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10 Best David Sedaris Books (2024)

Best David Sedaris Books ReviewBio

David Sedaris, full name being David Raymond Sedaris, was born on the 26th of December, 1956, in Johnson, New York. David was the second of 6 children, parents being Sharon and Lou Sedaris. It was because of the father’s profession that they moved to North Carolina. As such, David’s childhood was spent in New York and North Carolina.

He attended the Western Californian University, and then Kent State University, but by the time that 1977 rolled up, David had left school with the intention to hitchhike across the country. David graduated from art school in 1987. Attention from the public was received after he began giving readings from his own intimate diaries. He was in an acclaimed appearance on NPR in 1992.

Best David Sedaris Books


With time, Sedaris became the bestselling author that we love him today for. He garnered a devoted fanbase for the humorous, slapstick recollections of his own early years, his experiences in foreign countries, etc.

Sedaris received the award named The Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2001, and was named as Humorist of the Year by Time magazine. Three Grammy nominations are attributed to Sedaris’ name for the audio version of his books, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2008 by Binghamton University, New York.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim


22 Essays

The trademark self-deprecation, humorous wit and odd antics are ever-present in the 2004-published collection of essays by Sedaris. There are, in total, 22 essays in this particular collection. The book is a lightweight one with only some 270 pages. Still it is brimming with the casual humor and eccentricity present in Sedaris’ writing.

The deadpan humor isn’t one that a lot of humorists can pull off, in fact, it’s not even one that is pulled off by many. David Sedaris, however, isn’t just anyone, and he has mastered the art while maintaining a reasonable approach to the situations that have arisen with his friends, family and neighbors.

Humor from the Past

As always most of the humor is from the youth of Sedaris and his experiences with, for example, neighbors that didn’t own a TV. He refers to them as ignorant and lonely people while, in the same vein, ignorantly, going trick or treating on the 1st of November. Not in lack are incidents from recent times, of course. Antics with his sister are present and always worthy of a heartful guffaw and chuckle.

The singular absurdity that Sedaris features in his books is probably what makes them so enjoyable. Of course, the endearing writing, deadpan humor and general wit also contribute a great deal to the loveable air that spreads so nicely. One of David Sedaris’ best books, and this cannot be refuted.




NPR commentator, essayist, playwright and brilliantly funny author David Sedaris found the fame that he was searching for after publishing Naked in March of 1997. As most of Sedaris’ books are, this is a collection of essays of autobiographical nature.

Naked does an understandably great job at making the reader fall in love with the continuous fun prose and comedic situations featured through the essays. For instance, as a younger person Sedaris used to have nervous tics that would come up at irregular periods.

Just Crazy

These tics, however, stopped coming up once Sedaris started pulling a cigarette close to his mouth and smoking. He notes that smoking is a more acceptable convention socially than a cry from out of the blue is.

He details several short outings, like speaking in perfect Shakespearean English while volunteering at a mental hospital, or modification in the meaning of the phrase ‘ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas’ found after his sister brought home a friend. This friend had a side-gig as a prostitute.

Hilarious Misery

The funniest situations arise primarily from a wanton misery that Sedaris so deftly utilizes. He’d once shoplifted aided by a wheelchair-bound girl that had neuro-degenerative issues, and then proceeded to hitchhike with the same person. This wonderfully written, unhindered by social conventions book by Sedaris is among his best, and we’d go so far as to say that it is the best book of David Sedaris.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames


22 Again

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a 2008 release by master humorist David Sedaris. This collection, like the previous one, consists of 22 essays. Sedaris can make you feel like someone is tickling you. There’s always a hysterical laugh leaving your lungs, though you don’t want to laugh – most probably from the subject-matter –, but you can’t help it, the air you feel as you gasp feels so dear because the fit of laughter is fatiguing your body, but your mind still finds funny whatever is thrown at you.

Black comedy is so intrinsic a part of Sedaris’ humor that you can’t really imagine either alone after you’ve devoured a Sedaris paperback. There are brooding, brutal essays that, at their heart, ridicule the faculty and idea of ageing. There is, at one point, an autopsy that Sedaris can’t help but just make it a laughing fest.

Expatriate Life

A bunch of the essays center around the expatriate life of Sedaris after he’d moved to France, Japan and England. They hold keen, insightful tidbits about how life actually is for someone leaving his home country, but even more so there are slapstick funny situations for anyone’s taste.

Even while some books might fall into their own pit of irony, When You Are Engulfed in Flames delivers a giggling blow to the stomach as one of the best David Sedaris books, to date.

Me Talk Pretty One Day


Specific Humor

Me Talk Pretty One Day is a book by Sedaris that was released in the year of 2000. Featuring the beloved self-consciousness and self-demeaning, self-deprecating humor that Sedaris is known for, this is a book filled with gems from the experiences that Sedaris had garnered over his life.

Sedaris begins with giving an outlook and a few gems from his peculiar, harmless childhood period. We have Lou Sedaris being invited and propositioned, by way of a phone, from a family friend named Mrs. Midland. The Mrs. speaks how nice it is to talk to a person that genuinely understands her.


However, as time passes, a number of years later it is revealed that the innocuous Mrs. Midland was actually David’s sister, Amy. Thankfully, Lou never took up the offers. The mother isn’t safe from the pranks either, as after her cat is put to sleep due to an illness – leukemia –, she receives reports about the discovery of a brand-new cure for feline leukemia. The reports, of course, were made by the children.

Damn French!

In a singularly funny outing, Sedaris details his own attempts at learning the French language. He’d moved to Paris, enrolled in a French class, but he cannot make sense of the language, especially with assigning a gender to inanimate objects – the le and la in the French language.

It so happened that a fellow teacher associated having Sedaris in his class to a continuous, unending caesarean section. Endlessly fun, sardonic to points of teary-eyedness, Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day is a brilliant book, deserving of the attention it has received. We cannot recommend it enough.



Coping Mechanisms

Known as the “champion storyteller”, David Sedaris has a new book out, filled with a collection of personal essays. The book starts with the story of Sedaris learning to shoot guns with his sister, his visits to flea markets in Serbia, telling his elderly father wheelchair jokes, and buying gummy worms to feed ants.

When the pandemic hits, Sedaris was stuck in lockdown, just like the rest of us. He couldn’t tour or read to audiences, which for him was difficult as it is the part of his work that he cherishes the most. So, Sedaris had to find ways to cope, and he decided to go for mile-long walks through the city. He vacuumed his apartment twice a day and he pondered on how sex workers were getting by during lockdown.

Our New Reality

With the world finally settling into a new reality, Sedaris found that he has changed, venturing into the world with a newfound confidence (the kind you get from fixing your teeth – if you know, you know). Sedaris reflects on what it means to no longer be someone’s son, having lost both his parents.

But what Sedaris does better than the rest, is share his hilarious and poignant take on these recent upheavals in society, looking at not only the public, but himself as well. Even now on the other side of the pandemic, the world has been permanently changed. Who better to write about it than the great David Sedaris? It really feels like the man is in the business of improving lives.

A Carnival of Snackery


Dear Diary

Here we have one of David Sedaris’ latest books, and it won quite a few awards. It is, as is clear from the title, a diary. And I just have to preface this review by saying that there is no correct way to write a diary, it is something personal to each individual. But when it comes to writing a diary in the most entertaining of ways? Well, David Sedaris is your man.

In this diary, Sedaris looks outwards, observing the people around him. He sees two men on a bus get into a fight, and two men in the street get into a fight. He sees pedestrians getting smacked over the head, or masses gathering to watch as someone considers jumping to their death.

Life Goes On

Don’t worry, it’s not all just violence in this book. There are also dirty jokes shared at book signings and plenty of laughs at dinner parties. You will be reminded that you used to hate George W. Bush, and also how there was a time when Donald Trump was merely a harmless joke. Life goes on around him, and Sedaris takes note of it all.

What you will find reflected in this diary is the ever-changing background of the world we live in. It has the bitter and the sweet side of things – some are exactly what you want to read, and others you will want to spit out in disgust. One thing I can guarantee is that you will laugh – a lot. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from David Sedaris and highly recommend it to everyone to add to their reading list!



Beach House

This deeply personal and darkly hilarious book is a bit different from what I had come to expect from David Sedaris. If you are familiar with his work, you will read this book and understand what I mean. You will certainly be laughing, but it won’t always be in a cheerful manner.

Sedaris shares how he decided to buy a beach house on the coast of Carolina, envisioning long vacations spent there playing board games and relaxing in the sun, surrounded by the people he loves. He even gave the house a name, the “Sea Section”. Life is as idyllic there as you can imagine. But Sedaris has one dark and shocking revelation: taking a vacation from yourself is impossible.

The Middle Of Your Life Story

In ‘Calypso’, Sedaris turns his focus on being middle aged and his thoughts on mortality. The stories are very funny (as we’d expect from this author), but it is comedy born out of that moment when you start to realize that your life story consists of the past more than the future.

The amount of laughter and shock moments in this book are unparalleled and I truly had moments where I was crying with laughter. Sedaris has sharp powers of observation, this we already know, but I think this might be his best work yet. If you’re about to go lie on a beach, take this book with you, especially if you cannot be bothered with small talk.

SantaLand Diaries


Listen Closely

This book has six of David Sedaris’ best and most profound Christmas short stories. It is important to remember that Sedaris has a very acquired sense of humor, so do not be shocked when you come across the titles of some of these short stories. Again, it is a blend of entertaining stories and observations of people and life.

I love reading books but every now and then I enjoy listening to audio books as well. After reading the reviews for this David Sedaris book, I felt that the best approach would be to listen to it – and I am so glad that I did! Sedaris reads the stories himself and his voice just adds onto the already hilarious anecdotes.

Holiday Spirit

Sedaris shares the story about the time he worked at Macy’s as an elf, and that one was probably my favorite (it was certainly the darkest). I also really enjoyed ‘Dinah, the Christmas Whore’, which was as outrageous as the title suggests. Another good one is ‘Christmas is for Giving’, which is a take on the whole “keeping up with the Joneses”.

Overall, this is a fairly quick read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I laughed out loud more than once, and even if you’re someone who doesn’t like the holidays, this book may just be the thing to get you into the holiday spirit. It’s a great pick me up and one that you will be sorry to pass on!

Holidays on Ice


Honorable Mentions

Here we have a novel from David Sedaris that consists of a collection of some of his best short stories. This beloved holiday collection was released in 1997, but it never really gets old. The republished version has six new short stories and a story that has never been published before.

The stories range from the diary of a Macy’s elf to the long history of two competitive families. My personal favorite story is ‘Let It Snow’, which is about what to do if you are ever locked out in a snowstorm. Some other honorable mentions are ‘Jesus Shaves’, about the difficulties explaining who the Easter Bunny is to the French, and what Halloween looks like for a medical examiner in ‘The Monster Mash’.

Are You Not Entertained?

There are so many great stories in this book, ones that puzzle over the Christmas traditions of other nations, and ones that follow a secret barnyard Santa Scheme. Some of these stories will likely be the weirdest things you have ever read, but I guarantee you will be entertained and have plenty of laughs along the way.

This book isn’t just telling stories, as it has Sedaris doing what he is best known for, and that is observing what life is like around the holidays. Even though the stories are funny, they still have little anecdotes for you to sit on. This is the perfect book to get you into the spirit of Christmas, or even to get as a Christmas gift!

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls


Not as Consistent

Released in 2013, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is yet another essay collection by wonderful humorist Sedaris. It has been, though not often, criticized as a not-so-consistent outing for Sedaris. It seems that Sedaris no longer has a penchant for making people laugh inexorably or an inordinate period of time as he did when he first got people to follow and love his essays.

Sedaris finds himself repeating himself, though there is freshness in his writing and that is undeniable. He mentions his expatriate life, eccentric, dysfunctional family, himself having been in the closet for a large part of his youth.

Heartfelt and Touching

Something that is noticeable is that there isn’t much of the trademark zest that Sedaris has with, for example, Naked, but more so a melancholic overview of his life and the incidents that have marked his rise to fame. That’s not to say that the book is unfunny. Quite the contrary, a piece named The Happy Place features one of the funniest essays that Sedaris has ever written.

There’s the wonderful undermining, contrarianism that Sedaris can make levitate above the empty conventionalism of some of his peers. However, if a reader is interested in the humor of Sedaris, this book mightn’t be the best to look up. On the other hand, if a more heartfelt, touching retelling is what the seeker has his eye on, look no further than Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. In this vein, it is Sedaris’ best book, though it consists prominently of material that some readers aren’t as used to by Sedaris.

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.