There are as many reasons to read as there are to build a kayak. If one seeks amusement through reading, comical tales of travel, such as Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, are an excellent diversion.
For the fiction aficionado seeking flights of fancy, funny novels come in as many shapes and sizes as kayaks. Here are a few risible romans, each guaranteed to offend someone.
The Amateurs by John Niven
Golfers constantly pursue the perfect swing. The infrequent good swings more than make up for their myriad of abysmal hacks. Perversely, little skill is required to achieve a short-lived moment of glory. Gary Irvine is a bad golfer who is consumed with the game. All of his spare time, as well as much of his money, support this insatiable obsession. One day during an impromptu golf lesson, Gary is hit in the head by a golf ball while making the highly sought after perfect swing.
Meanwhile, Gary’s conniving (and totally hot) wife begins a fling with Scotland’s carpet king, Gary falls into a coma, and his inept petty criminal brother gets into life-threatening trouble with the local crime lord. Gary, upon awakening from his coma, achieves inconceivable success in the British Open (laced with inventive and uncontrollable obscenities).
All with a Scottish brogue.
Whale song is an intriguing and mystifying phenomenon. Scientists have devised many theories regarding this spectacle, but the ultimate purpose of these communications remains hidden. In Fluke, marine biologist Nate Quinn tries to unlock the secret of whale song. When years of study yield paltry results, Nate realizes that life has reached a state of perpetual tedium. Then he sees (or does he?) a message written on a whale’s tail: “Bite me.”
Subsequently, Nate’s office is ransacked, his far-too-young-but-potentially-amorous research assistant disappears, Nate himself is swallowed by a whale, and an evil plot in need of thwarting is hatched.
Not since Jonah has there been such a whale of a tale.
The 1840s in Europe was a time of economic depression and political unrest. Crops failed and famine spurred mass migrations. Perhaps the most astounding event of the decade was the wrongful incarceration of the Pirate Captain (as always, sporting an impressive beard) by Scotland Yard.
This yarn be an adventure whereby the pirate with a scarf, the pirate with gout, and the rest of the crew travel to London to obtain a new coat for the Pirate Captain. Whilst in the city they attend a speech by Karl Marx and quite hit it off with Mr. Engels and his merry band. The bedraggled communists—who have been falsely accused of cruelty to kittens—need to escape from England. So the pirates take them to France. Then it’s up to the Pirate Captain and his crew to save Europe from Wagnerian opera and the spread of existentialism.
As one pirate is heard to remark, “This is our most cultural adventure yet!”