What does humor & entertainment even mean? Are these books supposed to be funny or entertaining, or should it be a list of by or about funny things and entertainment? This category is the worst! The truth is, it’s all of those things: humorous memoirs, film history, musical biographies, TV criticism—that sort of thing. Hopefully there’s something for everyone, unless you’re into knock-knock jokes, because you definitely won’t find any of that here. (Orange you glad I didn’t include them?)

The order of presentation doesn’t matter much either, except for the first: Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. A slim book (216 pages) from a small press (University of Texas), Go Ahead is much larger than an homage to a favorite hip hop group. A series of letters to each band member, Abdurraquib (a poet) writes of his own relationship to the music as a way of examining its power and relevance in culture, especially in this moment. Extra credit is available for readers who can trace the genealogy of the jacket.

All 20 selections are below, and see all of the best books of the year so far across more than a dozen categories, including literature & fiction, nonfiction, mysteries & thrillers, kids books, and more.

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America by Bill Geist

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll by Ian Port

No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir by Ani DiFranco

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W.K. Stratton

Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World’s Most Secretive Society of Magicians by Ian Frisch

Nothing’s Bad Luck: The Lives of Warren Zevon by C.M. Kushins

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

The Sopranos Sessions by Walter Zoller Sritz and Alan Sepinwall

More Fun in the New World: The Unmaking and Legacy of L.A. Punk by John Doe with Tom DeSavia and friends

No Happy Endings: A Memoir by Nora McInerny

Life Will Be the Death of Me: . . . and you too! by Chelsea Handler

Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder by John Waters

Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations by Craig Ferguson

Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells

Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook by Stassi Schroeder

James Warren, Empire Of Monsters: The Man Behind Creepy, Vampirella, And Famous Monsters by Bill Schelly

William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll by Casey Rae

Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson by by Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow

Rock Stars at Home by Chris Charlesworth, Eddi Fiegel, Bryan Reesman, Colin Salter, Simon Spence, and Daryl Easlea

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