Clever with a Side of Sarcasm

Posted on May 17, 2018

by April S

Growing up, my mom often told me — “you have a smart mouth.” Is that an insult or a compliment? After all, who doesn’t want to be thought of as smart? Sarcasm is one of those things that people either get or don’t. It has the power to evoke laughter, but it can also be stinging in nature — it all depends on how it’s being used and who it’s directed at. Basically, you really need to be careful when it comes to the use of sarcasm.

I’m a fan of clever, ridiculous, absurd and deadpan humor, which explains my tendency to be a little sarcastic from time to time. If you appreciate this type of humor, then you’ll enjoy the selection of books featured below. According to Novelist, these books have a sardonic tone and witty writing style.

Appeal Defined


Tone is the feeling that a book evokes in the reader. Is the mood of the story light and upbeat, or dark and menacing? Is it inspirational or bleak? Does the setting significantly add to the emotional content of the story? ~ Novelist

Sardonic tone

Books with dry humor and biting wit.

Witty writing style

Cleverly written books that use language in an innovative, playful and comical way.

Sardonic / Witty Books

The books below will appeal to a variety of readers. Some feature quirky characters, others are fast paced, but they all include a little sarcasm and wit. Enjoy!

The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen

The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen

In this humorous yet keenly observant coming-of-age story, Cohen brings us into a boisterous literary world bathed in hubris and ambition. With eloquent prose and affecting storytelling, “The Little Clan” is both a wickedly fun yet sharply insightful look at friendship, feminism and finding yourself in your twenties.

Appeal: Quirky/well-developed characters, Coming of age stories and engaging

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin

Drawing on her blog, the author shares a collection of thoughts on aging, belief, the state of literature, and the state of the nation.

Appeal: Reflective, conversational and engaging

No time to spare by Ursula K. Le Guin
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

From the New York Times–bestselling author Sloane Crosley comes a brand-new collection of essays filled with her trademark hilarity, wit, and charm. The characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back, but with a newfound coat of maturity. A thin coat. More of a blazer, really.

Appeal: Memoirs, engaging, honest and humorous

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley

Hitting rock bottom after his beautiful apartment is sold to his ex, David receives an unexpected call from his first wife, Julie, and agrees to help her sullen teen daughter get into college, an endeavor that brings lingering feelings and unresolved issues to light.

Appeal: Well-developed characters and engaging

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley
Living the Dream by Lauren Berry

Living the Dream by Lauren Berry

A marketing employee who doubts the relevance of her work and a screenwriter who has not been able to land an agent come together over the contrast between the lives they want and the lives they lead.

Appeal: Relatable/snarky characters, fast paced and upbeat

This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff

Five human resources colleagues navigate the emotional complexities of their ambitions, hopes, and fears as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend its employees.

Appeal: Well-developed characters and bittersweet

This could hurt by Jillian Medoff
Before the War by Fay Weldon

Before the War by Fay Weldon

An unfashionable and intelligent spinster in the 1920s gets married to a charismatic gentleman while hiding the secret that she will die in childbirth after bearing another man’s baby. By the award-winning author of “Wicked Women.”

Appeal: Flawed/quirky characters, fast paced and compelling

Touch by Courtney Maum

A trend forecaster hired by a leading tech company suddenly finds herself in the position of wanting to overturn her own predictions when she senses the beginning of a movement against electronics in favor of compassion, empathy, and “in-personism.”

Appeal: Sympathetic characters, moving and engaging

Touch by Courtney Maum
The refrigerator monologues / Catherynne Valente

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

Collects a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes who are harmed or killed so that a male character’s storyline will progress.

Appeal: Atmospheric, darkly humorous and wordplay-filled

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Rushing to the deathbed of his grandmother, Nicholas Young encounters a massive clan eager to claim a share of the family fortune, win the hearts of loved ones, destroy each other’s reputations, and outmaneuver professional rivals.

Appeal: Fast paced, high drama and engaging

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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