Three Men in a Boat: (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (1889), 135 pages
I found this book on AbeBooks’ funniest books list, as chosen by UKers.
This is a funny book. The categorization of comic novel is right on. At one point, I was averaging one out-loud laugh per page. Then I lost count. Plus: It’s short. The narrator is a resistentialist, which is fun, too. This was a good diversion for me.
The book is about three friends (plus the dog, Montmorency) who decide it’s time for a break and set out, sculling up the Thames, camping at night or, alternately, staying at a local inn. Interspersed with the actual events of the book are many backstories, which, at least to some degree, really make the book.
This is not a book to skim, though, despite its brevity. I think it may have had to do with this particular edition (see below), but sometimes I did realize that I didn’t know what I was reading about and have to back up. I’d never missed much (never more than a few lines), but still.
About the various editions:
I read the 2006 Dover edition (linked above). The text is crammed into this trade paperback; Dover printed on the inside of both the front and back covers (although thankfully not the text of the book!) The text is unabridged, but this edition is apparently lacking illustrations that accompanied the original. Several publishers have this book available inexpensively, including Penguin Classics and Tor. Both have a higher page count than this Dover Value Edition (although the Tor page count is nearly twice that of either of the others, which is confusing). I like the cover of the Dover best, though.
There are just so many reasons to recommend this book: If you like dogs. Boating. England. History. Humor. Performing. Camping. Resistentialism. Traveling. Cheese. A fondness for any one of these, I think, would be enough to commend this book to you.
Because of the success of this book, Jerome went on to write Three Men on the Bummel.
This book is in the public domain (at least in the United States); LibriVox has a free audio version, plus links to several different free sources for the e-book.
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