In the first six months of our “readalike” feature, we’ve had a thriller, a nonfiction book, young adult fiction, short stories, a historical novel, and literary fiction. This month, one of the most popular books is a political autobiography: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. The Booklist review begins, “This is a great book about politics. No joke,” and goes on to call it “compulsively readable.” In short, it’s seriously funny.
Not many books blend politics and humor this way, and there seems to be more humor on the left than the right; nevertheless, below you’ll find some humor and some politics on both sides.
This Fight is Our Fight and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren (2017 and 2014, respectively): Champion of the middle class and nemesis of the finance industry, Massachusetts senator Warren combines personal history with political experience in these two books.
Two Paths: America Divided or United by John Kasich with Daniel Paisner (2017): Governor of Ohio John Kasich’s book reflects on his presidential campaign and “the state of political discourse” today (NPR).
Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi (2017): This collection of essays Taibbi wrote for Rolling Stone during the 2016 election campaign provides “a cohesive narrative arc” while at the same time showing “how even the harshest skeptic in the pundit class can be blindsided” (Kirkus).
Listen, Liberal, or, What ever happened to the party of the people? by Thomas Frank (2016): The author of What’s the Matter With Kansas? turns his attention to the Democratic party and produces “a tough and thought-provoking look at what’s wrong with America” (Booklist).
Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion by Mark Leibovich (2014): “Leibovich, the chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, who specializes in profiles of people and places, brings together under one roof some of his best and most noteworthy profiles of American political and media figures,” including Chris Matthews, John McCain, and Glenn Beck, and “unlike some journalists who write about high-profile people, he doesn’t seem to have a preset agenda” (Booklist).
America Again: re-becoming the greatness we never weren’t by Stephen Colbert (2012): TV comedian and star of The Colbert Report spins that personality into a “smart, funny and slickly designed” book; the text is filled with “the blowhard, nonsense pomposity that the author both embodies and skewers” (Kirkus).
The Party is Over: How Republicans went crazy, Democrats became useless, and the middle class got shafted by Mike Lofgren (2012): “A pungent, penetrating insider polemic” by a former staffer to John Kasich and Judd Greg criticizes actions and priorities on both sides (Booklist).
Dogfight: the 2012 election campaign in verse by Calvin Trillin (2012): “Sprinkled in between Trillin’s play-by-play analyses of both campaigns [Obama and Romney] are encapsulated poems borne from media headlines….An easy, breezy, pocket-sized slice of political humor” (Kirkus).
Making Government Work by Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (2008): Former Governor of South Carolina and six-term U.S. Senator draws on his fifty years of public service to describe various changes over several presidential administrations, and topics from the environment to budget battles.
Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast (2006): Palast is an investigative journalist with a background in economics, whose writing and reporting are based on research and fact. “At once scary, infuriating, fascinating and frustrating,” Armed Madhouse “covers almost all the controversial political territory of the new century” (Publishers Weekly).
America (the book): a citizen’s guide to democracy inaction by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum (2004): Presented as a textbook with discussion questions and activities, the Daily Show’s version of American history mixes history and humor.
Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway by Dave Barry (2001): It may be more than 15 years old now, but this book by journalist and humor columnist Dave Barry will still elicit some chuckles, and maybe even a guffaw or two.