When I mention my To-Be-Read-Mountain, few are surprised. Not only do I buy more books per year than I can usually read, I inherited a good 500 books from my father a few years ago. That’s 500 I kept, discounting those I gave away to friends and charity. He had many genres, including fantasies I’ve longed to read, and several series of which I’d never heard. A few trilogies had the first book only, or book one and two with the third missing, so I went searching to complete those that interested me. These amounted to many novels, adding to an existing extensive collection. My bookshelves ‘double up’.
I’m always amazed by people’s reactions, ‘Wow, books’. Makes me think of the little green men from Toy Story all going ‘Oooooooohhhhhhh.’ With me I can spend an hour in someone’s home wondering ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ before I realise, there are no books. A house without books, to me, isn’t a home.
Still, I’m left asking can we have too much of a good thing? When having to move, yes, and I’ve carted this lot around twice in recent years. I’ve come to the time where I must be more selective of the books I keep, even purchase. Some writers are exempt from this rule — quite a list of them — will stay with me always. I should surprise no one when I say one of those authors is Terry Pratchett.
I’ve been listing him in my top five for more years than I can recall but it wasn’t until he died it hit me what a long love-affair I’ve had with Rincewind, Death, The Luggage, The Librarian, Sam Vimes, and… well, that names a mere few, though I shouldn’t forget Rob Anybody, my favourite Nac Mac Feegle. Say hello, Rob. Don’t worry; he always looks this grumpy.
This may sound like gobbledegook to many, but not to anyone who grasped the wonder of Terry’s satire. A friend once told me she’d read the first book (in her words: cute, about wizards) without getting that Terry Pratchett wrote satire, that the Discworld was our world, that the University was our government, the clacks system our postal service and so on. I’m not as surprised as I might be. Few know Gulliver’s Travels was also an exercise in parody.
When Terry died, I was already experiencing a rough day during lasting stress. The universe felled another hammer blow. Is it possible to experience genuine grief when someone you’ve never met dies? Absolutely. I won’t be the only one to say so. When you’ve admired someone, their work, kept track for many years, the loss is real. If nothing else, ‘no more Discworld’ is a hard kick.
I’ll soon be picking up another of his books with the bittersweet knowledge I have about four titles to go to and the fantasy books he wrote with Stephen Baxter. Yes, I’ve still a few of Terry’s books to read… and in there is a puzzle. Why haven’t I read them all?
Because I’ve so many writers I love and I like to spend time with Terry’s books.
I wanted the stress to pass and to be settled before I dipped into the last of his titles. I wanted to feel relaxed while reading them.
I wanted to treasure them and also delay because he’s gone from this world and once I read the last few titles, there will be no more.
This sounds ridiculous, but I know many who were reading the last book or two who said the same: once they finished those, there were no more to look forward to. It’s like closing a book, having found it so good, the desire is there to begin again. Given enough time, I’ll do that too. Meanwhile, to Terry, a man’s whose imagination the world was lucky to have, a heartfelt thank you!