I’ve let this slide, haven’t I? I set up a series for six books and left it at four. It does get more difficult choosing the last two. Don’t wait up for the final choice, it may be a while coming.
Three Men In A Boat, (to say nothing of the dog) (Jerome K. Jerome)
I don’t go in for funny books much. They always disappoint. I didn’t like Catch-22, for instance (currently enjoying the light again thanks to George Clooney); the only bit I found worthwhile in it is the sad bit towards the end. I don’t think books are the right vehicle for a good laugh.
But I did laugh at this. The belly-aching, tears streaming kind which robs me of all chances of sleep (yes, I mostly read in bed, always). Jerome’s account of their collective failure to get inside a pineapple tin for dessert is likely the funniest thing I’ve read.
It’s quaint as well; over a hundred years old when I picked it up first; I was about 20ish. In short, it’s a river trip up the Thames by the author and two of his close friends, Harris and George, and a dog named Montmorency. They hire a camping skiff, basically a long rowing boat which doubles as a tent. They are inept but competitive in nature; they right the world with their opinions and regale us with anecdotes. It’s a seminal work.
It’s a pity how comedy diminishes with repetition but it can’t be helped, unless perhaps in sharing the feeling with others. They would have had to have enjoyed it too, of course.
Other good choices,
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This is sometimes considered to be “a trilogy in five parts”, this title being the first of five books on the galactic adventures of hapless human, Arthur Dent, after he escapes Earth shortly before its demolition to make way for an intergalactic bypass. It’s a brilliant concept but, for me, the humour wanes with each novel in turn. A trilogy would’ve been better. Still, the best comic sci-fi ever written.
The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans (and Ronald Searle)
Nigel Molesworth, of the prep school St. Custard’s. An English schoolboy’s survival guide, basically. Bad speling and brill cartoon illustrations by Ronald Searle. I first read these as individual books beginning with Down With Skool, and then How To Be Topp, Whizz For Atomms, and Back In The Jug Agane. I was probably ten or eleven but the complete works is available for adults!
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole