Reading is one my favourite things to do - ever since being forced to lie in my bed for a summer when my family was having a serial attack of Chicken Pox. It started with me - so I was pushed to a room and lying there thinking of castles, woods and running animals, listening to the kids play cricked in my backyard. Then my sister caught it, then the rest of the crowd dropped pretty quickly. So there I was, perfectly healthy and cleansed of all filth I've been feeding myself, thanks to a strict diet of rice with curd,chopped carrots and beetroots mixed with a little lime juice and absolutely no salt.
Anyway, we didn't have cable TV at that time and the thing we did have was a 3x5 foot shelf full of books - from a couple of decaying P.G Wodehouse from the 1940's to Mahabharata in 10 volumes. I got reading and by the end of the summer my brain was exploding with shakespearian prose, wodehousian puns mixed with a greek rendition of mahabharata with the sounds of brass hitting steel.
The defining nature of good fiction is this - The good won, the wicked was punished and everyone else lived happily ever after - it makes you want the underdog to win, the goliath to fall and the boy to get the girl. The Hero despite his failings wins and you feel that you can do the same.
In my list of authors to worship, I've put Douglas Adams on top, Wodehouse a rung below and Frank Herbert on a totally different ladder at the top. I mean anyone who could think of Aorist Rods or Agrajag is someone to worship on a pedastal - Wodehouse wrote too much to actually provide such distilled jokes.
Now I've put two more authors on my list - Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett to the list. Tom Holt is a little bit more sedate of the two, but his Grail Blazers is about Knights who deliver pizzas or the Mirrors 3.1 used by the evil queen which gets hacked by humans and such higher level paradoxes which are funny in their own right. Terry Pratchett is funnier closer up - here's a quote:-
One reason for the bustle was that over large parts of the continent other people preferred to make money without working at all, and since the Disc had yet to develop a music recording industry they were forced to fall back on older, more traditional forms of banditry.
These guys are amazingly hilarious - especially when read in the light of two candles on a dark night after your UPS has run down its battery. What's even more interesting is that these guys actually make some sense - like Douglas Adams did.
You should not use magic because you can't
.. you should not magic because you can.
Denying a temptation is the most powerful thing any man can do. Ever seen what a pretty girl does when you actively ignore her ?. First she ignores you, then she tries to get your attention and then finally she'll confront you. Anyway - there's no other way to get them to talk to you first
Anyway - I read, and I read those books last week and I like them - which is what I said about in so many sentences.
By the way, I suggest you read Saki's Shock Tactics or Jerome K Jerome's Three men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog). I think the latter as one of the best book with the most stories in it. Never has digressions taken such a wild ride - I admire Douglas Adams for his digressions, but it can't be said enough that Jerome K Jerome invented that, pretty much from scratch.
That trout lay shattered into a thousand fragments -
I say a thousand, but they may have only been nine hundred.
I did not count them.
Mark Twain's quotes and Oscar Wilde's Model Millionaire are all treasured peices in my memory. All of these are works of art beyond the words they are written - they are more than just sum of the words they are written in. The underlying joke is already in our heads, they just tickle it to make us laugh. That is what makes these the Gods of English literature - they play to the gallery and not to the front row.