2015 is my summer of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I am ready for our summer trip to PEI. I’ve got my packing list, my annotated maps and guides, my camera gear and sunscreen. What else do you really need for an awesome, epic beach vacation? Reading material, of course!

My dilemma is a wealth of riches. I’m at a literary crossroads, and want to make sure I pick the very best beachy book to bring with me.

Down one road lies Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I’d read a bit of Neil Gaiman last summer and quite liked his style, but really fell head over heels earlier this year when I read Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. That book rocked me back on my heels: how had I missed it before now?

And then, and THEN, I stumbled onto Neil Gaiman’s beautiful Stardust, an absolutely exquisite fable that entranced Tristan and Simon and me in equal measures as we read it aloud. How I missed a rollicking fantasy on par with the Princess Bride with a hero named Tristran shall remain forever a mystery. And even more delightful, we found the movie to be as fully exquisite as the book – that never happens!

The other literary road under consideration itself has two forks. Down this road lies Discworld, the sprawling epic fantasy series by Good Omens co-author Terry Pratchett. I’m just coming to the end of The Light Fantastic, the second book in the Discworld series, and finding it even more delightfully subversive, wry, smart and delicious than The Colour of Magic. (I’ve also just started reading the first book in the Tiffany Aching subset of Discworld books, The Wee Free Men, aloud to Tristan and Simon.)

I am completely enchanted by the Discworld books, but in a different way that I’ve loved previous epic series. When I think of Stephen King’s Dark Tower oeuvre, for example, I think of how I became immersed in the world of the books, churning through them to find out what would happen next. The characters and world were rich, tangible, and lived fully in my imagination. It’s not so much the story that I’m in love with in Discworld, but the telling of it. Terry Pratchett’s prose is peppered with delightful puns and wordplay and cheeky asides that make every paragraph and page a delight of discovery. The puns pop up in the most unexpected places, often moving me to laugh out loud, and then compelling me to share the funny bits aloud to the nearest warm body. (And thanks to Kindle’s quote-sharing feature, I can share them with the Internet, too!) They’re often as simple and silly and unexpected as this:

‘Rincewind, all the shops have been smashed open. There was a whole bunch of people across the street helping themselves to musical instruments, can you believe that?’

‘Yeah,’ said Rincewind, picking up a knife and testing its blade thoughtfully. ‘Luters, I expect.’

So I can choose to read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I understand to be sprawling, creepy, thoughtful and excellent, or I can choose to continue to explore the quirky Discworld. I think I’m leaning toward Discworld but alas, another decision: follow the books by chronology, in the order they were written, or by character? Beloved stumbled upon this most excellent reference chart that offers a reading hierarchy of the Discworld:

terry pratchett reading order
Image courtesy of Krzysztof Kietzman / http://www.lspace.org/

Shall I continue to follow the adventures of Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage and move on to Sourcery, which is actually the fifth book in the Discworld series, or move chronologically to Discworld #3, Equal Rites? Oh happy dilemma, to know that it will take me years yet to work my way through 39 more books in the Discworld series, with the last and posthumous book pending publication later this year.

There is nothing more exquisite than discovering a literary treasure trove, especially one that will keep you reading for years yet to come – especially without having to wait for that pesky intermission between publication dates. What books or series have lit you up with the excitement of discovery? Have you read any Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, and which were your favourites? If you’ve read the whole of the Discworld series, how would you recommend they be read?

Oh, books!

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

6 thoughts on “2015 is my summer of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett”

  1. I don’t think American Gods is a PEI beach read. It’s dark and wintry and better suited for a rainy/sleety November Saturday.

    I think I’ve already told you that I have read all of the Mort/Susan books and then the Granny Weatherwax books, in their orders but stand-alone. Actually my order was Mort, the Tiffany books, then the Susan/Death books, then the Granny books. And now I’m taking a pause. But I would take one of the summery Pratchetts, whatever you choose, and definitely NOT American Gods.

    There’s just nothing about that book that fits with Anne country!

  2. Small Gods and Mort might be my two favourites. How to choose though… Your diagram is incomplete though – where’s the Bromeliad trilogy or the Carpet people?

  3. I decided to stick with chronological for now and just met Granny Weatherwax. What’s funny is that while Equal Rites definitely has the feel of Discworld, we’re a few chapters into Wee Free Men with the boys (the first Tiffany Aching story) and I don’t find it has the same feel at all – I almost forget the Chalk is part of Discworld.

    Mary, no I haven’t read Count of Monte Cristo – is that question as much of a non-sequitur as it seems? 😉

  4. Lol – it just occurred to me that if you hadn’t discovered Terry Pratchett, then you might have also missed the Count which I think everyone should read – it’s one of my favourite books. Although if reading with kids, maybe start with an abridged version.

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