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Sometimes you read a book that has you convulsing with laughter from the moment you pick it up. For me, one of those books was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. What do you call this?

Perhaps there isn't a single word or standard phrase for it but I'm convinced there is and I just can't remember it. It would be much like potboiler means a poor quality book, the kind of pulp rubbish people buy in airports.

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"You have to read Catch-22. It's a riot!" – mkennedy Aug 7 '11 at 0:50
@mkennedy - Add usage example or a citation, and you have a decent answer. It's only a single word request. – z7sg Ѫ Aug 7 '11 at 10:05
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The term doesn't really solely apply to books, but I would say that the book is a sidesplitter:

a joke that seems extremely funny

Similar words to this (to describe things that are very funny, though maybe not necessarily a book) are:

  • riot (or "laugh riot")
  • scream
  • knee-slapper
  • thigh-slapper
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I thought of side-splitter myself but it didn't feel right for a whole book. Riot is my favourite one! – z7sg Ѫ Aug 7 '11 at 10:07
... and rib-tickler too. – prash Aug 7 '11 at 10:51

What is wrong with "very funny" for a very funny book? Other alternatives could be, hilarious, and uproarious. As mentioned above, riot, and side-splitter also qualify.

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