Tag Archives: Julie Walters

Finding Books Funny…

Nothing quite beats sitting down with a book loving friend in the flesh over a pot of tea/glass of wine or two does it? It is also great for catching up over what you have both been reading and passing on great reads. It also sometimes throws up heated debate, say about Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’, and some lively discussion which fires your brain about all things bookish. This is exactly what happened when I spent several hours with my lovely friend Emma yesterday and the first of two things we talked about which made me internally note ‘that would make a good blog post’ was funny novels. I have always struggled with comic novels and yet would like to read some as I do like a laugh. Yet we were both really pushed to think of that many novels that have made us laugh out loud.

I do pointedly say novels because I have noticed as Christmas draws near it’s that time of year when all the comedians decide it is really time to share their life story and generally, in my humble opinion, they are rubbish. The only good comedian memoirs I can think of are Alan Carr’s ‘Look Who It Is’ and Dawn French’s ‘Dear Fatty’, the latter was funny but also very moving.  

Dawn French was actually one of the first names I thought of, and her novel ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’, when I was thinking of contemporary writers who might be very funny, but I wouldn’t know as I haven’t read it (I should here apologise to my mother who bought me this last Christmas) as yet. I then thought about Stephen Fry and pondered if maybe his novels would be funny? Not memoirs, the fictional novels. Julie Walter’s novel didn’t sound like it was going to be funny, was it? Has anyone read them? Emma was struggling too, she mentioned Jon Niven and we both discussed Sue Townsend (though we also said Adrian Mole etc were funnier when we were younger) but then we were a little lost.

Even with classic funny novels I struggled, I could only think of three. Emma said Charles Dickens, and then told me to ‘get out this house’ when I shamefully admitted I have yet to read him. Dickens… funny… really? Anyway the first I thought of was ‘The Loved One’ by Evelyn Waugh and the second and third were ‘The Pursuit of Love’ and ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ both by Nancy Mitford. I have heard Stella Gibbons is very funny, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ has been on my TBR for years, I really must get round to it… I must.

  

The thing is though that humour is subjective isn’t it. I like my humour dark in the main, hence the Waugh novel which is set in a funeral home and cemetery is right up my street, and also that dry observational wit which can leave me in stitches as Mitford does. I don’t like slapstick and I am not that fussed by pastiche. It is tricky isn’t it and yet quite unlike Zoe Williams who believes in a time of worry/crisis we should read nonfiction (you can hear me and Gavin discuss this article on the latest episode of The Readers); I think I might quite like the odd hilarious read instead.

So I thought I would throw this out to all of you and see if you could help. Have any novels by comedians been as funny as you hoped? Which books have made you laugh out loud be they modern or classic and why? Recommendations are highly welcomed.

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Autobiographies

Yes it’s Thursday again which means that of course it is Booking Through Thursday day, what would I do if Booking Through Thursday didn’t exist? Anyway the question this week was all about celebrity autobiographies. Asking us “do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?”

I had a real phase in around 2000 – 2002 of reading any celebrity memoirs that I could get my hands on from the Spice Girls as they dished the dirt to TV stars in general I definitely had a real interest in all things fame based but that was in my early twenties. Were any of them good or life changing, in honestly no not really and so I stopped buying them. My family however didn’t and until about two Christmases ago I was still receiving at least three or four autobiographies of current celebs from varying family members. I have to admit (and sorry if they are reading) generally I haven’t read any of them and they are collecting dust in a TBR pile under the stairs, its shameful. I think I overdosed on them at the time.

However not long before last Christmas (autobiographies always make me think of Christmas now which is weird) I found I had accumulated four because people who were famous but I actually wanted to read about their pasts and their family history’s rather than any beans they had to spill released books. I admit I have still not read two of them but they are definitely creeping up the TBR pile. The ones I haven’t read yet are ‘Just Me’ by the actress Sheila Hancock (because I haven’t read her first one ‘The Two Of Us’ and things need to be read in order) the other is the comedienne Julie Walters (who I think is wonderful) ‘That’s Another Story’. The ones I did read were Alan Carr’s ‘Look Who It Is’ and possibly my favourite autobiographical read yet ‘Dear Fatty’ by Dawn French which is just superb both funny and sad but most importantly real. Yes the odd celeb she has met pops up but there isn’t any dirt dishing and actually the book stops before she becomes very famous. I honestly loved it.

What autobiographies would I like to read? At the moment I have to say I can’t think of a famous person I would like to read all about. I have, just yesterday, picked up a copy of an autobiography of one of my all time favourite writers but more on that tomorrow, isn’t it weird I was planning to do a blog on something similar in a day, small world. I would actually, thinking about it, really like to read Obama’s book, but that seems a little bit ‘on trend’ and jumping on the bandwagon, but I bet they are incredibly interesting. I guess I will have to keep thinking about that one, it’s a puzzle. What about all of you?

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