- Man vs Bookshelf: Introduction
- Man vs Bookshelf: Horowitz Horror
- Man vs Bookshelf: Lisey’s Story
- Man vs Bookshelf: Devil May Care
- Man vs Bookshelf: Big Little Lies
- Man vs Bookshelf: Good Omens
- Man vs Bookshelf: Grandpa’s Great Escape
- Man vs Bookshelf: Clough: The Autobiography
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Cuckoo’s Calling
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Escape
- Man vs Bookshelf: I Am Legend
- Man vs Bookshelf: Confessions of a Sociopath
- Man vs Bookshelf: Silence
- Man vs Bookshelf: Six Years
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Thin Executioner
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Entrepreneur’s Book of Checklists
- Man vs Bookshelf: John Dies at the End
- Man vs Bookshelf: Harry Potter and the case of the Duplicates
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series)
- Man vs Bookshelf: Ayoade on Ayoade
- Man vs Bookshelf: Junk
- Man vs Bookshelf: Bobby Moore
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Hard Way
- Man vs Bookshelf: 102 days down (+ Freakonomics)
- Man vs Bookshelf: Dirk Gently (1 & 2)
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Clifton Chronicles (1 & 2)
- Man vs Bookshelf: Twitterature
- Man vs Bookshelf: Pele
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Collector
- Man vs Bookshelf: Cirque Du Freak
- Man vs Bookshelf: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Scripts
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Hobbit
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Lord of the Rings
- Man vs Bookshelf: Odd Thomas (1-3)
- Man vs Bookshelf: Harry Redknapp
- Man vs Bookshelf: Motivation and Doctor Who
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Killing Floor
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Dark Tower
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Moaning of Life
- Man vs Bookshelf: Will You Manage?
- Man vs Bookshelf: Creative Writing
- Man vs Bookshelf: Quantum of Solace
- Man vs Bookshelf: The City Trilogy
- Man vs Bookshelf: Horowitz’s Holmes
- Man vs Bookshelf: Forever Young
- Man vs Bookshelf: Drive
- Man vs Bookshelf: Story
- Man vs Bookshelf: Whatever You Say I Am
- Man vs Bookshelf: Football Manager Stole My Life
- Man vs Bookshelf: Red Dragon
- Man vs Bookshelf: Business Stripped Bare
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Damned UTD
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Gold Standard – Rules to Rule By
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
- Man vs Bookshelf: Am I Proud?
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Black Angel
- Man vs Bookshelf: Stress and Soccernomics
- Man vs Bookshelf: A Spot of Bother
- Man vs Bookshelf: Word Count & The Good Guy
- Man vs Bookshelf: Amazon Recommendations and Noughts and Crosses
- Man vs Bookshelf: More Word Count and Mother Tongue
- Man vs Bookshelf: Cardio Sucks
- Man vs Bookshelf: Thanks for Nothing
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Finish Line & The Bachman Books
- Man vs Bookshelf: Book 100 & Extraordinary People
- Man vs Bookshelf: Arsenal & MotD
- Man vs Bookshelf: Kevin Master of the Universe
- Man vs Bookshelf: Inbound Marketing
- Man vs Bookshelf: Goosebumps Collection 13
- Man vs Bookshelf: 1001 Days that Shaped the World
- Man vs Bookshelf: Dexter 1-3
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Inbetweeners
- Man vs Bookshelf: Manuscript Makeover
- Man vs Bookshelf: How to Think like Steve Jobs
- Man vs Bookshelf: Harlen Coben
- Man vs Bookshelf: One year, three weeks and Simon Pegg
- Man vs Bookshelf: Jonothon Fairfax
- Man vs Bookshelf: Nolan’s Batman
- Man vs Bookshelf: Discworld (1-5)
- Man vs Bookshelf: Extras++
- Man vs Bookshelf: Diamond Brothers
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Point
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Demonata
- Man vs Bookshelf: Awkward Situations for Men
- Man vs Bookshelf: Peep Show
- Man vs Bookshelf: A Song of Fire and Ice
- Man vs Bookshelf: Doctor Who
- Man vs Bookshelf: Cherub
- Man vs Bookshelf: Expectant Dad
- Man vs Bookshelf: Ferguson & United
- Man vs Bookshelf: Sirens
- Man vs Bookshelf: Carrie
- Man vs Bookshelf: Salem’s Lot
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Shining
- Man vs Bookshelf: Firestarter
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Stand
- Man vs Bookshelf: The Dead Zone
For a time it seemed ‘Good Omens’ might be a bad omen.
A terrible omen.
I was sure I’d never finish it in a week. I got three days in, with Sunday gone, and I wasn’t even halfway there.
I saw it all unfold before me. I would finish Good Omens on Thursday, a day too late. I would put it into my spreadsheet, and there it would be. This big, chasm-like gap in the cell next to “Week 3”.
It wouldn’t matter that I finished three books in week two, either. That isn’t the point. If I start throwing it all away after one good run, you might as well call me Man United.
No, an empty week was not an acceptable outcome.
So, I did what I had to do; I tend only to read before bed, but this turn of events took more extreme measures.
I read on the bus on the way to work. I stopped in Costa before work and read some more. I returned to Costa at lunch and, again, read some more.
Now we were kicking. I was flying through pages and, by the end of Monday, I felt much better. If I kept up reading at lunch and before work on Tuesday and Wednesday, on top of the usual before bed pages, I’d get it done.
I would not shame my family.
Still, disaster almost struck, when I returned to Costa at lunch on Tuesday.
There sat one of my colleagues, bold as brass, drinking coffee and smiling all innocent. Like she didn’t know what she was doing.
But she did. She knew of my challenge, and she wanted to quash it. Because what could I do? Step into Costa, and I’d have to sit and talk. Leave, and I had nowhere else to go.
It was lose-lose.
I slunk away. Deflated and defeated. Back in the office, I read a few more pages. Arms wrapped around my book, hiding it from the office as though it was a baby in a room full of kidnappers. It wasn’t great, but it was better than nothing.
By Tuesday evening, worry had set in. Wednesday was looming and with it a trip to IKEA (to get a bookshelf, of all things!) and another episode of the Apprentice. I was floundering. Afraid.
I wasn’t going to make it.
How would I look my mother in the eye?[Pause for dramatic effect.]
Oh, but then I did it.
Yeah, I read the last 150 pages on Tuesday night like it wasn’t even a thing.
So, uh, turned out I was making a lot of fuss about nothing.
Pretty unusual for me [wink]
In the end, it took me six days, and a lot of complaining. But at least it gives me something to write about, and that’s what you’re all here for, right?
Unless, of course, you stumbled here by mistake looking for Man vs Boobshelf.
If so, I apologise.
This must be mighty disappointing for you.
No boobs in this post.
Terry Pratchett and Me
Haha, tricked you.
First, let’s talk about the writers.
For me, Terry Pratchett is a lot like Stephen King. From an early age, I loved humour fiction, as I did horror, and I knew there was a giant in the game I was missing.
In this case, that giant was Terry Pratchett.
As with King, I tried to like Pratchett. My step-granddad is a huge fan. Has every book he ever wrote, and I tried a few myself in time. Getting the furthest through The Colour of Magic, the first Discworld Novel.
But I could never get into them. My reading palette hadn’t developed enough. I wasn’t ready to appreciate the brilliance of Terry Pratchett.
And he is, by the way, brilliant.
I can’t remember why I went back to The Colour of Magic. Whether I kept hold of it or had to rebuy it. But, whatever the case, I picked it up again in my early twenties and gave it a go.
I loved it. Loved it so much I smashed through The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites straight after.
I stopped then. God knows why because I have Mort and Sourcery waiting for me, but it wasn’t for lack of enjoyment. I’m looking forward to hitting them later in the challenge.
For now, though, I decided to start with a book I’ve had much longer than any other Pratchett book.
And it wasn’t even written by him alone.
Neil Gaiman and Me
From early on, I had it in my head that I didn’t like Neil Gaiman.
I don’t know why. I don’t even think I read anything by him. But I was sure, judgemental bastard that I am, that I didn’t like him.
For this reason, I avoided his books like the plague for a long time. It was only when Amazon released American Gods as a show that I ended up picking up a Gaiman book.
The show hadn’t begun, and I was in an airport ready to fly back from holiday. I saw American Gods and thought “why not” it’s a neat shape.
So I bought it.
I read the first third on the plane, but after that, it took me a while to finish.
Even so, when I did, I had enjoyed it. Enjoyed it quite a lot, actually. Enough to make me reassess my previous, un-explainable, hatred for Gaiman and his works.
It’s down to that I picked up Good Omens so early in the challenge. I knew it was a cult classic. I knew I liked the authors.
Now, I wanted to give it a go for myself.
You’ll be sick of me saying this soon (now) but… I have had Good Omens a long time.
Long before I ever picked up a book written by either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett alone.
It’s also older than a lot of the books on my shelf. I don’t really go in for the classics (Except the Outsides from 1967, which is incredible) so 1990 is about the limit.
But that’s all general points and relates nowt to the vital question:
What did I think of the Book?
Yeah, it was alright.
I gave it a three on Goodreads but only because Goodreads insist on limiting me to a ten-point scale. If Goodreads did use a ten-point scale, the book would have tempted me to give it a seven.
Question: how many times I’m going to mention my distaste for Goodreads’ five points system?
Answer: At least 210 times. Sorry.)
But, yes. The book is slow to get going, and the ending is a bit duff, but it was clever. It flowed well. It was funny. And the plotting is outstanding. Especially considering the amount of authors it has.
As discussed, I’ve not read much Neil Gaiman. What I have read – American Gods – was not supposed to be funny. Unless I didn’t get it at all, that is. So, I can’t testify whether his sense of shines through here.
What I can say is this book is dripping with the kind of humour featured in Discworld. So, if you like that, as I do, you’ll be in safe hands. This despite the fact the book is set on Earth, rather than a fantasy world.
Gaiman and Pratchett have said they went into this book not hoping to make a smash hit, but to make each other laugh.
This shows. Comedy is front and centre here, and it works all the way through.
There are genuine laugh out loud moments. The kind that makes you want to turn to your other half and read them to her.
Even though she isn’t all that interested.
Sorry about that.
Good Omens is slow to get going, but it becomes clear why this has to be the case as the plot progresses.
The story is not complex, per se, but it does have a lot of moving parts. A large cast of characters, all with their own stories, all travelling towards one location and climax.
This – the act of bringing so many moving parts together for the climax of a novel – is difficult to do alone. I can’t imagine making it work with two authors working together.
The fact that it does work is a clear testament to their strong relationship. Not to mention their respective talent as authors in their own rights.
The result of this clever plotting is a funny book that gets faster paced as it goes along. It creates a story that is an easy but exciting read.
From start to… well, from start to climax
I recently read an article ranking forty Discworld novels. One point it made was that Pratchett wrote excellent books… but often with weak endings.
This is in clear evidence here, and it’s something I like to call “The Doctor Who Principle”.
The issue here is we have such a massive setup. The end of the world, no less.
But the problem with such setups is they are so big; it can be hard to end them satisfyingly.
This is especially true in media and literature where the heroes are not fighters, so there can be no battle.
I use Doctor Who as an example because he doesn’t fight. So it doesn’t matter if he’s facing one Dalek or a billion. At the end of it all, there will be some quick switch. Some mega button and all the foes will die at once.
It has to be that way, because of the nature of the show, but it’s something that has often left me unsatisfied.
It’s the same here. The good guys come up against the bad guys, and in one fell swoop, the bad guys are defeated.
By this point, the end of the world has been set in motion, but again, one line of text, and it is all solved.
It’s the one shame of the book. It works so hard to get so many characters together for this climax, all for there to be no real “final battle”.
It’s a disappointing end, but the book gets away with it. The rest is so good that you have to forgive it.
So while it’s one thing I would change, I don’t think it diminishes the effect of the book. And I would still recommend Good Omens to any fans of Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett that have not yet read it.
Maybe it’s not one for Christians, though.
Just a thought.
We’re sticking with the funny for a third book in a row next time out, but changing age group.
It’s Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams.