“A towel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times over many years and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travelers and researchers.
The introduction begins like this:
“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. Listen…” and so on.
(After a while the style settles down a bit and it begins to tell you things you really need to know, like the fact that the fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from your body weight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory there it is vitally important to get a receipt.)
It’s Towel Day! Today (May 25th) is the day that we fans of Douglas Adams celebrate his life and his work by carrying a towel around (as suggested by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and telling every odd person who has never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to please do so without further delay. Like, ASAP. (Okay, maybe not every fan runs around on Towel Day telling people to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I can’t be the only one. Oh, look, sj does it, too. Hee!)
My father handed me The Hitchhiker’s Guide for the first time when I was a young teen (maybe younger: 11? 12? 13?) and told me to read it and love it or he would disown me. No, I’m kidding, he didn’t really say that. My dad would never say something like that. I saw it in his eyes, though, so I read the book. AND I LOVED IT. I loved it from the first page, possibly even the first sentence. Adams’ satirical British humor made me guffaw out loud and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. Here was a man after my own heart. Here was a man who was immediately and from that day forth on the list of my all-time favorite authors. Every time I re-read the Hitchhiker series, I want to interrupt whatever the nearest human is doing just so I can read aloud to them my favorite parts of whichever book I happen to be reading: “Listen to this! Hahahaha! AND THIS. Heeee! Oh my goodness, you HAVE to hear THIS PART.” Unfortunately, there aren’t any parts of the books I DON’T like, and so I force myself to refrain from reading the books cover-to-cover to the nearest unsuspecting human. Thank goodness my whole family is a bunch of hoopy froods, or they’d probably be very annoyed with me.
As you know from my post about my May reading plans, I had a lot going on this month. I wasn’t planning on reading Hitchhiker for Towel Day (I usually just re-read it whenever I feel like it, every couple of years or so), but sj sent me a message at the end of April that said (paraphrasing), “You’re reading H2G2 with me for Towel Day in May…RIGHT?!”
So that’s what we’re doing. We started reading at the beginning of last week, and we’ve been working our way through the series pretty quickly–each book isn’t very long, really. We started Life, the Universe, and Everything yesterday and I would imagine we’ll finish it today. Next up is So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and I am VERY excited that I will be reading the fifth book in the series, Mostly Harmless, in a few days because…I’VE NEVER READ THAT ONE [GASP]. I know, I know, I can’t believe it, either. I have no idea how it happened. Every time I’ve re-read the series I’ve just picked up my More Than Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which doesn’t include Mostly Harmless. But I will be reading it now, and it’s all thanks to my super hoopy frood, sj. Thanks, friend!
I was going to include a bunch of quotes in this post, but again, everything in this book is quotable. EVERYTHING. I don’t have that much time (or room), and I think it would probably violate copyright laws if I typed up the whole series here. Heh. How about I leave you with just the first five paragraphs of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Would that work? I think so. And when you’re finished reading those, do yourself a favor and read the whole series…because it’s Towel Day and Douglas Adams rocked. I like to imagine that he didn’t die at all, that he’s really out there somewhere enjoying a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and ignoring his digital watch because he has all the time in the universe. Thank you, Mr. Adams, for some of the best books I’ve ever read.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
(Don’t forget to head over to sj’s blog to read her Towel Day post, which includes a bunch of Hitchhiker-related videos and a sound file of her reading a section of the series. It’s great.)