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Humour

For a wry smile or a hearty laugh,

Theologygrams

- Theology Explained In Diagrams

by Rich Wyld


Brilliantly amusing little book and yet with some powerful insight in it for all it's slighty tongue in cheek seemingly satirical humour, actually it is because of this humour that you really manage to get a subtle glimpse into the complexity that is theology or bible study ... and also the simplicity that it really should be.
Haynes Manuals, Tube maps and Dr Who all get a look in, along with church rota's, biscuits and Pie & Venn diagrams.

It's not serious, it is funny, it would be brilliant to use with a youth group ... or even on the OHP in a sermon.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (31/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: 29 July 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53076-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Magic of Words

- Humorous and Serious

by James A Simpson


One of the many topics touched on in this book is after-dinner speaking, and there is a sense in which this is an after-dinner speech of a book. The author uses the "magic of words" theme of his title to take a gentle look at life, making some serious points—in a few cases, very poignant ones—and at times educating the reader too. It's all done with a deft, light touch, leaving you to reflect rather than having points developed for you at any length. There are plenty of amusing anecdotes along the way, told in the familiar James Simpson style.

The author has followed his own advice about after-dinner speeches, mixing the humorous and the serious in a way which holds the reader's attention. He keeps you turning the pages, and stops while you still have the appetite for a few more.

James Simpson fans will be very disappointed if their Christmas stocking doesn't contain a copy. 



Review by Martin Brasier  (27/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
Published: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-904-24641-1
Paperback
Price: £6.95

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend



by Adrian Plass


I read the first Sacred Diary when it came out 26 years ago and found it side-splittingly funny. This one, for me, doesn't quite rise to the same levels of hilarity. It occasionally made me smile and even chuckle but for the most part it didn't have me laughing out loud. Adrian certainly says some stuff that I found helpful e.g. that "God... is not looking for wonderful Christians, but for inadequate followers with a willingness to be obedient". He brings out the truth that in all things God works for the good of those who love him in a conversation he has with a character called Polly. When she asks, "...do you think God sometimes uses these disastery sort of things to make something good happen?", Adrian replies, "There's not much hope for me if he doesn't...". For readers going on holiday and looking for something light-hearted, entertaining and easy-to-read, and who don't mind the sacred being made the subject of humour, this might be a good choice of book to take.

Review by Brian Kerr  (10/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-444-74544-3
Hardback
Price: £14.99

What did I come upstairs for?

- Thoughts and blessings for the muddle-aged!

by Judith Merrell & Anna Caddy


A light-hearted look at the joys of growing older and not necessarily wiser. Do you find yourself saying... What was I in the middle of doing? or What did I come upstairs for? Do you sometimes feel baffled, bewildered or bemused?

Review by Publisher's notes  (02/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: TLM Trading for The Leprosy Mission
Published: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-909-09201-3
Paperback
Price: £5.99

So A Comedian Walks Into a Church

- Confessions of a Kneel-down Stand-up

by Paul Kerensa


This unusual book consists of 175 pages of tightly packed wry observations of the worlds of stand-up comedy and church life in the UK.

Don't let the page set-up (cramped sans-serif font and almost non-existent top margin) deter you from buying this enjoyable book.

The sub title - Confessions of a kneel-down stand-up gives an apt description of the author, Paul Kerensa who tours the country doing his comedy turns in the week but enjoys worshipping on Sundays wherever he is staying, and in whichever church, chapel or hall is the most convenient.

He attends each service with an open mind and by the end of the book the reader will have enjoyed a "Kerensan" tour of several Christian denominations and wide ranging worship styles.

His spoken skill of injecting humour translates well to the written word. Not only will you gain insight into the varied church life of today, but you will also be given an insider's look into the world of comedy, cabaret and clubs, and have many laughs along the way.

Paul comes across as a thoroughly sincere and likeable man, and if he ever came to my neck of the woods I would go out of my way to hear him.



Review by Margaret Walker  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: 25 March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-52979-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Peculiar Goings On

- Even More Dave Walker Guide to the Church Cartoons

by Dave Walker


Dave Walker, known to many through his weekly cartoon in the Church Times, knows church life inside out and this is reflected in the cartoons gathered in this book.

"Untapped Talent" (page 42), conveys a message that is both funny and poignant and will reward time spent reflecting on attitudes towards visitors.

Advice is offered on how to behave during church; other cartoons highlight some of the irritating habits of those we worship with, as well as they way we possibly irritate others.

There is plenty of advice for visitors, parents, treasurers, vicars, etc.. It would be a mistake to think that this book is just about laughs, or that it trivialises church life. Humour used correctly has the ability to make us think about our own attitudes and behaviour.

Cartoons like all good humour have an element of truth about them that is then pushed into absurdity. This collection will make you smile, chuckle and have a good belly laugh, whilst at the same time making you think about what church is supposed to be about.

Dave Walker's web site is a good place to sample his take on life and faith if you are still unsure.

Visit the author's website:www.cartoonchurch.com/

Review by John Macaulay  (07/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-848-25236-3
Paperback
Price: £6.99

You Can’t Keep a Good Tune Down

- .....No Matter How Hard the Choir tries

by Reginald Frary


More grossly exaggerated and distorted choir stories that have just sufficient truth as their basis that you can almost believe them to be true. Reg Frary has entertained us with his stories year after year, but sadly this is the last of them, as he died in 2011 at the age of ninety-one. Ideal as ‘stocking fillers’ these books have been published before Christmas year after year and have raised many a wry smile, You Can’t Keep a Good Tune Down follows the usual pattern of stories about the different choirs he encountered as he travelled among his friends and sang with them in their various churches.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (12/09/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: Summer 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-25084-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Stand Up and Deliver

- A Nervous Rookie on the Comedy Circuit

by Andy Kind


'Truly laughter without truth is empty,' so pens Andy Kind in a year long stretch that is engagingly summarised here in grit and graft of the world of comedy. This is a personable and authentic story. The twelve formative months of a fledgling comedy career shoe-horned neatly into a paperback. Stand Up & Deliver is sure to be a revelation to many and a relief to others. A revelation to those that think comedians appear fully formed on television without years of toil, triumph and heartbreak. It's a 'warts and all' account of the side of stand-up comedy that few see or understand.
The final third of the book, I found particularly moving and surprising in equal measure, with Kind, unafraid to tackle some of life's big questions head on. Kind is living his dream and the unique calling God has entrusted to him. Warm, compelling and full of soul!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (03/06/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-857-21025-8
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Pig’s Progress



by Jeanette Sears, illustrated by Adela Slomski


A glorious fantastical mixture of Animal Farm, various parables, Nursery Rhymes and Pilgrim’s Progress amusing to read but with an underlying serious message. The Big Bad Wolf is not all he appears to be at first, and amid dreams and double dreams, the third of the ‘Three Little Pigs’ finds salvation.
I was constantly amazed by the little references to things that were obvious connections to something written about such as the Catechism Cat not being able to pronounce Ms, they all came out as Miaows, so she wrote the word ‘mission’ in her tray. Of course a cat would have a tray you could write in, why was I surprised! Penguins in penguin suits, pigs insulting each other with phrases familiar to us all, this is a work of genius, weaving all these strands together into a fun, surprising but thought provoking read. Enjoy! But heed the message, it is a modern parable.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (03/05/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Piquant Editions (Distributed by IVP)
Published: Spring 2011
ISBN: 978-1-903-68973-8
Paperback
Price: £6.99

The Exciting World of Churchgoing

- Even More Cartoons

by Dave Walker


Comedic gets visual engages Churchianity! This is Dave Walkers third book of cartoons where the church gets critiqued by mind, spirit and line cartoons. Walker’s not for letting up on the endless variations of life and possibility that birth from local parish pews to you and I. Dave's visual style is wonderfully simple - with outline drawings of pastors, people and pews abounding! This third publication clusters together Walkers disparate offerings from website, Church Times regulars and many other locations. His handiwork has brightened many a dull publication and long may it continue. There is insight, genius and subtlety abounding in this slim attractive volume. Utterly distinctive!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (05/01/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 24 August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-848-25029-1
Paperback

I Know a Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie

- God Songs from Odd Songs - black & white edition

by Hazel Butler


In this unusual book Dr Hazel Butler uses the shape and words of 76 rhymes and songs from our childhood, as the starting point for her re-telling of many Bible stories in a fascinating and intriguing way that hopefully will make you smile but also make you stop and think more deeply about the original stories.
Firstly she sets out the familiar rhyme then tells the story behind it where known, then with the relevant Bible verses quoted below, she weaves her own delightful rhyme to suit her chosen verses.
Researching the origin of the rhymes would have been a worthwhile task, to change the rhymes into works containing the message of the Bible is a labour of love that we are privileged to share.

Colour version ISBN 978-1-907-50943-8, £12.99

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (24/12/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Onwards and Upwards Publishing
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-907-50904-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

At Our Age

- Humorous and Insightful Reflections on the Ageing Process

by James A. Simpson


A glorious collection of pieces relating to getting older, compiled by the author of several previous books that have made me laugh. Just put the author into our search facility and you will see that I have enjoyed every one.
As before any royalties go to charity.
My husband still gets our twin daughters confused now they are in their forties, so the story of the Grandpa bathing his four grandsons particularly amused me, but then I smiled or laughed at them all! Being in my mid seventies the smiles were sometimes rather wry, I could relate only too well to the stories being told!
A perfect ‘stocking filler’ for Christmas, or excellent as a gift at any time and not just for the elderly.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (17/11/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
Published: 30 September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-904-24634-3
Paperback
Price: £5.95

Silences and Nonsenses

- Collected Poetry, Doggerel, and Whimsy

by Adrian Plass


Thousands of people have been moved to re-examine themselves after listening to Adrian Plass perform. His verse always prompts a response as we are led to laugh at ourselves, alter our preconceived ideas, or cry out to God in gratitude for the life he has given to us. Funny, poignant, challenging and downright hysterical – these poems will delight readers. As Plass himself says, 'To have them all, good, not so good, simple, complicated, light-hearted, funny, serious, sensible and silly collected into one volume is more exciting than I can say'. This is probably a volume best dipped into at random, rather than read from start to finish, as although there is a chronological ordering with pieces grouped in sections from 1985 onwards, each section has a very mixed feel and the contents range from the playful and silly to the deeply serious, from reflective and devotional, to baffled and questioning.
One of Adrian's great gifts is making us smile and wince at the same time. His humour disarms us and then delivers a blow to the solar plexus as our foibles and compromises are exposed. Funny, poignant, challenging and downright hysterical - these poems will delight readers. Some were born from times of incredible personal difficulty. Others have come from his visits to dangerous and poor parts of the world. Others come from his love affair with the Church. All of them reflect the man, his faith, his life and his joy. Terrific stuff, with my only wish that the detail and delivery were of a better finish from Authentic as publishers.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (19/10/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-850-78876-8
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Seriously Funny

- Life, Love and God...Musings Between Two Good Friends

by Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas


What I find so endearing about these two gentlemen, Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas, is their openness with each other and ultimately with us, their readers. Their main motivation is to share their love for a loving Lord Jesus, and this shines through their bad times as well as their good times. Their almost child-like humour is refreshing and makes us chuckle, only to be brought up short by the next sentence or paragraph being profoundly serious. A thoroughly good read.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (01/05/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: 09 April 2010
ISBN: 978-1-850-78869-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Lost Chords

- The Parish Choir Tries It’s Best

by Reginald Frary


Reginald Frary’s new book is as entertaining as usual. Far-fetched and exaggerated (or at least, I hope they are exaggerated!) stories of various village choirs who sing traditional Victorian hymns with more gusto than skill. Story after story tells of eccentric organists and choir members. Mostly they are a law unto themselves, often disliked and misunderstood by Vicars and congregations alike, but still carry on in their own sweet way regardless. Not choirs I recognise, but they are fun to read about!

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (19/10/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: Summer 2009
ISBN: 978-1-853-11977-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

A Basket of Gems

- A Collection of Wise, Witty and Wonderful Quotes and Anecdotes

by Mark Stibbe


The sub-title says it all!
I started to read from the first page, then picked it up and dipped, and dipped again, reading and re-reading these Gems. I laughed, I just read and I thought hard about some of the pieces. They really are a mixture, and well worth spending time with. Arranged alphabetically by theme and illustrated with some amusing cartoons, if you have enjoyed Mark Stibbe’s previous compilations, you are sure to enjoy this book.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (17/09/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-854-24922-7
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Losing the Thread

- Joyful Wit and Wisdom for Today's Woman

Compiled by Alie Stibbe


Losing The Thread by Alie Stibbe is a collection of quotes from famous women that are thought provoking and often funny. I think that most people would enjoy the book, which is more to dip into than to read as a complete text, and it is an excellent resource for teachers, preachers and speakers. The book can also be used for church magazine editors as there is permission to use up to 750 words free of charge with the appropriate acknowledgement.

Review by Christine Walters  (19/08/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: Spring 2009
ISBN: 978-1-854-24907-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Lucas Unleashed

- Wisdom for Life on the High Wire

by Jeff Lucas


For Jeff Lucas fans, a new gem in the style of Lucas Out Loud. For those who have not come across Jeff Lucas, think of a kind of mid-Atlantic Adrian Plass, and you've what Lucas describes as a style whereby “Humour usually baptises us with truth while we are unaware, because we're too busy laughing”. The aim of the book is “to make you laugh, cry and think”, and it pulls no punches in making us examine our approach to our Christian life and our churches. Beat the gloom and read Jeff Lucas for refreshment.

Review by Carole Burrows  (04/05/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: Spring 2009
ISBN: 978-1-850-78823-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Bells! The Bells!

- A Collection of the Finest Stories, Jokes, Quotes…..About Marriage…..

Compiled by Mark Stibbe


What a delight! I could equally well put this title into the ‘Marriage and Family’ category, but it is full of humour so fits well into this category.
Mark Stibbe has obviously had fun compiling this and I’m sure I detect that Alie, his wife, had a hand in it too. The humorous stories, the wise sayings and the cartoons are all excellent, the stories in particular are enough to make you laugh out loud and want to share them with the nearest person, so be careful if you are reading this on public transport!
Page after page of short pieces, many quotations from famous writers and longer passages from the Bible and Common Worship.
Magazine editors please note that permission is granted to use up to 750 words from this book as long as you acknowledge the source.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (12/03/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: January 2009
ISBN: 978-1-854-24893-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

If You Think My Preaching is Bad, Try My Jokes



by David Pytches


I don’t think any of these pieces failed to raise a smile and some of them caused a great guffaw to burst out of me! Nothing here to offend, but a wonderful collection of mostly very short jokes that certainly raise your spirit! Some I had met many times before but they bore the repeating well, others were fresh to me and a delight to read. The trouble is, I was on my own reading this book and I would have dearly loved to bore my husband silly by reading them out one by one!

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (31/07/08)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: 2008
ISBN: 978-1-854-24868-8
Paperback
Price: £4.99

We Don’t Do That Tune Vicar

- More Disharmony in the Choir

by Reginald Frary


The title is enough to make you smile; there must be many parishes where that could happen! Somewhat far fetched, but nevertheless with more than a grain of truth, Reginald Frary tells stories of the foibles of choirs and their priests and congregations. A delight.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (30/11/07)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: October 2007
ISBN: 978-1-853-11837-1
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Laughter Lines

- Family Wit and Wisdom

by James A. Simpson


This is a revised and expanded edition of the book first published in 1987, which I had not seen so I came to it fresh and expectant. I was not disappointed, my smiling and chuckling aloud attracted my husband and he has had a read of it too! Good clean fun, suitable for all ages. I would love to quote some, but how do you choose from such a wonderful collection? I plan to leave my copy by the spare room bed so that it can be picked up and read at random by guests who want to go to sleep with a smile on their face.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (14/11/07)
Jacket
Publisher: Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
Published: October 2007
ISBN: 978-1-904-24628-2
Paperback
Price: £4.95

The Gospel According to Canon & Ball



by Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball with Chris Gidney, illustrated by John Byrne


There are many laughs in this book as you would expect from this pair, but the underlying message is serious in the extreme. We need to find Jesus as our personal friend and saviour. Cannon and Ball celebrate their faith, by sharing stories from their lives, including the bad years together, and showing how their finding God has enriched their humour and healed their personal friendship. A little photograph at the start of each short piece indicates which one has written it, and as you read through you are chuckling one moment – sometimes against your will !– and the next moment you are brought up short with a profound thought. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (05/10/07)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: Autumn 2007
ISBN: 978-1-853-11792-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

A Clean Camel is Happy Camel

- The story of Jesus as told by the men and women and livestock whose lives he touched

by Paul Symonds


This is an exceptionally funny book being, as it says on the front cover, “The story of Jesus as told by the men, women and livestock whose lives he touched.” Included are such items as Jesus’ Year 4 school report; the response of the Chief Gardener, Greater Jerusalem Council to the tearing off, and then littering with, palm leaves; the report from the private detective employed by the husband of the woman taken in adultery and the memo from Gabriel to all angels in training. True, you do have to be pretty familiar with The Gospel according to Luke but, once that is under your belt, this is a must for every Christian loo!


Review by Sue Cooper  (21/05/07)
Jacket
Publisher: O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: Spring 2007
ISBN: 978-1-846-94036-1
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation

- An A-Z of the Christian Life

by Adrian Plass


There is so much packed into this book, you will find something to laugh about whatever your sense of humour. But don’t be fooled; in the usual Plass style, there are seriously serious pieces interspersed with the shorter jokes, to pull you up short and make you think more deeply. You would get mental indigestion if you sat down to read this book all through, but a short read at odd moments, will do you the world of good.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (03/02/07)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: 29 January 2007
ISBN: 978-1-850-78723-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Dave Walker Guide to the Church



by Dave Walker


Strangely, I am going to review a book I have not yet read! This is because I know the cartoons of Dave Walker as I think them one of the best bits of the Church Times newspaper I read every week. Absolutely brilliant and often very telling, they have made me smile if not laugh out loud. I have even cut them out and given them to friends, like the various shapes of church tower flags you can see, which I took to fellow bell ringers. I know the book is going to be a great read if left on the coffee table. Who would like it for Christmas I wonder? So, get a copy and don’t read it any faster than one page at a time!

Review by Jim Currin  (08/12/06)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1-853-11779-X
Paperback
Price: £5.99