Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke And The Bookish, in which a lot of book bloggers around the world join in by writing a top ten list based on the topic corresponding to that week. This week the topic is recommending the top ten books based on a particular other book, TV show, movie, etc – for example, if you like this book, you’ll like this other book here. That sort of thing. Feel free to join in and do it on your own blog, just make sure you link back to the blog that started it all (and tell me so I can come and check it out)!
As you may have guessed, I’m recommending all my books on if you have a fondness for the ridiculous British comedy troupe known as Monty Python. In the 1960s and 1970s Monty Python shot to fame around the world, helping redefine comedy with their surreal brand of humour through 4 TV series (45 episodes in total), 4 movies, a live show, and a bunch of albums. Although Graham Chapman is no longer with us, sadly, the other 5 members have been working on a reunion live show that will be broadcast in cinemas around the world – this show, they have admitted, is also to be a final farewell to the group, most of whom are in their 70s now.
So it seemed appropriate to me to base my list on Monty Python. If you like Monty Python’s whacky, surreal, intelligent and most of all hilarious comedy, you’ll probably like these books:
- The Murphy by Spike Milligan: Spike Milligan became famous in the 50s as part of The Goon Show, a radio series with the same type of surreal humour that Monty Python became known for. Milligan went on to make sketch shows on television, write a lot of books including several novels and a seven part war memoir, and even write children’s poetry. He was clearly a big influence on Monty Python, so really I could have put any of his books on this list. I chose this one because he published it in 2000, at the age 0f 81, and I loved how funny he still was even as an old man. He attempts to write a lot of the accents through the spelling of words, and that alone makes this short novel a worthy read for Monty Python fans.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Douglas Adams openly admitted that Monty Python were a huge influence on him, and it shows in all of his novels. There’s a complete randomness to these stories, courtesy of the fact that he blows up the Earth early in the first book of the series and really makes anything possible. But underneath, there is some intelligent social commentary going on as well. Very funny books by a very funny man.
- The Road To Mars by Eric Idle: Yes, Eric Idle is one of the members of Monty Python, so this book is almost a given for this list. Written a bit over a decade ago, it focuses on a topic he knows well – comedy. The main characters are stand up comedians who travel the galaxy, but the character who most interested me was a robot who didn’t understand the distinctly human concept of humour, and spent his time trying to analyse it to figure out what makes something funny. Very thought provoking while still being as hilarious as you’d expect.
- The Last Girlfriend On Earth by Simon Rich: I’ve only just started reading this book today (my girlfriend is reading it right now while I write this) and I bought it after reading this review on the fabulous blog Books Speak Volumes. Just skimming through it and reading the odd page, I am already finding it hilarious and a lot of it is just totally absurd but in a brilliant way. While Monty Python might not be the first type of humour that this reminds me of, I definitely think fans of one would enjoy the other! Excited to sit down and properly read this later.
- Preincarnate by Shaun Micallef: Shaun Micallef is a much loved Australian comedian, and he snuck this little novel out a couple of years ago. I was quite impressed by it, for the plot was very complex and totally ridiculous, revolving around time travel and suspended animation. What made it extra funny, though, was the footnotes that Micallef added that sometimes interrupted the narrative flow on purpose – in much the same way that sketches are interrupted by other sketches in Monty Python. Very funny and one of the most insane novels I have ever read. I’d like to reread this one soon, actually.
- Calcium Made Interesting: Sketches, Essays, Letters and Gondolas by Graham Chapman: Graham Chapman was also one of the Monty Python troupe, but sadly he died back in 1989. This book is a collection of essays and other various writings by Graham, all of which is hilarious. Often with these sort of books I tend to skim through looking for the more interesting parts, but this one I quite happily read all of – it was just too good! Some of his best work is in here, I think.
- The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson: This is one of the most popular Swedish books of recent years both in Sweden (where it was the best-selling novel the year it came out) and around the world, and recently was turned into a film (which is a reason I need to hurry up with my Swedish language learning). Basically about what the title says, a man who on his hundredth birthday decides to jump out the window and run away, and all the crazy things that happen as a result, interspersed with tales from his youth. Another absurd story, I think it’s the surrealism and unlikeliness of it that makes me think of Monty Python.
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: I know some of you are thinking “what? He’s clutching at straws now!” But I’m not, nor am I including this just because it’s my favourite ever book, so hear me out. Catch-22 was a hilarious book which ultimately served to expose the real lunacy of war through situations and scenarios which seem too absurd to be possible, but which clearly are quite possible and probable (many of which Heller drew from experience). Likewise, Monty Python often tried to expose the lunacy behind a lot of things, from blind belief and religious fanaticism in “Life of Brian” to politics and media in their TV series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Besides, both this book and Monty Python reside among my favourite ever things, so, you know. It’s got to mean something, right?
- Mrs Fry’s Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry: Monty Python had a bit of an obsession with dressing up as women for sketches (as the main six members were men, although they did have women who often worked on their films and shows as extras too), and the results were often hilarious. Stephen Fry, the much loved host of intelligent quiz show QI, documentary person, novel writer and all round word-wizard, sometimes writes as Mrs Stephen Fry, playing his apparent wife as his alter-ego. This book is a year’s worth of diary entries, and it is very rude, crude and absolutely hilarious. Fry really knows how to twist words to get every last bit of humour out of them.
- An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years Of Upper Class Idiots In Charge by John O’Farrell: This last one is my favourite ever history book. So why am I recommending it if you like Monty Python? Because it is also the funniest history book I have ever read, poking fun at just about every bit of Britain’s past over the last couple of millennia. The humour is often quite absurd and more often just downright silly, just like the comedy in both of Monty Python’s single-story films (the other two were sketch compilations) which were set in the past. Unlike those films though, this book is fairly accurate (and obvious when its not). A must-read for comedy fans of any kind, and of course history buffs.
I actually could have come up with a few more books, but this post is long enough already. I’d love to hear from you, Monty Python fan or not, on whether you have read any of these books and what your thoughts are on them or the Pythons!