I’m having trouble reading lately.

Global pandemics can do that to a person.  I need mental and emotional space to fall into a story, and the constant, low-level buzz of worry prickling and poking around in my brain is getting in the way.  I’m definitely not alone. To complicated things, the kind of stories I like to read involve life’s complexity – death, birth, love, tragedy, and loss.  Frankly, real life is too full of drama for me.  I read Wanderers and loved it.  But now we’re living it and it’s not as much fun.

A lot of us are in the same boat reading-wise , and feeling a bit sea sick I’m sure.  I also know that the best antidote to anxiety is laughter.  And the best way to conquer a reading slump is to read something easy, funny, and entertaining.  So I have compiled a list of 11 Delightful, Entertaining, Hilarious, Funny Reads to get us through these wild and scary times.  This list (in no particular order) includes all levels of reading, some comics, some graphic novels, some traditional books.  If you have recommendations, please share!

Battlepug

Battlepug by Mike Norton.  What’s that?  Battle-what?  Yes, PUG.  As in a small, arguably adorable, snuffly, chubby, mild mannered companion.  This comic (vol. 1 available) is an adventure story that features a large, half-naked, Conan-eque hero who can communicate with animals telepathically, including an over-sized pug.  He fights homicidal elves with his band of companions, whom he mostly deserts because he’s that due.  And there are horse thieves (they’re thieves but they are also HORSES!).  If you want the full Battlepug experience, start with the Compugdium, which includes all the background you need for the new issues of the comic.  But you can skip that if you want, you’ll catch up pretty quickly.  Reading level:  This is for adult or older teenage readers.  There is blood, profanity and nudity.

Knights

Knights vs. Dinosaurs [also Knights vs. Monsters, Knights vs. The End (of Everything)] by Matt Phelan. King Arthur’s knights are fond of telling tall tales, especially regarding their alleged prowess in battling dragons. Merlin decides it’s time to give the knights a chance to prove themselves and sends them back in time to fight dinosaurs.  Sir Erec, Sir Bors, Sir Hector, Squire Mel and the mysterious Black Knight join forces in an endearing, awkward, bumbling and, in the end, very lucky adventure. When they work together, they conquer their foes.  Reading level:  This is a middle grade book series with lots of great pictures.  A great read-along book for younger readers.

Phoebe

Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson. This series of graphics novels follows Phoebe, a girl who accidentally finds a unicorn that grants her a wish.  Phoebe wishes for the unicorn to be her best friend.  And so Marigold Heavenly Nostrils becomes her BFF and helps Phoebe navigate school and parents and bullies with a little bit of magic and a WHOLE lot of sarcasm.  These books are both obviously and subtly funny and adults will find as much to love as kids. They do not need to be read in order.  Reading level:  This is a middle grade graphic novel series sprinkled with gems of adult humor.

adventure

The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White.  Anne, the hero of this story, is an orphan who lives at Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children.  This rollicky, hilarious series (There is a Guide to Dragons and a Guide to Treasures) is nonstop adventure and laughter.  This series is engaging for both the young readers it’s written for and also any parents who might want to read along (or read alone!).   Reading level:  Middle grade novel series with occasional illustrations.  

Gert

I Hate Fairyland by Skottie Young (Vol. 1-4 available). Gert is a 40 year old woman stuck in a 6 year old’s body.  She stumbled into Fairyland and was told if she found the key, she could go home.  But that was almost 30 years ago.  Cynical, tired, ruthlessly homicidal and still endearingly cute, Gert is both accidentally and intentionally chaotic in her revenge on Fairyland.  Her Fairyland guide and friend (?) is a cigar smoking fly named Larrigon Wentsworth III can’t seem to contain Gert or her rage. Reading level:  Adults only.  Lots of violence, and swearing. 

Bloodlust

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern. Lucy is a British gentlewoman, a gentle lady, until she unleashes her bloodlust on what turns out to be a bevy of vampires.  “How did you know they were vampires?” she is asked after she dispatches the lot of them (reader, she didn’t know they were vampires! Girlfriend is just ragey).  This incident sets her on the hunt for Lady Violet Travesty, during which she accidentally assembles a team of wayward companions including the arrogant, blustery Lord Byron and the mysterious and confusing Sham, a bounty hunter.  The art in this graphic novel is half the hilarity, but the puns and mayhem are the other half.   Reading level:  Hard to say, there is violence and some nudity, but the drawings are so cartoony, it’s hard to take seriously.  My 10 year old read it and LOVED it. 

bland

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau. This series (there are currently three:  The Jolly Regina, The Uncanny Express and the Flight of the Bluebird) follows sisters Kale and Jaundice, who like their monotony thankyouverymuch.  They have order, they have predictability, and a schedule. They liked cheese sandwiches and that which is familiar.  But their oddly missing parents have other plans for them, and they keep sending the sisters on adventures, which the girls would rather not participate in.  Reading level:  Middle grade, and a great read-along for parents, who will chuckle at all the little things the kids miss.

Folklords

Folklords by Matt Kindt and Matt Smith (Issues #1-5 available). Ansel lives in a world populated with ogres and trolls and elves and dwarves.  He’s at the age when he has to choose his Quest, but he has these elaborate dreams of a world so unlike his own, with technology he doesn’t understand.  He seeks the Folklords as his Quest, in the hopes they can explain his dreams, and why he doesn’t fit in.  But he is denied and told the information he seeks is forbidden.  Which of course only makes him sneak off to find his Quest anyway.  Reading level:  Teen and adult, there is some violence.

Pretty Violent

Pretty Violent (with lots of swears) by Derek Hunter (vol. 1 available). Based on the covers alone, it should be no surprise that this comic is brought to us by one of the creators of I Hate Fairyland.  The premise and images are similar.  In this case, an adorable young girl has named herself Gamma Rae and is trying her damned best to be a superhero but just keeps messing it up.  Like really badly.  EPICALLY badly.  Her family of supervillains tries to keep her from what seems to be a fruitless endeavor, but she is undaunted.  She will be the best damn superhero there is if she has to kill everyone trying.  Reading level:  Adult, violence and swears are right in the title. 

Sparks

Sparks! By Ian Boothby.   Two cats, dressed in a dog suit, fighting an evil alien named Princess, who basically looks like a adorable toddler.  I mean, what else do you need?

Loki

Loki (2019) by Daniel Kibblesmith. This comic got cancelled and that’s a damn shame.  Brought to us by the man who wrote Santa’s Husband, the Loki presented here is funny and arrogant and laugh out loud funny.  If you’ve ever wondering “What would Loki be like as a cowboy?”  this is your series.  The ending of this run is masterful, especially considering it was done the last minute.  If you enjoy Marvel and Loki then check this out, it’s a mere 5 issues, but it should have been more.  Mr. Kibblesmith is also the author of Marvel’s Lockjaw which is, oddly, about an extra large pug, so we have come full circle.