Embrace the ridiculous and absurd today because on November 20th, it’s National Absurdity Day! On this holiday, we should rejoice in the illogical, unreasonable or nonsensical. Life has absurd moments, why shouldn’t we celebrate them? A wonderful way to do so is to incorporate the absurd in your literature collection. Read on to discover a completely normal list of definitively absurd books!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Both this book and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, are rich in humor and the absurd. Dahl’s imagination runs wild as the story unfurls in a strange chocolate factory owned by an eccentric. These oddball fantasy novels include such strange events as a girl blowing up into a blueberry from sneaking forbidden chewing gum, children being carried away on rivers of chocolate, a group being launched into space in a great glass elevator and other bouts of madness. This story has a sweet lesson to get across, which is that children who try their hardest to be good and to avoid those common temptations (gluttony, greed, envy, etc.) will be rewarded.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
This fantastic collection of poems and drawings often dips into the absurd. Outrageously funny and deeply profound, at the same time this book of poetry is an absurdist dream. It contains poems about boys who turn into TV sets and girls who can eat entire whales. These poems are a combination of silly and sweet, which gives joy to children and adults alike. It’s is an absolutely fine addition for any absurd literature collector.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
No list of absurd books would be complete without at least the first book in this insanely inspired and extremely funny series. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is the epitome of British absurdity as it describes the misadventures of British Earthling Arthur Dent, who is rather put off by the destruction of his home planet by the Vogons for the development of an intergalactic bypass. His friend, Ford Prefect, is a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Enjoy the ridiculous asides, long and winding descriptions and full-frontal funniness as you glide though this absurd book.
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Really, any book by this American icon could be considered absurd. The silly rhymes and made up words are both ridiculous and wonderful. Two siblings wish for something fun but get a little more than they expected. This timeless tale of mischief was originally created to encourage young children to read and has lasted through the decades because its nonsensicality resonates with every generation of children. Of course, the absurdity in this book abounds: Why does the mother leave her two children at home under the supervision of only a fish? Why does the Cat in the Hat have a hat or walk on just two legs for that matter? What sort of creatures are Thing One and Thing Two? While teachers will argue that the phonetic value of the book is not to be diminished, children will tell you that it’s fun to have fun but you have to know how.
The Color of Magic (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett
Of course, you can’t have a list of absurd books without adding in the Discworld series. This hilarious and irreverent series takes place in Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin. There are many grand story arcs involving numerous characters and events, but the first book, The Color of Magic, follows the incompetent and cynical wizard Rincewind as he guides the rich but naïve tourist Twoflower. The book also features an enchanted and sentient chest, Hrun the Barbarian, an upside-down mountain, a sentient magical sword, a sea troll and so much more!
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies Of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
This collaboration resulted in a book that is both absolutely absurd and absolutely wonderful. It is a comedy about the birth of the son of Satan and the beginning of the End Times. There are attempts by an angel and a demon to sabotage the coming of the End Times, having grown accustomed to their comfortable surroundings and their enjoyment of humans. Of course, there was a mixup at the hospital so the suspected Antichrist is actually a normal person and the actual Antichrist grows up with the wrong family, in the wrong country village. Will the world end? Will the angel and demon remain friends? All this absurdity and more are packed into one great book!
That’s our completely normal list of absurd books, so why don’t you tell us some of your favorite absurdities in the comments below?
Katy is the Promotions Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.