Reasons to Read Nonfiction: Laughter (is the Seventh Best Medicine)

April is National Humor Month, so this week we are highlighting hilarious humor books from the past year.

April is, among many other things, National Humor Month, so this week's Advice for Readers blog offers up a selection of great humor books from the past year. According to humormonth.com, National Humor Month was started in 1976, "as a means to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic value of humor. Laughter and joy - the benchmarks of humor - lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills, and an enriched quality of life." Everyone has heard that laughter is the best medicine, and nobody enjoys a good laugh more than I do, but I'm here to say that, in light of recent events, actual medicine is the best medicine, followed by nutrition, exercise, therapy, magic elixers, and rest. Then comes laughter, tied for seventh with having a good cry. Maybe that's why many of the books in this week's list succeed in finding the humor in difficult subjects and make us laugh through our tears. From using humor to create better communication and morale in the workplace, to the funny side of cheese, we hope you find something to brighten your day and lift your spirits in this week's recommendations.

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Recent Humor Books

Studies show that humor makes us appear more competent and confident, strengthens relationships, unlocks creativity, and boosts our resilience during difficult times. That's why Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas teach the popular course Humor: Serious Business at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where they help some of the world's most hard-driving, blazer-wearing business minds build levity into their organizations and lives. In Humor, Seriously, they draw on findings by behavioral scientists, advice from world-class comedians, and stories from real-life business leaders to reveal how humor works and-more important-how you can make greater and better use of it. Aaker and Bagdonas unpack the theory and application of humor: what makes something funny, how to mine your life for material, and how to craft a joke. They show how to use humor to make a strong first impression, deliver difficult feedback, and foster cultures where levity and creativity can thrive. And they explore the gray areas of humor: how to keep it appropriate-and recover if you cross a line. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done." If Eisenhower-the second least naturally funny president ever (after Franklin Pierce)-thought humor was necessary to win wars and build highways, then you might consider learning it too. Seriously"-- Provided by publisher. 

 

   

In We Had a Little Real Estate Problem, acclaimed comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff focuses on one of comedy’s most significant and little-known stories: how, despite having been denied representation in the entertainment industry, Native Americans have influenced and advanced the art form. The account begins in the late 1880s, when Native Americans were forced to tour in wild west shows as an alternative to prison. (One modern comedian said it was as “if a Guantanamo detainee suddenly had to appear on X-Factor.”) This is followed by a detailed look at the life and work of seminal figures such as Cherokee humorist Will Rogers and Hill, who in the 1970s was the first Native American comedian to appear The Tonight Show. Also profiled are several contemporary comedians, including Jonny Roberts, a social worker from the Red Lake Nation who drives five hours to the closest comedy club to pursue his stand-up dreams; Kiowa-Apache comic Adrianne Chalepah, who formed the touring group the Native Ladies of Comedy; and the 1491s, a sketch troupe whose satire is smashing stereotypes to critical acclaim. As Ryan Red Corn, the Osage member of the 1491s, says: “The American narrative dictates that Indians are supposed to be sad. It’s not really true and it’s not indicative of the community experience itself…Laughter and joy is very much a part of Native culture.” Featuring dozens of original interviews and the exhaustive research that is Nesteroff’s trademark, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem is a powerful tribute to a neglected legacy.--From the publisher 

 

 

You'll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey : Crazy Stories About Racism    by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar 

Writer and performer Amber Ruffin writes with her sister Lacey Lamar with humor and heart to share absurd anecdotes about everyday experiences of racism. Now a writer, performer, and host of The Amber Ruffin Show, Amber Ruffin lives in New York, where she is no one's First Black Friend and everyone is, as she puts it, "stark raving normal." But Amber's sister Lacey? She's still living in their home state of Nebraska, and trust us, you'll never believe what happened to Lacey. From racist donut shops to strangers putting their whole hand in her hair, from being mistaken for a prostitute to being mistaken for Harriet Tubman, Lacey is a lightning rod for hilariously ridiculous yet all-too-real anecdotes. She's the perfect mix of polite, beautiful, petite, and Black that apparently makes people think "I can say whatever I want to this woman." And now, Amber and Lacey share these entertainingly horrifying stories through their laugh-out-loud sisterly banter. Painfully relatable or shockingly eye-opening (depending on how often you have personally been followed by security at department stores), this book tackles modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity. --From the publisher

   

   

On the eve of America becoming a majority-minority nation, D.L. warns, the only way for America for move forward peacefully is if whites stare their history in the face, put aside their visions of superiority, and open up their institutions so they benefit everyone in this nation. But we can still have fun with this, right? Surrender, White People! hilariously holds America to account for its wrongs and offers D.L.'s satirical terms for reparations and reconciliation. But it's not all bad news, white folks. The upside is that if you put D.L.'s plan into effect, you can FINALLY get black people to stop talking about oppression, discrimination, and their place in America. That's something we all can get behind. --From the publisher 

 

  

At the age of forty, Billy Baker discovers that he's lost something crucial along the way: his friends. Other priorities always seemed to come first, until all his close friendships had lapsed into distant memories. When he takes an assignment to write an article about the modern loneliness epidemic, he realizes just how common it is to be a middle-aged loner: almost fifty million Americans over the age of forty-five, especially men, suffer from chronic loneliness, which the surgeon general has declared one of the nation's "greatest pathologies," worse than smoking, obesity, or heart disease in increasing a person's risk for premature death. Determined to defy these odds, Baker vows to salvage his lost friendships and blaze a path for men (and women) everywhere to improve their relationships old and new.--From the publisher 

 

 

Meredith Masony founded That's Inappropriate in 2014 as an innocent and humorous way to chronicle her chaotic days as a working mom, child wrangler, and busy wife. It soon evolved into a massive, dynamic community of parents-now nearly three million strong-brought together by their shared belief that parenthood and marriage don't have to be perfect. Now, in Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time, Meredith shares her collection of witty essays on the universal frustrations of being a mom in today's world, presenting her laugh-out-loud perspective on sex, aging, anxiety, friendship, and much more. Perfect for fans of Jenny Lawson, Laura Clery, and Jen Mann, these essays provide laughter, relief, validation, and "a metaphorical hug for all of those moments you spend crying on your bathroom floor, thinking that you are failing at the hardest job on the planet."-- Provided by publisher. 

 

 

Leslie Gray Streeter is not cut out for widowhood. She's not ready for hushed rooms and pitying looks. She is not ready to stand graveside, dabbing her eyes in a classy black hat. If she had her way she'd wear her favorite curve-hugging leopard print dress to Scott's funeral; he loved her in that dress! But, here she is, having lost her soulmate to a sudden heart attack, totally unsure of how to navigate her new widow lifestyle. […] Looking at widowhood through the prism of race, mixed marriage, and aging, Black Widow redefines the stages of grief, from coffin shopping to day-drinking, to being a grown-ass woman crying for your mommy, to breaking up and making up with God, to facing the fact that life goes on even after the death of the person you were supposed to live it with. While she stumbles toward an uncertain future as a single mother raising a baby with her own widowed mother (plot twist!), Leslie looks back on her love story with Scott, recounting their journey through racism, religious differences, and persistent confusion about what kugel is. Will she find the strength to finish the most important thing that she and Scott started? Tender, true, and endearingly hilarious, Black Widow is a story about the power of love, and how the only guide book for recovery is the one you write yourself. --From the publisher 

 

 

 

Something That May Shock And Discredit You   by Daniel Mallory Ortberg [Daniel M. Lavery] 

Daniel M. Lavery is known for blending genres, forms, and sources to develop fascinating new hybrids—from lyric rants to horror recipes to pornographic scripture. In his most personal work to date, he turns his attention to the essay, offering vigorous and laugh-out-loud funny accounts of both popular and highbrow culture while mixing in meditations on gender transition, family dynamics, and the many meanings of faith. From a thoughtful analysis of the beauty of William Shatner to a sinister reimagining of HGTV’s House Hunters, and featuring figures as varied as Anne of Green Gables, Columbo, Nora Ephron, Apollo, and the cast of Mean Girls, Something That May Shock and Discredit You is a hilarious and emotionally exhilarating compendium that combines personal history with cultural history to make you see yourself and those around you entirely anew. It further establishes Lavery as one of the most innovative and engaging voices of his generation—and it may just change the way you think about Lord Byron forever.--From the publisher 

 

  

Joe Berkowitz loves cheese. Or at least he thought he did. After stumbling upon an artisinal tasting at an upscale cheese shop one Valentine’s Day, he realized he’d hardly even scratched the surface. These cheeses were like nothing he had ever tasted—a visceral drug-punch that reverberated deliciousness—and they were from America. He felt like he was being let in a great cosmic secret, and instantly he was in love. This discovery inspired Joe to embark on the cheese adventure of a lifetime, spending a year exploring the subculture around cheese, from its trenches to its command centers. He dove headfirst into the world of artisan cheese; of premiere makers and mongers, cave-dwelling affineurs, dairy scientists, and restauranteurs. The journey would take him around the world, from the underground cheese caves in Paris to the mountains of Gruyere, leaving no curd unturned, all the while cultivating an appreciation for cheese and its place in society.-- From the publisher 

 

 

 

Save Yourself : A Memoir   by Cameron Esposito 

Cameron Esposito is on her way to becoming a household name, thanks to her unique brand of comedy that doesn't shy away from the issues women (and many men) face today. From sexism and sexuality to white male privilege and self acceptance, Cameron uses humor to break down the barriers that keep us from speaking openly about these topics. Cameron offers funny and insightful essays about everything from coming out (at a Catholic college where being gay can get you expelled) to how joining the circus can help you become a better comic (so much nudity) to accepting yourself for who you are--even if you're an awkward tween with an eyepatch (which Cameron was). Full of heart, humor, and cringe-worthy stories anyone who has gone through puberty can relate to, Cameron's debut collection is for that timid Catholic kid in all of us and the fearless stand up comic yearning to break free-- Provided by publisher. 

 

 

Monty was just like any other dog. A scruffy and irascible Maltese terrier, he enjoyed barking at pugs and sniffing at trees. But after yet another dramatic confrontation with the local Rottweiler, Anthony McGowan realizes it's high time he and Monty had a chat about what makes him a good or a bad dog. Taking his lead from Monty's canine antics, McGowan takes us on a hilarious and enlightening jaunt through the major debates of philosophy. Will Kant convince Monty to stop stealing cheesecake? How long will they put up with Socrates poking holes in every argument? In this uniquely entertaining take on morality and ethics, the dutiful duo set out to uncover who--if anyone--has the right end of the ethical stick and can tell us how best to live one's life.--From the publisher 

 

 

More Than A Woman   by Caitlin Moran 

A decade ago, Caitlin Moran burst onto the scene with her instant bestseller, How to Be a Woman, a hilarious and resonant take on feminism, the patriarchy, and all things womanhood. Moran’s seminal book followed her from her terrible 13th birthday through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, and beyond--and is considered the inaugural work of the irreverent confessional feminist memoir genre that continues to occupy a major place in the cultural landscape. Since that publication, it's been a glorious ten years for young women: Barack Obama loves Fleabag, and Dior make "FEMINIST" t-shirts. However, middle-aged women still have some nagging, unanswered questions: Can feminists have Botox? Why isn't there such a thing as "Mum Bod"? Why do hangovers suddenly hurt so much? Is the camel-toe the new erogenous zone? Why do all your clothes suddenly hate you? Has feminism gone too far? Will your To Do List ever end? And WHO’S LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN? As timely as it is hysterically funny, this memoir/manifesto will have readers laughing out loud, blinking back tears, and redefining their views on feminism and the patriarchy. More Than a Woman is a brutally honest, scathingly funny, and absolutely necessary take on the life of the modern woman—and one that only Caitlin Moran can provide. --From the publisher 

 

 

Desus & Mero have turned their Bronx-born friendship into a growing brand. And it's no surprise--tuning in to them is like listening to the funniest, smartest people you know dissect a topic and then light it on fire. Now they've written the most entertaining guide to life you'll ever read, in which all the important questions are asked: How do I talk to my kids about drugs if I do them too? How do I bet on sports? How should I behave in jail? How much is too much to spend on sneakers? Is porn really that bad for me? The pair met in high school, and as they put it: "We want to share all we've learned, after years in the Bronx streets, with you: the people. So with a lifetime spent building up a plethora of information from trials and tribulations and a handful of misdemeanors, we decided to write this book--a sequel to the Bible, or maybe to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, depending on how big a nerd you are. Let this book be your North Star."-- Provided by publisher.