Well, I think 'The Princess Bride' fits all your criteria. I have not come across any dragons or fairies or elves. Mostly the book includes real animals or charicatures (sp?) of real animals. And it is funny. I am reading it slowly during my lunch hour at work. What with trying to make arachknits work, all of my other free time is taken. Even though it fits all of your criteria, I am hesitant to suggest it becuase it is not in the least scary and might just be too mushy. I am not sure how musy someone would be able to be to co-host the Anticraft...
You'd really like Terry Pratchett. If you haven't read anything by him, he uses the fantasy genre as brilliant, hilarious satire. I recommend starting with Guards! Guards!. If you already know about Pterry, there's a brand new book out called Making Money. Alas, still in hardback.
I read The Scarlet Pimpernel this summer, and for whatever reason really like it, but it might not be your cup of tea. Other than that, I just finished reading Mikhail Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita'. It was an entertaining read.
Your mention of books on tape reminded of a book on tape that I listened to years ago but I still think was the one I enjoyed the most. "The Antelope Wife" by Loise Erdrich.
The narrator is very important I have found. And this was a really good one. It came alive for me.
As for books with some humour and possibly a bit of horror lite I would recommend "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events", books 1 through 13. For books aimed at a younger audience they have a subtle and sarcastic enough humour to keep the adult reader flipping pages. And the environment is very gothic. No gore but alot of peril.
One of my favorite reads this year.
Well, I don't remember any fairies or dragons or elves in this so I guess it's fair game.
When I want to read something twisted that leaves me thinking "What the hell just happened there?" I Turn to Christopher Moore. Practical Demonkeeping and Island of the Sequined Love Nun. How can there be anything wrong with those titles.
Sadly, your non-negotiable rider on Elves, Faeries, and Dragons precludes the best reads I've had in a long time: Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. The series had me in book one, where Dresden is talking about exactly the kind of cojones it would take to try to catch St. Nick in a summoning ring.
Likewise, Neil Gaimen's Neverwhere and Stardust also fall outside the rider for the same reason.
If you're ever willing to give elves, faires, etc, a try, that's a good place to start.
Speaking of Gaiman, The "no talking animals" rule also eliminates his other two novels: "American Gods" and "Anansi Boys". Though I do have to wonder: does it count if the animals are gods (or personifications thereof)?
I agree with the above regarding anything by Christopher Moore. Also, anything by David Sedaris and I recently read this hilarious and geeky book called "Schroedinger's Ball" and I'm currently reading "Wigfield" by the hilarious trio of Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, and Paul Dinello
Sometimes dark, but usually very very funny in a witty, self-deprecating, Irish sort of way. The movie is nowhere as good as the book. It focuses on the "we're dirt poor and starving" and does little with the laughter-as-coping-mechanism found in the book.
Seriously - take the other's advice and read Terry Pratchett - do not let the "fantasy" section scare you off! I've read his discworld series from the very beginning (it's now into the 30s) but each book will stand alone. He is wickedly hilarious (I mean I have burst out laughing in public reading his stuff - which is highly embarrassing), and provides some wonderful insight into our world by twisting it completely.
Also I would recommend reading "The Salmon of Doubt" by Douglas Adams, which most of it is a collection of writings and lectures he gave - no dragons, fairies or elves. he was a remarkably brilliant man. Also by Adams is "Last Chance to See" which is a book based on his travels for BBC radio documenting animals on the verge of extinction. It's kinda sad in the whole animal extinction area, but it's wonderfully funny in all the strange things that happens to the team in their travels. Many parts are also laugh out loud funny. Particularly anything with customs agents.
OK, it's total trash, but man am I having fun with it!
"How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire" by Kerrelyn Sparks.
Vampire has to find a mortal dentist to fix his broken fang, she is in the witness protection program being hunted by the Russian Mafia, which has been infiltrated by - you guessed it - rogue vampires.
Personally, I love the Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Very dark, with humor, mystery and erotocism mixed in. Also by LKH is the Merry Gentry series. Even though it is about faeries, it treats them as real, as almost human, but more. Not quite as good, but far more erotic. I've heard it referred to as "faerie porn."