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I set myself a challenge to read 100 books this year. Easy, you’d think, for a woman who once refused a man a second date because he didn’t ‘get the appeal’ of literature.

It’s going spectacularly badly, however, and I’ve fallen so far behind schedule that it’s going to take a reading frenzy to get me back on track. The only way now is to find short books and consume them like a fat, hungry man devours a ten-piece bucket in KFC.

I do like short books. I think there’s something very satisfying about finishing a book in general, but short books finish a hell of a lot faster, and if they’re bad, at least they have the decency not too waste so much of your time.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a book I know I should have read a long time ago, but late as I am to this party, at least I’m here now.

Arthur remained very worried.

‘But can we trust him?’ he said.

‘Myself, I’d trust him to the end of the earth,’ said Ford.

‘Oh yes,’ said Arthur, ‘and how far’s that?’

‘About twelve minutes away,’ said Ford. ‘Come on, I need a drink.’

This edition of the book features an introduction by Russell T Davies, which states that Hitchhiker’s is a children’s book.

This is probably true. It is also probably true that the best age to read this book is somewhere around twelve, because funny books that are funny in an inneundo-free way are, I think, not best appreciated by adults who’ve heard enough jokes to become cynical of the whole clean laughs business.

Usually, I don’t laugh unless there’s some sex or a grisly death thrown in, and that is a sad reflection of my corrupted mind. But that’s not to say I didn’t laugh at all reading this novel. Hitchhiker’s is a two-jokes-every-page text, full of whimsical, child-like humour and acidic sarcasm (something I can definitely get on board with).

‘Ford,’ he said, ‘there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.’

Basically, for the few of you who don’t know, this book is about the end of the world, and the comic misadventures of the last human man and his alien best friend. Also featured are: the last human woman, the President of the Imperial Galactic Government, and a manically depressed robot.

It is an unapologetically strange tale in which nothing reasonable happens, resembling instead the author’s curious brain vomit after a very strange dream.

It’s one of those books that, before you die, you just have to read.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
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