Top Ten Books that Make Me Laugh Out Loud
1. Good Omens – The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
2. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
3. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
4. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
5. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
7. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
8. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
10. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I mean, Morgenstern (who is really nobody, but supposedly the guy who wrote this huge book that Goldman abridged) called his original version of The Princess Bride, S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure and literary scholars later told Goldman that is was about politics and satire and social commentary – but only pompous literary scholars would claim that that is what makes good books good. Because for me, how amazingly interesting (note how interesting doesn’t have to mean ‘happy’) a book is decides how much I love it. If it gets trite and boring, if fiction conveys a message before it tells a story, it’s magic is lost on me.
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
I loved this book. So did the cat, as you can see, who turned it first into a pillow and then a bedtime toy. Small Gods is one of the bests of the Discworld series. You can read it as a standalone (in fact, you can do that with most of the forty books.) If you do like the Discworld series, but haven’t read this, do yourself a favour and don’t wait any longer. If you haven’t read it, you should start with this book, and perhaps a bit of an introduction.
Philosophizing apart, the book is also engaging. Om is adorable as the poor little indignant tortoise who hates his fate, Brutha is a protagonist created to be loved and it’s fun to be inside his mind. Deacon Vorbis is frighteningly true to life. Every character you meet leaves an impression. And even though the plot basically runs on witty dialogue, it does have a beginning, a middle and fabulous fireworks-ey end. You know, when it comes to Discworld, I always feel my mind bubbling with things to say and when I sit down to write, no words seem enough. So, before my review takes on a defensive tone, I’ll take the easy way out, and let Pratchett’s writing speak for itself.
be green and the sun rose every day and flowers regularly turned into fruit,
and what impressed them? Weeping statues. And wine made out of water! A mere
quantum-mechanistic tunnel effect, that’d happen anyway if you were prepared to
wait zillions of years. As if the turning of sunlight into wine, by means of
vines and grapes and time and enzymes, wasn’t a thousand times more impressive
and happened all the time…”
(provided that he wasn’t poor, foreign, nor disqualified by reason of being
mad, frivolous, or a woman). Every five years someone was elected to be Tyrant,
provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible, and
trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to
everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view
of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five
years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing
how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.”
and it is now. The way I see it is, after that, everything tends towards
could be wrong. Not being certain is what being a philosopher is all about.”
about things, and they weren’t sure. But he’d been sure, and Brother Nhumrod
had been sure, and Deacon Vorbis had a sureness you could bend horseshoes
around. Sureness was a rock.
was gray with hatred and his voice was tense as a wire. If there was no truth,
what was there left? And these bumbling old men spent their time kicking away
the pillars of the world, and they’d nothing to replace them with but
uncertainty. And they were proud of this?
Mr. Monk Helps Himself by Hy Conrad
last step to becoming Monk’s full partner.
Bay for a retreat run by Miranda Bigley, charismatic leader of the “Best
Possible Me” self-help program, whose philosophy has helped Natalie deal with
her recent life changes. Her plans for a
relaxing weekend are disrupted when Monk tracks her down, determined to rescue
her from the “cult.” Their argument is
cut short when Miranda, in full view of everyone, calmly walks to the edge of a
cliff and jumps off.
sure it is murder. But Monk brushes her
off to help the SFPD solve the murder of a clown, despite his fear of
clowns (number ninety-nine on his list of one hundred phobias) Natalie and Monk begin their separate investigations and are
quickly caught up in situations neither one of them can handle. If they want to solve both crimes – and
survive – they first need to learn how to be full partners. Can Monk handle the change?
A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett
I was so thrilled when I saw this at the library. As if it were not enough that it was a book by Terry Pratchett, it had an introduction by A. S. Byatt. I got it immediately and spent the next couple of weeks reading the many pleasing stories in it. I have to admit though, the introduction was a bit disappointing.
Lettice Earwig, asks Granny Weatherwax not to participate in the annual Lancre
Witch Trials, on account of her always winning. She agrees, becoming
disconcertingly nice. The sudden change in Granny’s usual stern unforgiving attitude hilariously terrified people. What follows goes on to show that you don’t have to be nice to be good. The story gets its title from an ancient Discworldian phrase: “The big sea does not care which way the little fishes swim.”
Death and What Comes Next was another favourite. It is the story of a conversation between Death and a dying philosopher. It’s short and not wanting to give anything away, I’ll just link you to it. Turntables of the Night was another story with Death; but a more Good Omens Death than the Discworld Death we all know and love.
Read it, if you are a Terry Pratchett fan! However, don’t let this be your introduction to the author. While awesome, this is certainly not Pratchett’s best work. I’d recommend starting with a Discworld novel and you have almost forty to choose from.
Reading P. G. Wodehouse
There May Be An Asterisk Involved by Vedashree Khambete
night, has only one goal: to not go utterly bonkers as she negotiates the
perils and pitfalls of a career in advertising. These include, but are not
limited to: comma-obsessed clients, award-obsessed bosses, obnoxious marketing
executives, high-strung creative types, impossible deadlines, obscure briefs,
fiercely competitive colleagues, the death of many a big idea…and the
ever-present danger of falling in love with the new account planner. Sounds doable,
but is it? Because, when it comes to advertising, somewhere, hidden in the fine
print, there may be an asterisk involved…”
Update: Turns out a Kindle edition is available here.
The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson
I’ve been on too long a break. This has been lying in my drafts, sad and unfinished for a while now. It is only fair to post it on my favourite author’s sixty-fifth birthday. Do I have to say it? Discworld is awesome and even if it seems impossible, this book is just as awesome. I am a big fan of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Quidditch Through the Ages and I didn’t think companion books could get any better. And then this came along in the mail. A little bit of Discworld was already spilling out from the middle of its delicious red cover. I couldn’t wait to dive straight into it.
The Folklore of Discworld: Its Legends, Magic and Customs
with Helpful Hints from Planet Earth has just what its title promises. Discworld, for those of you who haven’t read it (morons.) is a land somewhere in space – a turtle swimming idly through space carries on its back four elephants and on their heads rests the Disc; a world, which is quite like ours, but with magic. Accompanying the over thirty novels set in this world are a few other books, like the Science of Discworld and this book.
The Folklore of Discworld isn’t a non-fiction, quite unlike it, actually. It tells us about the uncanny similarities between the Earth’s legends and those of the Disc. About myths on the Earth that are actually real on the Disc and naturally, the other way around. You learn about the vampires, witches (and wizards, who are very different, of course) and zombies, the Luggage and the Feegles, the gods and Death. Our world and the Discworld do seem to have a lot in common and some of the reasons the author hypothesizes for this are: the constant drifting of particles of knowledge or through cosmic space, or the simple consideration that some or all of these creatures existed in all the worlds at some time or the other, and are now extinct. Read this book if you’ve read any books of the Discworld series, the fewer the better because a lot that is already in the books is repeated. But that doesn’t really matter as it is all very interesting and alo quite informative. For instance, I never knew that a story right out of Hindu mythology played with the idea of four elephants standing at the four ends of the world, holding it up, or something to that effect.
Pratchett’s writing is, as always, cheerful and witty. Good Omens told me that a collaboration isn’t really a bad thing and that Pratchett could really pull it off. The Folklore of Discworld doesn’t show any obvious there-are-two-authors-ey clumsiness, either. It is the kind of book that you can just open up to any page and start reading and before you know it, you’re buried nose-deep inside it.
As it has the word “folklore” in it’s title and everything, this book should qualify as my next read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. And because I found this book extra nice, I have quoted an entire two pages – the story of how Ankh-Morpork, only the most horribly great city on the Disc, came to be. Read and laugh.
“Any self-respecting city has to have a legend about
its foundation. Ankh-Morpork, as is right and proper for the oldest city on the
Disc, has two.
The first is the official one. According to this, there were once two orphaned
brothers, mere babies, who had been left on the shores of the Ankh to die.
There they were found by a she-hippopotamus, who suckled them. When they grew
up, they decided to build themselves a home, and so founded what must at the
time have been a very small city indeed. In memory of this, the shield on the
coat of arms of Ankh-Morpork has as its supports deux Hippopatames Royales
Baillant, un enchaine, un couronne au cou. Which, stripped of its aristocratic
herald-speak, means two royal hippos yawning, one wearing a chain and the other
with a crown round its neck. The conventions of heraldry do not permit the sex
of the beasts to be clearly indicated, but in view of the tale we can safely
state that at least one of them is female. The legend is also commemorated by
eight hippo statues on the city’s Brass Bridge, facing out to sea. It is said
that if danger ever threatens the city they will run away.
Some people have expressed doubts over this ancient and uplifting tradition.
Why and how, they ask, would a she-hippo suckle human babies? And how could
they thrive on this eccentric diet? Did they but know it, these doubters could
find a tale on Earth proving that such thing are perfectly possible. It tells
of twins, Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of Mars the God of War and a
human princess. Their evil great-uncle, having just usurped his brother’s
throne, seized the boys and threw them into the Tiber, for fear they might grow
up to challenge him.* But the river washed them safely to the bank, where a
she-wolf fed them with her milk until a kindly shepherd found them. Later they
built the city of Rome. Considering what wolves normally eat, this tale is even
more wondrous than that of the hippo, but the Romans had no difficulty in
believing it. And, naturally, making a statue about it.
The second legend is not told quite so often by the citizens
of Ankh-Morpork, but is surprisingly widespread in other towns. It is said that
way back in the fogs of time there was once a great flood sent by the gods, and
that a group of wise men survived by building a huge boat into which they
crammed two of every type of animal then existing on the Disc. After a few
weeks the combined manure was beginning to weigh the boat low in the water, so
– the story runs – they tipped it over the side and called the heap
Ankh-Morpork. Anybody who doubts the truth of this should go and stand on one
of the bridges over the Ankh, preferably on a warm day, and breathe deep.
You must be logged in to post a comment.