The Good Soldier Sweik by Jaroslav Hasek
This is an ultimate classic novel that incorporates sparkling satire, exciting adventures, vivid descriptions of contemporary life, and profound philosophical meanings which are expressed in the form of the musings of a seemingly stupid simpleton. Jaroslav Hasek, a contemporary of Franz Kafka, created a new genre of European literature, and this novel helped to propel the Czech masters of the word to the heights of literary stardom.
The Good Soldier Sweik has many implications, from Hasek’s anti-militaristic ideology and his infinite contempt for the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to his derision of the absurdity, stupidity, greed, and hypocrisy of its society. But this time, when you pick up this wonderful book, try not to delve into such complicated issues. Instead, enjoy the author’s brilliant sense of humor, which starts to put a smile on your face from the very first pages of the book. Here is an excerpt from the novel that will give just a preliminary taste of some of the finest comedy ever written:
‘So they’ve killed Ferdinand,’ said the charwoman to Mr. Schweik who, having left the army many years before, when a military medical board declared him to be chronically feeble-minded, earned a livelihood by the sale of dogs – repulsive mongrel monstrosities for whom he forged pedigrees. Apart from this occupation, he was afflicted with rheumatism and was just rubbing his knees with embrocation.
‘Which Ferdinand, Mrs. Müller?’ asked Schweik, continuing to massage his knees. ‘I know two Ferdinands. One of them does jobs for Prusa the chemist, and one day he drank a bottle of hair oil by mistake, and then there’s Ferdinand Kokoska who goes round collecting manure. They wouldn’t be any great loss, either of ‘em.’ ‘No, it’s Archduke Ferdinand, the one from Konopiste, you know Mr. Schweik, the fat, pious one.’
‘Good Lord!’ exclaimed Schweik, ‘that’s a fine thing. And where did this happen?’
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The life of Arthur Philip Dent, an ordinary man from the forgotten planet Earth, changes literally in an instant. One moment he is lying in the mud in front of his house, which is about to be demolished because it is situated right where the local government plans to build a new highway, and the next moment he is teleported to a rather disgusting and suspicious place which turns out to be a spaceship of Vogons, not the friendliest of races in the Universe. Later on, Arthur finds out that Ford Prefect, his old friend who is also abducted, is an alien from the star system of Betelgeuse. Then Arthur learns that just a few seconds ago the Earth was destroyed by the Vogon’s spaceship because it stood in the way of a new galactic highway. This made Arthur Dent the last living human in all the boundlessness of space. Soon Arthur gets the chance to meet the president of Galaxy, a very disorganized fellow for such a responsible post, and many other extravagant creatures and individuals. But all these amazing adventures fade in comparison to a chance to study a truly magnificent thing: an epic Hitchhiker’s Guide that has been published on the planet Ursa Minor Beta. It contains the answers to almost every question about the configuration and the functioning of the Galaxy and some other things:
‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the effect of which is like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.’
There are many references to this book in popular movies. For example, you will find out why Agent J from Men in Black always asks whether a captured alien ever worked as a taxi driver. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a perfect mixture of science fiction, adventure, and comedy that has an army of fans of all ages around the world.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
Let’s admit it: we all love food, whether we are trying to eat healthy food and follow a fancy diet plan, or don’t really care about the number of calories we consume and make regular visits to fast-food restaurants on our way back from work or during nights out. But we all love the moment when we pull the full plate closer and dig into our favorite meal.
Jim Gaffigan is a famous American comedian who made food his vocation. His entire repertoire is based on his life-long passion for food and his nation’s obsession with eating. As for the latter, Gaffigan writes, ‘ If aliens studied Earth, they would come to the conclusion that the United States is somehow consuming food on behalf of other countries.’
The jokes in this book are tasteful and smart, “Apart from its ill-fated name and frightening body, everything about the crab as a creature is creepy. It only moves sideways. To the right and then jerking to the left. It always looks like it’s trying to avoid an awkward situation. ‘Uh-oh. I owe that guy money,’ as he sidesteps away.”
You will love reading this book in the evening while eating ice cream and wearing pajamas, which Gaffigan calls ‘ the uniform of ice cream eating.’