Terry Pratchett: why I’m addicted, and why you will be too

Terry Pratchett is like candy. But candy that gives you a sugar rush in your intellectual funny bone. I could find his books at the library instead of hauling them around every time we move—but I love just grabbing them off my shelf when I’m in need of some snorts, cackles, and chortles. I need at least two dozen snorts, half a dozen cackles, and three solid chortles per day. And Terry helps me exceed my quota—every time.

My stash

My reading of Terry Pratchett goes in spurts—I’ll read about 4 or 5 of his novels in a row, and then I hit some kind of hilarity-induced state of mental madness and I need a break for about 6 months. And then the whole messy cycle starts again.

He writes about a made-up world called “Discworld”, which (as anyone will tell you) is a flat world that rides on the back of four elephants who in turn stand on a giganto-turtle who swims through space.

It is much like our world. And that’s the gist of the funniness. Terry Pratchett loves drawing out the absurd and comical aspects of our life here on earth by showing us its image in the distorted mirror of his fictional world. As an example, Terry Pratchett will chronicle the advent of a new technology—such as banking, or newspapers/printing, or the Postal service—and show us an alternate history of how it came into being, highlighting how strange and fascinating these systems we’ve developed really are—if you stop and think. And he will make you stop and think. Wait—does that make his books sound boring? Because they’re not! I liken the experience to going to those Fun-Fun-Mirror things at a fair that make your nose strangely bulbous and your legs really bendy and your head oddly egg-shaped—and you’re like “Whoa, the human body is hilariously freakish! [cackle cackle] [snort]” Terry Pratchett is witty and sarcastic, and I probably laugh more with his books than any others.

Within his Discworld novels, there are different character groups: the witches (Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Wyrd Sisters, Equal Rites), Death (Mort, Hogfather, Thief of Time), the Watch (Men at Arms, The Truth, Guards! Guards!), Rincewind the wizard (The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic)…I could go on and on. This man is nothing if not prolific. And hilarious. Or did I already say he was hilarious? (I did, but if I repeat it enough I will subliminally brainwash you) “Pyramids” could be a good random one to start with … or maybe you should dive into the witches with “Wyrd Sisters”, which I am reading right now along with “Mort”. Either way, give him a little time, get used to his style, and then go into a dark sound-proof closet where you can laugh your head off without someone asking you “what’s so funny?” every five seconds. Not that anyone I know does that. My husband for the record is very good about letting me read and laugh uninterruptedly. I’m just sayin’.

Any Pratchett lovers out there? Any recommendations that will give a first-time reader some good ole laughing whiplash?

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3 Responses to Terry Pratchett: why I’m addicted, and why you will be too

  1. Eric says:

    Good Omens actually got me addicted to Pratchett and Gaiman at the same time. I think Carrie is almost ready to cave if we can find her a good jumping-off place. Soul Music, perhaps?

    When shall we three meet again?

  2. helenog says:

    Hey :) I read a lot of Terry Pratchett when I was younger – I think Mort is the one that made me laugh the most and was easy to ready with little background of the books. In fact somewhere I’m pretty sure I have the maps and things too. My grandad used to enjoy them so we’d share books and have a giggle at them. They really appealed to our sense of humour. We also went to a book reading/Q&A/Signing session that Terry Pratchett did one evenine….I’d forgotten all about that y’know! Thanks for bringing back some nice memories!

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