A confession: I broke one of my rules. In order to stop myself from dipping in and out of various books and not getting anywhere, I made a rule that I couldn’t go on to a new book until I’d finished the one I was currently reading. But, I’d been reading Shadow of the Wind for over two weeks, and I was only about a third of the way through, and I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Then one night, I was awake at 3am with horrendous pain from a sinus infection, waiting for my painkillers to kick in, and I just picked up Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and read over half of it in an hour. It was exactly what I needed and wanted just then – something familiar, funny and a bit silly.
If you haven’t read The Hitchhikers Guide, then definitely pick it up and have a go. It’s so inventive, and you’ll laugh out loud at least two or three times. It’s short, and leaves you wanting more, which is why I’m so glad the four sequels exist. Some of the jokes are a bit in your face, or overdone, but they’re all smart and so, so cool. Despite being curled up on my couch, freezing cold with a throbbing face and blurred vision, I just sort of forgot I was there, and forgot the pain, and threw myself into Douglas Adams’ creation. The 1979 publication date means nothing – this book hasn’t aged a day. Adams’ short account of the development of touchscreen and gesture controlled radio technology could have been written last week. The characters are believable, regardless of however many heads they’re sporting, and the prose is wittily dry. Adams’ death at just 49 years old was truly a tragic loss, and if you need convincing of that you should watch the last speech he did before he died.
This whole experience was a bit of a reminder, really, of why I’m doing the challenge. I sometimes find myself thinking things like ‘I’ve got a free evening tonight so I’ll race through 200 pages’ or ‘I’m not going to bed til I’ve finished this one.’ Whilst the challenge of reading all 100 books before World Book Night really appeals to me, I know that realistically, that isn’t going to happen. It’s not a race. What I really want to get from this is the experience of re-visiting some books that I’ve neglected for a while, exploring authors I’ve never read before, and opening my mind to cultures and lives and experiences that I’m unfamiliar with. This might mean bending the rules, or abandoning a book I’m not getting on with to try it again later, but I’m okay with that if it brings such unexpected but timely delights as this one.