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Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams
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Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,745 ratings  ·  67 reviews
It all started when Douglas Adams demolished planet Earth in order to make way for an intergalactic expressway–and then invited everyone to thumb a ride on a comical cosmic road trip with the likes of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the other daft denizens of deep space immortalized in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Adams made the universe a much funnier place to inh ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Del Rey (first published October 6th 2003)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  2,745 ratings  ·  67 reviews


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Astrid
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Besides Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien-biography this is without a doubt one of the best biographies I have ever read - if it isn't actually the best.
Nick Webb has caught the mood and mannerism of Douglas Adams to perfection, and anyone who's read Hitchhiker's or any of his other books will recognize the whimsical and charming humor inside this one.
Wish You Were Here toes the line between what is personal and what is too personal to tell in a biography, but never once does the author cross
...more
Krissa
Mar 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Chris
This isn't just a must-read for Adams fans, it's also a must-read for writers or any other creative type who enjoys the sweet torture of procrastination - Adams was a master of the genre.

I'm not much of a biographies person but this one is almost like hanging out with Adams, he's that well captured.
Michael
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Douglas Adams is one of my favorite writers, and I've been a fan of his books since I was about 12 or 13. Ironically, I was introduced to his first book (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) by my older brother, who has no sense of humor whatsoever.

I read this at the same time as reading another Douglas Adams biography, called "Hitchhiker", written by M.J. Simpson. The reason I did this is I wanted to get a more complete sense of the life of my favorite humorist from more than just
...more
Kathy
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-nonfiction
2.5ish.

Full confession: I was one of those school kid nerds who discovered Adams' work and completely fell in love with it.

I picked this up on impulse at the library and, sadly, struggled to get through it. There were lots of great stories about Adams (the author was a friend of his) but there were. So. Many. Names. I think if I had been familiar with 70s-80s famous media Brits I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I kept stumbling and pausing, "Should I know who this is?"

Still love Adams'
...more
Jason ("jcreed")
A bit rambly but enjoyable.

Personally I find it extremely heartening that one of the funniest, most capable writers of the last few decades was beset by crippling self-doubt as to his abilities or chance of success in the world. Add to that the fact that are plenty of people who just as vastly overestimate their talents, and it just goes to show you never know.

The biography is quite tolerable until the omg-he's-the-greatest quality of it gets to you. It's not like the lev
...more
Giddy Girlie
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Another thrift store find... and a fantastic one at that! Douglas Adams was a difficult genius and Nick Webb did a wonderful job of telling the story in a very even-handed manner. He admits Adams's shortcomings as well as some of his unpublicized triumphs. Webb's writing is also great. A biography has never been so fun! He has a quirky humor, much like Adams, that makes it an enjoyable read. The only bummer is that the book was published before the movie was released - I would have loved to hear ...more
Amber
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a very comprehensive book, and very entertaining to read. It made me like Douglas Adams all the more, and really makes me want to go back and reread everything he's written! It took me an unusually long time to read for some reason (not a quick read), but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Michael
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-non
Douglas Adams, and his ideas, were so much more than just Hitchhiker's.
Karen
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography, and I may have to go back and reread Adams' books now.
Danny
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a huge fan of biographies in general. Douglas Adams is one of my favorite authors, and I certainly learned a lot about him while reading this, but I can't say that it added much to my appreciation of his novels, or of him as a person.

The author is British and the book was written over 10 years ago, so there was quite a wide cultural gap for me to leap as an American in 2017. References to British celebrities/actors/writers (from the 70s and 80s, mostly) abound that probably would have b
...more
Kim
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! It takes a little while to get going through some slightly dull plodding about at the start discussing Douglas Adams' family, but it really hits its stride once the great author gets into the picture. Very intelligent and often funny (maybe a bit too much America-bashing from author Webb, ironic as Douglas loved America), this book is straightforward for about half the pages and then goes off the rails in different directions about Adams' life. Appropriate, though, given how full of i ...more
Cindy
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author was very verbose. The information he gave was wonderful but it was quite a hike to get there. I found myself looking for other things to do rather than sit down with that book and work through it. After 3 weeks, I leafed through the last quarter of the book, reading what caught my attention for a few pages. I read the last couple of pages and considered myself done. It was a relief to slip it into the book depository at the library. That's unusual for me. I love everything about Dougl ...more
Karen
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: c-okay
Well, that was an exhausting, I mean exhaustive, biography. The writing was fine, there was just so much detail, which I'm sure is great for reference books but less for casual purposes. I'm mostly glad I read it just to get a list of what other media I should put on my to-read/to-watch lists (which I probably also could have gotten from a wikipedia list). If you're a mega-fan and want to know, this will sate your appetite. If you picked it up on a whim, like I did, put it back and go read your ...more
Kerry Annett
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed this book, I think it was because of Douglas Adams rather than Nick Webb’s writing. Although he does a reasonable job of DNA’s story, he both puts too much detail in parts and not nearly enough in others. Also he keeps quoting Neil Gaiman’s book about Douglas- which I ended up wishing I’d read instead of this one.
Teresa Fannin
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I read the Hitchhiker books long ago, but was not aware of this book until it popped up on BookBub and I downloaded for free. I found it to be almost a hagiography of Douglas and all I could think of was that if there wasn't a Douglas Adams, someone would have invented him. I understand what he brought to the world of sci-fi that was not there before, but he was certainly not alone!

Yes I think the Hitchiker books were fun, brilliant even, and I enjoyed Dirk Gently. With this book, after a while
...more
Chris Bull
Rule: Always have a close friend write your biography.

Adams wrote, but his opus only rested on a few titles which sold well and paid even better. Adams has issues which are never truly addressed in life or in the biography. Perhaps he was a phenomenon. Nick Webb, the biographer drops names left and right, but we learn little about Adams.
Better to read the Wikipedia article.
Snicketts
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a warts-and-all biography that gives the overall impression of a brilliant, insecure man. His flaws, his generosity and his ability to drive people nuts while still instilling in them a kind of protectiveness come across very strongly.
Joshua
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of great stories about and insights into, Douglas Adams. Wasn't a fan of this authors writing however. He got bogged down in many spots with detail that slowed the pace down a bit but still a great read for any fans of Adams.
Luke Cavanagh
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read and full of very witty moments about Douglas Adams.
Kamie
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
The writing is a little dry but the content is very interesting.
Nicholas Bobbitt
While not as good, in my opinion, as Gaiman's work on the same subject in Don't Panic, Webb does a good job here of trying to illustrate Adams' life.
Janet Phillips
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography

This biography avoids the usual problem with biographies of having a sad ending by dealing with the death of the subject up front at the beginning. Of course, it helps that the subject sadly died very young so there were no years of decline to write about! Douglas Adams comes over as a nice and intelligent person.
Govinda Parasrampuria
I picked up this one because I am a big fan of Douglas' books. I've read the H2G2 "trilogy", Last Chance to See and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and I've never laughed the way I laughed while reading H2G2. It's just so damn funny.
He was a visionary, way ahead of his time.
He was an outspoken atheist too.
So, it goes without saying I have a lot of respect for Douglas.

But this book, for me, was kind of a let-down. Although it detail
...more
J.J. Toner
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful account of the life of Douglas Adams, a man of boundless energy and imagination who inhabited the wastelands between real science, science fiction and humour, and lived his life with a childlike sense of awe. He will never be forgotten. As for Nick Webb's book, it is stuffed full of detail and amusing anecdotes. He takes us close enough to Douglas to get a strong sense of his drive, his passions and his demons (writer's block, mostly) without intruding too far into his soul. Nick Web ...more
Tracey
Nov 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: libraryread
It's more of a theme-based biography than strictly chronological & very British (I have got to start using the word "kipple"!). Mr. Webb was also an acquaintance of Douglas & as well as being the "official biographer", he was able to bring some of his personal insights to the work. I learned more about his family background that I remember reading in either the Gaiman or Simpson bios - the section of pictures (if a bit too small) was a lovely addition, as was the list of Douglas' favouri ...more
Elizabeth
May 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: die hard HHGTG fans
Painstakingly researched, and affectionate. Webb acknowledges his seriously pro-Douglas bias, but he makes many excuses for Adams' personality challenges which are a bit grating to read after a while. The early parts of the book are the strongest, focusing on things that happened and anecdotes. I consider myself a great admirer of his work, but not a fanatic, so I was happy to learn about the childhood and adolescent circumstances that shaped one of the funniest English modern writers. The latte ...more
Quiss42
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aborted
Having expected something like Monty Python's Tunisian Holiday: My Life with Brian, which was real fun to read, I was more than slightly disappointed by this book.

Nick Webb painstakingly lists names of production people, co-authors, family members, you name it, in a neverending trickle of what one or the other has done when.

Made it to half of the book, but then decided to no longer endure this verbal Chinese water torture.

It seems to be well-researched and may be an interestin
...more
Scott
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! It takes a little while to get going through some slightly dull plodding about at the start discussing Douglas Adams' family, but it really hits its stride once the great author gets into the picture. Very intelligent and often funny (maybe a bit too much America-bashing from author Webb, ironic as Douglas loved America), this book is straightforward for about half the pages and then goes off the rails in different directions about Adams' life. Appropriate, though, given how full of i ...more
Richard Barnes
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Solid and fun to read but nothing terribly new revealed here, at least not to anyone who's read other biographies of the great man. The obvious comparison is MJ Simpson's "Hitchhiker" - which is less full of personal anecdotes but perhaps more detailed.

What lifts this is Webb's personal connection with Douglas so much of this is first hand stuff from someone who was a friend rather than just recounts from other people.

It slips back though because there's not really any gr
...more
Naomi
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-ever
I was surprised constantly through out this book. I really enjoyed reading this book and was very happy to find out about one of my heros, this book made me laugh, cry, giggle like a kid!! It was happy, sad and enlightening and it surprised me in places. I think knowing his work made me enjoy learning about the man behind the answer to life the universe and everything and has made me dust of my old copies of the hitchhikers four book trilogy to reread. But you most definitely don't need to be a ...more
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NICK WEBB was a publisher for nearly thirty years before, perversely, turning to writing. He commissioned The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while he was an editor at Pan Books, and remained good friends with Douglas Adams until the end of the author’s life.
“long middle finger resembling a twig that it could use for probing for grubs. There is a telling example of convergent evolution when an unrelated species (the Long-Fingered Possum from Papua New Guinea) devised a similar strategy to address the same problem. (Douglas was very intrigued by the implications of convergence. What need is there to posit a designer if the operation of random forces, constrained by the reality of the world, produces the same elegant solution, as if there were no choice in the matter?) We monkeys have” 1 likes
“You can forget Proust and those stupid cakes. Beatles’ songs are more potent.” 0 likes
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