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By: Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

HE by Andrew Lang HE

This book is a parody of the famous swashbuckling novel, She, by H. Rider Haggard. Her beauties are beyond the reach of danger from Burlesque, nor does her form flit across our humble pages.” (taken from the Dedication)

By: Jean Webster (1876-1916)

When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster When Patty Went to College

When Patty Went to College is Jean Webster's first novel, published in 1903. It is a humorous look at life in an all-girls college at the turn of the 20th century. Patty Wyatt, the protagonist of this story is a bright, fun loving, imperturbable girl who does not like to conform. The book describes her many escapades on campus during her senior year at college. Patty enjoys life on campus and uses her energies in playing pranks and for the entertainment of herself and her friends. An intelligent girl, she uses creative methods to study only as much as she feels necessary...

By: Eleanor Hallowell Abbott (1872-1958)

The White Linen Nurse by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott The White Linen Nurse

Throughout three years of school, Rae Malgregor had been perfectly pliant, perfectly compliant to all the demands placed on her. But now, on the eve of graduation, she couldn’t go on with the mask of artificiality and the air of perfection. She had been chasing this nursing job three whole years, but there was just no wag to it! The Superintendent was stunned. Her best student! The Senior Surgeon was all grey granite business and livid that his time was being taken up with a hysterical nurse! And yet, though he wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, especially himself, his interest was piqued.

Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott Molly Make-Believe

Carl Stanton is an invalid suffering from an unusual bout of rheumatism. His fiancée is gone for the winter and though he begs her to write to help ease his boredom and pain she is stingy with her letters. She sends him what she calls a "ridiculous circular" which she states is very apropos of his sentimental passion for letters. In a sudden fit of mischief, malice and rheumatism, Carl decides to respond to the circular which results in bringing about the necessary distraction in a flurry of letters that do ease Carl’s boredom and pain but also bring him something else that he never quite expected.

By: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray The Book of Snobs

The necessity of a work on Snobs, demonstrated from History, and proved by felicitous illustrations:—I am the individual destined to write that work—My vocation is announced in terms of great eloquence—I show that the world has been gradually preparing itself for the WORK and the MAN—Snobs are to be studied like other objects of Natural Science, and are a part of the Beautiful (with a large B). They pervade all classes—Affecting instance of Colonel Snobley.

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.

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...

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...

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.

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: 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...

By: Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897)

Tartarin of Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet Tartarin of Tarascon

It tells the burlesque adventures of Tartarin, a local hero of Tarascon, a small town in southern France, whose invented adventures and reputation as a swashbuckler finally force him to travel to a very prosaic Algiers in search of lions. Instead of finding a romantic, mysterious Oriental fantasy land, he finds a sordid world suspended between Europe and the Middle East. And worst of all, there are no lions left.

By: Irwin S. Cobb (1876-1944)

Europe Revised by Irwin S. Cobb Europe Revised

Irwin Cobb’s humorous Europe Revised is a travelogue and comedy almost in the style of Mark Twain. The dedication says it best, “To My Small DaughterWho bade me shed a tear at the tomb of Napoleon, which I was very glad to do, because when I got there my feet certainly were hurting me.”

By: W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

The Bab Ballads by W. S. Gilbert The Bab Ballads

The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing the Bab Ballads, Gilbert developed his unique “topsy-turvy” style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert’s cynical and satirical approach to humour. They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert would recycle in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas...

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

The Girl on the Boat by P. G. Wodehouse The Girl on the Boat

Also published as "Three Men and a Maid". The maid of the title is red-haired, dog-loving Wilhelmina "Billie" Bennet, and the three men are Bream Mortimer, a long-time friend and admirer of Billie, Eustace Hignett, a lily-livered poet who is engaged to Billie at the opening of the tale, and Sam Marlowe, Eustace's dashing cousin, who falls for Billie at first sight. All four find themselves on an ocean liner headed for England together, along with a capable young woman called Jane Hubbard who is smitten with Eustace, and typically Wodehousian romantic shenanigans ensue. (Introduction by wikipedia)

Book cover Little Nugget

Mrs Nesta Ford, in her London hotel room, reveals to her new friend Lord Mountry that she hopes to take her son Ogden on a yachting trip proposed by Mountry, despite her ex-husband having won custody of the boy. As Mountry leaves, Cynthia Drassilis arrives with Ogden, whom she has led away from his father's country house. Mrs Ford rewards Cynthia, but soon Mr Ford's secretary, a Mr Minnick, arrives to recover the stolen child. Cynthia tries to bribe his colleague, Mrs Sheridan, but to no avail, as she believes Nesta's influence has spoiled the boy...

By: Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916)

Book cover Indian Fairy Tales

This book is a fine collection of Indian fairy tales, some are folklore, some are from the Jataka tales, and some from panchatantra.

By: Frederick Marryat (1792-1848)

Book cover Snarleyyow

This is a quite amusing nautical tale of the British Navy of the around the year 1700. While, as with much early 'humor', it is somewhat heavy-handed, the sympathies of the author are clear and good, and cruelty is often averted by good fortune or background characters. First published under the title 'The Dog Fiend', the primary characters are an evil captain of a cutter and his dog. The dog seems indestructible, as is the poor cabin boy who is the butt of the captain's ill humor, and who often is chewed on by the dog...

By: Edna Ferber (1885-1968)

Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed by Edna Ferber Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed

Dawn O’Hara, the Girl Who Laughed was Edna Ferber’s first novel. Dawn, a newspaperwoman working in New York, finds herself back home in Michigan on doctor’s orders. Years of living in boarding-houses and working to pay for the care of her brilliant but mentally ill husband, Peter Orme, have taken their toll. At twenty-eight, Dawn feels like an old woman with no future. But, the loving care of her sister Norah and her family along with the attentions of the handsome German doctor, Ernst Von Gerhard, slowly bring Dawn back to life...

Book cover Buttered Side Down

"And so," the story writers used to say, "they lived happily ever after." Um-m-m—maybe. After the glamour had worn off, and the glass slippers were worn out, did the Prince never find Cinderella's manner redolent of the kitchen hearth; and was it never necessary that he remind her to be more careful of her finger-nails and grammar? After Puss in Boots had won wealth and a wife for his young master did not that gentleman often fume with chagrin because the neighbors, perhaps, refused to call on the lady of the former poor miller's son? It is a great risk to take with one's book-children...

By: Edwin F. Benson (1867-1940)

Queen Lucia by Edwin F. Benson Queen Lucia

E. F. Benson (1867-1940) was born at Wellington College in Berkshire, where his father, who later went on to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, was the first Headmaster. He wrote 105 books in all. Queen Lucia (first published in 1920) was the first of Benson’s ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels of which there were six. This first book is a comedy of manners based in the provincial village of Riseholme, where Emmeline Lucas (the Queen Lucia of the title) presides over the social and artistic universe of the gullible residents...

Miss Mapp by Edwin F. Benson Miss Mapp

E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series, consists of six novels and three short stories. The novels are: Queen Lucia, Lucia in London, Miss Mapp (including the short story The Male Impersonator), Mapp and Lucia, Lucia’s Progress (published as The Worshipful Lucia in the U.S.) and Trouble for Lucia. Most of these works are set in the fictional village of “Tilling”, which is based on the village of Rye, Sussex, England. “Mallards”, the house with the garden room inhabited by Miss Mapp, and later by Lucia, is based on Lamb House, Benson’s own home in Rye. Earlier, the house was the Sussex home of writer Henry James.

By: Henry Fielding (1707-1754)

The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling

Tom Jones is considered one of the first prose works describable as a novel. The novel is divided into 18 smaller books. Tom Jones is a foundling discovered on the property of a very kind, wealthy landowner, Squire Allworthy. Tom grows into a vigorous and lusty, yet honest and kind-hearted, youth. He develops affection for his neighbor’s daughter, Sophia Western. On one hand, their love reflects the romantic comedy genre popular in 18th-century Britain. However, Tom’s status as a bastard causes Sophia’s father and Allworthy to oppose their love; this criticism of class friction in society acted as a biting social commentary...

Book cover An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, or simply Shamela, as it is more commonly known, is a satirical novel written by Henry Fielding and first published in April 1741 under the name of Mr. Conny Keyber. Fielding never owned to writing the work, but it is widely considered to be his. It is a direct attack on the then-popular novel Pamela (November 1740) by Fielding's contemporary and rival Samuel Richardson and is composed, like Pamela, in epistolary form. Shamela is written as a shocking revelation of the true events which took place in the life of Pamela Andrews, the main heroine of Pamela...

By: Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944)

Cobb's Anatomy by Irvin S. Cobb Cobb's Anatomy

Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was born on June 23, 1876. At seventeen years of age, he began writing for the Paducah Daily News, his hometown paper. At nineteen he became the managing editor; up to that point, our nation’s youngest. He worked as a columnist, a humorist and an author. But ‘horror,’ and ’short stories,’ are not why he is remembered. He is remembered because he was, and still is, funny. And although he is now dead–he died March 11, 1944–this work “Cobb’s Anatomy,” among others, has left an indelible mark upon mankind: a smile.

One Third Off by Irvin S. Cobb One Third Off

Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb (June 23, 1876–March 11, 1944) was an American author, humorist, and columnist who lived in New York and wrote over 60 books and 300 short stories. Cobb has been described as “having a round shape, bushy eyebrows, full lips, and a triple chin. He always had a cigar in his mouth.” This book is a hilarious account of Cobb’s attempts at weight-loss.

J. Poindexter, Colored by Irvin S. Cobb J. Poindexter, Colored

This comic novel relates the first-person adventures in New York City of Jefferson Poindexter, personal assistant to Cobb's famous Judge Priest, while the judge is vacationing abroad. (Introduction by Grant Hurlock)

By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

Five O'Clock Tea by William Dean Howells Five O'Clock Tea

A light-hearted romantic comedy in twelve short scenes, set during a tea party in the home of Mrs. Amy Somers, a widow who is courted by the ingenuous and delightful Mr. Willis Campbell.

By: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg Rootabaga Stories

Carl Sandburg is beloved by generations of children for his Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons (which is not in the public domain), a series of whimsical, sometimes melancholy stories he originally created for his own daughters. The Rootabaga Stories were born of Sandburg’s desire for “American fairy tales” to match American childhood. He felt that the European stories involving royalty and knights were inappropriate, and so populated his stories with animals, skyscrapers, trains, corn fairies, and other colorful characters.

By: Georgette Heyer

The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer The Black Moth

Jack Carstares, oldest son of the Earl Wyncham, has been disgraced by his brother. Gone for six years, living the life a highwayman he meets the woman he will fall in love with. Saving her from being kidnapped by a dastardly blackguard he is injured and must stay with her family until he is able to return to his life…will she discovery his true identity? Will he be able to leave her when the time comes? Mystery and humor follow this intriguing cast of characters until the very end. (Summary by Terra Mendoza)

By: Mark Phillips (Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer)

Brain Twister by Mark Phillips (Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer) Brain Twister

“Mark Phillips” is, or are, two writers: Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer. Their joint pen-name, derived from their middle names (Philip and Mark), was coined soon after their original meeting, at a science-fiction convention. Both men were drunk at the time, which explains a good deal, and only one has ever sobered up. A matter for constant contention between the collaborators is which one. Originally published as That Sweet Little Old Lady, Brain Twister follows the adventures of FBI agent Kenneth J...

By: Robert Barr (1850-1912)

The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont by Robert Barr The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont

Short stories by a colleague of Jerome K. Jerome, and friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Barr probably wrote the first parody of Sherlock Holmes (included in this collection). He co-edited “The Idler” with Jerome. [written by Czechchris]

Book cover In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories

Thirteen short stories by one of the most famous writers in his day. Robert Barr was a British Canadian short story writer and novelist, born in Glasgow, Scotland. In London of the 1890s Barr became a more prolific author - publishing a book a year - and was familiar with many of the best selling authors of his day, including Bret Harte and Stephen Crane. Most of his literary output was of the crime genre, then quite in vogue. When Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories were becoming well known,...

By: Emily Neville (1919-1997)

It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville It's Like This, Cat

This novel won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1964. This delightful story revolves around a 14 year old boy, Dave and his adopted cat, called just "Cat", who turns his ordinary everyday life into an exciting roller-coaster ride.

By: Christopher Morley (1890-1957)

Book cover Mince Pie

Mince Pie is a compilation of humorous sketches, poetry, and essays written by Christopher Morley. Morley sets the tone in the preface: "If one asks what excuse there can be for prolonging the existence of these trifles, my answer is that there is no excuse. But a copy on the bedside shelf may possibly pave the way to easy slumber. Only a mind "debauched by learning" (in Doctor Johnson's phrase) will scrutinize them too anxiously."

Book cover Mince Pie

Mince Pie is a compilation of humorous sketches, poetry, and essays written by Christopher Morley. Morley sets the tone in the preface: "If one asks what excuse there can be for prolonging the existence of these trifles, my answer is that there is no excuse. But a copy on the bedside shelf may possibly pave the way to easy slumber. Only a mind "debauched by learning" (in Doctor Johnson's phrase) will scrutinize them too anxiously."

By: Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

Dead Souls by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol Dead Souls

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an “epic poem in prose”, and within the book as a “novel in verse”. Despite supposedly completing the trilogy’s second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne’s Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form. In Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners were entitled to own serfs to farm their land...

By: Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Herland

Herland is a utopian novel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society comprised entirely of Aryan women who reproduce via parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination. It first appeared as a serial in Perkin’s monthly magazine Forerunner.

By: Peter Newell (1862-1924)

The Slant Book by Peter Newell The Slant Book

The Slant Book is literally the shape of a parallelogram, with the spine of the book running down one side. When opened, facing pages form a “V” shape. All the pictures on the slanted recto pages show a way-too-precocious infant in a carriage [the "go-cart" of yesteryear] racing downhill who has somehow gotten away from his nanny, gleefully creating havoc all along the way! The facing verso pages contain two stanzas of commentary on the charming –if alarming!– illustrations. This book pioneered the “special format” children’s literature of today, such as pop-up books or cutout books like Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar...

The Rocket Book by Peter Newell The Rocket Book

The Rocket Book begins when the son of a building superintendent sets a match to a rocket he discovered in the basement. Suddenly, the rocket blasts its way up through apartment after apartment in a high-rise, disrupting and transforming the humdrum goings-on of twenty families till it is finally stopped cold by something in the attic. An elliptical hole is punched in each of the book’s pages and illustrations to signify where the rocket passed through every apartment! As in all of Newell’s books, the verse on the verso-page provides commentary on the recto-page illustration...

By: Irwin Leslie Gordon (1888-1954)

Who Was Who: 5000 BC – 1914 by Irwin Leslie Gordon Who Was Who: 5000 BC – 1914

A short, humorous biography of famous people from 5000 BC to 1914. — S. McGaughey From the Introduction, “The editor begs leave to inform the public that only persons who can produce proper evidence of their demise will be admitted to Who Was Who. Press Agent notices or complimentary comments are absolutely excluded, and those offering to pay for the insertion of names will be prosecuted. As persons become eligible they will be included without solicitation, while the pages will be expurgated of others should good luck warrant.”

By: Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955)

How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers by Robert Williams Wood How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers

How do you tell apart a parrot from a carrot? A plover from a clover? A bay from a jay? Although there are several ways of differentiating, R. W. Wood’s use of pun and rhyme is one of the most entertaining!

By: Albert Bigelow Pain

The Boys' Life of Mark Twain by Albert Bigelow Pain The Boys' Life of Mark Twain

Albert Bigelow Paine was Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ (Mark Twain’s) biographer. He lived with Twain, collecting ideas and material for a biography, for a few years before Twain’s death in 1910. Six years later Paine published this “story of a man who made the world laugh and love him.” For those who have read or listened to Mark Twain’s works, Paine’s work is an invaluable resource to better understand Twain, the stories behind his stories and his life with those he loved and with whom he worked.

By: Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933)

Book cover Seven Keys to Baldpate

Dime-store novelist William Magee has gone to Baldpate Inn to do a little soul-searching in an attempt to write a serious work. Thinking he will be alone and uninterrupted, Magee arrives at the inn in the dead of winter. But he discovers that there are six other keys to Baldpate Inn, and the holders of those keys enliven his stay with bribery, shootings and plenty of mystery.

By: George Pope Morris (1802-1864)

Book cover Will Nobody Marry Me?

In addition to his publishing and editorial work, Morris was popular as a poet and songwriter; especially well-known was his poem-turned-song "Woodman, Spare that Tree!" His songs in particular were popular enough that Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia promised Morris $50, sight unseen, for any work he wanted to publish in the periodical.

By: Edward Ormondroyd

David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd David and the Phoenix

David knew that one should be prepared for anything when one climbs a mountain, but he never dreamed what he would find that June morning on the mountain ledge. There stood an enormous bird, with a head like an eagle, a neck like a swan, and a scarlet crest. The most astonishing thing was that the bird had an open book on the ground and was reading from it! This was David’s first sight of the fabulous Phoenix and the beginning of a pleasant and profitable partnership. The Phoenix found a great...

By: Owen Wister (1860-1938)

The Dragon of Wantley by Owen Wister The Dragon of Wantley

A novel, The Dragon of Wantley, was written by Owen Wister (best known as the author of The Virginian) in 1892. Published by Lipincott Press, the story is a comic "burlesque" (in the author's words), concerning the "true" story of the Dragon. It is a romantic story set at Christmastime in the early 13th century. The book was a surprise success, going through four editions over the next ten years. This is the 1895 edition.

By: Gerard Nolst Trenité

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité The Chaos

“The Chaos” is a poem which demonstrates the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation, written by Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), also known under the pseudonym Charivarius. It first appeared in an appendix to the author’s 1920 textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen.

By: Tobias Smollett

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, and is considered by many to be his best and funniest work. Published in London on 17 June 1771, it is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by six different characters: Matthew Bramble, a Welsh Squire; his sister Tabitha; their niece and nephew, Jery and Lydia Melford; Tabitha’s maid Winifred Jenkins; and Lydia’s suitor, Wilson. Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events by different participants...

By: Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

The Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis The Princess Aline

Morton Carlton, an easy-going, rich young artist, has never taken the concepts of love and marriage all that seriously -- until by accident a copy of an English illustrated paper falls into his hands, which contains a photograph of the young Princess Aline of Hohenwald. Instantly, Carlton is captivated by the princess, and decides that he must meet her. But how to get close to a princess, who lives in a small German duchy well protected by guards and etiquette? Carlton decides to travel to Europe and try his luck...

My Buried Treasure by Richard Harding Davis My Buried Treasure

"This is a true story of a search for buried treasure. The only part that is not true is the name of the man with whom I searched for the treasure. Unless I keep his name out of it he will not let me write the story, and, as it was his expedition and as my share of the treasure is only what I can make by writing the story, I must write as he dictates. I think the story should be told, because our experience was unique, and might be of benefit to others. And, besides, I need the money." (From the text)

By: James Stephens

Book cover There is a Tavern in the Town

The soul of Irish wit is captured in this unique tale of a barstool philosopher, the concluding story from 'Here Are Ladies' by James Stephens. (Introduction by iremonger)

By: Charles Miner Thompson (1864-1941)

The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson The Calico Cat

The consequences of letting your irritation get the better of you are humorously portrayed in this story of a self-important man who fires a shotgun at an annoying cat on his fence.. and hits a man skulking in the bushes. What did the cat do to enrage him? Why was the man in the bushes? And how can the whole matter be covered up and done away with before the neighbors start gossiping?

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Book cover Kashtanka

"Kashtanka," a shaggy-dog story penned by Anton Chekhov in seven parts and first published in 1887, relates the experiences of its eponymous heroine, a fox-faced, reddish dachshund-mix, whose name means 'little chestnut.' After her detestation of music causes her to become separated from the carpenter with whose family she had been living, Kashtanka finds herself taken up by an unusual vaudevillian and goes to live among an assortment of other intelligent animals, each of whom is observed with the characteristic empathy and humor that stamp Chekhov's work.

By: Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)

Second Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome Second Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow

A second volume of humorous essays on various subjects, following the success of Idle thoughts Of An Idle Fellow.


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