Monday, August 11, 2008

Recent reading

I am currently wondering what books should I read. Any recommendations?

My last book was Good Omens, a book written by both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It is a comedy about the apocalypse. I rather like how the main characters, an angel and demon, often have trouble telling the difference between good and evil, because the line is so blurry. Also, the humans are better at their jobs than they are. Also, one of the horsemen of the apocalypse runs a fast food chain--guess which one. Great book, in many respects.

Previous to Good Omens, I read The Color of Magic and Guards, Guards!, both Terry Pratchett Discworld novels. I was trying to get into Discworld, but I don't feel too enthusiastic about it.

I was told that Terry Pratchett is similar to Douglas Adams, only more prolific. Douglas Adams is my favorite author, but his problem is that he's dead. As if that weren't bad enough, he also writes extremely slowly. But I am finding similarities in writing style between Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I love Douglas Adams' writing style, because it's hilarious all by itself, just the way he describes things. In his descriptions of common objects, he always includes contradictions, absurd metaphors, or things that would be impossible to know just from looks, leaving the reader's imagination to try to sort it all out. ("...four windows set in the front of a size and proportion which more or less exactly failed to please the eye"--page 1, H2G2) Terry Pratchett is a bit similar in this respect. But for whatever reason, I'm just not laughing as much. I am a little disappointed.

Maybe I am reading the wrong books. Are his later novels better? Or should I go for something completely different?

You may have gathered--correctly--that I like books that are funny.


Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, but I don't like his earlier stuff. It feels like a weak attempt to be just like Douglas Adams, and it isn't near as funny. Pratchett gets way better in his later books, and I would encourage you to try again with some of them--Small Gods is my favorite, and I also love Reaper Man (but only the half of the book that doesn't take place in Ankh-Morpork). The later books start to have a serious core to them, and the humor grows out of the situations a bit, rather than just one joke after another. I've spoken to a number of people who have tried Pratchett's earlier stuff, haven't liked it, but have enjoyed his later books when they gave it a chance.

I'd also strongly recommend Jasper Fforde's books, beginning with The Eyre Affair--extremely funny satire/metafiction/fantasy/science fiction/mystery stories that are extremely hard to categorize.

If you liked Good Omens, I'd also recommend more of Neil Gaiman's books, especially American Gods and Anansi Boys. He's not always all that funny, but a great storyteller.

Lastly, if you like funny, I highly recommend P. G. Wodehouse, especially his Jeeves and Wooster stories. These aren't fantasy--I'm not sure how much that matters to you--but absolutely hilarious. If you haven't read any Wodehouse before, I'd suggest starting with some of the short stories. The novels are excellent as well, but they have extremely convoluted plots (part of the fun!) and I think you have to know that you like him before you're willing to go to the effort of keeping track.

miller said...

Thanks! I will keep this in mind in my next trip to the bookstore.

It wasn't so much that I didn't like the Terry Pratchett books. They were funny at times. I like the writing style. But overall, it was just meh. I wasn't impressed enough that I'd want to read an entire series like that.