Discworld by Terry Pratchett: A Reading Guide

Imagine a flat world that lies on top of four elephants, which are standing on top of a turtle, which is flying through space. That’s the Discworld! A fantasy world created by the late Sir Terry Pratchett, known for his satirical novels

In 2011 I discovered the works by Terry Pratchett via a friend of mine who recommended them to me. The Discworld series intrigued me because it was not a straightforward series. It requires a map, a guide, an order. I’m sure that when the works came out since 1983 people simply read the next book as they came out so one can definitely read them in the order that they were published. However, my friend shared a map/guide with me that has been super helpful in figuring out which book to read next. From that guide (which I can’t actually find anymore because it’s outdated) I created the following guide for myself:

My first ever plan for reading Discworld based on an old version of the guide

So in the image above you can see that I separated each group of novels and was marking when I owned a book (first bullet) and when I finally read the book (second bullet). There are also some floating short stories and novellas that are connected to some of the groups of novels but are not really their own book (as far as I know). I actually checked out “A Blink of the Screen” from the library and read all the short stories from there. My goal is to buy it eventually since it does have some cool illustrations. It is now 2021 and I’m nowhere near done buying or reading all the books in the series!

My current Discworld collection

On to the current guide! After Terry Pratchett’s death in 2015 😦 a final guide was released:

As you can see the guide is now updated with all the released novels and some of the group novel titles have also been changed from what I had previously. Depending on your interests you could easily just read one group of novels or jump around depending on what you’re interested in reading. I’ll try to summarize each group of novels a bit:

  • Science Novels: These books are really about the science of our own round planet Earth as seen through the eyes of some of the Discworld characters. These do not follow the other characters’ stories although there is a plot throughout while they teach the reader about the science of our world. (Not a good place to start!)
  • Rincewind Novels: The Rincewind novels are called that because we follow a wizard named Rincewind. He’s a bit of a clumsy guy who most of his peers think is more trouble than is worth. Unwillingly, Rincewind tends to get into a lot of trouble and into the strangest of situations! I started my Discworld journey with The Colour of Magic although now I know that the author considers Sourcery a better place to start (even though it’s the third one chronologically in the story… curious). So far this group of novels is the one I have read the most of and it is also the largest group of novels. Definitely a good place to start!
  • Industrial Revolution: I haven’t read any of these yet but these novels have to do with technological advancements in the Discworld and how the characters (who are technologically at a medieval level) react to such advancements. For the most part these take place in the main city of Ankh-Morpork. (Also not a good place to start!)
  • Watch Novels: I’ve read the first of this group of novels and it was so so funny! All of these books tend to have me laughing but this one was just excellent. It follows what would be the police force of the city of Ankh-Morpork and how they deal with crime and enforcing all the laws (or not). This is also a good place to start!
  • Death Novels: These are my favorite novels hands down. We follow the character of Death, a personification of death, as they go around doing the job of meeting people at the end of their lives and showing them the way into the next thing. Death’s dialogue is always in CAPS so it gives you a sense of their presence in the page. These novels are philosophical but with a tongue in cheek type of dialogue. Funny, heartfelt, I just love them! A great place to start too!
  • Tiffany Aching Novels: I haven’t read any of these novels but if you follow the publication dates, these novels started to come out in 2001, almost 20 years after the start of the Discworld series. For that reason alone I’d say these novels would best be read after reading at least one of the other Starter novels or a whole group of novels so that you have good knowledge of the world. I haven’t bought any of those yet and I think I’ll probably read them nearer the end of my journey through Discworld.
  • Ancient Civilizations: I can’t explain how excited I am to get to these novels. These two novels are about ancient mythologies of the Discworld, one of the books is reminiscent of ancient Egypt while the other is generally about religion and philosophy. The adjacent short story in this group of novels, “Death And What Comes Next,” is a conversation between Death and a philosopher, it is available online here and I honestly recommend it without any need of reading any of the Discworld novels (read it! takes 5 mins! trust me!)
  • Witches Novels: This is my second favorite group of stories. We follow a group of witches who are probably the most sensible characters in all the novels I’ve read so far. They can use magic but choose not to and work as healers in the Discworld. These are a good place to start!

So as you can see, the Discworld can be enjoyed from many different perspectives. If you want to follow wizards, Death, witches, or just stay within science and philosophy, there’s something for you. One of my favorite things about these novels are actually the footnotes! These are 9/10 a source laughter and I always look forward to getting to the next footnote as I read. British humor and satire are the style of these fantasy novels (plus a lot of puns!) I hope you’re able to read and enjoy the Discworld!

Let me know if you’ve already ventured into the Discworld or which of the different novel groups grabbed your attention!

Wyrd and Wonder 2021 — A month-long fantasy adventure

I was very excited when I found out about the Wyrd and Wonder challenge for May! This challenge is hosted by LisaJorie and Imyril and it basically entails consuming fantasy stories in any format. It looks super chill and right up my alley. I might do a couple of prompts here and there but overall I love this challenge because I haven’t read much fantasy in the past year or so and I’d love to get back into reading some of my favorite fantasy authors. I also hope to watch some movies and perhaps take some photos for my instagram.

Here’s my current list of books that I do plan on reading:

  • Eric by Terry Pratchett is part of the Discworld series. I have been reading the Discworld books for a few years now and I just take it suuuuper sloooooow. I just love savoring these books and taking my time with the series. (In fact, that might be the case with the books written by my favorite authors.
  • Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik is the 4th installment in the Temeraire series. This series is so fun! Historical Fantasy with dragons and battles and amazing characters (both human and dragons), just a lot of fun.
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a short story collection that I actually started in April but didn’t finish it. So far I was really enjoying it though so it will be good to get back into it.
  • Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series. I read Archenemies in March and it was a quick read and a lot of fun. I’ve really enjoyed all of Meyer’s fairy tale re-tellings and her take on superheroes is really unique and fun.
  • The Stand by Stephen King is not pictured because I haven’t picked it up yet but I will be starting that this month as well for a buddy read with a friend. We will be taking it super slow though so I don’t anticipate finishing it in May.

There are other books that I’ll also be reading but those are not in the fantasy realm so I am not mentioning those here. I will update as I read them though!

All in all I’m very excited for a May full of fantasy, magic, and fun reading!

IMAGE CREDIT: Banner by imyril; images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

January Book Bites

Hello everyone!

At the end of each month, I will update you on a few things, which books I read, the ratings for each, link to their reviews (if any), updates on challenges, prominent themes, and the best bites (quotations) for the month. Let’s take a look!

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The month started with a book from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: Mort. It was a great way to start the month since it’s always fun to read Terry’s work. However, it also became a bit emotional since I kept remembering that Terry is no longer with us…

Mort takes us on an adventure with the anthropomorphic representation of Death and his brand new apprentice, Mort. I simply loved this installment and look forward to reading more of Death & company’s adventures

  • Favorite bite:

“‘WHAT IS IT CALLED WHEN YOU FEEL WARM AND CONTENT AND WISH THINGS WOULD STAY THAT WAY?’
‘I guess you’d call it happiness’ said Harga.” –Mort by Terry Pratchett

  • Perspective rating: 8/10 We get an amazing perspective of life from Death’s point of view. It certainly paints life in a new light!
  • Emotional rating: 8/10 I personally felt close to this book because of Terry and his death not too long ago. The isolation that Death feels also got to me…
  • Bites rating: 7/10 Although it has some really good quotations, I didn’t find myself annotating it all over the place.
  • Overall rating: 7.66/10 A great book overall and a good starting point in the Death books in the Discworld series.

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Then I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, which was a great book, with excellent writing and a very unique perspective I had not encountered before. We get inside the mind of a patient in a mental hospital in the 1960s as he is under various treatments (drugs, electroshock, etc). You can read more about the book and my comparison to the movie here.

This was the first book I read from my TBR jar and I was very happy with this selection!

  • Favorite bite:

    “All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down” — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  • Perspective rating: 9/10 The perspective from a person with mental health issues is priceless. It’s incredibly well written, which makes the experience that much more immersive.
  • Emotional rating: 6/10 I didn’t become too emotionally invested in the story or the characters, but it was heartbreaking to see what did happen to patients back in the 60s that ended up in mental hospitals with no proper regulations.
  • Bites rating: 8/10 I annotated quite a bit and there were quite a few quotations that left me thinking for a while…
  • Overall rating: 7.66/10 Another excellent book that could have used a bit more emotional connection with the rest of the characters and the overall story. Either way, a great book.

IMG_20180131_182300284The third book I read was Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich (you can read a full review here) and it was simply amazing! This was the first book for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge to read a book by a Native American author. This book tells the story of five women who have been married to the same man. These women meet at a crucial point in their lives and start to tell their stories surrounding their husband.

  • Favorite Bite:

“It was like that now, in the space around us — the emotional messages flew so thick and fast I couldn’t read them as the whizzed by and my brain felt pricked, torn by the hooks of question marks and darts of commas.” — Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich

  • Perspective rating: 10/10 One of the main points of this novel is perspective, how do different people see one person and their role in their lives? Who is that person if not the accumulation of the perspectives of everyone who knows them? It’s one that definitely leaves you thinking.
  • Emotional rating: 9/10 This novel takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, from despair, broken hearts, love, passion, lust, and hate. However, it remains impersonal so that the perspective changes aren’t too jarring so that takes the one point away from this rating.
  • Bites rating: 10/10 I’ve written, highlighted, and even drawn on some of the pages in this book! It’s got bites that I can go back to and savor that part of the novel in an instant. Delightful!
  • Overall rating: 9.66/10 Erdrich easily became a new favorite! This book is just the beginning in my journey through her novels and I can’t wait to explore more!

January 22, 2018 at 01:17AM.jpgSong of a Captive Bird by Jazmin Darznik was the fourth book I finished this month and wow! Darznik tells the story of Forugh Farrokhzad, a poet from Iran who became an inspiration for generations to come as she broke barriers set by her society, at the same time as Ken Kesey’s patients were trying to overcome the Big Nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (talk about perspective!). This was the second book I read for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge and the full review is here.

  • Favorite Bite:

“‘More words to sharpen your tongue and keep away any husband who’d have you!’ [Forugh’s mother said].
She was right in her way, because it was my preference for books and for the world inside my head that left me so incapable of accepting the usual and the ordinary.” — Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

  • Perspective rating: 10/10 Yes! Another perfect perspective rating because Forugh’s life sheds light on a perspective I never imagined that I could know about the life of a woman in Iran as she breaks stereotypes and becomes a successful poet and filmmaker. Not only that but a woman who goes through hardship like nothing I could ever imagine (mental hospital, jail, divorce, affairs, etc).
  • Emotional rating: 10/10 I connected with the main character in ways I can’t even explain, her fears were mine, her worries were mine, the hopes and dreams were my own. I hoped the best for her and, even though she dies young, I was happy that her legacy is strong and lives with many women in Iran and all over the world.
  • Bites rating: 10/10 I was only disappointed that the copy I have is in kindle format so I couldn’t actually highlight and draw hearts and tears all over the margins. (I acquired this copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review). I will definitely be buying it so I can reread it and properly annotate it once it comes out!
  • Overall rating: 10/10! Perfect score for a perfect book in my opinion. I loved everything about this book and I can’t wait to read the final version.

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The last book I read was The Attack by Yasmina Khadra, which was set in Tel Aviv and tells the story of a renowned surgeon whose life gets turned upside down when his wife dies at a suicide bombing attack. The most shocking thing for him is that his wife is the one blamed for being the suicide bomber and so we take the journey with him as he goes to figure out if his wife did commit such an atrocity, or if his wife is just another victim of the attack. A difficult book to read but one that gave me plenty to think about so it is valuable in that sense. This was the third and final book for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge.

Favorite Bite:

“‘One should always look at the sea. It’s a mirror that can’t lie. Among other things, looking at it has taught me to stop looking behind me. Before, every time I looked over my shoulder, I found my old sorrows and my old ghosts, still intact. They were preventing me from regaining my taste for living. Do you understand what I mean? They were spoiling my chances of rising from my ashes'” — The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

Perspective rating: 7/10 While the perspective was very unique, I felt like it was unfair that we din’t get to hear straight from the woman who is the one who is at the center of this story. We got to hear from every man around her, how she affected their lives, but nothing from her at all. I wish we could have heard this story from her own point of view.

Emotional rating: 8/10 While emotions ran high while I read this book, it wasn’t in a good way, I found myself stressed and anxious. So, it is effective in what it is set out to do, to put the reader in a most difficult perspective with many moral questions and introspective meanderings.

Bites rating: 6/10 The thing that I wished with this book was that it was better translated. This book is translated from French and sometimes the language seems forced in order to make it seem more adorned than it needs to be. At times we end up with beautiful language, but that’s at moments when simplicity would have worked best.

Overall rating: 7/10 A good book that could have benefited from a better translation, will probably not look for more books in this subject for a while though…

What a month! An emotional roller coaster through mental hospitals and war torn countries as I followed strong women and men in search of happiness and just a bit of hope.

There is one more book that I drew from my TBR and I Did Not Finish it… After The Attack I just couldn’t handle Sanctuary by William Faulkner, a story about a kidnapping and rape of a woman. The language was violent and quite gross so I decided that I will draw two new books for next month and I’ll put back Sanctuary for another month.

I read 5 books from my TBR and I only bought one new book so now I only have 103 books left to read! XD

How was your reading month? Have you read any of the books listed here? What was your favorite read this month?