Kate Weston shares her top 5 funny YA books
"funny books can do so much more than just give you a good laugh"
As a teenager navigating anxiety and depression I spent a lot of time curled up with a funny book, because funny books can do so much more than just give you a good laugh. Using humour, they can sneakily address issues that you might have had trouble comprehending, give you answers to questions you didn’t even know you needed answering (like Kat in Diary of a Confused Feminist questioning which bit’s the vagina and which is the vulva? And why no one seems to find it imperative to know?), and even give you a better understanding of yourself and the world around you when you’re feeling alone.
While writing Diary of a Confused Feminist and Must Do Better, I wanted to use humour to address serious issues like depression, anxiety and toxic masculinity in a way that felt accessible and relatable. Here are five funny YA books that made me laugh myself incontinent while also addressing bigger issues.
Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Imagine one day finding yourself living in a new place with your dad and your older siblings who just so happen to be ancient Greek gods living incognito? Not only does Helen have to navigate a new school and new friends but her old sister is only THE ACTUAL Aphrodite. I loved the mix of real life and Ancient Greece; Oh My Gods provides a perfect escape and a solid 10/10 laugh while also dealing with the stress of having your entire life turned upside down as a teen.
Hexed by Julia Tuffs
Teenage witches that discover they have powers when they’re on their periods? Sign me right up! Because who hasn’t wanted to put a hex on someone particularly obnoxious when they’re on their period? I know I have. I found this completely unputdownable. An amazing mix of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sex Education. It deals with some tricky issues and puts pay to period shaming in the most perfect way. I cannot express in actual words how much I loved this so instead I’m dancing around my house to “I Put a Spell on You,” which you’ll just have to imagine.
Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson
TW: eating disorders
A funny book’s for life not just for Christmas. Yes, it might be February but what’s wrong with a bit of festive joy during those first bleak months of the year? Anyone with siblings will recognise a lot of the perfectly captured bonds between the characters and the family traditions that bind them all together. This is the kind of cosy hug that sends joy right through your chilly bones at any time of year, while dealing with some very serious and tricky issues in a heartfelt and beautiful way.
It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
I have to confess that there were a few contenders here because all of Holly Bourne’s books offer hilarity and comfort while broaching things like sexual assault, depression, anxiety and toxic relationships. It Only Happens in the Movies made me cry with frustration and anger on behalf of the protagonist Audrey, while also providing me with so many laughs I hurt my face. I’ve yet to reach the end of one of Holly Bourne’s books without feeling like someone has just seen inside my soul and given me more empathy towards myself and others than I had before.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging by Louise Rennison
What? Like you thought I wasn’t going to put this in here? I know that this has probably appeared in every single article about funny YA books since the dawn of time, but there’s a good reason for that – it’s utterly hilarious. As a teenager, sneaking a book with the word SNOGGING on the cover out of my school bag and up to my room was already a thrill. But inside it I found characters dealing with the same things I was, and instead of crying about it, with them I was able to laugh my way through a whole series. We truly didn’t deserve Louise Rennison and we’re so lucky that we have these books to keep reading and remember her by.
In short, funny YA doesn’t just provide you with laughs it helps tackle serious issues in a way that makes it bearable, it gives people a space to feel seen, and it provides you with the feeling that you’re not alone in the world.
Get your copy of Must Do Better by Kate Weston here.