Laugh Out Loud With These 16 Funny YA Books

When the world feels heavy, when the days are full of restless energy, it feels great to sink into a book that can elicit some laughs. These teen titles explore complex topics with humor.

Humor is subjective: What one person may find riotous, another may not deem worthy of cracking a smile. But as much as that makes humor tricky, it’s also the beauty of it.

Funny books aren’t a genre, but a mood. Humor weaves well into all genres of YA, and like other moods, has a range—from tame to uproarious to satirical. For example, there’s been a wave of YA romantic comedies since the release of Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, as its pairing of humor with heart won over audiences.

Over the last couple of years, there’s been an abundance of funny YA books. When the world feels heavy, when the days are full of restless energy, it feels great to sink into a good book—and even better when that book can elicit some laughs. Perhaps funny books are so powerful because of how masterfully they can explore complex topics. Humor is indeed subjective, but it’s through humor that readers connect and engage with the reality of life: it’s both joyful and challenging.

Heretics Anonymous, Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is my Nurse, Almost American Girl covers

Burcaw, Shane. Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse. Roaring Brook. 2019. ISBN 9781626727700.
Shane Burcaw is one of the funniest writers out there, and his second memoir-in-essays is no different. Shane tackles everything from how strangers approach him as a disabled wheelchair user, to how he has sex with his girlfriend, to other awkward questions he gets asked and how he handles them with biting humor.

Elston, Ashley. 10 Blind Dates. Disney-Hyperion. 2019. ISBN 9781368027496.
Sophie is looking forward to her Christmas break away from her parents, and that desire kicks into high gear when her boyfriend breaks up with her unexpectedly. Staying with her grandparents and big Sicilian family, her grandmother decides she needs to help cheer Sophie up. Enter: 10 dates in 10 days, with each member of her family choosing Sophie’s partner and activity. A fun romantic comedy with dates that go well and some that go disastrously. At heart is a family that is fiercely loyal to one another.

Goo, Maurene. The Way You Make Me Feel. Farrar. 2018. ISBN 9780374304089.
Clara loves pranks, but when one of the jokes she makes goes too far, her father decides her punishment is a summer spent working the family food truck. It doesn’t seem like the worst punishment until Clara learns her coworker is Rosa, an uptight classmate she simply cannot stand. This foodie romance is full of humor, with a main character who makes less-than-great decisions but who always finds the laugh in them.

Ha, Robin. Almost American Girl. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2020. ISBN 9780062685094.
For readers who are themselves American transplants, Ha’s graphic memoir about acclimating to a new country and culture will be especially humorous. For her entire life, it was just Ha and her mother in their South Korean home. A trip to visit family in Huntsville, AL, though, turns into a permanent relocation, as Ha’s mother is getting married. Ha is extremely unhappy, but when her mother enrolls her in a comic art class, things begin to turn around. Smart, timely, and a powerful glimpse into what it’s like to be an immigrant.

Henry, Katie. Heretics Anonymous. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2018. ISBN 9780062698872.
Despite being an atheist, Michael is starting at a Catholic school after his father’s job meant a family move. Michael is desperate to make a friend, and when he hears a classmate challenge a teacher, he believes he’s found a fellow non-believer. But she is a believer—and a feminist. Lucy then introduces Michael to fellow school outcasts. This underground society is threatened, though, when an incident leads Michael to encourage them to become rebels at the school. Henry’s book explores religion, faith, family, and friendship with humor and confidence.

Kaplan, Ariel. We Are the Perfect Girl. Knopf. 2019. ISBN 9780525647119.
Kaplan’s books are among the cleverest in YA, and while this one has its laugh out loud moments, it is also a smart portrait of mental illness. A reimagining of Cyrano de Bergerac, the story follows Aphra as she struggles with body dysmorphia and her crushing fear that she’ll never be loved for who she is. When a class assignment has her developing an app using artificial intelligence to help fellow students get advice, Aphra experiences a series of comedic errors. Suddenly, she’s developed a relationship with a boy her best friend has a crush on, and now Aphra has to get her friend to connect with him. Aphra is loud and outspoken, unafraid to be the center of attention—even if it’s all a cover.

Noone, Gabby. Layoverland. Razorbill. Jan. 2020. ISBN 9781984836120.
Noone’s novel is perfect for fans of The Good Place, as it follows Beatrice Fox once she finds herself in purgatory following a car accident. To get out, she’ll have to help 5,000 other souls figure out what is it that’s keeping them from Heaven. But the first person she’s assigned to is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident. He’s the last person she’d want to help get to Heaven, but she’s falling for him. Does she help him and chance love or does she seek revenge for what he’s done?

Parker, Morgan. Who Put This Song On? Delacorte. 2019. ISBN 9780525707516.
By turns funny and heartbreaking, this book is a slice of life of Morgan's ups and downs in her conservative Christian school and very white southern California suburb. She doesn't apologize for her experiences, nor feel the need to make excuses for them. Morgan—a fictionalized character based on the author—struggles with depression and being one of the few Black people in her community, but her humor is what keeps her pushing forward.

[Read: Meet-Cutes Come in All Colors: 13 Irresistible YA Romances]

My So-Called Bollywood Life, Who Put This Song On?, and Field Guide to the North American Teenager covers

Philippe, Ben. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 2018. ISBN 9780062824110.
Norris has been pulled from everything he’s known as a French Canadian when his mother relocates them to Austin, TX. To deal with the change, Norris decides to take on the role of outside observer to the teen culture in his school. At times he’s downright unlikable and a bully, but his observations—and his deep desire to fit in, make friends, and acclimate—come through in biting humor that makes him hard not to root for as a reader.

Reid, Raziel. Followers. Penguin Teen. June 2020. ISBN 9780735263802.
There aren’t a lot of YA satires, but readers looking for one will do no better than Reid’s latest. When Lily is arrested after a date gone wrong, her mugshot gets leaked to the press. This would be a big deal anyway, but it’s made bigger because her aunt is a star in a reality show series à la The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lily’s mom kicks her out of their less-than-glamorous home, and her aunt offers to take her in. Now Lily is part of the show herself. Is it real life? Or is it all for show?

Rosen, L.C. Camp. Little, Brown. May 2020. ISBN 9780316537759.
This is indeed a story set at a camp, but it’s also packed with campy humor. Randy loves spending his summers at Camp Outland, which is exclusively for queer-identifying teens. He is determined this year to finally catch the eye of long-time crush Hudson. To do this, he decides to change his name and pretend to be an entirely new camper, tossing out his love for theater in exchange for attempting to love sports. But when this plan works and he becomes closer to Hudson, how can he share his true self?

Rubin, Lance. Crying Laughing. Little, Brown. 2019. ISBN 9780316537759.
Winnie believes she’s pretty funny, but when she bombs a standup set at her own Bat Mitzvah, she decides to close off that part of herself to everyone but her father, a former comedian. After she makes a super cute guy at school laugh, she wonders if she should reconsider. At the same time, her father shares that he’s been diagnosed with ALS. He’s able to find the humor, but will she be able to? This book is the embodiment of the crying laughing emoji.

Sharma, Nisha. My So-Called Bollywood Life. Crown. 2018. ISBN 9780553523256.
A cute, purposefully over-the-top read about Winnie Mehta who is following the prophecy given to her by her family’s psychic. The psychic believes a boy whose name begins with an R and who gives her a silver bracelet is meant to be Winnie’s love. And with Raj, it felt right...until Winnie finds out he’s seeing another girl. So when she sidles up to another boy, this one named Dev, she finds herself falling for him, despite the fact he doesn’t meet the qualifications foretold by the psychic. A fun, light read populated by a wonderful Indian American family.

Spalding, Amy. We Used To Be Friends. Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2020. ISBN 9781419738661.
Spalding’s books are funny YA staples, and even in her latest, which follows the breakup of a long-time friendship, humor shines through. Told in two timelines, a “before” and “after,” this story explores what happened to make James and Kat’s friendship come apart. But the fact of the matter is there is no single thing: it’s a series of little things, alongside the fact that, as people grow and change, so do their connections with one another.

Yee, F.C. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. Abrams/Amulet. 2017. ISBN 9781419725487.
Ms. Marvel fans will adore this book and subsequent titles in the series that follow Genie Lo, a straight-A student bound and determined to get into an Ivy League school. When her town falls under siege by creatures straight out of Chinese mythology, Genie discovers she’s got bigger problems than cracking the code to getting into Harvard. She learns that the transfer student she’s attracted to isn’t what he seems. Instead, he’s her guide to saving the world. No big deal!

Zolidis, Don. War and Speech. Little, Brown. May 2020. ISBN 9781368010078.
Who would peg the speech and debate team as the school organization that was the most revered? The attitude that the members of the club can do no wrong is precisely why Sydney, a new transfer student to the arts high school, is bound and determined to take them down from the inside. Sydney is a deeply hurting character, but her humor is what helps propel her forward—and what helps her come to discover her own passion for speech and debate.

Former teen librarian Kelly Jensen’s books include Here We Are: Feminism for The Real World and (Don’t) Call Me Crazy.

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