Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book you read at least 10 years ago
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
It's been far more than 10 years since I read this one, but I remembered everything surprisingly well, probably because some of its most brilliant bits have found their way into popular culture. Know where your towel is. The dreaded Vogon poetry. And of course, the Answer to Life the Universe, and Everything: 42.
This was the book that broke all the rules. There's a plot, but it's not terribly linear, and random stuff gets thrown in just because it's funny, even if it doesn't make sense or connect with the rest of the story. (Some of these apparent throwaways get revisited in later books, like why a bowl of petunias plummeting toward the earth from space would be thinking Oh no, not again.) There are interludes quoting sections from the fictional book-within-a-book, on subjects from ravenous bugblatter beasts to a drink called the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
The story follows Arthur Dent, a British guy with a mundane life, who is one of two Earthlings to survive Earth being destroyed to make way for an interplanetary superhighway. Arthur is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually an alien doing research for the next edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. They soon wind up on a stolen spaceship with Ford's two-headed cousin, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the other surviving Earthling, Zaphod's girlfriend Trillian. Arthur only has a moment to grieve the loss of his entire planet, as they're hit with one absurdity after another, from Marvin the Paranoid Android to some very angry mice.
Some of the SF and fantasy books of my youth don't hold up well, or have me rolling my eyes at some authors' ideas about women. This one, however, had me howling with joyful laughter from beginning to end, and anxious to reread the entire "5-book trilogy." (Six, if you count Eoin Colfer's sequel And Another Thing.)
So now that we know the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42.....will we ever figure out the question?