Books have been my go-to comfort objects for a long time. My brother, Jeremy, likes to tell a funny story about a childhood sailing trip—we were on a boat with my father, our cousin, and my brother’s friend when my dad decided to try and “beat a storm.” Which went about as well as you’d expect. We lost both anchors and started taking on water from the large swells that were breaking over the ship. Everyone who knew how to sail was wretchedly seasick and my brother’s friend had to use the radio to call in a mayday. As the storm was starting to wind down, Jeremy found me nose-deep in a copy of David Edding’s Queen of Sorcery. When he asked me what on earth I was doing, I replied that I wanted to finish the book before I died.
When my brother trots the story out, he still looks at me like I’m an alien. In my defense, I had done what I could, but I knew nothing about boats and beyond offering sympathy, there’s not much you can do for people dealing with seasickness. He’s also never been a reader and didn’t understand the soothing balm that books were to me. But as I got older, I realized that some books were better than others for this. There’s a direct connection to what I read and my corresponding mental state. If I read nothing but Clive Barker and Stephen King, I wind up getting a little depressed. But if I stuck to funnier books—books full of whimsy, as it were—I did better.
Which brings us to now. I don’t know about you, but 2016 was an unmitigated Dumpster Fire for me. I was counting down the days until it was over. Then 2017 began. If 2016 was a Dumpster Fire, 2017 has been like that flaming trash asteroid from Futurama. I needed books. Funny books. Silly books. Weird books. Whimsy has gone from a delightful treat to a necessary staple. And I thought maybe, just maybe, that I might not be alone in this. That you might need help, too.
Thus Necessary Whimsy was born—a reoccurring post recommending books to soothe the overwrought soul. It’s okay, friends. Or at least it will be, for the next 300+ pages.
Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold
I actually came pretty late to Bujold. I started with the Young Miles collection, an omnibus containing The Warrior’s Apprentice, The Mountains of Mourning and The Vor Game, after reading a post on here about weird spies. I don’t know how I’d missed Bujold up until this point. I’m now making up for missed time. Reading about Miles Vorkosigan is like watching a slow-motion car wreck, only the cars involved are all clown cars. Miles’s body may be weak, but his mind is brilliant. You watch as he makes what seem to be very logical in-the-moment decisions and then watch as those unfold in jaw-dropping fashion. They books aren’t often laugh-out-loud funny, but they do fill me with unholy glee.
Super Extra Grande by Yoss
Yoss is the pen name of author José Miguel Sánchez Gómez, and while he’s long established in the sci-fi literary scene in Cuba, this is only his second book to be translated into English. And it doesn’t mess around. It starts off in the bowels of a giant monster—as in, our intrepid lead, Dr. Jan Amos Sangan Dongo, is literally inside the intestinal tract of a giant creature. Yoss immediately establishes how this book is going to go. And it’s slim—a mere 156 pages—of satire, giant amoebas, and delightful silliness. Did I mention that Yoss is in metal band? His author photo is pure rock. Do yourself a favor and check it out and then dive into Super Extra Grande.
Prom Dates from Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs Evil #1) by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Someone handed me this book a few years ago telling me that if I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I would like these books. I quickly read them all. And then everything Clement-Moore has written. I may or may not lurk on her social media waiting for any news of her next book. If you like young adult, snark, and teenagers fighting demons, this series is for you. Sadly, these books appear to be on their way out of print, so you’ll have to hit the Internet or the library to track them down, but I personally think it’s worth it. If you need something a little easier to track down, I liked Spirit & Dust and Texas Gothic even more, but the Maggie Quinn books hold a special place in my heart because I read them first.
Kim & Kim Volume 1 by Magdalene Visaggio (writer), Eva Cabrera (artist), and Claudia Aguirre (colorist)
I read a review describing Kim & Kim as Blade Runner meets Jem and the Holograms, which was basically a “shut up and take my money” description for me. I would also add that the comic definitely has a Tank Girl feel to it, as well. Kim and Kim are intergalactic bounty hunters, and it’s hard to really nail down what I liked the most about this comic. The bright color scheme and poppy art? The friendship between the Kims? The giant robot monkeys or the squid people? The use of a guitar as a weapon? Why pick if I don’t have to? It’s funny, and bright, and weird and I might have to break down and get the single issues because I’m not sure I can be patient enough to wait until Volume 2 comes out.
That’s all the whimsy I have at this time. Didn’t see your favorite author? (I know some of you are yelling, “Where’s Pratchett?!?” Don’t worry. We’ll get to Pratchett.) Want to recommend your favorite funny genre book? Great! Comment below. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of us are going to need all the whimsy we can get, and this includes me. I need some new reading material and if it tickles my fancy, I just might review your suggestion next!
Lish McBride currently resides in Seattle, spending most of her time at her day job at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. The rest of her time is divided between writing, reading, and Twitter, where she either discusses her desire for a nap or her love for kittens. (Occasionally ponies.) Her debut novel, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and was a finalist for the YALSA William C. Morris Award. Her other works include Necromancing the Stone, Firebug, and Pyromantic.