It’s not understatement when I say I owe my love of reading to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In 7th grade, I was burnt out on assigned reading in school. Too many depressing stories with kids, parents and/or dogs dying or old language that I didn’t really enjoy reading. I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but my Mom and I were downstairs working on the computer. We had a bookshelf of their old books behind the door and I assumed that since they were my parent’s books, they were boring. I had seen the book on the shelf and assumed it was some kind of astronomy guide.
But then my Mom made some crack about “42” and when I gave her a blank stare, she grabbed the book off the shelf and told me I should read it, that it was a really funny book. So while she clicked away at the computer (probably helping me type up a paper since, at 13, my typing was still painfully slow) I flipped through the first few pages and instantly fell in love.
The Guide became a huge part of my life from then on. I read the first book and was overjoyed to find out there were four more in the series. I got them all from the library and found myself crying as I finished up the last page of Mostly Harmless. I moved on to the ‘Dirk Gently’ series and listened to the audiobook of ‘Long Dark Teatime of the Soul’ on repeat all summer.
I found old creative writing papers from later on that year and Ford Prefect made several appearances (I’m guessing my English teacher wasn’t familiar with the book since they never called me out on what was essentially fanfic). The book became a litmus test for which friends really got me. When I began working at the library a few years later, any time someone donated a copy of a Douglas Adams book, I would take it home with me (somewhere in my parent’s house is a big box of Guides I need to reclaim and redistribute). By some weird twist of fate, PBS ran the miniseries that summer and I recorded it to VHS then, like the uberfan I was, I transferred the audio over to cassette so I could listen to it and memorize it all.
To top off the nerdiness of all of this, when I won a chance to meet Dave Matthews before a concert I bought a copy of the book and GAVE IT TO HIM as a gift. I mean, it is the best book and everyone should have a copy, so I was just looking out for him but still, what a dork!
Now the book is on the assigned reading list for schools in my area which kind of makes me sad. I liked it being a cult classic to be discovered. I liked giving it to kids who thought that reading for fun wasn’t a thing. I feel like making any book homework is the kiss of death for enjoyment. Plus, I know the humor isn’t for everyone, you have to have that very dry British wit.
Anyway, I am exciting to wear my towel today, to see how many hoopy froods come into the library and get it. Have a wonderful day and remember – don’t panic!