Category Archives: Discworld Audio Books

Discworld Audio Goal

Even though I’ve been very lax recording my progress listening to the Discworld books, I have been making progress. I haven’t been reading them strictly in order since some are proving harder to borrow than others. Books since my last update:

Moving Pictures
Not my favorite. I couldn’t really connect with any of the main characters nor did I particularly care about the plot.

Reaper Man
This one was fun. I think I prefer Death more as a side character but still the story was pretty amusing.

Witches Abroad
I’ve listened to this one before but again really enjoyed it.

Small Gods
Another one that I didn’t really like though it was amusing for a Discworld god to be stuck in the shape of a turtle.

Men At Arms
The City Watch books are among my favorite in the Discworld series. This one did not disappoint.

Interesting Times
Ugh. Rincewind. Not my favorite character. However, it was interesting to see a reappearance of one of the other original Discworld characters.

I really liked most of this one. The Phantom of the Opera spoof was very amusing. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was Agnes’s ending. I’m hoping that she reappears in another book.

The Last Continent
Another Rincewind one . . . Bits were amusing but not something I’d listen to again.

Thief of Time
I liked this one quite a bit. I’m not sure I’ll listen to it again but it was good the first time. I particularly liked Susan. Her ultra-sensibleness appeals to me.

Night Watch
For some reason I thought I had listened to this one before but obviously I hadn’t. This was a really good book to follow Thief of Time. As always, it’s interesting to listen to Sam Vimes talk to himself. I particularly liked learning a bit more about where Vetinari came from.

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett has died. His books, along with other authors, helped me survive Calvin’s first couple of years mostly sane.

I came to Pratchett fairly late. I think the first book I listened to, Monstrous Regiment read by Stephen Briggs1, was around 2006. After my son was born in 2009 I spent hours and hours walking around the neighborhood listening to audio books while praying that the walk would put my son to sleep.

This year, when I decided to get pregnant again, I created a list of go-to comfort audio books I could listen to in case I ended up on bed rest again2. I was extremely fortunate to avoid bed rest. However, I still ended up listening to a lot of Pratchett during my first trimester while I was laying on the couch doubled up with nausea. More recently, I’ve been listening to his books while I fall asleep to help stop my worrying about everything that could go wrong with pregnancy/birth/infancy. There’s something very grounding in Sam Vimes’ outlook on life.

I haven’t read every Discworld book. All except the newest ones can be tricky to get via audio3. However, of the ones I have read, these are my favorites:

On the of chance you haven’t read any Pratchett and are interested, this graphic provides a pretty good introduction to the major Discworld themes. Personally, I would suggest starting with The Watch Novels as I think they’re the most consistently written5. I feel Pratchett’s writing improved a great deal the longer he wrote and, in general, the later books are much better than the earlier ones.

I am selfishly sad there will be no more Discworld books with their wonderful blend of humor, satire, and acceptance of the way people are6.

  1. With all the Pratchett audio books if you decide to buy or borrower them, make sure you get the unabridged version. Almost all of them of narrated by Nigel Planer, Stephen Briggs, or Celia Imrie. Unfortunately, for the older books, the easiest audio edition to purchase are often abridged.
  2. In my experience with bed rest last time I had a hard time reading but was able to listen to audio books. In fact, during my 2 week stint in the hospital I started, and almost finished, the audio version of Anathem which is 32 hrs and 27 min
  3. Though Friday I went on a buying spree when I discovered if I buy the Kindle version of many of the Discworld books they’ll currently give me a screaming deal if I add on Audible narration. Many of the books can be had for under $10 buying both the Kindle and the Audible version together.
  4. My very, very favorite scene in the series is in this book and it involves a dramatic moment towards the end when Sam Vimes reads his son a bedtime story.
  5. I would not recommend starting with The Colour of Magic. It is the first book in the Discworld series but I found the first couple of books to be kind of random. A lot of amusing anecdotes that kind of get pulled into a plot.
  6. Actually, there is one more Discworld book that will be released later this year, The Shepherd’s Crown which is part of the excellent Tiffany Aching YA series.

More Books

Tomorrow we have a new library opening so I spent most of today testing making sure the new location in the catalog is working correctly. I already had most things setup but ran through more extensive testing today. For some reason, requests still aren’t working on the patron side (staff side is fine which is really weird). I suspect it requires restarting some services so I have to wait till the libraries close at 9pm before troubleshooting some more. As a result, I have to stay awake past Calvin’s bedtime.

Pre-pregnant I usually went to bed around 9:30. In the first trimester, I took a nap right after supper and then would wake up just enough to toddle up to bed. Now I’m splitting the difference and, when work doesn’t interfere, have been going to bed around 8pm. However, I’m still finding some time to read.

Eric, by Terry Pratchett and Read by Stephen Briggs – Rincewind once again happens into a mess when a teenager attempts to summon a demon and gets Rincewind instead. Even though Rincewind isn’t a demon he seems to be able to “fulfill” the boys wishes, though perhaps not the way the boy would have wished.

I didn’t expect to like this book, and it isn’t my favorite Pratchett, but it was more amusing than I expected. I particularly enjoyed listening to Eric and Rincewinds escapades through the levels of hell. It brought back memories of college English classes (the books we read, not the class itself).

The Clocwork Dagger, by Beth Cato – Octavia Leander is a very gifted medician. After the exhaustion of healing wounded soldiers, Octavia is ready to settle down in an idyllic village. However, first she has to get there. The only practical method of transportation is airship but strange things keep happening and it’s starting to appear that someone is trying to assassinate her.

I’m not a huge steampunk fan. However, I enjoy a good story and this book provided that. Unlike a lot of steampunk, this one isn’t set in our world. It’s obviously a different universe/setting. I found the universe to be interesting. A weird mixture of scientific reasoning and faith. There was a romantic element in the story but it didn’t interest me as much as the general world building.

God’s War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Volume 1, by Kameron Hurley – Nyx lives in a country that has been at war with its neighbor for decades. No one seems to know exactly why the war started but it certainly hasn’t been helped by theological differences between the two nations. Nyx use to be a Bel Dame, a respected and state sanctioned bounty hunter. However, she messed up and now has to scrape by on whatever jobs she can get, no matter have unreputable and risky.

Kameron Hurley is also the author of Mirror Empire, the book I had such conflicted feelings about. However, God’s War was a lot more comfortable of a read for me. It’s still really grim and Nyx has plenty of flaws. However, I found Nyx to be a much more sympathetic character than any of the characters in Mirror Empire.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinek, M.D., and T.J. Mitchell – Dr. Judy Melinek always wanted to be a surgeon. However, after examining the toll her surgical residency was taking on her, she quit. After a break, she starts training as a medical examiner in New York. The book details her first experiences and training as a medical examiner. There is also a chapter detailing Dr. Melinek’s experiences examining victims from 9/11.

I don’t know why I picked this book up. I almost never read memoirs. Actually, I rarely read non-fiction unless it’s related to whatever obsession I’m currently working on (parent, pregnancy, finances, etc). However, for some reason I put this on hold via the library and actually read it once it came in. I found it a fascinating read. Detailed without being overly gory (at least for me). The authors also manage to insert a nice amount of humor in between the grimmer sections.

Pratchett Goal Update

While being laid low with morning sickness I stopped reading. It was too hard to read while curled into a ball moaning. However, I did manage to get through quite a few audiobooks. For the most part, I listened to comfort reads where I already knew what had happened so it wouldn’t matter if I dozed off in the middle. However, in addition to the comfort reads I also ended up listening to quite a few Discworld books

Equal Rights, read by Celia Imrie – Due to a careless mistake, a wizard leaves his staff to the newly born eighth child of an eighth son which allows the child to become a wizard. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize the eighth child was a daughter, named Esk, instead of a son. Of course, women can’t become wizards which provides a quandary for those around her. Granny Weatherwax reluctantly tries to train her to be a witch but it doesn’t take.

I’ve read this book before and, like before, enjoyed it. It’s not my favorite Discworld book but it’s pretty amusing and offers a great introduction to Granny Weatherwax.

Mort, read by Nigel Planer – Everyone agrees that Mort is hopeless. Fortunately, Death has decided he needs to take an apprentice and chooses Mort. At first this works out remarkably well until Mort tries to change history for the sake of a girl.

I found this one amusing. I particularly liked the scenes where Death decides to take a vacation. I didn’t have much patience with Mort but the supporting cast was a lot of fun.

Sourcery, read by Nigel Planer – An ex-wizard uses his son to exact revenge on the wizards that threw him out of Unseen University. Chaos ensues and naturally Rincewind gets drawn into the center of it.

I think I’m going with “meh” on this one. Rincewind isn’t my favorite character. However, I found Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian and unwillingly good at theft and mayhem, pretty interesting.

Wyrd Sisters, read by Celia Imrie – Roughly, this books is a variation of Macbeth. Granny Weatherwax makes a reappearance and grudgingly works with Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick to make sure the kingdom is run properly.

This book was a great deal of fun. The interactions between Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick are great. I found them a great deal more interesting than the other characters running around.

Pyramids, read by Nigel Planer – Teppic, the heir of a pharaoh-like king, is educated in the assassins guild, as all truly wealthy sons are, and is fairly happy away from his small kingdom. However, when his father dies he must go back and decide which traditions are worth following and which need to be forgotten.

My favorite part of this story is where we first learn about how assassins are trained. My second favorite part is the magical properties of the pyramids. However, the characters themselves never really clicked for me.

Guards! Guards!, read by Nigel Planer – Captain Sam Vines is a drunk in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s night watch. The night watch spends a great deal of energy making sure they never catch any miscreants. All goes well until an ambitious man decides he wants to rule the city and starts manipulating people, and dragons, into doing his bidding.

This is a great book. It’s one of my favorite Discworld books. The book has both a solid plot and solid characters in a nice combination. I agree with the people who say Discworld shouldn’t be read by publication date. However, I think Guards! Guards! would make a decent first-book to try in the Discworld series.

My interlibrary loan for Eric just arrived. The reviews I’ve heard haven’t been glowing but even the Pratchett’s that aren’t great are usually pretty amusing.

Reading Goal Housekeeping Note

Because my reading goals seem to have gotten out of hand, I’ve created specialized categories for each one in addition to the generic books category.

Many Reading Updates

No, it’s not your imagination, I’m not checking off my goal books particularly fast. However, I am making progress. I think one reason I like having goal books is because it provides handy reading material when I want to read but am not in the mood for any particular book. Also, it’s working well as a way to scout new books and audio books for Calvin. We recently finished listening to The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, mentioned in my previous reading goal post, and Calvin seemed to like it.

At the beginning of the year I didn’t have any book goals but now I seem to be acquiring new ones monthly. I’ve recently decided to listen to all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Up to this point, I’ve listened to about half of the Discworld books. There are some, such as Monstrous Regiment that I seem to listen to at least once a year. I decided to make sure that I haven’t missed other equally good Discworld books by listening to them all in published order. This is a bit tricky because most of the unabridged1 Discworld audio books appear to be out of print or are really, really expensive2. However, Interlibrary Loan is coming to my rescue. I searched and it appears I should be able to get the whole series one ILL at a time.

So far I’ve listened to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. When we went to London, many years ago, we took public transportation for everything. This was before the days of the Kindle and I quickly ran out of books to read while transiting to and from places. As a result, Jaeger and I expanded our must-see attractions to include a bookstore. I was aghast at how much the books cost (like everything else, it helped to pretend I was paying in dollars) but picked up UK editions of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Unfortunately, they didn’t speak to me. At all. After listening to them, they’re still not my favorites in the series but I like them a lot better. I’d give them a solid 3 stars. I’m not sure why I have such different reaction to reading versus listening. As a side note, I also watched The Color of Magic miniseries. It’s not the highest quality but gives a very good flavor of the Discworld series in terms of laughing at stereotypes, etc. What I found weird though was that even though the miniseries was called The Color of Magic, it contained a lot more plot elements from The Light Fantastic. It obviously was meant to cover both books but I felt a lot more of the second book ended up in it.

Listening to the Discworld series is more of an unofficial goal. However, I do have one other official goal I’ll be working on: the 2014 Hugo Nominations. This year Jaeger and I decided we really, really should take part in the Hugo nominations instead of just watching from the sidelines so we both bought “supporting memberships”3. I only submitted nominations for “Best Novel” as that’s the form that I’m most familiar with. However, I’m going to try to commit to reading all nominations for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and the nominated authors for John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Committing to read all the nominations for Best Novel seemed relatively easy until I saw that the entire Wheel of Time series has been nominated. I hadn’t even realized entire series could be nominated but apparently there’s a clause in the WSFS constitution that makes this possible. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. I think I’ve read the first three books in the series and then gave up with plans to reconsider if it was ever finished. Well, Robert Jordan died before he finished the series. However, Brandon Sanderson, working from Jordan’s notes, has finished it. That being said, I don’t think I’m willing to commit to reading 15 books in one series in the next couple of months. So, I’m contemplating reading the last three that Brandon Sanderson wrote. I’ve liked every Sanderson book I’ve read so hopefully I can get through these three. I imagine ardent fans will say I can’t possible get the scope of the series with just reading the last three books. That’s probably fair but being a long-time library user, I’m pretty good and figuring out what happens in prior books without reading them. Also, given I gave up after the first three books implies I wasn’t invested enough to be interested in voting for it anyway.

My nomination for Best Novel was Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. It’s an excellent book but I’m worried it’s against really tough competition this year. However, it’s nice that there are worthwhile books to be nominated this year. I was really not impressed with the options a couple of years ago. I suppose it’s better to have too many good choices than no good choices.

And at long last, my progress on my children’s books . . .

Children’s Goal Books I’ve Read Since the Last Update

Shakespeare’s Secret, by Elise Broach (Shakespeare, new school, friends)

Hero, named after Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, is having to adapt to yet another school. Hero is hoping that her new classmates will ignore her but she ends up the butt of a joke her very first day and it goes downhill from there. Fortunately, an elderly lady next door provides a mystery that helps Hero forget her socialization troubles.

Good juvenile book. I always like reading interesting female characters.

Bearwalker, by Joseph Bruchac (contemporary Native American, stereotypes, adventure, life lessons, new school, horror)

Baron has moved to yet another new school and has been dealing with bullies. His class goes on the annual eighth-grade bonding experience to “Camp Chuckamuck.” Baron senses that something is wrong at Camp Chuckamuck. Things get particularly strange when it seems like a Native American folk tale is coming to life.

This is a book that I would have never picked up on my own. After all, it has a male protagonist. However, it was really good. It’s way too old for Calvin at this point but I’ll put it on my list to introduce it to him when Calvin is older.

The Dark Pond, by Joseph Bruchac (contemporary Native American, loner, adventure, horror)

There are a lot of similarities between this book and Bearwalker. Both deal with boys that are having a hard time making friends and both deal with nature and Native American legends. However, in this one Armie, the protogonist, is going to school in an area surrounded by nature instead of just taking a trip there.

Again, another really good book that I’ll keep in mind for Calvin later.

The Fairy Tale Detectives, by Michael Buckley (fairy tales, sisters, self-reliance)

Two sisters are shipped of to live with a woman claiming to be their grandmother after their parents mysteriously disappear. The girls have always been told their grandmother is dead so they are deeply suspicious of the old women. The old women is very strange, has a strange man that appears to live with her, and lives in a strange house. However, eventually the girls realize that they come from a long line of Grimms whose job it is to protect normal people from real fairy-tale characters.

I expected to love this book. I usually adore fairy tale retellings and similar stories. However, I never really got into this one. I don’t know if it’s because it was too young an audience or something else. I won’t bother saving this one for Calvin. However, if I happen to end up with a girl at some point, I might introduce it to her. Maybe she’ll like it better than I did.

Keeper of the Doves, by Betsy Byars (girls, words, prejudice)

Amen McBee is the youngest of five sisters. She loves words and writes poetry. Her older twin sisters are both her mentors and tormentors. The twins willfully misunderstand Mr. Tominski, an old recluse who lives on their lands, which ends in tragedy.

This was a short book which also felt very reflective. Amen spends a lot of time thinking and trying to figure out things which is in stark contrast to her twin sisters who appear to enjoy jumping to conclusions. It’s a good book. I might request the audio book for Calvin to listen to. It deals with some heavy situations but I think it could provide some good conversations about judging people without understanding them.

Reading Goal: 23 of 180

  1. And who would condescend to listen to abridged audio books (though I sometimes make an exception for non-fiction).
  2. Audio books are naturally more expensive than printed books due to the narrator, who can make or break an audio book, and all the additional production requirements audio requires. I understand why audio books are expensive. I’m just personally unwilling to spend more than $40 for any audio book.
  3. We contemplated actually going to Loncon 3. I’ve never been to a Worldcon before and would really like to try the experience. However, the timing was really bad. We might try to hit the 2015 “Sasquan” which will be located in Spokane Washington(state).