Books to Watch For in 2014: A Guest Post from Bekki!

Throughout December, I will be highlighting 2014 releases that I’m incredibly excited for.  I got the idea for this from my friend Kathy, who is doing something similar.  Make sure to check out her blog to see what books she’s excited for next year!

Today, we have a guest post from my friend Bekki.

I first encountered Moist von Lipwig in 2007. I had a 30 min drive from my house to work every day, and discovered that the local library had an extensive collection of books on C.D. It was awesome.  I love to read, and resented every day that I spent a worthless period of time in my car.  [1] I would troll the collection looking for books that would catch my eye, and several trips in a row I saw  “Going Postal”

Going Postal

I kept reading the back of the book:

“Arch-swindler Moist Van Lipwig never believed his confidence crimes were hanging offenses – until he found himself with a noose tightly around his neck, dropping through a trapdoor, and falling into…a government job?

By all rights, Moist should have met his maker. Instead, it’s Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, who promptly offers him a job as Postmaster. Since his only other option is a nonliving one, Moist accepts the position – and the hulking golem watchdog who comes along with it, just in case Moist was considering abandoning his responsibilities prematurely.

Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may be a near-impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office building; and with only a few creaky old postmen and one rather unstable, pin-obsessed youth available to deliver it. Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, money-hungry Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical head, Mr. Reacher Gilt.

But it says on the building Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Glom of Nit…Inspiring words (admittedly, some of the bronze letters have been stolen), and for once in his wretched life Moist is going to fight. And if the bold and impossible are what’s called for, he’ll do it – in order to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every human being (not to mention troll, dwarf, and, yes, even golem) requires: hope”

It made me laugh each time.  Even though I had never heard of the author before, I thought it might be worth a try.

It was a week I will never forget.  I don’t remember a thing about work, life, food, friends, but I remember that story. Stephen Briggs’ voice filled my car, and I was hooked.  Terry Pratchett is this delicious writer with hints of Monty Python, Shaun of the Dead, Douglas Adams, P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, and yet has a voice all of his own. Terry Pratchett had won a place in my heart. I hopped on line to find out what else Pratchett had written. It was then that I found out Going Postal was book 33 in the Discworld series. Discworld?

Terry Pratchett

Turns out Pratchett had created an imaginary world that was flat, on the backs of 4 elephants who ride on the back of the giant space turtle, A’Tuin.It sounds absurd, I grant you, but it is purposeful.  He uses this completely ridiculous setting to explore situations and issues from our world. By making it laughable, questions of prejudice and tradition can be unpacked and explored, and a weird truth emerges. Terry Pratchett has this unique way of writing that kept me laughing and thinking simultaneously.  His humor is sly, witty, imaginative and does what all good satire does. It makes you look at a real situation, see the absurdities and flaws, but at the same time love the imperfections.

I decided to start reading at the beginning.  I have found all manner of interesting people populating the books. Even though some of the characters overlap, each book is its own story, its own vision, and its own joy.  In my journey I have met the creatures of the Night Watch, spent time learning alongside Granny Weatherwax, laughed ‘til I cried with the Nac Mac Feegle, “Ooked” with the Librarian, and wished that Sapient Pear Wood actually existed. I also appreciated that Terry Prachett is eminently quotable.  I have never wanted to be married more than when I read Terry Pratchett books. I just wanted someone nearby that I could hit on the arm while saying “Honey: Listen to this…” and then rattle off some random delicious Terry Pratchett run on sentence.  Like this one:

“It takes an unusual man to make up a hymn in a hurry, but such a man was Captain Roberts. He knew every hymn in The Antique and Contemporary Hymn Book, and sang his way through them loudly and joyously when he was on watch, which had been one of the reasons for the mutiny.” [2]

See what I mean?

One of my favorite Discworld mini-series has been the Tiffany Aching series with Granny Weatherwax and the Nac Mac Feegle.  I’ve gotten some friends to read them, and we all laughed until tears ran down our faces.  They are brilliant. Tiffany is the most grounded pre-teen girl I have ever heard of.  I also love that she made a cheese so rank that it became self-aware.  Genius.

Moist von Lipwig has been a fairly recent addition to the Discworld ‘verse.  He was my gateway drug, and so I will love him always.  HIs second adventure Making Money was also a fun read.  Now the out-conned conman has another challenge for his special giftings. Raising Steam came out last week, and I curse my grad-school lifestyle. I will be unable to take this on until I go on summer vacation.

Every new Terry Pratchett release is a gift.  Not just because this award winning author is so fun to read, but because he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Every new word is precious.  This is why I was so excited to hear that the third book in the Long Earth series, a Terry Pratchett/Stephen Baxter collaboration, comes out June 17th next year. I have the first two in the series and can’t wait for the 3rd.

It is my goal to both read and own all of Sir Terry’s books.  I own about 15 and have read about 35, including his phenomenal collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens.  I would be happy to dedicate several boxes on my bookshelf to him.  Really I would.  I will make room.  I will remove almost anyone, except maybe J.A. for him.

Bookshelves

You should too.  You should find a way to put Terry Pratchett on your bookshelf. I do recommend you start with something hilarious like The Wee Free Men, Unseen Academicals or with my beloved Moist. Alternately you could start at the beginning, with the audio books.  Both Steven Briggs and Nigel Planer (of ‘The Young Ones’ fame [3]) are great narrators.  They enhance the sarcasm and have the comedic timing to bring Pratchett’s word to life.  You will meet Death, who speaks in ALL CAPS, and ne’er do well Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler, or encounter the wizarding community at Unseen University. I am pretty sure you will thank me.  If you don’t, I really don’t want to hear it. I will hit you over the head with my copy of World of Poo. I really will.

1. Moving to DC has rectified this for me.  I have a 40 min commute and can READ the whole way.  With the amount of reading that I have to do for grad school, this commute is a godsend!

2. From Terry Pratchett’s book Nation. This was the sentence that pushed me from enjoying this book to loving this book. I now own it.

3. This brought back memories of my childhood in London. I was so excited when The Young Ones showed up on Netflix. Yeah.  They are not as funny as I remember them being.  I am not the same person I was when I was 13.  On a brighter note, Monty Python and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure are just as good later in life.

Thanks, Bekki! So do you read Terry Pratchett? Are you excited for this book?

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4 thoughts on “Books to Watch For in 2014: A Guest Post from Bekki!

  1. i tried reading these when i was in high school, and i couldn’t get into them. after reading this i may have to rethink =) … not that my college lifestyle makes it any easier either

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