Well, we made it through March. Congratulations! But remember last April’s blizzard? We probably still need cheerful books. Readers offer a flood of suggestions, mainly of books that make them laugh.
“I joyfully recommend ‘Hag-Seed’ by Margaret Atwood,” writes Gretchen Heath of Plymouth. “You don’t need to know ‘The Tempest’ (on which it’s based) to relish the wit, insights and tale. There are laugh out loud moments in concert with warmth and redemption.”
Hilary Laing of Orono recommends “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. “It amazes me how the writers were able to tell the full story through letters, and I fell in love with the characters,” she said.
Ann DeHoff of Minneapolis has a whole list: “Last Days of Summer,” by Steve Kluger; “High Fidelity,” by Nick Hornby; “Girls’ Poker Night,” by Jill A. Davis; “The Rosie Project,” by Graeme Simsion; “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” by Gabrielle Zevin; and “A Man Called Ove,” by Fredrik Backman.
“I loved all of these books,” DeHoff said. “The characters were quirky and funny, flawed and lovable. I laughed out loud while reading them.”
Debbie Anderson of Mound loves “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” by Pam Houston. “Short stories about smart women, looking for a good man. And the men who head on down the road, elusive and noncommittal.”
Andrea Bolger of Minneapolis recommends the funny and bittersweet, “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen,” by Hendrik Groen. “When I laugh out loud, I know it’s a good one.”
Julia McGregor of Golden Valley recommends “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson, “a story of elder awakening and love. The other is ‘Zions Cause’ by Jim Peyton, a collection of connected stories showing the bonds between a disparate cast of characters in a small Southern town. I have laughed aloud at some stories, but the whole is connected by the extraordinary compassion of the town store’s owner, Mr. Hayes.”
Tess Moleski of Crystal recommends anything by Elinor Lipman. “My favorite is still ‘The Ladies’ Man.’ Every woman has met or dated this guy, and the descriptions of Public Television fundraisers are spot on.”
Writer Rose Solari of Bethesda, Md., notes that while her own books tend to be serious, “I love good comic writing, and P.G. Wodehouse. When I’m down, I return to Bertie Wooster and his Jeeves,” she writes. “ ‘The Code of the Woosters’ has them at their convoluted best. I laugh out loud every time I read it.”
Donna Burger, Massapequa, N.Y., suggests books by Barbara Pym. “Except for ‘Quartet in Autumn,’ which is very sad,” she writes. “A good Pym novel to start with is ‘Some Tame Gazelle.’ ”
Hal Lieberman of St. Cloud writes, “Years ago my daughter-in-law put me onto the short books of Helene Hanff, especially ‘84 Charing Cross Road.’ They are a delight.”
Sue Leaf of Center City, Minn., doesn’t think in terms of funny books, but of books that give her refuge. “ ‘The Country of the Pointed Firs’ by Sarah Orne Jewett. It is the simple story of a woman who goes on vacation to a Maine coastal town in the 1890s. And ‘Canoe Country’ by Florence Page Jaques, the tale of a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters in 1933 or ’34. They started in August out of Winton, and I believe that Florence wore her fur coat on the dock as Lee loaded the canoe.”
David Sedaris is the go-to author for Kathy Quick of Richfield. “I laugh out loud at everything he writes,” she said. “Sedaris has an amazing ability to share the saddest parts of his personal and family stories through his lens of wacky humor. What a great lesson for us all as we navigate the ups and downs of life.”
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.