I can hear it from here! All of you out there saying, “My goodness, Adam, there are so many P.G. Wodehouse books at KU, how did you pick just one to read for book club?! And, more importantly, how should I choose some of them to read this summer, since they are great for summer reading and are the funniest books ever?!” Firstly, let me say that you are very verbose.
Secondly, yes, it can be difficult to know where to begin with Wodehouse (that’s wood-house, p.s., not woad-house) but the truth is that you can start anywhere you like. Wodehouse’s books are usually short story collections and while there are over-arching plot lines, he’s very good at filling his readers in on what they need to know for the present moment. Most of the Wodehouse books we carry (he wrote over 100!) come from two main storylines, Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings Castle.
Jeeves and Wooster is about wealthy and scatterbrained Bertie Wooster, the unfortunate situations he and his friends get into, and how his ingenious valet, Jeeves, extricates him from them. If you’re a stickler for chronology, the first three books published were My Man Jeeves in 1919, The Inimitable Jeeves in 1923, and Carry On, Jeeves in 1925. Carry On, Jeeves contains the story Jeeves Takes Charge which is about how Jeeves came to work for Bertie in the first place, so from a narrative perspective, it’s a good place to start and that’s why we chose it from the others for a book club selection. Other great J&W books include Right Ho, Jeeves and Mating Season.
Blandings Castle is concerned with Lord Emsworth and the residents of Blandings Castle, who also get themselves into unfortunate and hilarious situations. The first BC book is Something Fresh (1915), but we recommend starting with Heavy Weather or Lord Emsworth and Others. One of Wodehouse’s most beloved characters is Psmith (the P is silent, as in pshrimp) and he is part of the BC series. His first book is Psmith in the City, but we love Leave it to Psmith the best.