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Looking for a laugh? Here are some of NPR's favorite funny books of 2021

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Books We Love - that's NPR's list of best reads from 2021. It has hundreds of recommendations, so where to begin? We've got you covered. Books have - yeah, OK, covers. Today, four of our colleagues have suggestions for when you're looking to pick up something that's weighty but maybe a little bit funny.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOUBAB KREWE'S "BANI")

SAM YELLOWHORSE KESLER, BYLINE: Hi. I'm Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. I'm this year's Code Switch fellow, and I'm recommending "We Had A Little Real Estate Problem" by Kliph Nesteroff.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOUBAB KREWE'S "BANI")

KESLER: This year, we saw two amazing comedy series from Indigenous writers - "Rutherford Falls" and "Reservation Dogs." But Native people didn't just start being funny this year. Nesteroff's book really shows that with a well-told history of Indigenous comedy from Indian sideshows to profiles of Native comedians making waves today.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOUBAB KREWE'S "BANI")

KESLER: The title actually comes from a great one-liner from the legendary comedian Charlie Hill, who used to start off his routines by saying that his people aren't from Wisconsin, that they used to be from New York, and that they had a little real estate problem.

Nesteroff is not Native himself, but he takes real care and has a real reverence for the people whose story he's telling. And you can tell he's mostly just in awe of the power comedy has to bring people together. So if you want a light read that sheds light on a lineage of really funny people, this is your book.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "PALLADIAN")

MALAKA GHARIB, BYLINE: My name is Malaka Gharib, and I'm an editor on NPR's Science desk. I am recommending "My Begging Chart," a graphic novel by Keiler Roberts.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "PALLADIAN")

GHARIB: It's a darkly funny, whimsical collection of autobiographical stories. I love this book because it captures these tiny micromoments in everyday life that kind of just slip through the cracks.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "PALLADIAN")

GHARIB: There's one comic of Roberts wiping down a smelly air mattress, or realizing after she's made an entire batch of brownies that they're expired, so she just dumps the pan in the trash, or zoning out while her daughter is talking to her about a new exercise she made up.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "PALLADIAN")

GHARIB: It's hard to gauge whether these moments are surreal or tragic or hilarious, but I think that's what makes them kind of genius - that she notices these little things, and they feel so relatable.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "PALLADIAN")

ERIN SELLS, BYLINE: My name is Erin Sells. I'm director of institutional giving on NPR's development team.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BUDOS BAND'S "T.I.B.W.F.")

SELLS: I'm recommending "Hell Of A Book," a novel by Jason Mott.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BUDOS BAND'S "T.I.B.W.F.")

SELLS: The narrator of this novel is a Black author in his first book tour across America, which just happens to be happening as America erupts in protests over the police murder of a young Black boy. The narrator is usually drunk. He doesn't usually know where he is. And he does not know what his book is about.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BUDOS BAND'S "T.I.B.W.F.")

SELLS: He also can't tell what's real. The Black boy that was murdered by the police might be following him. His dead mother might be in the audience. And that might be Nic Cage sitting across from him on the plane.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BUDOS BAND'S "T.I.B.W.F.")

SELLS: This is a very unusual book. Usually when I tell people what it's about and then I tell them that it's really funny, they don't believe me, probably because there aren't a lot of really funny books about novelists on book tour. And there aren't a lot of really funny books about racial trauma either, but this is one.

JASON DEROSE, BYLINE: Hello. My name is Jason DeRose. I'm the Western Bureau Chief for NPR News. I'm recommending "The Guncle" by Steven Rowley. It's the story of Patrick, who through a series of tragedies is left to care for his niece and nephew. The kids are grieving the loss of their mom, who was also Patrick's best friend. And Patrick is still grieving the death of his partner from years earlier. I know. So far, this does not sound like a comedy. But gay Uncle Patrick is learning to raise two small children. Before the kids came to live with him, he was occupied with caftans and cocktails and cabanas. Now he's faced with loose front teeth and temper tantrums and explaining the virtues of brunch to two very picky eaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF A PICTURE OF HER'S "SNAP AWAKE!")

DEROSE: Also, the novel is set in Palm Springs. It's a desert playground, but it's a playground decidedly for adults. Navigating life with children in a queer mecca amid midcentury modernism and the neighboring throuple is hilarious. Together, Guncle Patrick and the kids become an oasis of family for each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF A PICTURE OF HER'S "SNAP AWAKE!")

SIMON: That was Jason DeRose recommending "The Guncle," Erin Sells with "Hell Of A Book," Malaka Gharib, who recommended "My Begging Chart," and Sam Yellowhorse Kesler, who suggested "We Had A Little Real Estate Problem." For more ideas on what to read, you can find the full list of Books We Love at npr.org/bestbooks.

(SOUNDBITE OF A PICTURE OF HER'S "SNAP AWAKE!") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.