I read all sorts of books. One day it might be historical fiction like The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis or Tai-Pan by James Clavell. The next day it might be science fiction and science fantasy. I love pretty much everything by Bill Bryson (see my reviews on A Short History of Nearly Everything and At Home). I really enjoy good books explaining scientific things like Time, Gravity, Chemistry, and so forth. And I’ve recently started to read more Autobiographies and Memoirs.
But when it comes to unwinding and relaxing and just kicking back, I am a HUGE fan of the author Terry Pratchett in general and of his Discworld series of books in particular.
In fact, I just re-visited Terry's Guards! Guards! It must have been several years since I last perused this book, which is the first of his Watch series. I had completely forgotten the state of play with regard to how things began with the lead character Sam Vimes, a haggard, cynical, working-class street copper who has a problem with alcohol (the same problem as me … he can’t get enough of it :-) Now I want to go back and read the next book in the Watch Series, which would be Men at Arms (over the years I have acquired the complete set, which occupies a fair chunk of shelving in my office).
If you are already a Discworld aficionado then you know how wonderful these books are; alternatively, if you've not yet been exposed to these little rascals you are missing a real treat...
The action takes place in a weird and wonderful disc-shaped world that rides on the back of four humongous elephants. In turn, the elephants stand on the back of a ginormous turtle who is swimming through space for purposes of his (or her) own.
I really envy Terry for his razor-sharp wit and clever turn of phrase. Sometimes he has me laughing out loud, and I often recommend these books to my friends. But there is one small difficulty, because there are a lot of books in the Discworld "family" and it can be difficult to know where to start.
The problem is that Terry has multiple groups of characters and story threads on the go. For example, there are a whole bunch of novels about the Witches who live on the Ramtop Mountains, especially Granny Weatherwax who I would love to meet (witches don't have leaders, so Granny Weatherwax is the leader they don't have).
Then there are a bunch of sort-of technology-related "Industrial Revolution" articles, and the Night Watch novels, and... It does get a bit confusing, not the least that Terry wrote them all in a random order, so if you read them chronologically (as I did) you end up bouncing around all over the place.
Thus, some time ago I was delighted to discover the most amazingly clever, simple, and understandable Discworld Reading Order Guides -- the English version of which is shown below. Created by Krzysztof Kietzman (Chris), these guides are available in a number of formats (PowerPoint, PDF...) and a variety of languages, including Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, Italian, Polish... the list goes on (Click Here to see a larger, more detailed version).
Click the image to see a larger, more detailed version.
This really is AMAZINGLY useful for newcomers to the Discworld Universe – the only thing wrong with it is that I didn’t invent it myself!