Monday 13 October 2008

A series of laughs and good reads

I read the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, a few months ago and thought it was clever but not hilarious. As I'd been expecting knock-down hilarity with my first Pratchett read, I was rather disappointed. The scolding I gave the book didn't inspire it to buck up and try harder either, bratty little tome that it is.

However, reader and interviewee Terry B. insisted (very politely) that I try at least the second Discworld novel, The Light Fantastic, before I give up. So I did, and he was right. The Light Fantastic was a rollicking good read - indeed, it was exactly the kind of read I was hoping for when I read The Colour of Magic.

I laughed out loud quite a lot while reading The Light Fantastic and found myself feeling sad when it was over. For me, the pleasure was in the details rather than in the larger plot, though. For example, Rincewind and Twoflower are walking through a scary dark wood when a wolf begins howling; it soon quits in embarrassment, however, when no other wolves join it. Silly, and not part of the plot, but so funny and ridiculous. And funny and ridiculous is really all I ask for in a book like this.

So, yes, I will now happily embark on a plan to read the next eleventy-thousand Discworld novels - because, you know, I haven't already begun enough series.

Tangent: Let's do a little run-down of how many series I currently have on the go. In some cases, I've read only the first book in the series but because I plan to read at least one more in each case, they must all be counted. Here we go:

1) Terry Pratchett's Discworld - as of today, I've read the first two. I'm told these can be read out of order but that makes my brain hurt.

2) Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mysteries - again, I've read the first two and I'm chomping at the bit to read them all right now. But I've learned from overdosing on Wodehouse that one needs to approach these gems with a measure of restraint for their individuality doesn't always show so well in the cold light of day.

3) Douglas Adams' 5-part Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. I've read and enjoyed the first 3, although the second (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) was my definite favourite. I must say this worries me somewhat.

Several years ago, I read the first six books in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Yeah: only book 2 was good and that convinced me to keep trying when there was no godly reason to do so. Damn you, Lemony Snicket, damn you!!

4) Terry Brook's Shannara series. I've read The Sword of Shannara and The Elfstones of Shannara is sitting on my shelf feeling neglected enough to consider calling the authorities. I enjoyed The Sword of Shannara but it's true that as time goes by it's hard to recall it as anything other than a somewhat tubercular imitation of the Lord of the Rings books - which, to be honest, didn't excite me much. We'll see. It could be a good vacation book - you know, the kind of book you take on a trip with you and then leave on the beach when you're done with it because you don't care. Mmmmm, vacation books.

5) Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories - A few months ago I read hump-fest The Last Kingdom and enjoyed it rather more than I expected or am perhaps entirely proud of. My husband enjoys such extreme nerdiness and mega-manliness in books very much and so the next installment, The Pale Horsemen, is sitting here languishing as it waits for me to pick it up.

I think this one will be a sooner rather than a later read - silliness is what I'm in the mood for right now (and not getting with Tanizaki's Naomi. Not sure why I imagined I would get it there; not enough caffeine, I'm guessing).

6) Mary Stewart's Merlin series - I absolutely loved The Crystal Cave so I see no problem reading all 5 in this line. I'm actually saving the next one, maybe for Festivus. Or for when I'm feeling muscular enough to carry around a hardcover book.

7) Clive Barker's Abarat. Okay, there are currently only two books under this banner and so this doesn't really qualify as a series. But I've read the first one and am feeling like a jerk for not having read the second because a) my husband bought it for me as a giftie and b) twice. Yes, he bought it for me twice. On purpose. Because like the little book diva I am, I complained when the second one he bought didn't physically match the first.

8) Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books. I've read the first 5 and have seen the next installment in this series in stores but won't grab it until it's in softcover. There's really no reason to spend $20+ on a book I'm going to read in less than 2 hours. I am looking forward to this though - the bad puns Colfer churns out are worth their weight in gold.

9) The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix. I've read Monday through Thursday and while Lady Friday is out in softcover I'm putting it off until I read some other series' books I already have at home. And, to be honest, I can't distinguish in my memory amongst the first 4 anymore. I feel this doesn't recommend an expenditure from the dwindling book fund at this time.

This little tangent has made me feel rather like a bad parent who, when the kids come looking for attention, get instead a boiled potato and a smack in the mouth followed immediately by directions to go play outside because mommy's busy watching her stories. I'd say I'll reform but you know how I am with books - even I can't predict or much influence what I'll be reading next.


Terry (@GameCouch) said...

A shout-out, I'm honored. :)

Regarding Hitchhiker's, after book 3 they become less essential -- which hasn't stopped whoever owns the rights from commissioning a new Hitchhiker's book.


Bookphilia said...

I love how the departed are enabled to write books they can't make money off of...