Monday, 18 March 2013

Why you must read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

I have always enjoyed a book that can make me laugh, and Douglas Adams managed to come up with four of those. For some reason, British authors are exceptional at hypnotizing the reader through their books. Whether it be Adams with his satirical comedy or Wodehouse with his depiction of situation comedy in the most lucid manner or Rowling with instances of humour tied in with fantasy in an interesting mixture, they all managed to keep the reader happy and hooked.

Coming back to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, it is a 5-part book, based on a radio comedy show run in 1978 on BBC radio.
The books in this series, in chronological order are:

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  3. Life, the Universe and Everything
  4. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  5. Mostly Harmless
  6. And Another Thing...(by Eoin Coffer)

Why you should read these books:

Douglas Adams had a very unique style of writing, in my opinion. I haven't encountered this in any other book yet. The humor in his books aptly falls in the category of Gallows Humor, which is basically witticism in the face of a hopeless situation, laughter in the face of death. It is generally written with respect to the victim, which makes it all the more interesting to read. Someone at the gallows is being mocked or is mocking himself, surely that can crack one up. Top that with Adams' writing skills and you have a winner here.

Unlike most other books, you cannot predict any event in Adams' trilogy with certainty. Adams managed to introduce a concept of Improbability in the book, by means of which, by far the most improbable events that can occur in the universe, occur at the most improbable moments, and this happens quite often too. This gives a whole new dimension to the book, making it highly unpredictable and hilarious too(some of those improbable events are bound to crack you up while some will make you wonder about the cause of occurrence of the event only to find that none exists).

These books would fall in the fantasy comedy genre in my opinion, so if you like either fantasy or comedy, you definitely shouldn't miss out on them.

There are a bunch of really crazy ideas/concepts pitched in these books, regarding towels, restaurants, cricket, flying, Earth, ultimate answer to life and so on. The list is truly endless. Oh and yes, you definitely do not want to miss out on meeting the robot, Marvin.

If you do go ahead and take my advice on reading these books, forgive me if you do not like the third book. For some reason, it simply did no click with the world or with me. It did not have the same kinda charm that the other books did. At the time of writing this blog, I was halfway through the fourth book and recovering from the sudden downturn that the third book had taken.
There was a sixth book that was released by Eoin Coffer, named And Another Thing..., based on what Adams was planning for the sixth book but couldn't write due to his untimely demise aged 49 due to a heart attack. He wanted to end the series on a high note of some kind, which was what Eoin Coffer tried to do. This book didn't really do so well and is not part of the Douglas Adams collection, hence left it out here. Although, it seems to have brought a fitting ending to the "trilogy". Considering that each of these books does not have more than 300 pages, you might as well give it a try, at least for the sake of completing the collection and experiencing the ending that Adams wanted for the series.

Spoilers ahead! This is the end of the post for those who haven't read the books yet

For those of you who might have already read these books, this section would probably shed some more light on this inaccurately named "trilogy", although I doubt you wouldn't have done the research already :)

In the first book, Adams mentions that 42 is the ultimate answer to life. When asked about 42, Adams said that the number just struck him when he was staring out into his garden and he thought 42 sounded good. Typical of him I suppose :). In fact, Douglas Adams gave a whole new meaning to the number 42, almost redefined it. The following two articles should suffice, there is far too much material out there to read on this!