She has an incredible way of portraying a love-hate relationship with the city, and I could definitely relate to that after about ten years of living there. She has such a good “performer” voice, and is able to translate that perfectly to the page. They would do such great excerpts of female writers. Oh, we’re allowed to write how we speak?! I just fell in love with it. I felt the way I feel when I discover something I’m obsessed with: Oh, it’s allowed to be like this?! I aspire to complain as well as she does. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Publishers

“Summer beach read” lists are all well and good, but the roundup a person really wants to know is: Which books do funny people find the funniest? She writes about food really beautifully. I imagine the topic of the book could have gone very serious, because it is about navigating dating as a straight cis woman and trying to date men in a very patriarchal society. The stuff I do is pretty absurd. I read all the books, like feverishly. $13

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How to Date Men When You Hate Men, by Blythe Roberson

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Karen Chee: Full disclosure: Blythe is a very good friend of mine. That experience was so formative for me as a writer, because it really taught me the value of output and not being precious with your jokes. Notes includes a wide range of comedy genres, spanning Lennon Parham’s holy psalm to Target to Karen Chee’s bullet-point list of reasons why her mom is calling. I’m sure it would be fun to go back and read now, but I really needed it at the time. Like Jessica St. This unlike anything I’ve read. Mindy writes like she’s one of your friends. But Mindy is appealing to my real-life self. But in the book, it feels like No, it’s okay to think about this. It’s this tale about her breakup and, in between, an “art show” with titles of the pieces she’s doing. The way this is formatted is so easy to pick up — just pick a paragraph and you can immediately be transported. It would make sense if I chose John Waters or something. Like, he put Meg Ryan out of business! There’s a piece in there about how Tom Hanks is the actual villain in You’ve Got Mail. She’s so good at highlighting details that many people would gloss over. But she takes all these really fun, whimsical terms and has so many good jokes packed into every page that it is just a true joy reading it. I like when people bring things into the spotlight that we’re aware of but maybe haven’t seen the humor in yet. She’s the town gossip. Her mom’s store!) There are lots of really absurd, silly pieces scattered throughout the book also, so it’s fun. When I read it, it was exactly what I was going through at the time: dating around, trying to be some kind of artist, trying to figure out if you’re terrible. Before I knew how to do anything, I wanted to do everything. I was like OMG, this is the life I want to have — like her writing a play with her friend, and being on The Office and fighting for her material in the writers’ room. $13

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$13

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The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information, by the Onion

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Ziwe Fumudoh: The Onion was the first job that ever paid me to write jokes. And you could see she persevered, so maybe you’ll be okay one day too. She just makes you feel so seen. How do you get a writer’s job? I’m not sure when I first read Fran’s work, but I know I was living in New York at the time, which seems appropriate. It’s like taking comedy and setting it to a different rhythm. Even though my stuff is so different than hers, I was able to recognize: That’s what I wanna do with my stuff. You can make your own way. That book had a lasting effect on me, because I didn’t know at the time that you could make a career out of being a comedian. I became even more of a fan while reading it. And a kiss on the cheek would most likely be out of the question. As a comedy writer and performer and producer, it really expands my world in terms of what I can make fun of, and also how I can make fun of myself. So putting something in that book format is difficult, because you’re used to thinking This joke is funny, and then saying it onstage, and finding out right away if it’s funny. I find the Onion’s voice to be so sharp, so funny. I obviously found it very funny, but also I learned a lot about her. This was the first thing by Miranda July that I’d read or seen, which might be why it blew me away so much. It’s not frivolous by nature. If it’s nebulous, it’s because someone is making a mistake. That’s part of what she does so well — invites the reader in through these seemingly tiny yet precise moments that then stay with you. You can talk about things you might not talk about onstage. How do you make light of really serious issues and sort of punch up at people in power? Yes, New York is amazing to look at, but you can see more of it if you stop looking up and actually walk to wherever the hell you’re going. You have literally 240 pages by all these brilliant writers collaborating to make a satirical encyclopedia. It’s vulnerable too, and that makes it even funnier. $16

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The Fran Lebowitz Reader, by Fran Lebowitz

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Sasheer Zamata: I love her takes and grievances with the mundane parts of life. And then later, I figured out how to write my own crazy stuff. She describes the kind of detail that I notice in real life and never expect to see in literature. $11

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Mickey, by Chelsea Martin

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Catherine Cohen: Everything about my life is humiliating and embarrassing and just cringe. It was a look into the future. She does it without being pretentious, which I ultimately appreciate because if I’m reading a book that’s pretentious I am lost. Recognizing those traits in a young woman — speaking up against adults, calling out a wrongful action, even standing up for yourself — that wasn’t, especially in the ‘80s, being taught. She’s endlessly romantic, fiercely loyal, she’s an optimist, she’s incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, has a fiery temper, and loves imagination. At that time, I was going to Barnes & Noble and getting anything I could about comedy: Tina Fey’s book, that big SNL book, everything I could. But when I read something like this, it feels so honest and fresh, and almost funny by accident. Solomon updated that “iconic opus” approach by assembling an array of sly, wry personalities working today. $12

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? $12

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Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life, by Ali Wong

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Mitra Jouhari: I usually read a lot of contemporary fiction, but I read Ali’s book last year. I was really young and I was like, How are people doing this?! That’s when I started comedy — like really started. With this in mind, Vulture spoke with eight comedians, all contributors to Notes From the Bathroom Line: Humor, Art, and Low-grade Panic From 150 of the Funniest Women in Comedy, a modern pantheon selected by Amy Solomon, producer on Silicon Valley and Barry. It was comforting. I don’t want to say she’s not worrying so much about not being funny, because it is very funny, but comedians who perform live are so used to immediate feedback. I don’t identify as someone who is a “foodie” — I can kind of just eat whatever and not really care. It feels like you’re texting with a friend who happens to be very insightful and bizarre. It’s comforting because it’s true and it’s true because it’s funny. It might have been one of the first straight comedic roles that I got to play. At that time, I didn’t really have my voice yet. Anne’s a real weirdo. I tried to fake my way through it, while still trying to be authentic to my freak flag. It’s legitimately exciting when your friend makes something that you’re really proud of. Well, multiple times, because she’s butting in where she shouldn’t. She speaks as if she’s delivering a stand-up set. As this nanny with no money, I couldn’t move to New York, I couldn’t move to L.A., but I was like, If she can do that, I can do that. The book has a lot of wholesome comedy — or, comedy about wholesome things. They showed an excerpt of this or maybe some poetry she’d written in around 2016, and I was like, This is so funny. So when Pretend It’s a City came out on Netflix, I of course devoured that immediately. So reading from the perspective of someone who gets a lot of joy and delight from food, why they love it so much, and the respect they have for it … It felt inspiring when I was burnt out on cooking the same three things every day. The Onion was at the forefront of making fun of these domestic and foreign policies. They really take shots at everyone. I was getting that information at home, but I wasn’t getting it from other adults. I connected with that feeling — like a lot of comedians feel when they’re little — that there’s something wrong with you. At the end of my internship, the video staff gave me this. Miranda July writes like no one else — her characters are so unique in their absurdity, and she crafts her stories so well that it’s like watching the film adaption as you read. That’s a fun device. I love anything that’s like these little prose poems — little tweets, almost — that form the novella. (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling

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Meg Stalter: I read it a long time ago, like around 2014. I had a vague idea in my head that she was an arty, cool maker of arty, cool things, but didn’t know much more than that. So I think I really connected with Anne on that. We followed up on Solomon’s cue and discussed the funny and formative books championed by eight comedians featured in Notes. I read it because she’s a friend of mine, but then I read it and was like, This is so good. She’s always advising on how Anne should be raised, and Anne really hands her her own ass at one point. She throws in these funny things — she gets intimate and reveals these darker truths — and then quickly takes it back with a joke. Dating is so nebulous that I always feel kind of embarrassed talking about it to people — unless they’re my close friends — because it sounds like I’m overanalyzing something silly. I was inspired to get this book because I watched clips online of her HBO show Public Speaking and thought she was insanely funny. I imagine she never liked hugging someone when meeting them, and would probably prefer that not come back. Fran’s distaste for people who don’t know how to walk in New York definitely resonates with me. In high school, we did Anne of Green Gables as a stage play, and I played Rachel Lynde. I’m also a fan now. This is my dream SparkNotes: the philosophy of dating. So it’s stressful to have to wait. So she’s like, I’m not letting you in that much. Clair, June Raphael — we all were obsessed with Anne of Green Gables when we were tweens. That juxtaposition of the fierce quality of Anne and also the softness within is really interesting. I think discussions of whether her work is “quirky” remind me of discussions about “whether women can be funny” — they center slightly sexist ideas and approaches rather than appreciate the work on its own merit. No one is spared from the barrage of scorn that the writers have for general living beings. And the way she writes about her life and her relationship with her husband and her daughters was really funny, but I think beautiful too. Maybe I’m cheap — I like a book that’s like “buy one, get 1,800 different things.” A lot of it is really offensive, honestly! I was nannying all day and doing open mics at night. $27

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Tags: It was watching somebody do what I wanted to do. Do you remember Lenny Letter, the thing that Lena Dunham did? She’s still writing in the voice that people who love her recognize, but whenever you switch to a different medium, you’re able to take on different things, or go into more granular detail. That you’re an outsider. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. There’s this one joke about Joe Biden, in 2010: “Joe Biden was asked to take down risqué photos of Loni Anderson from the Vice-Presidential Website” — and so, you know, the Onion was kind of the genesis of “Joe Biden as a folksy hero.” A lot of these jokes show a really deep understanding of American pop culture. It just felt so immediate and accessible. This is a very large book, and every single aspect of it is a joke. I think Miranda July does that: She takes behaviors that on paper might seem pathetic or depressing, like [protagonist] Cheryl eating straight out of the pan, and makes them hilarious. I grew up in a small town in Georgia and felt very “other” early on. And to watch inside jokes amongst these really tight writers in Chicago kind of transform into this national bit … It shows the importance of media and of comedy writing. The strongest aspect is that the entire page is full of jokes. $23

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The First Bad Man, by Miranda July

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Lolly Adefope: I find that novels tend to skew toward serious, so finding a hilarious one is such a rare treat. Montgomery

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Lennon Parham: I was thinking of books that made an impact on me, and surprisingly enough, Anne of Green Gables is one of those books that I have in common with almost all the women I’ve done comedy with. I read it front to back. I’m painfully earnest in real life — like “write poetry” and “cry at everything” earnest. But I’m a satirical writer myself, so I really value the wide breadth. Like, she made a list of obligations (dropping off laundry, going to parties, etc.) and called them “Modern Sports.” I would love to hear her thoughts on greeting someone in a post-COVID world. (Would they have actually been happy together?! I started as an unpaid intern there, for a year and a half, in 2013. They inherently push boundaries and sometimes cross the line. There are also quippy “group” responses to surveys like “What’s a Song/Album/Movie/Book That an Ex Ruined for You?” or “What’s a Bad Habit You’ll Never Get Rid Of?” (For the latter, per Joanna Calo, a producer for Hacks and BoJack Horseman: “Watching a quick hour of television when you’re supposed to be somewhere in 45 minutes.”)

“I live to recommend things to people,” Solomon remarks in Notes’ introduction, “namely bookstores, things to do in Chicago, and my amazing allergist in Los Angeles.” Solomon herself grew up smitten with Titters: The First Collection of Humor by Women, a 1976 publication that gathered women comedians into a kind biblical compendium, from Gilda Radner to Phyllis Diller.