This week’s Top Ten Tuesday list is by Tom Easton, author of BOYS DON’T KNIT which was published last week.
When chatting to people about my book BOYS DON’T KNIT, I’ve been told a few times that there is a real dearth of funny books for teenagers out in the market. There is certainly no shortage of humorous writers in middle-grade fiction, David Walliams, Cressida Cowell, Jonathon Meres, Francesca Simon for example. But for the teen and YA market? Perhaps not so much. I wondered if perhaps the humour that will appeal to teenagers is also likely to appeal to the adult market as well. If you take away the need to be serious and adult, then the work becomes more accessible to younger readers. It also becomes acceptable for those older readers who aren’t looking for anything overly sophisticated.
BOYS DON’T KNIT is written as a diary, which is a format that particularly appeals to me. I think there’s endless scope for dropping in random jokes, meandering and long-running sub-plots and short, punchy chapters that get the pages turning. It’s fun to leave my poor hero Ben hanging awkwardly at the end of each diary entry.
Thinking about why I like the diary format got me thinking about Adrian Mole, and how the book (and radio series) was originally targeted at an adult market, but became fantastically popular with teenagers as well. Whether Mole works on more than one level or simply appeals to more than one age group is one for the marketing people to analyse. To me it’s just a funny, clever book with bags of appeal.
So I’ve put together a list of the best 10 Funny Diary books (what I’ve read). Some are for slightly younger readers, some for slightly older. But they are all funny, and to my mind, all have cross-over appeal.
1. THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGED 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
30 years old now but still relevant and extremely funny. Many of us have grown up with Adrian, curling our toes and peering between our fingers at his wilful inability to accept the way the world is.
2. THE DORK DIARIES by Rachel Renee Russell
Massive around the world, there are more than half a dozen in this middle-grade series. There’s a great website and they are beautifully put together. I’m not the target audience but I found myself laughing out loud at the gags. Russell is a genuinely funny writer.
3. DIARY OF A CHAV by Grace Dent
Don’t be put off by the politically-incorrect title. Dent’s character Shiraz Bailey-Wood is a warm, funny and engaging character who just happens to wear hoop earrings and feed Terry’s Chocolate Orange pieces to her overweight Staffy.
4. MY MAD FAT DIARY by Rae Earl
Presented as Earl’s real life diary, it depicts a toe-curling flashback for those of us who grew up in the 80s. Often unintentionally hilarious. Made into a TV series for Channel 4 earlier this year.
5. ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING by Louise Rennison
For slightly younger readers, Rennison’s character Georgia Nicholson is warm, funny and occasionally quite scathing. Fantastically successful. I love the covers and titles.
6. SPUD by John Van Der Ruit
Things never go quite right for poor, hapless Spud. Set in a South African boarding school, the book, and its sequels have a wonderful, old-fashioned feel. Laugh-out-loud funny.
7. THE DARK LORD by Jamie Thomson
The first book in the series won the Roald Dahl funny prize this year. Nuff said? It’s a genius concept, an evil Alien Lord from another galaxy trapped in the body of a 12-year old boy in a dull London suburb. Perfect for any child who’s ever felt he or she didn’t quite fit in. Which is all of them.
8. BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY by Helen Fielding
There are adult themes and language in this, so only suitable for older teens and young adults. Some people hate Bridget, she’s been called anti-feminist and a bad influence on young girls. But she’s just a character in a book. And she’s hilarious. The first book feels a little dated now, but for those of us who remember 1471 and 192 that really doesn’t matter.
9. DAIRY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney
Hugely popular in the States and around the world. Kinney is an amazing talent who is both a funny writer and a wonderful illustrator, a very rare combination. He’s also prolific and creative. Hence the success. Excellent middle-grade humour.
10. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon
This is the only book in the list which isn’t a comedy, though it is heart warming and affirming. A perfect Book Club book, it is both accessible and intelligent. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no finer compliment.
And if you love knitting, you might want to take a look at what’s happening on our Tumblr this week: hotkeybooks.tumblr.com