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Laughing Matters: Five Funny Books With Substance

Illustration: A comedy mask reads a book.

It's great to laugh, but so much of what is labeled "entertainment" is, well, toothless. I'm a carnivore where my humor is concerned — I want it to have meat and bite. The following books will give you plenty to chew on if you like a bit of nourishment along with your kicks. They all offer light but not weightless takes on mostly modern dilemmas: the pitfalls of class snobbery, what to do with those expensive higher degrees, the challenges of keeping a long marriage fresh, how to live in the shadow of unfathomable evil — and why otherwise rational women willingly subject themselves to the tortures of high heels and Brazilian waxes. Their authors share the conviction that sometimes the best way to defang our troubles is by laughing at them.

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