My Life in Books: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
We are now into the 1990s on this list of books that have made an impact on my life in some way. Technically this book should be earlier in the list, as the first time I read it was some time in the mid-80s. But I have read it several times, so perhaps chronologically it doesn’t really matter.
This was the first book that made me laugh out loud. The first time I read it, I was in high school. I remember laughing reading it on the bus on the way to school, and getting some very odd looks from my fellow passengers. But I’ve laughed just as loudly in subsequent re-readings.
Douglas Adams’ strange sense of humour was unique. Who else could decide that the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything is 42? This may say something about the people in my social circles (most of whom are fellow geeks), but on any social occasion if someone mentions the meaning of life, someone else will pipe up with, “42”. Who else could decide that the worst swear word in the universe is “Belgium”?
His most famous quote is, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” I think a lot of us can relate to that one – especially writers.
The character of Arthur Dent, reluctant space traveller and Ordinary Bloke, stumbles through his adventures (wearing his pyjamas and dressing gown for the whole of the first book) with a sense of disbelief, like he can’t believe it’s all really happening. Rumour has it that Douglas Adams based this character on himself. It’s probably no accident that Arthur Dent’s initials are the reverse of Douglas Adams’.
The Hitchhiker’s series was supposed to be a trilogy, but there ended up being rather more than that. None of them were ever quite as good as the first and original.
I was really upset to hear the news of Douglas Adams’ death, at age 49 in 2001. Apparently he had a heart attack after going to the gym.
I always suspected that working out was bad for your health.