It鈥檚 hard to have summer fun without something funny. Summer might be a great time for breezy beach reads, but it鈥檚 also an awesome time for sharp, pointed satire that scorches, memorable characters, and quirky situations. The three novels in this week鈥檚 book club have some serious moments. Mostly, though, they鈥檙e memorable for witty observations and flashes of insight into the human condition that can only come from a bit of laughter.

1. South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby ($26): The antidote to a scorching July day may just be this South Pole-based romantic comedy. Cooper Gosling, the heroine of Shelby鈥檚 off-kilter novel, passes the psychiatric portion of the fitness exam (鈥渢he pelvic exam of the mind鈥) to go to Antarctica as part of the 2003 National Science Foundation鈥檚 Antarctic Artists & Writers program鈥 well, sort of. Cooper, a 30-year-old MFA grad and painter from the midwest with a deeply sardonic sense of humor, only gets a conditional pass after her consultation at Veritas Integrated Defense Systems (鈥渕uch more than a defense contractor鈥), but she鈥檚 on her way anyway. It鈥檚 a great opportunity, but what is there to do in Antarctica, anyway? (Besides developing her 鈥渋nteresting juxtapositions鈥 and 鈥渇renetic color palette鈥?) Her polar-obsessed father merely hands her a familiar childhood book detailing the doomed Scott expedition, a haunting reminder of her twin brother David鈥檚 obsession with Captain Oates鈥 鈥減hilanthropic suicide鈥 before he ended his own life.

Cooper finds a certain kinship with the rest of the 鈥淧olies,鈥 as each one of them is off in his or her own way; as the director, Tucker Bollinger, says, 鈥淚f you don鈥檛 fit in anywhere else, you will work your ass off for us.鈥 Bollinger himself enters a room 鈥渓ike an android whose design hadn鈥檛 included joint flexion鈥 and has 鈥渁 kind of beauty that had been coaxed into existence.鈥 She鈥檚 pretty sure she can build a decent life for herself, even with the occasionally -54 Degrees Celsius weather. This suddenly becomes a whole lot more attractive when she meets a hot astrophysicist who can鈥檛 keep his eyes off her 鈥 well, if it鈥檚 a choice between her or the penguins, she definitely comes out on top.

Things are heating up in this frigid world when a climate-change denier comes aboard the station, and must be fought with a combination of wit and science. Shelby balances her romance, intrigue, and scientific musings with the mundanity of bureaucracy and email. She captures the particular powderkeg that is created when a bunch of oddball humans are trapped together in a small, hostile environment with no means for escape, where the only outlets are work, play, and each other. Like Cooper, to stay that long in Antarctica, you have to have a funny way of looking at the world.

2. Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam, illustrated by John Cuneo ($27): Rich Fischer, the 鈥渉ero鈥 of Klam鈥檚 novel, is a bit of a sad-sack, considering he鈥檚 a relatively popular cartoonist. This popularity, however, doesn鈥檛 necessarily equate to money or satisfaction; Rich is painfully aware that his best work is a few years in the past, and the ritzy New England artist retreat he teaches at allows him to retain the illusion of importance and 鈥渟how off in front of strangers鈥 while not paying him all that much. To top it off, he doesn鈥檛 find his marriage satisfying either, and he鈥檚 been cheating on his wife with a student at the retreat. This student just happens to be the wife of a billionaire, so Rich sees an additional value in potentially continuing this relationship; it鈥檚 at the expense of his wife, sure, but it could deal with all his other expenses. Or, at least, he could write a bestselling book about it. You might have picked up on the fact that Rich is not a particularly nice guy, but his story is an entertaining one.

This is mostly because author Klam has no intention of taking Rich too seriously; Rich may himself be devoted to navel-gazing, but Klam plays the worst of Rich鈥檚 nauseating self-pity for laughs, potentially refreshing to those who may have had enough of middle-aged white male tears. The artist retreat itself is also ripe for satire, with its clothing-optional beach drum circles and the wealthy desperately trying to rub elbows with the semi-famous and talented.

This is not to say that the people in Klam鈥檚 book aren鈥檛 people, layered and occasionally sympathetic, but they sure have their flaws: 鈥淥n the faculty,鈥 Rich relates, 鈥渨ere many friends I鈥檇 come to know over the years as intellects, historians, wordsmiths, talented performers, storytellers with big fake teeth, addicts, drunkards, perverts, world-famous womanizers, sufferers of gout, maniacs, liars-embittered, delusional, accomplished, scared of spiders, unable to swim, loveless, and cruel.鈥 Curtis Sittenfeld, Jennifer Egan, and Meg Wolitzer have all penned raves for Who Is Rich? It鈥檚 a question you鈥檒l want to have answered.

3. Made for Love by Alissa Nutting ($27): What鈥檚 funnier than love? It鈥檚 absolutely bizarre, if you think about it and the trouble it can cause. Nutting鈥檚 novel is all about the crazy lengths people will go to for love, either to get it or to get out of it. Set in the not-too-distant future of 2019, the novel mines the comic possibilities of the intersection between technology, sex, and love. Hazel is on the run from her wealthy and powerful husband, Byron Gogol of Gogol Industries, because she feels that he has taken his desire for intimacy to a disturbing level. He鈥檚 insisted on using their marriage as the guinea pig in the first couples鈥 鈥渕ind-meld,鈥 but when he brings out the brain chips to connect them wirelessly, she鈥檚 decided she鈥檚 had enough. The only problem with running from a technology scion, however, is that they come with ways of being able to track you.

Hazel moves in with her septuagenarian father in his trailer park for seniors in an attempt to remain on the lam, but she has to deal with his new companion. Diane is an incredibly realistic sex doll, 鈥淭he kind designed to provide a sexual experience that came as close as possible to having sex with a living (or maybe, Hazel thought, a more apt analogy was a very-very-recently deceased) female. Its arrival crate bore an uncanny resemblance to a no-frills pine coffin. It made Hazel recall the passage from Dracula where he ships himself overseas via boat.鈥

Suddenly adrift from her society of wealthy, technological, and intellectual oddballs, Hazel begins to realize how strange her world inside the 鈥渇amily compound鈥 really was. Nutting takes us into a world of intrigue with a dry wit and a raised eyebrow. Read Made for Love to see what鈥檚 in store for us in the next couple of years; technology changes, but love remains the same hilarious force it鈥檚 always been.

What books crack you up? Tag us in your next offbeat read @BritandCo.

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