Give the Gift of Laughter: 5 Funny Books Your Friends Will Be Thankful For

If you’re on a budget and you’re not some crafting genius with the time and skills to knit five or ten gorgeous scarves for your best friends for the holidays, you might be starting to stress. You could bake cookies for everyone… again. It’s the thought that counts, so another option is to make cute, personalized cards. That’s a perfectly fine gift idea unless your BFFs are high-maintenance divas who expect a diamond Birkin bag, which I’m sure they’re not. If they are, though, you need to get yourself a present for the holidays: nice, new friends who love and appreciate homemade holiday cards and cookies.

If you should feel like going big this year (not Birkin bag big — normal people big), funny books by funny women are a great gift idea for your girlfriends. You’ll be supporting female artists while making your friends laugh. What’s better than that? Here are five books by and about funny ladies that you should wrap up and hand out like candy over the next few weeks. We women are smart – 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight can’t fulfill all of our literary needs. Right? Right.

1. We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy
 by Yael Kohen

We know women are funny, and even the most close-minded skeptics are starting to believe this fact thanks to people like Melissa McCarthy, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey (Fey’s book Bossypants isn’t on this list because she’s The Queen so I figured you’ve all read it – if not, consider it added as the Very Special Guest Star). Kohen’s new book traces women in U.S. comedy from the 1950s to the present and looks at everyone from the late Phyllis Diller to Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, and beyond. It’s like a juicy behind-the-scenes story that’ll make you feel pretty proud of all the funny ladies out there. Give it to your friend who’s braving the stage at Upright Citizen’s Brigade night after night.

2. How to Be a Woman
 by Caitlin Moran

You need to read this book. Do it for your health! Laughing is good for you and Moran’s hilarious feminist manifesto will definitely extend your life by approximately one minute and four seconds at the very least, which is better than nothing. Drink some red wine while you’re reading it and you may even get two minutes and four seconds out of it. Trust me, my medical knowledge is vast and intuitive. With chapters like “I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!”, “I Encounter Some Sexism!”, and “I Am Fat!”, you (and your friend that you buy this for) will feel giddy and immortal. Buy it for your friend who agonizes over her monthly bikini waxes. (When you read the chapter “I Become Furry!” this side note will make perfect sense.)

3. I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays
 by Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley’s first book of funny essays is so random, oddball, and relatable that you’ll feel good about your own weird habits and embarrassing moments. She’s hilariously honest about things like her plastic pony collection (collected as an adult, the ponies are all from men she…well, just read it) and her experiences as a reluctant bridesmaid. It’s very New York, and very funny. Get it for that friend who always manages to adorably put her foot in her mouth.

4. People Are Unappealing: Even Me
 by Sara Barron

If you and your friends like your comedy a little darker, this one’s for you. It’s not David Lynch dark, but Sara Barron is definitely not afraid to go for the jugular – all in the name of humor. Andy Borowitz called her “the Michael Phelps of complaining.” In this case, that’s a compliment. She writes about her dad who seems to love show tunes a little too much, masturbating so much she needs a wrist brace, writing porn at age eleven, John Stamos, diarrhea, and much, much more. Get it for your friend who likes to hide under the covers and moan, “I hate everyone I’m never leaving the house again!” right before she heads to happy hour.

5. My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
 by Chelsea Handler

Her shows are huge hits (well, not that sitcom), but I think Chelsea Handler’s books are where it’s at. She’s a laugh-out-loud funny writer and her stories about her family, her childhood, and her drinking binges are hysterical. This book kind of makes you wonder if she actually had all these one-night stands, but then you think, “Who cares, this is hilarious!” Get it for your friend who scrolls through her phone innocently asking, “Who’s Steve? I don’t remember a Lance. Who the hell is Fernando?!” She’ll love it.

So there you have it:  a bunch of holiday gifts for your friends that don’t involve crafting, cooking, or breaking the bank. And you can even read over their shoulders! Have fun.

Written by Dina Gachman. Dina’s blog Bureaucracy for Breakfast has been featured on NPR and Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing Comedy. She writes for Forbes, Huffington Post, The Nervous Breakdown and several other sites. Find her on Twitter @TheElf26.

For more broke-girl-friendly holiday gift guides (for your design-savvy friends, for the men (read: boys) in your life, for yourself) go to

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