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By: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary

RESPECTABILITY, n. The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account. BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband. LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones. If these caustic definitions catch your fancy, you'd enjoy The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. He was a columnist with the San Francisco News Letter, a weekly paper which was a business publication aimed at the corporate sector. However, it had a column entitled Town Crier which featured satirical asides and comments in a lighter vein...

Write it Right by Ambrose Bierce Write it Right

Witty, opinionated alphabetical examples of what Bierce considered poor (American) English and advice on alternatives – entertaining, thought-provoking, occasionally outdated but so interesting to see how style and taste have changed.

Book cover Fantastic Fables

By: George Grossmith (1847-1912)

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith The Diary of a Nobody

Grossmith’s comic novel unveils the daily chronicles of the pompous and clumsy middle-aged clerk Charles Pooter, who has just moved to the London suburb of Holloway with his wife Carrie. Nonetheless, the family’s fresh start is not quite what they had in mind. Set in the late Victorian era, the diary accurately documents the manners, customs, trends and experiences of the time. First appearing in Punch magazine through the years 1888-89, The Diary of a Nobody was first published in book form in 1892 and has entertained readers ever since...

By: Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908)

Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus

Bearing a striking resemblance to Aesop of Aesop's Fables fame, American author Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus is also a former slave who loves to tell simple and pithy stories. Uncle Remus or to give it its original title, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings was published in late 1880 and received instant acclaim. The book was reviewed in hundreds of journals and newspapers across the country, leading to its immense success, both critical and financial. “Remus” was originally a fictional character in a newspaper column...

By: Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl Fables for the Frivolous

The Urban Rat and the Suburban Rat, The Persevering Tortoise and the Pretentious Hare, The Ambitious Fox and the Unapproachable Grapes.... If some of these titles seem vaguely familiar to you, you wouldn't be mistaken! Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl contains some well-known fables in a modern packaging, with a delightful new twist! The complete title of the original published in 1898 was Fables for the Frivolous (With apologies to La Fontaine) and it was the first published work of this gifted American journalist, humorist and poet...

Grimm Tales Made Gay by Guy Wetmore Carryl Grimm Tales Made Gay

A comic rendering in verse of well-loved Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, each ending with a moral and full of puns. The titles of the tales themselves make another verse.

Mother Goose for Grownups by Guy Wetmore Carryl Mother Goose for Grownups

Mother Goose for Grownups is a delightfully silly collection of parodies on well-known Mother Goose tales by Guy Wetmore Carryl.

By: Bill Nye

Comic History of the United States by Bill Nye Comic History of the United States

For American journalist and humorist Edgar Wilson Nye who wrote under the pen name Bill Nye in the late 19th century, facts are not to be presented in their newborn, bare state. They should be properly draped and embellished before they can be presented before the public. Hence, in the Comic History of the United States published in 1894, he gives his readers the facts. But in a bid to make the historical figures more human he describes them as “people who ate and possibly drank, people who were born, flourished and died, not grave tragedians posing perpetually for their photographs...

Comic History of England by Bill Nye Comic History of England

If you thought history was dull, dry and boring, you haven't read Bill Nye's books! He brings wit, humor, satire, irony and sheer nonsensical fun into the subject, making it both entertaining and memorable. The Comic History of England was published posthumously in 1896 after the writer's tragic and untimely death half-way through the project. Hence it remains incomplete and covers the history of the island nation only up to the Tudor period. However, beginning with Julius Caesar, the Roman invasion of Britain, the Druids and Stonehenge, this book is still a rib-tickling ride through the centuries...

Nye and Riley's Wit and Humor (Poems and Yarns) by Bill Nye Nye and Riley's Wit and Humor (Poems and Yarns)
Book cover Bill Nye's Funniest Thoughts

Bill Nye was a famous American humor columnist in the middle 1800's. He said "We can never be a nation of snobs so long as we are willing to poke fun at ourselves." And he did exactly that in hundreds of newspaper columns that were later collected into books. This is a selection of just 35 of the most humorous, wry and downright funny cogitations of his, written of course in the somewhat convoluted style common in the 19th century which just adds to their flavor in my opinion. The selection process was rigorous: only those that made me laugh, giggle or snort are included.

By: Saki (1870-1916)

Reginald by Saki Reginald

Saki was the pen name of the British author Hector Hugh Munro (1870 – 1916). His witty, biting and occasionally odd short stories satirised Edwardian culture. Saki is considered a master of the short story and has been compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker as well as Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde (who clearly influenced Saki). His first collection of short stories, Reginald, was published by Methuen Press in 1904 though these stories first appeared in the ‘Westminster Gazette’. The stories...

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki The Chronicles of Clovis

This is the third collection of short stories by Saki, following on from “Reginald” and “Reginald in Russia”. Although some of the stories have characters that do not appear elsewhere in the collection, many of them are loosely centred round the young Clovis Sangrail (effectively a reincarnation of Reginald).

Beasts and Super-Beasts by Saki Beasts and Super-Beasts

Saki (December 18, 1870 – November 14, 1916) was the pen name of British author Hector Hugh Munro. Saki’s world contrasts the effete conventions and hypocrisies of Edwardian England with the ruthless but straightforward life-and-death struggles of nature. Nature generally wins in the end.

By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Babbitt

By: A. A. Milne (1882-1956)

Once on a Time by A. A. Milne Once on a Time

This version of the book is done as a Dramatic Reading with various people speaking each characters part.When the King of Barodia receives a pair of seven-league boots as a birthday present, his habit of flying over the King of Euralia's castle during breakfast provokes a series of incidents which escalate into war. While the King of Euralia is away, his daughter Hyacinth tries to rule in his stead and counter the machiavellian ambitions of the king's favourite, the Countess Belvane. Ostensibly a typical fairytale, it tells the story of the war between the kingdoms of Euralia and Barodia and the political shenanigans which take place in Euralia in the king's absence...

By: Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)

A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

After the bizarre textual antics of “Tristram Shandy”, this book would seem to require a literary health warning. Sure enough, it opens in mid-conversation upon a subject never explained; meanders after a fashion through a hundred pages, then fizzles out in mid-sentence – so, a plotless novel lacking a beginning, a middle or an end. Let us say: an exercise in the infinitely comic. “There is not a secret so aiding to the progress of sociality, as to get master of this short hand, and to be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words...

By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

The Clicking of Cuthbert by P. G. Wodehouse The Clicking of Cuthbert

The first of two books that he wrote on golfing themes, The Clicking of Cuthbert by PG Wodehouse sparkles with typical Wodehousian wit, humor and general goofiness! An avid golfer himself, Wodehouse published the ten stories in this volume in 1922. In 1924, an American edition titled Golf Without Tears was published. Since then it has enjoyed undimmed popularity among both Wodehouse fans and golfing enthusiasts. Nine of the stories contained in this book are narrated by the Oldest Member, a character who has become a cult figure among Wodehouse fans...

The Intrusion of Jimmy by P. G. Wodehouse The Intrusion of Jimmy

The action begins with playboy bachelor Jimmy Pitt in New York; having fallen in love on a transatlantic liner, he befriends a small-time burglar and breaks into a police captain's house as a result of a bet. The cast of characters head to England, and from there on it is a typically Wodehousian romantic farce, set at the stately Dreever Castle, overflowing with imposters, detectives, crooks, scheming lovers and conniving aunts.

Jill the Reckless by P. G. Wodehouse Jill the Reckless

Jill had money, Jill was engaged to be married to Sir Derek Underhill. Suddenly Jill becomes penniless, and she is no longer engaged. With a smile, in which there is just a tinge of recklessness, she refuses to be beaten and turns to face the world. Instead she goes to New York and becomes a member of the chorus of "The Rose of America," and Mr. Wodehouse is enabled to lift the curtain of the musical comedy world. There is laughter and drama in _Jill the Reckless_, and the action never flags from the moment that Freddie Rooke confesses that he has had a hectic night, down to the point where Wally says briefly "Let 'em," which is page 313...

The Coming of Bill by P. G. Wodehouse The Coming of Bill

The Coming of Bill tells the story of Kirk Winfield, his marriage to Ruth, and their child called Bill. Bill's upbringing is threatened by the interference of Ruth's busybody writer aunt, Mrs Lora Delane Porter.

By: Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Love-Songs of Childhood by Eugene Field Love-Songs of Childhood

If you've heard and loved that delightful nursery rhyme/lullaby, Wynken Blynken and Nod you'd certainly enjoy browsing through its creator Eugene Field's Love Songs of Childhood. The volume contains some forty or more poems for children, which are ideal for read aloud sessions with young folks. Parents will certainly enjoy reading them too. Most of these poems have been set to music and are ideal for family sing-alongs too. Eugene Field was a gifted humorist as well as being a talented children's writer...

Book cover The House An Episode in the Lives of Reuben Baker, Astronomer, and of His Wife, Alice

By: John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream by John Kendrick Bangs Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream

John Kendrick Bangs (May 27, 1862 – January 21, 1922) was an American author and satirist, and the creator of modern Bangasian Fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife. (Wikipedia)Plot summary: J K Bangs has taken Alice from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and lets her on a boring day travel with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the other of Carroll’s familiar characters to Blunderland. The story is a well written Satire, a witty, humorous tale of adventure and city politics, a tale of Alice in a land where nothing is as it should be. (Summary by Lars Rolander)

The Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs The Idiot

The Idiot is anything but, yet his fellow boarders at Mrs. Smithers-Pedagog’s home for single gentlemen see him as such. His brand of creative thought is dismissed as foolishness yet it continues to get under their skin, because when you’re beneath contempt you can say what you please. – This is the first of John Kendrick Bangs' “Idiot” books and was published by Harper and Brothers in 1895.

The Autobiography of Methuselah by John Kendrick Bangs The Autobiography of Methuselah

A satirical look at early biblical events from the point of view of someone who was there to witness most of them: the oldest man in recorded history.

Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others by John Kendrick Bangs Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others

New York-born John Kendrick Bangs was associate editor and then editor of Life and Harper magazines, eventually finding his way into the Humour department. Here he began to write his own satire and humour. Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others is a delightfully humourous collection of short tales relating encounters with ghosts.

Coffee and Repartee by John Kendrick Bangs Coffee and Repartee

First released in 1893, Coffee And Repartee is a collection of breakfast chats at a gentlemans boarding house run by a Mrs. Smithers. Here these fellows repeatedly face questions and proclamations by an inhabitant they call The Idiot. The discussions sound friendly under pretense, but are really sly battles of ribald wit and cunning charm, as well as rather offensive remarks during a time period considered by many to favour a height of refined etiquette. The Idiot spars well, but will the other residents get the better of him?

Mr Munchausen by John Kendrick Bangs Mr Munchausen

The author has discovered for us in this volume the present stopping place of that famous raconteur of dear comic memory, the late Hieronymous Carl Friederich, sometime Baron Munchausen, and he transmits to us some further adventures of this traveler and veracious relator of merry tales. There are about a dozen of these tales, and, judging by Mr. Bangs' recital of them, the Baron's adventures on this mundane sphere were no more exciting than those he has encountered since taking the ferry across the Styx...

Book cover Over The Plum Pudding

Great Caesar’s ghost and shades of A Christmas Carol! Stories – some ghostly, some Christmas, some humorous, some all three -- twelve of them by a master story teller and humorist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Book cover Enchanted Typewriter

The Enchanted Typewriter is a collection of short stories by the American author John Kendrick Bangs, written in 1899 in the style that has become known as Bangsian fantasy. Bangs attributes many of the stories to the late (and invisible) James Boswell, who has become an editor for a newspaper in Hades, and who communicates with the author by means of an old typewriter. The fantasy stories in this book are part of the author's Hades series, named for the stories' setting.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

Book cover Jack and the Check Book

Bangs is in top form in his version of this small collection of timeless fairy tales. If you don't immediately recognize Jack and the Check Book, Puss, the Promoter, and the Golden Fleece, don't worry, you soon will.

Toppleton's Client by John Kendrick Bangs Toppleton's Client

A pre-eminent legal firm gets far more than it bargained for when it hires the son of its late senior partner, Hopkins Toppleton, Sr., simply to retain the illustrious family name on the company masthead. Knowing Jr. is a loose cannon, their strategy is to pack him off to the UK to head up a European branch of the firm - a branch they have no intention of sending work. The unwitting Hopkins Toppleton, Jr. is, however, determined to make his mark.

Toppleton's Client by John Kendrick Bangs Toppleton's Client

A pre-eminent legal firm gets far more than it bargained for when it hires the son of its late senior partner, Hopkins Toppleton, Sr., simply to retain the illustrious family name on the company masthead. Knowing Jr. is a loose cannon, their strategy is to pack him off to the UK to head up a European branch of the firm - a branch they have no intention of sending work. The unwitting Hopkins Toppleton, Jr. is, however, determined to make his mark.

By: Edward Lear (1812-1888)

A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear A Book of Nonsense

In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularize the form. This book contains 112 of these funny, imaginative verses that have been well loved by many generations of children (and adults). (

Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets by Edward Lear Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets

A selection of nonsense poems, songs (not sung!), stories, and miscellaneous strangeness. The work includes the "Owl and the Pussycat" and a recipe for Amblongus Pie, which begins "Take 4 pounds (say 4½ pounds) of fresh ablongusses and put them in a small pipkin."Edward Lear was an English writer, poet, cat-lover, and illustrator (his watercolours are beautiful). This recording celebrates the 200th anniversary of Lear's birth.

Book cover Nonsense Drolleries The Owl & The Pussy-Cat—The Duck & The Kangaroo.
Book cover More Nonsense

By: George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928)

Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon Brewster's Millions

He hosts an all expenses paid luxury cruise to Europe for fifty guests and showers them with expensive gifts. When he's mugged in a dark alley, he insists that the thugs also take the $300 stashed away in his back pocket. He flies into a rage whenever one of his employees suggests cutting costs. Every time he places a bet, he wins, causing him even more despair! In Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon, a classic riches-to-rags tale, Montgomery Brewster is bound by the terms of an eccentric uncle's will to spend one million dollars completely within a year so that he can lay claim to an even bigger fortune...

Book cover Yollop

Mr. Crittenden Yollop makes friends with the man who came to burglarize his home and sets out to help him return to where he really wants to be...prison. This humorous satire takes a somewhat different look at prisons, criminals, the law and reformers.

By: Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)

The King of Schnorrers by Israel Zangwill The King of Schnorrers

Manasseh da Costa is a schnorrer (beggar) who lives on the charitable contributions of the Jews of late 18th-century London. But Manasseh is far from being a humble panhandler for, as every schnorrer knows, supporting the poor is a commandment from God (a mitzvah) not just a favour. And as the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had lived in England for many generations, Manasseh is the social superior of those newly arrived from Eastern Europe (called ‘Tedesco’), even his wealthy patron Joseph Grobstock...

By: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In it, Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has just returned from her honeymoon with George Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant, who has combined research with their honeymoon. The reappearance of Tesman’s academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, throws their lives into disarray.

By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley Crome Yellow

A shy, introverted young poet. A weekend in a magnificent English country house. A beautiful young lady whom the poet is secretly in love with. An assorted group of guests with varied interests, motives, ambitions and aspirations, and the complex web of history and events that connect all of them. Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley was his first book, published in 1921, when he was just 27 years old. It is typical of many books written during this period by writers like Thomas Love Peacock and Somerset Maugham, centered round a country mansion and the quaint, British tradition of being invited to spend a weekend with a group of people whom one may or may not know...

By: Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley Love Conquers All

Sixty-three essays on a variety of topics as wide apart as Family Life in America, Opera Synopses, Bigamy, International Finance and many more, Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley strangely enough does not touch upon romance at all! However, these delightful notes provide hours of browsing pleasure for young and old readers alike. Robert Benchley was a well-known humorist and newspaper columnist, radio and television presenter, actor, scriptwriter and broadcaster. He is also credited with creating the first ever television entertainment show and one of his iconic short films, How to Sleep won an Academy Award in 1936...

By: John Habberton

Helen's Babies by John Habberton Helen's Babies

Harry Burton, salesman of white-goods, bachelor of twenty-eight leads a charmed existence. A letter from his sister, Helen changes his life forever. She and her husband have been invited for a holiday but they can't find anyone to baby-sit their two toddlers, five-year-old Budge and three-year-old Toddie. Ever the gallant helpful, Harry steps in, foreseeing nothing but a relaxed vacation with lots of books to read and thinks baby-sitting's a breeze. But destiny has other plans. Harry has long adored a lovely lady from afar and hopes to convince her that he is marriage material by displaying his nurturing side...

By: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)

Book cover Are You a Bromide? The Sulphitic Theory Expounded and Exemplified According to the Most Recent Researches into the Psychology of Boredom Including Many Well-Known Bromidioms Now in Use
Book cover The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne

By: Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

Book cover An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog
Book cover An Elegy on the Glory of Her Sex, Mrs. Mary Blaize

By: L. A. Abbott (1813-??)

Seven Wives and Seven Prisons by L. A. Abbott Seven Wives and Seven Prisons

This work the author claims is indeed a true story of how he happened to be married seven times to seven different women and the rollicking, hilarious events that led (or stumbled) to the marriages and the ah–disassembling/failing/failures of each said marriage which happened oftentimes to land him in prison. The summarist finds the work a very tongue-in-cheek diatribe/lament/account of his obsessive zeal in ‘marrying the right one’, but is also the mirthful chronicle of said author’s very unconventional adventures.

By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

Book cover Love and Mr Lewisham

The teaching profession, science and politics in late 19th century England. H.G.Wells’ humorous early novel, drawing on his own life, shows how these – as well as involvement in spiritualism – have to compete with love.

Book cover Sea Lady

By: Booth Tarkington

Seventeen by Booth Tarkington Seventeen

A Tale of Youth and Summer Time and the Baxter Family Especially William

Gentle Julia by Booth Tarkington Gentle Julia

Penrod for girls in the form of Florence, the bratty younger cousin of luminous Julia Atwater, enlivens this romantic comedy set in Tarkington's Indiana of the early 20th Century.

Penrod by Booth Tarkington Penrod

Join Penrod Schofield and his wistful dog Duke, in a hilarious romp through turn of the century Indianapolis, chronicling his life, loves, and mostly the trouble he gets into.

Penrod and Sam by Booth Tarkington Penrod and Sam

Follow more of the hilarious life of the boy Penrod Schofield, his friends Sam Williams, Herman, Verman, Georgie, Maurice, and the love of his life, Marjorie Jones.

By: Gideon Wurdz (b. 1875)

The Foolish Dictionary by Gideon Wurdz The Foolish Dictionary

“The Foolish Dictionary” was written by “Gideon Wurdz” and was published in 1904. According to the beginning of the book, it is “An exhausting work of reference to un-certain English words, their origin, meaning, legitimate and illegitimate use…” This a a short but amusing dictionary which “redefines” words in some interesting ways. Funny and sometimes bizarre observations are sprinkled throughout. In keeping with the policy to read, rather than attempt to rewrite, books – even those with offensive content – nothing has been omitted...


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