#WomenWriteFunny: 9 Female Authors Who Kill It

Recently, #WomenWriteFunny was trending on Twitter. I was feeling a bit tired, looking at the tweets. It’s 2015 and we are still having a discussion about whether or not women are funny (note: they are). But then a few days later when the whole Libro team was together, we started talking about our favorite commediennes. Tina Fey! Amy Poehler! Maria Semple! Nothing brings one back to life like talking about books with friends.

The next day I relistened to Roxane Gay’s discussion of Bridesmaids from Bad Feminist, turned on some Amanda Palmer, and compiled this list. Maybe you won’t like everyone on this list, but there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all humor. That’s what makes this list so great. Someone is bound to tickle your fancy.


Amy Poehler

When talking about women who write funny, Amy Poehler springs instantly to mind. But we daresay that the audiobook of Yes, Please is even funnier than the written work. Give the clip above a listen, where Poehler brings on a guest to read her memoir and reluctantly agrees to read it herself, as only she can.


Unvisited tombstones, unread diaries, and erased video game high-score rankings are three of the most potent symbols of mankind’s pathetic and fruitless attempts at immortality. Not to be negative.”

Sarah Silverman / The Bedwetter

Sarah Silverman

The description page of The Bedwetter gives potential readers a little quiz to make sure that before picking up this audiobook, listeners aren’t, say, offended by “instructing  one’s grandmother to place baked goods in her rectal cavity” or “Stripping naked in public—eleven times in a row.” Silverman, as ever, pushes boundaries to great effect.


And no, not all of the men whizzed in cups. But four or five of them out of twenty did, so the men have to own that one. Anytime there’s a bad female stand-up somewhere, some dickhead Interblogger will deduce that ‘women aren’t funny.’ Using that math, I can state that: Male comedy writers piss in cups.”

Tina Fey / Bossypants

Tina Fey

Picking a favorite from this list is hard, but I have a feeling Tina Fey is probably most people’s go-to funny lady. She is at times witty, at others wacky, and always comes off as genuinely herself. Certainly she draws from her own life, which despite superstar status, is surprisingly relatable to people everywhere. Just see the above quote from Bossypants.


Maria Semple

Semple’s wit is positively scathing—in the best way possible. As Seattleites, the Libro team laughed out loud to Where’d You Go, Bernadette’s critique of our five-way intersections, craftsman homes, and blackberry vines. While some parts are specific to Seattle, she also captures hypervigilant parenting, tech obsessions, and other universal truths of modern life. If an L.A. setting is more your thing, check out This One Is Mine.


. . . I still believe that above all things physical, it is more important to be beautiful on the inside—to have a big heart and an open mind and a spectacular spleen. (Actually, most people’s insides are disgusting. Even pretty people have very unattractive insides. Have you ever seen those surgery shows on Discovery? Not Pretty.)”

Ellen DeGeneres / Seriously . . . I’m Kidding

Ellen DeGeneres

Of all the contemporary women we thought of when making this list, Ellen has been not only around the longest, but also has been the most consistently hilarious. The mere fact that we can just say “Ellen” and you know who we’re talking about says something. In Seriously . . . I’m Kidding, she comes off as effortlessly funny as she does on her show.


That ‘Girl Power’ has been the sole rival to the word feminism in the last 50 years is a cause for much sorrow on the behalf of women. After all, P. Diddy has had four different names and he’s just one man.”

Caitlin Moran / How to Be a Woman

Caitlin Moran

Described as the British Tina Fey, Caitlin Moran has been killing it on the other side of the pond for more than two decades. How to Be a Woman is part self-deprecating memoir, part biting social commentary. How to Build a Girl is a fictional book, though based in part on Moran’s own life, about a teenaged girl who writes music reviews for magazine, described as “The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease”.


Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella

Two people as funny as Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella in one family is a rare thing indeed. This mother-daughter duo slay in their co-written books of essays, Have a Nice Guilt Trip and Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, as they bring their particular humor to everyday things such as jury duty and the Mission Impossible franchise.


I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

Jane Austen / Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen

The original woman writing funny. From the first lines of Pride & Prejudice, in which Austen lambasts marriage, to the burning lines of Northanger Abbey in which she lampoons posh vacationers in Bath, England, she is always poised with the perfect banter, description, or character. And yes, her characters’ romances all turn out for the best in the end, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a few good jabs in at polite society along the way.


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7 Books for a Stimulating Book Club Discussion

I was recently talking to some friends who are in wine clubs (read: book clubs) about the books that make the best book club picks. People’s tastes in books are all different, but that’s OK; each person’s pick doesn’t have cater to everyone. Rather, the best selections generate a lively debate, either because their controversy provokes discussion, their topic sheds light on a part of the world or lifestyle unknown to us, or their prose is layered with meaning and everyone’s individual views enrich the conversation.

Here are a few books that everyone agreed created a lively atmosphere in any book club and go well with a malbec. Not every book was universally loved, but each had something to offer.


I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Not even the bullet of a Taliban member’s gun could stop Malala Yousafzai from completing her education. Determined to fulfill her dreams, and with the encouragement of her parents, she fought for the right to go to school in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. She has since become the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it makes a great book club pick: So often we watch the news, and see faceless violence, statistics, and fear. This book demonstrates the complexity of life in a war-torn country.


A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson, and Kris Shepard

Twelve of Dr. King’s most famous, most moving, most thought-provoking speeches are gathered here, and bonus material includes commentaries by theologians and leaders. While the book is great, the audio edition includes the original recordings, and narration from the likes of Rosa Parks, Yolanda King, Ambassador George McGovern, and Senator Edward Kennedy.

Why it makes a great book club pick: King’s speeches, like his work, don’t just cover racial inequality, but social and economic inequality too. Everyone will leave with difficult thoughts, but it’s hard not to feel hopeful after listening to Dr. King.

And for fun, watch Dr. King tell a joke on The Tonight Show.


Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

by David Foster Wallace

At moments licentious, at others tender hearted, and often both, the bulk of these short stories revolve around DFW’s imaginings of men’s relationships with and ideas about women. These meticulously crafted stories are like a trip through the labyrinth of David Foster Wallace’s brain. If you aren’t familiar with him, take a minute to read one of my favorite DFW pieces on Roger Federer in The New York Times: Federer as Religious Experience.

Why it makes a great book club pick: Much shorter and more digestible than Infinite Jest, this collection still oozes postmodernist longing while managing to be uproariously funny.


Have a Nice Guilt Trip

by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Dozens of pithy stories make up this fourth collection by mother-and-daughter team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. Tackling everything from jury duty, to dog-grooming, to the benefits of central air, nothing is too ridiculous, too taboo, or too mundane for these ladies.

Why it makes a great book club book: Laugh-out-loud funny, everyone will have a different favorite. The best jokes and anecdotes will be flying all night.


Killing Lincoln

by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Bill O’Reilly’s presence on our cultural map. Here we meet him on neutral ground, discussing the assassination of President Lincoln. More like a fast-paced thriller than historical treatise, this book captures the imagination.

Why it makes a good book club pick: No doubt about it, this book is riveting. The conversation might stop there, but it also might go deeper, into the responsibility an author has to fact-check every small detail versus the author’s commitment to entertain, or whether or not the author has a broader agenda outside the narrative.


The Heretic’s Daughter

by Kathleen Kent

Kathleen Kent, a tenth-generation-descendant of the figures in this story, recounts the horrors of the Salem witch trials. This sweeping family saga, told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, brings new life to an oft-told American tale.

Why it makes a good book club pick: With prose that’s gritty yet luscious, it’s easy to mark this one as the best book-club books you’ll read this year. But the dynamic characters and attention to detail are what will really hold the conversation.


The Betrayers

by David Bezmogis

Part high literature, part political thriller, The Betrayers covers one pivotal day in the life of Israeli politician Baruch Kotler. When he fails to back down over the policies regarding the West Bank, his political enemies expose his affair, forcing him to flee to Yalta, where he runs into the man who sent him to the Gulag 40 years ago.

Why it makes a good book club pick: Baruch Kotler’s staunch principles are the stuff book club discussions feast upon. Everyone will be asking “Do you think he should have?” and “Why wouldn’t they?” and “Were you surprised when?”


Have a favorite book from your book club? Leave a suggestion or link to your review in the comments below.