The Color of Magic

The Color of Magic

For many years, I had been hearing the name Terry Pratchett and about his fantasy novels. I had never bothered tasting any of his books since I am not really a fan of fantasy and I assumed his books were for folks who play Dungeons and Dragons and so on. You get the picture. An Economist obituary after his demise in 2015 piqued my interest so much that I picked up The Color of Magic, his first book in the Discworld series. Within the first few pages itself I was hitting myself for waiting this long and was well and truly hooked.

You see Pratchett has nailed a genre that I had never previously imagined: fantasy parody! Drawing from Hindu mythology, the world of the book rests on four elephants which are standing on an ancient turtle. Our so-called hero is a cowardly wizard who is paid to be a tour guide for a good-hearted rich guy who wants him to show the badlands of this world. Together they bumble along on some fantastic, ridiculous journeys meeting and escaping death at every turn.

Pratchett turned out to be the best new discovery for me this year. Like the first time I listened to Michael Jackson, it is an amazing experience to feel something entirely new. Color of Magic was incredibly funny, I was literally rolling on the bed laughing my heart out throughout this book. Do not be misled that this is one of those fantasy tomes with hundreds of characters and details you need to remember to be able to follow and enjoy. This is an extremely light and raucous read and a great way to perk up your mood!

Rating: 4/4

ISBN: 0062225677

Dave Barry Does Japan

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A year that has been mentally and physically demanding, having to learn to live with a tiny human, is drawing to a close. Not surprisingly, I turned to humor to lighten my mind by picking up Dave Barry Does Japan.

Barry visited Japan with his wife and son for a few weeks way back in 1991, the Bush Senior years, if that helps jog your memory. This book is an observation of the differences between American and Japanese cultures from his point of view. Almost everything imaginable is covered from language to food to sports to society. I was snickering and laughing on every page, with the chapter on Kabuki theater having me in the biggest splits.

Barry is the funniest contemporary writer I have come across and this book does not disappoint. I am amazed how he can see what we see and yet give that examination such a fun innovative spin and generate such excellent wordplay that leaves one chuckling and laughing. In my book, that is just as impressive a skill as the serious writing that wins those serious literature awards. I can easily recommend this book to lighten your spirits anytime. If there is one complaint, it is that this book is way too short compared to his other books and he could have covered way more Japanese idiosyncrasies in far more detail. If this year is any indicator of how 2017 will be, I will surely be hitting the humor shelves more often in the coming months.

Rating: 4/4

ISBN: 0449908100