Books·Gift Guide

23 funny books for your holiday shopping list

From romantic misadventures to memoirs by celebrated comedians, here's a wide range of funny reads for the person on your shopping list who loves to laugh.

From romantic misadventures to memoirs by celebrated comedians, here's a wide range of funny reads for the person on your shopping list who loves to laugh.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is Emily Austin's debut novel. (Bridget Forberg, Atria Books)

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead follows the misadventures of Gilda, a 20-something atheist hired at a local Catholic church to replace their recently deceased receptionist, Grace. When Gilda receives email messages from the old receptionist's friend, she takes on Grace's identity to avoid breaking the sad news. Things unravel when the police show up at the church's door, investigating Grace's suspicious death.

Emily Austin is a writer based in Ottawa. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is her debut novel.

She Memes Well by Quinta Brunson

She Memes Well is a collection of essays by American comedian Quinta Brunson. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kevin Winter/Getty Image)

Quinta Brunson's debut collection of essays, She Memes Well, traces her journey to becoming a viral sensation and star of A Black Lady Sketch Show. Raised in west Philadelphia, Brunson was the youngest of five siblings and used humour as a way to connect with her family. She grew up to become a producer at Buzzfeed, a stand-up comedian and one of the funniest people on the internet.

Brunson is now based in Los Angeles. In addition to appearing on A Black Lady Sketch Show, she voices characters in Big Mouth and created and stars in the upcoming ABC comedy series Abbott Elementary.

Dante's Indiana by Randy Boyagoda

Dante's Indiana is a novel by Randy Boyagoda. (Biblioasis, Derek Shapton)

In Dante's Indiana, a dark and satirical novel, a middle-aged English professor named Prin has lost his way. Semi-estranged from his wife and kids, he's desperate for money and purpose. He moves to a small town in Indiana to work for an evangelical millionaire who's building a theme park inspired by Dante's Inferno. Dante's Indiana is the second book in Randy Boyagoda's planned trilogy, following the 2018 novel Original Prin. 

Boyagoda is the author of six books, including Governor of the Northern Province, Beggar's Feast and Original Prin. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Dublin Literary Award. Boyagoda is a columnist on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter and an English professor at the University of Toronto.

Randy Boyagoda, TNC Columnist and author of Dante's Indiana, takes The Next Chapter's Proust questionnaire. 6:33

Super Important Filipina Thoughts by Alia Ceniza Rasul

Super Important Filipina Thoughts is a poetry collection by Alia Ceniza Rasul. (Want & Able Arts Consulting)

Super Important Filipina Thoughts is the first poetry collection from comedian writer and performer Alia Ceniza Rasul. Rasul shares her funny and irreverent reflections on identity, family, relationships and her upbringing.

Rasul is an artist, producer, comedian, performer and writer from Toronto. She is a member of the comedy troupe the Tita Collective.

When comedy writer Alia Ceniza Rasul started to getting writer's block, she took to Instagram to upload her hilarious and irreverant poetry. Those same poems have come together as part of her new poetry book. "Super Important Filipina Thoughts" tackles identity, food, cultural collision, relationships and much more. 11:31

An Embarrassment of Critch's by Mark Critch

An Embarrassment of Critch's is a book by Mark Critch. (Penguin Random House, CBC)

An Embarrassment of Critch's is the second memoir by Canadian comedian Mark Critch. It follows Critch's journey from Newfoundland to the national stage and back again. From his earliest acting gigs supporting Newfoundland tourism to taking his show on the road, Critch revisits some of his career's biggest moments in this memoir.

Critch is a Canadian comedian. For 14 years, he has starred on CBC's flagship show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He's the host of CBC's Halifax Comedy Festival and has written for and appeared in CBC's Just for Laughs. He is also the author of the memoir Son of a Critch.

Mark Critch talks to Shelagh Rogers about his latest memoir, An Embarrassment of Critch's. 22:23

Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal

Cyclopedia Exotica is a comic by Aminder Dhaliwal. (Submitted by Drawn & Quarterly)

Cyclopedia Exotica is a comic set in a parallel universe where cyclops are part of our society. They are artists and doctors and parents and students. But they regularly face discrimination and xenophobia and micro-aggressions. Through this alternate world, Aminder Dhaliwal explores race, discrimination, marginalization, beauty and belonging with humour and heart.

Dhaliwal is a comic writer and television animator originally from Brampton, Ont. Now based in Los Angeles, Dhaliwal is a director at Disney TV Animation. Her comic series Woman World, originally published on Instagram to hundreds of thousands of followers, was released as a graphic novel of the same name by Drawn & Quarterly in 2018.

Canadian cartoonist Aminder Dhaliwal turns funny illustrations into sharp social commentary. She joined Tom Power to talk about how she uses the mythic cyclops as a surprising metaphor for racism in her latest graphic novel, Cyclopedia Exotica. 14:32

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour by Dawn Dumont

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is a novel by Dawn Dumont. (Thistledown Press, Freehand Books)

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is about the trials and tribulations of a touring dance group. Right before a 15-day tour through Europe, all the performers in the Prairie Chicken dance troupe come down with the flu. So, John Greyeyes, a retired cowboy who hasn't danced in 15 years, is thrust into leading a hastily assembled group of replacement dancers. As the gaggle of amateur dancers make its way from one stop to another, nothing goes as planned and the tour becomes a string of madcap adventures. 

Dawn Dumont is a Plains Cree writer, comedian and actor who lives in Saskatoon. She is the author of Rose's RunGlass Beads and Nobody Cries at Bingo, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Alberta Readers Choice Awards, Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Award and First Nation Communities READ Award.

Library by Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

Library is a comic by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber. (Michael Dumontier/Neil Farber, Drawn & Quarterly)

In Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber's Libraryreaders will discover brilliant new works of made-up literature, such as Don't Talk To Me For Too Long, You'll Fall In Love and I Liked Me, But Then I Did What I Did. The Winnipeg artists have been painting imagined books, with inscrutably funny, existential titles, as part of a series that's been on-going since 2009.

Dumontier and Farber are founding members of the art collective the Royal Art Lodge. Their work has been exhibited in galleries throughout Canada and internationally. Their previous books include Constructive Abandonment and Animals with Sharpies.

Operation Angus by Terry Fallis

Operation Angus is a novel by Terry Fallis. (McClelland & Stewart, Tim Fallis)

A follow-up to the comedic novels The Best Laid Plans and The High RoadOperation Angus continues to follow the adventures of Angus McLintock, accidental member of Parliament and now the newly appointed junior global affairs minister. After his chief of staff, Daniel Addison, receives a cryptic late-night text and goes to a secret meeting at a pub, the two of them are thrown into a race against the clock to save the Russian president.

Terry Fallis is the author of several novels, including One Brother ShyThe Best Laid PlansThe High Road and Up and Down. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour twice, in 2008 for The Best Laid Plans, and in 2015 for No RelationThe Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads in 2011, when it was defended by journalist Ali Velshi.

Terry Fallis is at Writersfest tonight (at a virtual event hosted by Alan) 15:47

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Accidentally Engaged is a novel by Farah Heron. (farahheron.com, Forever)

In the romantic comedy Accidentally EngagedReena Manji refuses to be attracted to the man her parents have set her up with — the charming and attractive Nadim. But when Reena gets the opportunity to enter a cooking competition, she will do anything to win — even pretend to be engaged to Nadim.

Farah Heron is a writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Chai Factor. Her first YA novel, Tahira in Bloom, was also published in 2021.

Farah Heron on what inspired her romantic comedy The Chai Factor and how diversity has changed the romance genre. 2:28

Happy Sands by Barb Howard

Happy Sands is a novel by Barb Howard. (University of Calgary Press, Harder Lee)

Happy Sands is a novel about a family vacation gone wrong. Ginny Johnson, her husband Martin, and her two kids, Alistair and Ruby, go to Happy Sands Resort every summer. Ginny always wishes their vacation would be perfect to no avail. This year, Martin spends all his time sleeping, Ruby makes everything competitive and Alistair avoids the sun and his family. Alone and annoyed, Ginny starts drinking earlier in the day and spends time with the other residents at the resort to distract herself, providing a lens into their eccentric inner lives.

Barb Howard is the author of Notes for MondayWhipstockThe Dewpoint Show and the short story collection, Western Taxidermy. She currently lives in Calgary.

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Hana Khan Carries On is a novel by Uzma Jalaluddin. (HarperCollins, Andrea Stenson)

Hana Khan Carries On is a romantic comedy from Uzma Jalaluddin. Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. When her aunt and a cousin come to town, and a rival restaurant opens in their neighbourhood, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. Fighting for her family is a big battle, one that will put all of Hana's skills to the test. It's a battle that gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's attractive owner, Aydin.

Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.

Uzma Jalaluddin talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest romantic comedy novel, Hana Khan Carries On. 14:07

All Over the Map by Ron James

All Over the Map is a book by Ron James. (Doubleday Canada)

Ron James is a Canadian stand-up comedian who has toured across the country. In the memoir All Over the Map, James reminisces about growing up in Nova Scotia, his early struggles as an aspiring comic, and includes reflections on family, country, celebrity and lessons learned.

James is a comedian from Nova Scotia who now lives in Toronto. He had a CBC series, The Ron James Show, for five years, from 2009 to 2014.

Canadian standup comedian Ron James spoke with Tom Power about his new memoir, All Over the Map, which explores his Nova Scotian roots, his struggles to break into comedy and more. 20:16

Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic, HarperCollins Publishers)

Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi, who decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi's long-lost Uncle Leroy. The postcard dates back to Leroy's own European adventure almost 100 years ago. 

Indians on Vacation won the 2021 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, was shortlisted for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Thomas King is a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

Thomas King talks about the autobiographical inspiration by his novel Indians on Vacation, which is longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 16:47

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

The Holiday Swap is written by Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley, who go by the pen name Maggie Knox. (Jenna Davis, marissastapley.com)

In The Holiday Swap, Charlie Goodwin loses her ability to taste and smell after she suffers a head injury on set — two important senses for a celebrity baking judge. Back home, Charlie's identical twin sister Cass is overwhelmed running the family bakery and avoiding her ex-boyfriend. Charlie and Cass agree to switch places, days before Christmas, to help each other out. But the plan is complicated by two charming men, firefighter Jake Greenman and physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez.

Maggie Knox is the pseudonym of Canadian writing duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley. Brown's bestselling books include Recipe for a Perfect Wife and The 4% Fix, while Stapley's known for romantic novels like Mating for Life and Things to Do When It's RainingThe Holiday Swap is their first collaboration.

A Boring Wife Settles the Score by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson

A Boring Wife Settles the Score is a novel written by Marie-Renée Lavoie, pictured, and translated by Arielle Aaronson. (Martine Doyon, House of Anansi Press)

A Boring Wife Settles the Score is a sequel to the funny and heartfelt novel Autopsy of a Boring Wife. In A Boring Wife Settles the ScoreDiane is putting her life back together again. She has a job at a daycare, her best friend Claudine and a new mission in life: to find romance once again.

Marie-Renée Lavoie is the author of three other books, including Mister Roger and Me (La petite et le vieux in French), which won Radio-Canada's Le combat national des livres in 2012. Lavoie lives in Montreal.

Arielle Aaronson is a translator from Montreal.

Afterlift by Jason Loo & Chip Zdarsky

Afterlift is a comic by Chip Zdarsky, bottom right, and Jason Loo, top right. (Dark Horse Comics)

Afterlift is a series from Canadian creators Jason Loo and Chip Zdarsky. It's about a ride-share driver named Janice Chen, who gets caught up in a supernatural world when she picks up a pair of mysterious passengers. 

Afterlift debuted online last year as part of the comiXology Originals line. This paperback includes issues #1-#5.

Loo is a cartoonist from Toronto. He is best known for the series The Pitiful Human-Lizard. He also worked on the Captain Canuck reboot.

Zdarsky is a comic book writer and illustrator born in Edmonton and based in Toronto. He has worked on comics such as Sex Criminals, Kaptara, Jughead, Howard the Duck, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man and Daredevil.

Marvel's Chip Zdarsky on how to be a successful comic book creator

3 years ago
4:31
The writer and illustrator of comic book characters such as Daredevil, Spider-Man on how to make it in the comic book industry. 4:31

The Vinyl Cafe Celebrates by Stuart McLean

The Vinyl Cafe Celebrates is a posthumous collection of stories by Stuart McLean. (CBC, Random House Canada)

Stuart McLean hosted Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio for more than two decades, regaling audiences with funny fictional stories about a down-to-earth Toronto family headed by Dave and Morley. The Vinyl Cafe Celebrates includes 10 never-before-published stories and 10 new classic favourites, including The WaterslideThe Canoe Trip and the beloved classic Christmas tale Dave Cooks the Turkey.

McLean was a bestselling author, award-winning journalist and humourist in addition to hosting Vinyl Cafe. His books won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times. Vinyl Cafe ended in 2015, when McLean revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer. He died in 2017 at age 68.

Talking to Canadians by Rick Mercer

Talking to Canadians is a book by Rick Mercer. (John Sturge, Penguin Random House)

Rick Mercer, the most private of public figures, has turned the spotlight on himself in Talking to Canadians. When the beloved comedian retired from his hugely successful TV show after 15 seasons, at the peak of its popularity, everyone wondered what he was going to do next. The answer came not long after, when he became a stand-up comedian, playing to sold-out houses wherever he appeared. 

Mercer rose to fame with his one-man show that toured across Canada, Show Me the Button I'll Push It, or Charles Lynch Must Die. He co-created and was a resident performer on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes and was co-host of The Rick Mercer Report for 15 seasons. 

Comedian Rick Mercer joined Tom Power live in studio to discuss his new memoir, Talking to Canadians, which charts his rise from highly unpromising schoolboy to the heights of TV fame. 23:16

We Had a Little Real Estate Problem by Kliph Nesteroff

We Had a Little Real Estate Problem is a book by Kliph Nesteroff. (Jim Herrington)

We Had a Little Real Estate Problem documents the unheralded legacy of Indigenous comedians in North America. Based on extensive research and interviews, the book begins in the late 1880s and profiles legendary and upcoming comics through time, from Will Rogers to Dakota Ray Hebert. The title of the book is taken from Charlie Hill's classic joke: "My people are from Wisconsin. We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem."

Kliph Nesteroff is a non-Indigenous comedy historian from Canada. His previous book, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy, came out in 2015 to positive reviews.

In 1977, Oneida comic Charlie Hill made his primetime debut on the legendary yet controversial Richard Pryor Show. Hill’s influential career in comedy began with one punchline: “My people are from Wisconsin. We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem.” That punchline is now the title of a new book that gives readers an in-depth look into the history of Indigenous comedians, from vaudeville acts to The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Tom Power talked to Kliph Nesteroff, the author of We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy, as well as one of the Canadian stand-up comics profiled in the book, Dakota Ray Hebert. 21:00

Pizza Punks by Cole Pauls

Pizza Punks is a comic by Cole Pauls. (Conundrum Press)

Pizza Punks is a comic that celebrates pizza, and asks the question how far would a pizza-loving punk rocker go for a slice? All kinds of pizza are celebrated in this quirky comic, from deep dish to backpack pizza to mosh-pit pizza and more.

Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist. He created his first comic, Dakwäkãda Warriorsas a language-revival initiative. In 2017, it won Broken Pencil magazine's Best Comic and Best Zine of the Year Award.

Yukon comic artist Cole Pauls has brought out a book version of his Pizza Punks comic strip, along with a seven inch release on Mint Records. 10:20

Yearbook by Seth Rogen

Yearbook is a book by Seth Rogen. (Penguin Random House Canada, Maarten de Boer)

Yearbook is a collection of personal essays from actor, writer and director Seth Rogen. The celebrated comedian and weed entrepreneur writes about his early days as a teenage stand up comic in Vancouver, as well as his grandparents, Jewish summer camp and doing drugs. 

Rogen is a Canadian actor, producer and screenwriter now based on Los Angeles. In addition to being the executive producer of The Boys and Invicible, Rogen starred in Neighbors, Knocked Up and This Is the End, and wrote the screenplay for Superbad.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Honey Girl is a novel by Morgan Rogers. (Park Row Books, morgwrites.com)

Honey Girl is a love story that follows straight-laced Grace Porter, a newly graduated PhD student and the daughter of an ex-military father. Grace celebrates her astronomy degree in Las Vegas, and is shocked the next morning when she realizes she's married to a woman whose name she can't remember. Feeling the weight of her family's expectations, Grace flees to New York City for the summer to get to know her new wife, Yuki Yamamoto. 

Honey Girl is Morgan Rogers's debut novel. She lives in Maryland.

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