is the better for it. Or is it? After reading Steve Martin’s collection of tweets, I thought, dang, I’m missing out. How great then to have his tweet book available for those of us who just can’t face yet another online networking scene. Here are a couple of my favorites: “I just downloaded eleven hundred books onto my Kindle. And now I can’t lift it.” “THIS JUST IN: Scientists discover hokey-pokey to be basic building block of matter. So the hokey-pokey is, after all, what it’s all about.” Tweet on, Mr. Martin, tweet on.Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at

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