In reply to Siward: A Fine Balance - really? I'd have said it's one of the most horrifyingly depressing books I've ever read!
I second Spike Milligan's war memoirs
Off the top of my head and depending on your own taste:
Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharp
Porno by Irvine Welsh
Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (honestly)
Vernon God Litttle by DBC Pierre
The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
Under The Frog by Tibor Fischer
Slightly different to the above suggestions, but Gervase Phinn and Gerald Durrell's books are very funny and generally uplifting.
Agree about Terry Pratchett (apart from Nation) and Douglas Adams (just finished listening to HHGTTG The Tertiary Phase - extremely funny, especially if you particularly like/dislike cricket; got a couple of Dirk Gently audio books to try too)
Thanks very much for all the suggestions!! I'm already a Tom Sharpe and Terry Pratchet fan, but there are lots of suggestions here that I've not read. I've been tempted by Tim Moore for a while. My wife found CMcC's the road very depressing, whereas I found it ultimately hopeful. I guess I don't mean that kind of philosophical upliftingness, but rather a lighthearted uplifting none too thought provoking set of literature; anything from "driving over lemons" through to books like "wilt". Thanks for the suggestions and please keep them coming!
> (In reply to janiejonesworld)
> But I thought ultimately a life affirming novel, the eternal optimism of the protaganists in the situation they were in was wonderful.
Yes, sorry, I missed the uplifting bit of the remit in a similar vein then I'd recommend Germinale by Emile Zola, maybe my favourite novel. Other uplifting/life-affirming: Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (although we're heading for a car crash in part 3 just as we've learned to love our antihero); A Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques; Days Of Hope by Andre Malraux; Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess.
And a couple more funnies are winking at me from the bookshelf -Alan Warner's The Sopranos and The Stars In The Bright Sky
Hope the OP can find something to love in that lot
You might like 'A Spot of Bother' by Mark Haddon. I thought it was warm and very funny. I suppose the humour is slightly dark (certainly not black, like the hilarious Dan Rhodes can be), but if that's too dark for you we'll have very different tastes!
In reply to Jimbo W: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome still makes me laugh out loud, and I'd second anything by David Sedaris. For uplifting, what about Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell? I've just been persuaded to read this and I'm loving it.
In reply to Jimbo W:
Riotous assembly - Tom Sharpe. Cried with laughter more than once. My Girlfriend thought I was going strange. Ancestral Vices, The Throwback and Grantchester Grind are also good. Recently tried Blott on the Landscape but could not get into it.
The Acid House - Irvine Welsh. Very funny in places, a little dark in others. Sometimes both at the same time.