by John Kennedy Toole
What’s it about: Ignatius J. Reilly, a comical rotund failure with a philosopher’s soul and exaggerated sense of his own genius, living with his mother in New Orleans and an eccentric cast of characters.
Why should you read it: The funniest book you will ever read from an author who committed suicide because he couldn’t get this book published, 11 years before it won him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. Scenes of laugh out loud hilarity alongside references to heavy philosophical topics. Think Oliver Hardy by way of Erasmus. Also, very evocative of New Orleans (there’s even a statue of Ignatius on Canal Street). One of my all time favorite books and one I can remember laughing out loud as I read the whole first chapter in a bookstore.
"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."