Books that will eat up a boring eight hour shift
April 5, 2012 2:26 AM   Subscribe

I have an extremely boring, third shift job, so I'm looking for some book recommendations: fun, exciting, fluffy, silly, funny books - any sort of light reading that will make my excessive downtime at work pass quickly.

I'm open to any genre, fiction or non-fiction. I love reading, but I just can't get into anything too serious at work.

If it will help establish some base preferences, some books I've recently read at work:

Most of the Discworld series, The Hunger Games trilogy, Michael Caine's and Keith Richards' autobiographies, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, a couple of Lisa See's novels, Around the World in Eighty Days, and the entire Sookie Stackhouse series. Obviously literary merit is not a huge concern, as long as the reading is fun.
posted by madelf to Writing & Language (33 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
You might like Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series. Its a contemporary fantasy/mystery series that's fast paced, funny and easy to read. Plus, there are over a dozen books so it will keep you busy awhile.
posted by greasy_skillet at 2:55 AM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some recommendations:

Nick Harkaway (John Le Carre's son, though there the similarities end) - Angelmaker: The protagonist is one Joe Spork, repairer of antique clocks. He’s also the son of a legendary gangster, but he’d like to avoid that part of his heritage, thank you very much. But things get a little crazy when Spork goes to work on a device and discovers his client is a retired superspy and this seemingly harmless object is a doomsday machine.

Anything by George Saunders

Anything by Woodhouse
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:58 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Christopher Moore probably hits all of your criteria of "fun, exciting, fluffy, silly, funny"

Reamde by Neal Stephenson, and then Cryptonomicon if you like Reamde

Percy Jackson series if you like YA fantasy/Greek mythology

Kathy Reichs if you like medical/detective fluff

the other series' that Charlaine Harris has written are just as interesting as the Sookie Stackhouse books if that's your thing

Charlie Huston is good for entertainment

Neil Gaiman might get a bit too involved for your job, but I still think he's good, engaging, fun reading, especially Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett of Discworld fame) and American Gods

The Magicians books by Lev Grossman
posted by evilbeck at 3:28 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah heck. Tom Robbins. Any and all of the six from Another Roadside Attraction (1971) to Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (1994) - I can't speak on any after Pajamas but Still Life with Woodpecker (1980) is a fave.
posted by Kerasia at 3:34 AM on April 5, 2012

Stephen King's "The Stand".

It's 'effin' EPIC.
Great story, great characters.
Larger than life.

It's one of my favorite books of all time.
Because it's just FUN to read :)
posted by THAT William Mize at 4:11 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

When in doubt, always choose The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'd also recommend Jasper Fforde for a more recent author.
posted by graxe at 4:19 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try Gail Carriger (sorry, I'm on my phone and can't do links)
and J.D. Robb's In Death series
posted by BoscosMom at 4:26 AM on April 5, 2012

I enjoyed rereading Lord of the Rings at a job like this.
posted by gerryblog at 4:48 AM on April 5, 2012

You might try the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey.

They're kind of like retellings of fairy tales. The first book features a girl who would be Cinderella but the prince who she's destined to marry is only a little boy. Something got mucked up along the lines and now magical forces that would set everything straight threaten to cause all sorts of problems.
posted by royalsong at 5:10 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came to suggest Christopher Moore. Also Lisa Lutz's Spellman books.
posted by BibiRose at 5:42 AM on April 5, 2012

Also, Carl Hiassen. If you liked Charlaine Harris you may like Janet Evanovitch too.
posted by BibiRose at 5:49 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I read "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain while working the night shift on dispatch for a volunteer fire department.
posted by LN at 6:03 AM on April 5, 2012

Agent to the Stars by mefi's own jscalzi.

Terry Pratchett

Hitchhiker's Guide

John Saul for lightweight horror.
posted by freshwater at 6:04 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Wool novellas will probably only get you through one shift, but they're exciting and fun!

Another rec: Golden Age mystery books: Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, etc.
posted by mskyle at 6:20 AM on April 5, 2012

Tom Holt and Robert Rankin: humouristic, light fantasy/sf writers, often compared to Terry Pratchett but each with their own strengths/weaknesses.

Christopher Brookmyre: modern day thriller adventure stories, with a light touch, often set in Scotland, often with anti-religious themes (read as if Richard Dawkins wrote thrillers and had a sense of humour).

Tanya Huff has written several military sf novels which are fun, exciting and without even a hint of the poisonous rightwing politics that often mar other mil-sf novels.

Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga starts fluffy but becomes more serious over time, but serious doesn't mean grimdark here. In fact, her best novel is a regency romance in spaaaace.

Elizabeth Moon has written both science fiction and fantasy adventure stories, all of which are relatively light and easy to read and digest, with the exception of Speed of Dark, a more serious novel about autism.

MeFi's own cstross Laundry's novels are fun fantasy/horror pastiches of spy novels.

For true mindless brain candy but he must've put crack in these books they're so addicted: David Weber's Honor Harrington Napoleonic Wars in Space series, all of which can be legally downloaded for free from Baen Books and each of which you can easily read in a single shift.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:31 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

All the Dick Francis books are terrific and there are a lot of them. I don't care at all about horses or racing and I loved them.
posted by jefftang at 6:34 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:42 AM on April 5, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond by Paul Shirley

Microfserfs by Douglas Coupland

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson - this read like a movie

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
posted by stampsgal at 7:04 AM on April 5, 2012

David Sedaris is my favorite humorist. Try Me Talk Pretty One Day as your first pick, and if you like it delve into his others (Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames are my faves). I highly, highly recommend Mr. Sedaris for light reading entertainment.
posted by Falwless at 7:32 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would suggest PK Dick's short stories. They're all a little dark but in a funny way.
posted by that girl at 7:53 AM on April 5, 2012

How I Became a Famous Novelist
posted by scody at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came in to recommend Christopher Moore and Bujold's space opera stuff. My favorite Moore to start with would be Bloodsucking Fiends, and the one about Jesus's best friend.

I'll also second David Sedaris.

P.G Wodehouse would be perfect.

Neil Gaimen's lighter fair would work. Stuff like Starlight and Coraline. Maybe the Graveyard Book, an easy but engaging and satisfying read. Starlight is fluffy, but I wouldn't consider the other two fluffy as much as imaginative.

When I'm in the mood for this kind of book, I sometimes like to revisit some of my favorite kids/YA books. Like Bunnicula or Judy Blume books.
posted by f_panda at 8:19 AM on April 5, 2012

Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome is the funniest book I've ever read.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:38 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fearfulsymmetry beat me to Three Men in a Boat, which is sidesplitting. Jerome (we're on a first name basis) was a master of dry comedy.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:33 AM on April 5, 2012

Also, if you can find it in print The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales by Frank Stockton is a book of fairy-tale type short stories which are very funny as well. If you can't find a print version, you can read it on a device or whatever from Gutenberg.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:39 AM on April 5, 2012

I'm getting into Agatha Christie since the books have been rereleased with really beautiful covers. I just read Why Didn't They Ask Evans? and it's the perfect mix of fun and suspenseful.
posted by mlle valentine at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2012

Just read Calvin and Hobbes
posted by costanza at 10:59 AM on April 5, 2012

I'll back up any suggestion for Three Men in a Boat. While you're at it, you can also read Three Men on the Bummel.

For years I've kept a copy with me for travel, boredom, whenever I want something simple and delightful to read.
posted by cardioid at 11:36 AM on April 5, 2012

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (as mentioned previously).

"The Name of the Wind" and "Wise Man's Fear" are both huge and both fantastic. They're by Patrick Rothfuss.

And although some people on MeFi hate him, I haven't read an Orson Scott Card book I haven't loved. Start with "Ender's Game" if you haven't read it.

Oh and one last series (if you can find it): "Midshipman's Hope" and its sequels by Robert Feintuch. Those are some engaging, fast-paced tales of ocean voyages, but in space.
posted by tacodave at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2012

Tim Dorsey.
posted by BibiRose at 5:38 PM on April 5, 2012

mental_floss magazines and their various books. Basically short essays/articles on just about every topic.
posted by OHSnap at 11:31 PM on April 5, 2012

I'm liking Angelmaker a lot so far, but I really recommend Nick Harkaway's first book, The Gone-Away World.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the suggestions! There were a few mentioned that I've already read, or that are old favorites, so I'm really looking forward to trying out the rest.
posted by madelf at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2012

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