“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine“
This month we talk about laughter, and I’m so excited! I love to laugh. I’m not at all funny, and I can’t tell a joke to save myself, but I adore things that make me laugh, and books within my favorite genres that make me laugh? Those are my FAVORITE favorites.
The Bobbie Faye series by Toni McGee Causey is one such favorite. While some consider the series a comedy caper, I argue there’s plenty of serious content: relationship angst, crime, heartbreak, and more. The main characters have depth and dimension, the community is diverse, and the stories are deliciously twisty. Sure, the action is over-the-top, but that just makes these stories even more tasty. However, Causey also weaves in these moments that cause the reader to laugh and connect with the protagonist, Bobbie Faye, as though she’s a friend or favorite cousin. We cheer for Bobbie Faye on every step of her journey because Causey has given us a character with weaknesses, foibles, strengths, and yes, one who makes us laugh. It’s a killer combination that invites the reader to connect on an emotional level with a character.
In a 2005 Psychology Today article, Hara Estroff Marano wrote, “Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.” That emotional connection, when achieved between characters and readers, results in a truly special reading experience.
Of course, I’m not always in the mood to laugh; sometimes, I like my reading a bit darker or more serious. But I love knowing that there are amazing writers out there that can write rich, robust characters and stories that do make me laugh, right along with the characters. Darynda Jones‘ Charlie Davidson series (paranormal mystery), Amanda M. Lee‘s Aisling Grimlock series (paranormal suspense), and Deanna Raybourn‘s Veronica Speedwell Mysteries (historical fiction) are some of my other favorites. These writers have found that magical sweet-spot where well-rounded characters, twisty-turny stories, and a healthy dash of humorous writing converge into an amazing dessert buffet of books.
We’ve all heard the saying that “laughter is the best medicine.” The website Helpguide.org explains: “Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.”All the more reason to read more books that make us laugh, right?
I wonder if I can get my doctor to prescribe my favorite books as medicine….