You know how guys always spend hours in the loo and you wonder what they are getting up to? Well I can let you into a secret, they are not completing their ablutions! Typically they have gone in with the intention of reading the Sunday Times or, if they haven’t got that much time to waste, they’ll be reading a little – what I call – a ‘toilet book’. Every smallest room in the house should have one, or several. A set of mini tomes that your guests can meander through when the going gets tough but, there are certain specifications to these ‘toilet books’ that have to be met. You have to be able to read them in short chunks, they must be funny or informative, and they should be written by a famous person and include funny anecdotes or stories. With this in mind, and with Christmas coming up, books that fit this category are ideal to give to relatives such as uncles, cousins, nephews and friends. Sort through our favourites and see which, if any appeal to you.
Small Man in a Book – Rob Brydon. £7.98
Our most favourite Welshman Rob Brydon has found many ways to entertain us over the years, from charming us with the innocent optimism of Gavin and Stacey’s Uncle Bryn, to performing arguably the greatest ever April Fools’ Day joke in hosting the entire Ken Bruce radio show without letting on that we were listening to an impressionist. But it took him a long time to reach even the first rung of fame, and in this enjoyable memoir he describes his many formative years with the humour and warmth that you’d expect from him.
The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton, Noel Fielding. £9
Many people won’t be aware that comedian Noel Fielding, best known for his surreal contributions to The Mighty Boosh and Nevermind The Buzzcocks has a successful sideline in art. For this very unusual book, he’s combined his two passions to create a visually and comically inventive ramble through such strangeness as a trainer-stealing crocodile, a tempestuous relationship between a bunny and an “angry shape”, and Bryan Ferry cheating to win an egg-and-spoon race. A great buy for fans of Fielding and/or the bizarre.
I’ve Said It Before… Unpublished Letters to the Daily Mail, Andy Simpson. £4
This is a collection of letters sent to The Daily Mail which were unsuitable for publication; and as you’d expect, they’re a fertile source of entertainment. Within the book you’ll find some very British concerns, including rage directed at the Duchess of Cornwall, complaints about call centres, lots of top-notch pedantry and even criticism of the surely sacred David Beckham. It’s often amusing, sometimes deliberately, and will be an enjoyable read for those who don’t feel life should be taken too seriously.
The Inbetweeners Yearbook, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris. £7.49
Many were astonished this year when a film about four potty-mouthed teenagers on a Greek holiday took more opening-weekend money at the UK box office than any British comedy before it. But it wasn’t such a surprise for those who had spent the last three years curled up with laughter and embarrassment at the quartet’s clueless transition from boys to men in the TV series The Inbetweeners. This mock yearbook, filled with the characters’ diaries, reports, poems and more, will be loved by fans
How I Escaped My Certain Fate, Stewart Lee. £1.72
Stewart Lee is aware that he’s not for everyone, proudly displaying The Sun’s view that he’s “as funny as bubonic plague”; but many see him as the country’s best stand-up comedian. This book is an unusual hotchpotch, being partly a memoir of how he fell back in love with stand-up, partly his musings on the nature of comedy, and partly transcripts of some of his best shows. It’s one of the funniest and most enlightening books about comedy, by one of the cleverest comedians around.
Private Eye: The First 50 years, an A-Z, Adam MacQueen. £12.34
Private Eye is Britain’s first, most successful and indeed only fortnightly satirical magazine. Founded in 1961, it has consistently entertained, informed and irritated its readers. Over five turbulent decades it has developed its unique mix of jokes and journalism, comedy and campaigning, gags and gossip, laughter and libel, to cover the public life of the nation. And what better way to mark your half century than with a book of unsurpassed, fascinating history of Private Eye over the past 50 years? Private Eye: The First 50 Years, an A-Z, is a lavishly illustrated, definitive history of the magazine, charting its rise from 300 copies of the first edition on 25th October 1961, to a fortnightly readership of 700,000, steered at the helm by Editor of 25 years, Ian Hislop.