Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods
Terry Pratchett
(HarperPrism, London: 1992)

READ: January 2006

So while I was going through my mini sci-fi/fantasy reading binge, I added this book to the list (yes, same bookshelf). The only other Terry Pratchett I have read is Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. And I am, oddly enough, constantly getting the two books confused. But Small Gods is a good book, though not laugh-out-loud funny like Good Omens. It takes place in a time when the various small gods have been largely forgotten in favour of a few large, very important gods. One of these, Om, unfortunately has somehow gotten trapped in the body of a very small tortoise, and he must convince his chosen disciple, Brutha, and the people of his land that he is in fact the god Om and must be obeyed. There are, of course, neighbouring lands with competing gods, and most worrying of all, the Quisition, a thinly-veiled version of the Spanish Inquisition. Hilarity ensues. Read it.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams
(Pan Books Ltd, London: 1988)

READ: January 2006

Another book sitting on Randal's shelf that he recommended I read. I was forewarned that it was not as good a book as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, but it's not bad. It had some loose bits that I didn't really follow, but on the whole, it was a good read. But, of course, if you ever had to choose one or the other, Hitchhikers Guide takes the prize all the way. And that's all I have to say about that!

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Dai Sijie
translated from the French by Ina Rilke
(Knopf, New York City: 2002)

First published 2001

READ: January 2006

A delightful tale. I read this book in about two days flat. It compelled me to keep going, just a little further, just a little more. The ending is a bit abrupt and unsatisfying - I think that's partially it's style - not everything can always be wrapped up into a nice, tidy package at the end.

The story is set in 1970s Communist China. It tells of two city boys who are exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's Cultural Revolution. While the work is hard and the hopes of returning to their families are slim, they become friends with the daughter of the local tailor. They also discover a hidden stash of Western literature - philosophy, novels, etc. - in Chinese translation. The book explores how this discovery changes their lives in small but important ways.

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt

Falling Sideways
Tom Holt
(Orbit (Time Warner Books), London: 2002)

READ: January 2006

This is a funny, funny book. It had been sitting on Randal's bookshelf for a while and when I finally asked him about it, he said, "Yeah, it's good. Read it. You'll like it." And he was right.

Basically, if you have read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you know the world is run by mice, right? Wrong! Frogs are actually in charge of the whole shebang. Or perhaps humans are actually frogs who think they are human. Or the frogs are human but think they are frogs. Anyway, something like that. There are also numerous clones involved in the various shenanigans, too, for good measure.

It gets bogged down at a few points, and once or twice I lost track of the storyline almost entirely (as you might have guessed from the previous paragraph), but it really is an entertaining read, and a short, breezy one at that.

2006 Booklist (Part 1)

  1. Art History by Marilyn Stokstad

  2. Falling Sideways by Tom Holt

  3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

  4. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

  5. Japanese for Busy People by the Japanese Association of Language Teachers

  6. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

  7. Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels In Search Of Japan by Will Ferguson

  8. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

  9. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

  10. Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey

  11. The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan by Alan Booth

  12. Tokyo: A Certain Style by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

  13. The Cook's Encyclopedia of Japanese Cooking by Emi Kazuko

  14. The Art of Japanese Prints by Nigel Cawthorne

  15. The Mad Trapper of Rat River: A True Story of Canada's Biggest Manhunt by Dick North

  16. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod

  17. Watership Down by Richard Adams

  18. Japanese for Busy People II: Kana Version by the Japanese Association of Language Teachers

  19. The World's Greatest Art: Asian Art by Michael Kerrigan

  20. Lonely Planet's City Guide to Kyoto by Chris Rowthorn