Try Something New Challenge: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I have never been much of a science-fiction fan, so when I saw the Try Something New Mini-Challenge, I decided that I should tackle a science fiction book. What was cool about this challenge was that you paired up with another fellow book blogger and when you finish you complete a joint post. My partner was Melissa from Melissa’s Book Reviews. Cruise on over to her blog to check our her recap of our discussion.

I think Melissa sensed my trepidation with this genre because she agreed to my suggestion of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a book that during our chat Melissa revealed that she wouldn’t really qualify the novel as science-fiction, but more of a “space comedy” as she so aptly put it.

As far as the book went, here are my initial reactions:

me: Hmm… well, I definitely found it funny and caught myself chuckling and laughing on several occasions, but I never felt the burning desire to just keep reading
I actually abandoned it for two weeks
Melissa: You know, me either. I’ve read it before; back when I was in high school, and parts of it have made it into family lore. But, I think it’s much funnier talking about it, than actually reading it.
You know it was originally radio scripts, right?
me: Yes, I did see that and I can see how it probably was really successful in that way. I would listen to it no problem.

As it turned out, Melissa’s husband is apparently a really big Hitchhiker’s fan and has a copy of the original radio script. In the script, Adams offers an explanation of where he came up with one of the best names ever: Slartibartfast:

I thought this character should be a dignified, elderly man, weighed down with the burden of a secret sorrow. I wondered what this sorrow should be, and thought perhaps he might be sad about his name. So I decided to give him a name that anybody would be sad to have. I wanted it to sound as gross as it possibly could, while still being broadcastable. So I started with something that was clearly completely unbroadcastable, which was PHARTIPHUKBORLZ, and simply played around with the syllables until I arrived at something which sounded rude, but was almost, but not quite, entirely inoffensive.

Ha! I love this.

Before our discussion, I was feeling a little indifferent about the novel. However, Melissa did remind me of some of the really funny aspects of the book:

me: I liked the really depressed robot… I can’t think of his name right now

Melissa: Marvin!
He’s the best part of the movie… Alan Rickman’s his voice, and he does a superb job.

me: yes, I loved poor Marvin

Melissa: I think my favorite scene was in the end when Marvin hooked himself up to the cop’s ship, and it committed suicide. That made me laugh. I liked the idea that even though Marvin was so supremely depressed, he still managed to help them. Even though he didn’t care. I also harbor a soft spot for Zaphod Beeblebrox. If only because his name is so fun to say.

me: The names were a hoot. I also really liked the history of figuring out the meaning of life

Melissa: Yeah. That’s actually one of the things that has made it into family lore. You say to my dad, “I have a question” and he says “42”. Every time.

me: That’s great. I need to use that one with my students.

We did have some differing views on the purpose/theme of the novel:

me: (I had just compared the author to Vonnegut stating the following similarity) he sort of mocks the absurdities of life.
The randomness of it all

Melissa: I can see that. Though I’m not sure Adams was going for any social commentary. I think he was just being silly.,
I could be wrong./
Either that, or he’s poking fun at the superiority people seem to have.

Well, whether it be mocking the absurdities of life or poking fun at the superiority people, one thing is for sure, the book will make you laugh.  Its campy and goofy and hey, the answer to the meaning of life can be found within its pages.  Actually, if you read closely enough, you will find the answer in this post.  Did you find it?


Don’t Panic!

Must finish The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by tomorrow morning.  I am currently on page 79 of 153…. no problem.

I chose this book for the Try Something New Challenge hosted by Things Mean A Lot.   I told my partner I would have it done by Friday and I am a little bit behind.  I promise to have it done by tomorrow though and then you can look forward to a joint post.


Challenge: Women’s History Month


I am joining another challenge. This one is in honor of Women’s History Month and is posted over at Regular Rumination’s. Her challenge:


1 – Read 3 books by any women.
2 – Read 5 books by any women.
3 – Read 7 books by any women.
4 – Read 10 books by any women.

I’m shooting for five, we’ll see how it goes. On my list:

1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

2. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

3. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

4. Certain Girls by Jennifer Werner

5.  Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

Mini-Challenge: Try Something New


I have officially joined the Try Something New Mini-Challenge.  My partner and I have chosen The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. We also discussed the idea of doing a book/movie comparison as well.   This is one of those books which has been recommended to me on several occasions, but I just never read, I guess because the science-fiction aspect of it just never appealed to me.  However,  it is time to “try something new”.  I actually found the entire collection  in the library, so who knows?  Maybe I will find my way to reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless.

Sunday Salon

tssbadge1February vacation is coming to an end (and I haven’t even opened up my school bag, let alone corrected any papers!), but there is the hope of a snow day tomorrow.  At any rate, once again I have collected a stack or to read books and have more than one book going at the same time.  I have also joined a mini-challenge, which I am really excited about.

images1 I bought Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo and have started reading it.  I ordered this one from work and was initially disappointed when I received it.  It is a small hardcover and reminds me of Tuesdays with Morrie, which to me seems like one of those books that people who don’t really read books consider a good book.  However, I am about forty pages into this book and am really liking it.  The chapters alternate view points between different characters all living in Sarajevo during wartime.  The writing is simple, yet quite haunting and powerful.

images-11 I also snatched an Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar.  From the inside book flap:

When Frank and Ellie Benton lose their only child, seven-year-old Benny, to a sudden illness, the perfect life they’d built is shattered.  Filled with wrenching memories, their Ann Arbor home becomes unbearable and their marriage founders.  But an unexpected job half a world away offers them an opportunity to start again,  Life in Girbaug, India, holds promise- and peril- when Frank befriends Ramesh, a bright, curious boy who quickly becomes the focus of the grieving man’s attentions.  Haunted by memories of his dead son, Frank is consumed with making his family right- a quest that will lead him down an ever-darkening path that will have stark repercussions.

I abandoned, but promise to return to, both Looking for Alaska by John Green and Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

And then for the best news of all!  I have joined the Try Something New Mini- Challenge:

During the month of March, you’ll be asked to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It can be something Dewey-inspired, like a comic aka graphic novel, a YA novel, a book on feminism, etc. But it can be something else too: poetry, a short story collection, manga, non-fiction, a cookbook, a book on knitting or other crafts, a book on social issues, a play, a horror book, fantasy, sci-fi, a collection of fairy tales or a fairy tale retold…you decide. It’s not mandatory that you have never ever read a book of the kind you pick before…all I’m asking is that you pick something that is still mostly new territory for you.

To make things more fun, the Mini-Challenge is going to work in pairs: you sign up using the Mr Linky at the bottom of this post, and you’ll be paired with the person before you, like we sometimes did for Weekly Geeks. Then you and your partner will get in touch by e-mail and talk about what type of book you’re thinking of reading. If your partner happens to be an expert in something that is new territory for you, then maybe they could offer some recommendations. If you’re both thinking of picking the same type of book, maybe you could read it together.

My partner is  the Book Nut,  Melissa.  We have not yet decided on a book, but I think we are leaning toward something in the science-fiction department or short story genre.  I can’t wait to be a part of this challenge.  I am a newbie to this book blogging community and I love this idea of a shared experience.