Happy new year, everybody! It’s finally 2014—the year I become a published author! All Four Stars hits the shelves on July 10, and it’s already available for preorder from your local bookstore and all the major online book retailers. Exciting!
I’ve really been enjoying reading other people’s year-end roundups of their reading statistics and favorite books from 2013. This year I read 68 books, which I believe is a record for me. Getting a smartphone and subsequently borrowing lots of audiobooks through Overdrive definitely helped bump up my numbers; I listened to 19 audiobooks this year while doing dishes, folding laundry, and walking around running errands.
Another big proportion of my reads this year were ARCs, or advance copies of books that aren’t published yet; I read 19 of those. The majority of them are 2014 releases, and I received them on rotation through either OneFour Kidlit or Emu’s Debuts, the groups of 2014 debut authors to which I belong.
The rest of my reads were a mix of middle-grade, young adult, and adult, a mix of purchased in paper, purchased for my e-reader, and borrowed from the library (both in paper and on my e-reader). I also read a handful of terrific picture books (which I’m not including in my final book tally, but enjoyed just the same).
There were so many books that I loved this year, but for this post, I’ve decided to highlight my favorite funny reads. I love humor—I write humor (or try to, at least!)—and I often feel like humorous books get short shrift when it comes to awards and recognition. But writing truly funny prose takes tremendous skill, and reading something truly funny is just the best elixir for a cruddy day, or month, or year. 2013 was a tough year for my family and several of my friends (hurricanes, floods, family illnesses, etc.), but the following books definitely helped me through some challenging stretches.
Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller
Sophie has a new best friend named Bernice. Bernice just happens to be a butternut squash that Sophie’s parents picked up at the farmer’s market. And sure, Bernice seems to be in great shape at first, but then she starts going soft in places, and developing spots…
Absurd, adorable, and perfectly illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, this is a book that kids and adults will savor reading over and over again.
Favorite Funny Middle-Grade Novels
Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle
Reading this book was a joy from beginning to end. Tim Federle starts the book off with a premise ripe for comedy (boy who has hardly ever left his hometown sneaks off to New York City to audition for “E.T.: The Musical”), but it’s main character Nate’s voice that truly sets this book apart. As is often the case with great humorous writing, there’s an undercurrent of pain and insecurity that makes Nate feel all too real. I’m thrilled that a sequel (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) is coming in 2014.
Set in the 1930’s, this upper-middle-grade novel follows the exploits of Cece, who desperately wants to become a radio star (and isn’t afraid to do a little sneaking around to make her dream come true). Well, if you know the plot of All Four Stars, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I loved this story, but in addition to the girl-taking-on-her-dream-profession aspect, I adored the humor in it. Cece has a charming innocence, but also a healthy disrespect for authority that leads her into some truly farcical situations. There’s one scene in which she and her friend Bev read a cousin’s steamy diary entries that, when Carol read it aloud at our EMLA retreat last summer, had everyone rolling on the floor laughing.
Favorite Funny 2014 Release
The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, by Lauren Magaziner
Get excited for August 2014, when this debut middle-grade novel hits the shelves! Lauren Magaziner’s voice has been likened to Roald Dahl’s, and in my opinion, the comparison couldn’t be more apt. I was laughing out loud from the very first chapter, as we learn about the horrible Mrs. Frabbleknacker, teacher to our hero Rupert—who goes on to have many hilarious adventures as a witchling’s apprentice. Kids are going to LOVE this book…and I bet many adults will, too.
Red, by Alison Cherry
So much of YA these days is dark, but Alison Cherry delightfully bucks that trend with Red, a lighthearted satire about a fictional American town where the redness of your hair determines your social standing. I tore through this book, laughing countless times at its clever turns of phrase—and the 13-year-old reader I gifted it too for Christmas adored it, too.
Favorite Funny Nonfiction Book
David Sedaris rarely disappoints me, and his newest collection of essays exceeded even my high expectations. I had the treat this year of hearing him try out some new material at the Denver Center (I may also have accosted him in the lobby beforehand to proclaim my ardent admiration). Anyway, this one’s perfect on audiobook, read by Sedaris himself.
The Disaster Tourist, by Aiken Avery
I’ve already kvelled about this book here on this blog, and at less than $5 on most e-reading platforms, it is a HUGE steal. Following a wacky group of college students on a round-the-world cruise, this book manages to be both deep and hilarious at the same time.
I’ll never think of Seattle the same way again! Semple amasses a group of characters that are simultaneously absurd and endearing and gives us a window into their world through e-mail correspondence, FBI dossiers, and other “primary sources.” This is also a fantastic audiobook; narrator Kathleen Wilhoite does an incredible job bringing the voices of a large variety of characters to life.
Well, there you have it! I can’t wait to see what kinds of laughs 2014 will bring. What were your favorite funny reads of the last year?