Tag Archives: Laughter

January Reading Challenge

January Reading Challenge: Read a book about joy or that makes you laugh.

Many excellent books are about trauma, or grief, or serious and weighty topics. But we want to focus on things that make us happy – especially after yet another year of uncertainty, fear, and grief.

A book that brings you joy will be different for different people. Same as a book that makes you laugh. But if you need some inspiration on getting started with this challenge, here are a few books that are generally cheerful, heartwarming, or amusing – and a longer list of other books to choose from.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I love reading romances. I love knowing what’s going to happen (there’s always going to be a happy ending), I love recognizing tropes, and seeing how the author will subvert them too. But even more than most, I thought this romance novel by Ali Hazelwood was an absolute delight. There was witty banter, heartfelt discussions, silly hi-jinx with low stakes, and of course, the aforementioned requisite happy ending. If romances are the sorts of thing that make you happy, also check out this list of recent romantic comedy novels available at VPL.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is a bit of a cheat – I don’t literally mean The Hobbit (although yes, this is an absolutely delightful, escapist fantasy read). But maybe a book that brings you joy is rereading a childhood favourite of yours – something that inspires that childlike joy and wonder that you experienced when you read it for the first time. For me, reading The Hobbit as a child inspired my love of fantasy – and I feel that sense of escapism when I read a new fantasy novel. Or reading about love, fantasy and whimsy in Anne of Green Gables. Whatever that novel is for you, rediscover those feelings you haven’t felt in years, and reread something you love!

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Comedians are literally paid to make us laugh. That’s the only reason why people know their names. So if you’re in need of a book that makes you laugh this month, why not turn to one by one of the experts in humour? My pick here is the most recent book of essays by Samantha Irby, which is hilariously self-deprecatory, emotionally honest, and goes into graphic details about the failings of our bodies. Other recently published books by comedians includes Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson (the Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Humour), Yearbook by Seth Rogen, and Please Don’t Sit On My Bed In Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Sometimes, to get to those moments of joy, we do need to endure some grief and hardship first. You’ll find that with this book, The Girl with the Louding Voice. This is a heartbreaking yet inspirational story about Adunni, a 14-year old Nigerian girl who learns that she will be entering an arranged marriage with a much older adult neighbour, instead of returning to her education like she longs to do. While Adunni’s story is filled with obstacles and adversity, she is determined to find her ‘Louding Voice’ and speak up for herself and other girls in her situation – and find joy and hope in the worst of situations.

For more books that will make you laugh or bring you joy, check out this list on Bibliocommons, or ask for recommendations in your library.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

When’s the last time you laughed – a hearty, can’t catch your breath, rib-tickling – kind of laugh? Maybe it’s been a while. Maybe you just don’t think there’s anything to laugh about these days, during this challenging, tiring, and seemingly endless monotony we are living in. Maybe you feel guilty to laugh knowing that people in your community are struggling and suffering, knowing that life may not return to the way you remember. Maybe you are still reeling from the unforgivable atrocity against George Floyd, and rightly so (please see Karen’s enlightening blog post on allyship and anti-racism).

Yes, even with all these sorrows, our collective anger and outrage, we must make room for laughter. Humour can lighten our mental load, provide a much-needed respite from the unrelenting flow of bad news, and help us cope with this new world in which we find ourselves.

We have much to be grateful for. Many of us are surrounded by a loving circle of comrades who are enduring quarantine right alongside us. We have seen so many of our community members dedicate their time, resources, and energy to help those less fortunate. And we have prevailed, finding new and innovative ways to connect, exercise, relax, and nourish our souls (#TogetherVaughan). We are gonna get through this!

I’m here to tell you that laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s a scientific fact! Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, and thereby actually improves your resistance to disease. Take a moment to let that sink in. Laughter, yes, plain old-fashioned heart pumping laughter, is actually a disease-fighting superhero!

Below are some of my tried and true favourites to ease the doldrums, put a smile on your face, and warm your heart. Most are available in digital form, however, if you prefer a physical copy, Vaughan Public Libraries has you covered with curbside pickup at select branches. Continue reading