Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Authors > Douglas Adams

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message 1: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Mark | 65 comments I have never been able to get past the first page of a Douglas Adams book, but quite a few of my friends on this website list his books. I tried a couple of his books back in the mid-1990's and hated them. Does anyone else admit to this? It seems like it's rare for somebody not to like this guy's writing, and I want to know why!


message 2: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) I can understand why someone might not get into Adams' writing. If it weren't for his uniquely British glibness that treats the most bizarre subjects as if they were as straightforward as tea and jam he would be a ghastly writer. It isn't a surprise to find out that most of the stuff he produced(at least the Hitchhikers trilogy) was written in a very short amount of time, with little editting, as he was always missing deadlines. I can't remember which one exactly, but one of the trilogy was literally completed in a month or less (from what I remember) while locked in a hotel room with someone waiting outside his door for each chapter to be edited on the spot and rushed to the publisher in preparation to meet his expired due date. In his biography we learn that he didn't like writing those novels much at all (loathed them actually ;), and was sort of forced into doing them based on the success of his radio show (this is what really made him passionate, and I've been meaning for some time to listen to it).

I sort of lost my passion for his books when I learned all this (and I guess I grew out of them to some extent). I doubt I'll read them again, but I can't deny they had a significant influence on my early reading preferences.

If you want to give him another shot, I'd recommend Last Chance to See--non-fiction writing about endangered species that he travelled around the world to write about.


message 3: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Mark | 65 comments I tried his first book and I thought it was very poorly written. I think I was about 35 years old at the time. Oh, I wouldn't try to defend my dislike. No worries there. Jason explained much that I didn't know about Adams' Hitchhiker books in his post, and I'm glad he wrote it.

I like many British novels (Graham Greene and others similar), but I can't stand the glibness of Evelyn Waugh. Do you think Adams' glibness is similar to Waugh's? Or maybe even Boyd's (Good Man in Africa, etc) whose writing I cannot get into either?


message 4: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) Greene cannot be compared, and I would argue Waugh couldn't either. Waugh's writing is far more stylized and self-conscious, and then he does some more serious literature like Brideshead. Plus, his work has the merit of being a good representative of a certain type of culture and period (his glibness is a product of that culture, I'd say, because in Brideshead we sometimes see a quite different voice). I have not read Boyd, but perhaps I should give him a shot to round out my "glib British authors" knowledge...sounds like I have another shelf...

In spite of a number of differences, I would compare Adams to Wodehouse. Wodehouse was similarly known for slapping out novels as quickly as most people wrote grocery lists, reusing plots, jokes, dialogue. He wrote for the entertainment value, which is why I think Adams is so popular--the jokes and eccentricities, rather than the novel itself, are the best parts. Of course, Wodehouse actually loved to write...


message 5: by Maria (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Maria | 19 comments I'm afraid I can't dislike the writing of someone who came out with phrases like "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea" on a regular basis.


message 6: by Tim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Tim (divetnt) | 1 comments While everybody has a different sense of humor, and it's all subjective, I can't believe Douglas Adams is in the "Books I Loathed" group. To me, not liking the writings of Douglas Adams is like not liking laughter. I laughed out loud while first reading the Hitchhiker's Guide in high school, and still find them ridiculously hilarious twenty years later. And I think the Wodehouse comparison is the most apt.


message 7: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Foxthyme | 17 comments Hmmm! Haven't read Wodehouse. Think they must be next on my list.

Funny thing about Adam's. In my mind I absolutely adore reading and experiencing the books...however, if I see them on tv, hear them on radio, or watch them in the new movie I HATE them! AGGGGH!


message 8: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 65 comments I myself have been unable to get trough a book of his yet. I haven't tried in a while, and will probably take another stab at it rather soon. My father is an unabashed fan and insists that I am missing out...we shall see...


message 9: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Kay | 20 comments Yes, yes, yes, Foxthyme! Couldn't agree more. The radio series was annoying, the TV series was bad and the film was truly awful. And yet I re-read Hitchhiker's every couple of years and still laugh out loud.


message 10: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Lena I would also recommend Last Chance to See if you're not certain about Adams. Still very funny, but quite different from what he's most known for.


message 11: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Mark | 65 comments Comment on the post by Tim. Well, I do like to laugh. Catch-22 made me crack up the whole time I read it. But the Adams stuff didn't make me laugh. It's like morphine; it works on some people and on others nothing happens. I tried Wodehouse too, and did not like his stuff. Nor Kingsley Amis. Nor Three Men in a Boat. Maybe there's a bone in my brain that's missing or something, a congenital defect, but I don't feel guilty about it.


message 12: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Rindis | 18 comments If that was a second, I wonder how long the post where you want a minute will be!


message 13: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Mark | 65 comments Arrrrrrr. I think I just grew a sense of humour. The growing pains, ach, they hurt!


message 14: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) At the risk of turning this into a Wodehouse discussion (which is fine, seeing as it is winding down anyway, and Mark has apparently given birth to a funny bone)...

Seth, I didn't mean "slapped out" to be so flippant in regards to Wodehouse. He is probably my favorite humorist as well (but now you have me thinking, and I shall have to shuffle around some files in the ol' noggin). However, you have to admit he churned out an extraordinary number of books (wasn't it more than one per year of his life?) and they all fell into more or less the same pattern. This is not to diminish his quality, just to recognize that he found a niche he had mastered and that people loved, and from which he hardly diversified--ditto for Adams (with the exception of Dirk Gently, which I think is better than all the Hitchhikers combined). Henry Ford made great cars, but he did so within a system that let him "slap" 'em out faster than ever before...if that metaphor even applies...

Personally, I find Wodehouse's short stories more fulfilling than his novels (with a few exceptions). The one about the origin of golf remains a perennial favorite.


message 15: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Lori (TNBBC) Seth, Did I read there.... you havent read the Hitchiker books? I sit here with jaw wide open, in disbelief.

I had read them all back in middle/high school, having bought them at a steal of a bargain from a used book store, I think they were a buck or so a book.

When the movie came out I attempted to reread the first one, but didnt quite make it past the first 30 pgs or so, I was not in the scifi frame of mind... and had a to-read pile that was calling my name relentlessly.

Never the less, I really liked Douglas Adams' books at the time I had originally read them. They were far fetched and interesting, and while I never laughed out loud, I did at times find myself grinning and chuckling.....


message 16: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments Hey Seth - the bureaucracy is the funny part about earth being destroyed. I liken it to my local government: I'd do something about it if they didn't make it so ridiculously hard to find information about or file a grievance about a project I don't approve of. The thing is...Adams is very clever in his presentation of the destruction of earth. He parallels it with the destruction (due to imminent domain!) of a man's home. No one cares about the man's home except him. Likewise, no one in the universe cares about earth but us. And you don't really have a lot of time to dwell on it since that's just the beginning of the story. And don't worry...there's another earth.

You may want to give Hitchhiker's a try, Seth, before getting all bummed out about earth being destroyed.


message 17: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Rindis | 18 comments I can remember being a bit uncertain about Hitchhiker's for the same reason, it really didn't sound like a premise I could get into.

But, the destruction of the Earth isn't the premise of the books (despite that Adams would have liked it to have been). The books are a fast-paced romp through the galaxy (and time), with a befuddled ordinary Englishman (our hero) in tow. In the end, the destruction of the Earth is merely the lever to get him started on his journey.


message 18: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Foxthyme | 17 comments Oh, man! Seth I added requested you as a friend because we had NO books in common. Unbelievable! At first I thought this friendship could never work. However, I quickly realized that with you as I friend, I could plunder your list much more easily, thus finding many great new book reads.

Somewhere on one of these lists you mentioned your favourite two books, which I printed up somewhere...rustle rustle...sigh, why can't I ever find anything on this desk...?

And it's true. I can't find it. Maybe tomorrow.

So I offer a challenge. I will read your fave two books, I think a Wodehouse and a...starts with A? If you read some Douglas Adams.

One of my favourite lines in his Hitchhiker series is the definition of flying, which goes something like: It is the action of throwing yourself at the ground and missing.


message 19: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Foxthyme | 17 comments Then there's the taxi driver who has hundreds of names for the various types of rain that drip down on him every day of his life. And he never suspects he's a rain god.

And the way Italian restaurant day-to-day operations have the effect of keeping the universe on an even keel, if my memory serves me right.

And the Babel fish.

And of course the mutated bat coming for revenge against Arthur because...of a whale and a flower pot and...


message 20: by ScottK (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

ScottK OK this may brand me but...I tried the books several times and had to stop .....I also tried to watch the movie ..and got about 5 minutes into it and had to turn it off. I have a sense of humor ( at least I think I do, and I love the Brits) But Mr Adams does absolutely nothing for me , except make me a liar. When I returned the movie the very next day I told the cashier it didn't play. I got a refund.


message 21: by Edy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Edy (Edyismyname) Even if you don't like sci fi or Douglas Adams, I would recommend reading The Salmon of Doubt. He has some hilarious turn of phrases in that collection of essays. There aren't too many books that have me "laughing out loud" but this was one of them.


message 22: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:39PM) (new)

Foxthyme | 17 comments Hmm. The Anubis Gates and...I was going to try a Wodehouse, but the rest of the list looks interesting, too... Good, new reads.

I also highly recommmend Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.


message 23: by Margo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Margo Solod | 18 comments damn, seth, i may have to ask you to be my friend. what a great list!


message 24: by Kristin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Kristin I know it's gotten a little off-topic here, but I just have to backtrack and throw in my two cents about Adams' Hitchhikers Trilogy. While I loved the first ones, what was with the fourth, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish?" The first half, or maybe it was only a third, was funny and good, but the ridiculous flying adventures of Arthur and what's her name and the whole sappy ending killed the humor. Does anyone else rate the various Hitchhiker books differently?


message 25: by Maria (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Maria | 19 comments Kristin, I've only read the first one myself, so don't have an opinion on this, but HHGTTG fans generally agree that only the first three books are any good.


message 26: by Skylar (last edited Feb 11, 2008 08:11AM) (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 32 comments I loved the Adams books as a teenager, but when I tried to read them as an adult, I found them somewhat dull and difficult to push through, and I didn't finish the re-read. But I remember fondly the joy they gave me in my teenage years. I think I just enjoyed the absurdism. I loved this simile in particular:

The ship hung supseneded in the air in much the same way that bricks don't.

That kind of stuff cracked me up back then.


message 27: by Andi (new)

Andi I would compare Adams to Pratchett, myself. Wild humor but biting logic (Adams uses fantasy but pushes toward sci-fi; Pratchett borrows mythology and pushes it towards sci-fi). For me it's the logical concepts found in the most unlikely of places that keeps my attention.

And does Pratchett pump out the books! Pratchett says he has a three-stage system so he can publish a minimum of 3 books a year. Although maybe he's slowed down, last time I heard him was at least 5 years ago...


message 28: by Sean (new)

Sean Little (seanpatricklittle) Andi--

Pratchett has been concentrating on his YA work lately--the Wee Free People. However, he just punched out a new novel a few months ago. I usually wait for books to go to paperback before I get them (or try to get them from the library), so I can't give you a review.

I've found that a lot of Americans don't get "British Humour" (and yes, I spelled it with the 'u' on purpose). It's one of those things that you either love or hate. While a lot of humor is universal, sometimes the Brits have a subtlety about their writing and acting that Americans don't understand right off the bat.




message 29: by Andi (new)

Andi Sean -

I'm not so sure it's a subtlety, more of a something you see out of the corner of your eye.

I knew I was different when I got lost from my big sister, and when she found me I told her I was distracted by something shiny. She didn't get it. She still doesn't get it. We don't read the same books.


message 30: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 7 comments Pratchett, YES! I had gone through over 50 forlorn years of avid reading without ever hearing of him. Luckily, a secret Santa gave me a Pratchett book a couple of years ago (The Truth, which is not even one of my favorites). I am still laughing/chuckling/guffawing/grinning my way through his catalog.

My favorite so far is Mort, but that is only one star in a bright galaxy... Wodehouse and Adams are definitely in his general area, but still, he is unique. I have also read his YA books,and they are as interesting and sharp as the Discwork novels.


message 31: by Dfordoom (new)

Dfordoom | 16 comments I think he tries too hard to be funny. He's a bit like Terry Pratchett in that respect.


message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom I don't like all of his books. HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is a joy to read, fast and funny and very quotable: lines from it come to my mind years later.

The series goes pretty quickly downhill. RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE is pretty good, but the other books drop in quality pretty drastically. The one joke in the series, that the larger Universe is as screwed up as this silly planet we live on, is a good one, but Adams kind of stretches it longer than he should have.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

I have two of Adams' books in my favourites list (Hitchhiker's and Last Chance to See which is non-fiction of a sort) but I didn't like the Dirk Gently books at all. Despite that he is the author I most wish could have lived forever.


message 34: by Alie (new)

Alie | 8 comments I haven't read the hitchhiker books and don't plan to. I tried and they failed. I love brit books and get brit humor but when it veers off into the monty python school of writing, I'm signing off. Not a dig on Monty Python, I loved them when I was a kid, but really how funny is it when a naked man plays the piano...for the 15th time?


message 35: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (LeighB) I can't stand Doug Adams either. Bleah!


message 36: by Emma (last edited Aug 26, 2008 09:21PM) (new)

Emma I love Douglas Adams but can see that if you weren't brought up with that style of humour, you might find it silly.

My dad was a huge Python fan and it was he who originally turned me on to the Hitchhiker's Guide. By the way, Douglas Adams actually wrote part of a sketch for the Flying Circus.


message 37: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 2 comments The first Dirk Gently book is better than the hitchikers stuff, which being a series of set peices feels disjointed.

As for Pratchett, umm, his very first books were chock full of ideas and invention, his next few books were less inventive but much more enjoyable as reads, but all his recent stuff has got longer and longer and less and less amusing. He needs an editor again (this happens to most prolific famous authors, they get carried away with themselves).


message 38: by Melisande (new)

Melisande (melisandes) I love the first few but can not get past the fourth one for some reason. It may just be his britishness. He is a very silly writer.


message 39: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (EllieArcher) This is off-topic but does anyone know who choose the angry face for the logo? It's a Mayer Johnson symbol & I'm curious who (besides myself) is familiar with Mayer Johnson.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

WHAAAAAT????? how could u. he's the best. o well everyone's entitled to whatever opinion sooooo cheers u nasty adams haters lol


message 41: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (EllieArcher) I think Adams is hysterical. You're right though-you either think he's funny or there's no point in reading his books. After all, you can't make yourself think someone's funny if you don't & what's the point of trying anyway?
Interesting point about the British humor. I do tend to find it hilarious. Monty Python. Fawlty Towers. Not all of them though. I've seen some popular sitcoms I so could have lived without.


message 42: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (EllieArcher) Of all the critiques of a book, humor is the most personal. Unless it's of a variety "if you don't like scatalogical..." or "racist..."
Otherwise-what can you say?


message 43: by Anna (new)

Anna | 221 comments I adore Douglas Adams. Unlike some humorous authors I liked when I was younger, he still resonates and makes me giggle, although I suspect I am 'getting' different jokes as I get older.


message 44: by John (new)

John | 20 comments I love British humor. I have alternately liked and loathed Douglas Adams. The first Hitchhiker's book has plagued me. I picked it up at least 12 times, and didn't get it . . . then one day I must have been in the exact right mood and picked it up and thought it was hysterically clever. I bought it, and when I continued reading it discovered that I no longer thought it was at all amusing.


message 45: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (EllieArcher) It's true for me too. I completely forgot until I read your post. There have been times I picked up Adams & totally did not get or like him. I'd put him down, pick him up another day & absolutely love the very same passages I'd hated before!


message 46: by stormhawk (new)

stormhawk I cannot loathe Douglas Adams. He was rather too tall for loathing. Imagine if the British had basketball ... he probably would have never found writing, and we would be all the less for it.


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