by Douglas Adams
It’s been almost a decade since the first time I read this book. Years later I realized it was just as hilarious when I reread it as it was the first time around. Adams created characters and situations that make you laugh out loud no matter where you are. His droll sense of humor is legendary and just when your stomach stops hurting from laughing, he throws you another curveball, like an alien race that tortures people by making them listen to horrible poetry.
It all starts with a quiet British man named Arthur Dent who unknowingly hitches a ride on a spaceship just before the earth is destroyed. This book is the first in a five part "trilogy" featuring a small band of oddballs who travel through space. The main characters include unforgettable individuals like Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian.
My two personal favorites are Dent, whose bumbling, sweet-natured confusion is irresistible and Marvin, a depressed robot who is constantly bemoaning the fact that no one listens to him. I also have a soft spot for Deep Thought, the mega computer created to answer the question of the meaning of life.
It’s impossible to fully capture just what it is about this book that I love so much. Yes, it’s funny, but there more to it. In Dent we have a relatable lead that is completely confused by his new space surroundings. He is human, in every sense of the word, so we understand his bafflement and we root for him.
There’s one scene that has always remained my favorite. It is quintessential Adams, completely absurd and yet oddly poignant. Without explaining the circumstances in too much detail, we have a whale and a potted petunia falling from the sky. The whale is in awe of everything he sees and the petunia thinks… “Oh no, not again.”
BOTTOM LINE: One of my absolute favorite books of all time. I would recommend Adam's writing to most people, but I would say if you love Monty Python's sense of humor these books are an absolute must. Sit back and enjoy the ridiculousness and don't forget your towel.
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”