Book Club: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

For the first time in my life, I have joined a book club. A real one; that meets once a month, in real life.

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Before I joined, our Book Club had only been around for three books, so it’s pretty new for all of us. My first read with them was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I was looking forward to it; I had heard about it a lot, but probably never would have read it on my own.

The Forward was probably the best part of the book. Russell T. Davies talks about how this book became a sensation when he was in High School. I can see how that could happen – it kind of reminded me of Star Trek with the aliens and the planets and the driving through outer space. This stuff is not really my thing, though. There were a lot of parts that I found amusing, but otherwise I didn’t really care about what was happening, and I will not be going on to read the other books in the series. But, at least I will be able to say I read it, and I will know what people are talking about when they refer to it.

He felt that his whole life was some sort of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

The part I found the most interesting, was the idea that the highest life forms on earth are mice, and that planet Earth was actually a 10 million year experiment they were conducting to answer the question to “Life, the Universe, and Everything”. It’s too bad the Earth was destroyed just minutes before the 10 million year mark – I would loved to have learned the answer. Kind of a cop out on the author’s part, wasn’t it?

The other problem we discovered about this book was that it didn’t really lend itself to heated discussions. I don’t know if it was because none of us were really into it, or what. But, we quickly moved on to chat about other things.

Has anyone else read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? What did you think? Do you have any favourite Science Fiction books? What have been your best Book Club choices? 

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47 thoughts on “Book Club: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  1. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide right before I started college and found it hilarious. I don’t remember too much of it, but I suspect that I might not find it as funny if I read it now. Hopefully, your next book club selection will be more successful. I’ve only been in one real-life book club, and it dissolved after less than a year because no one but me ever read the book. So there wasn’t much to discuss. 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      I’m hoping our book club will be more successful than yours was. 🙂
      Maybe you need to be younger to love The Hitchhiker’s Guide. I can see it’s outlandishness appealing to a lot of people – just not me. I did find it funny, though, That’s the part that kept me going.

  2. Geoff W says:

    Didn’t read too much of your review as I NEED to read this. It’s been on my shelf for FAR too long (just a year). 🙂 Also, YAY for a book club! I’ve loved the crazy few I’ve been involved with.

    • Naomi says:

      Yes, I am happy to finally be in a book club. 🙂
      I hope you like it when you get to it – it’s short, so it doesn’t take long to read (unless, of course, you feel compelled to continue the series).

      • Geoff W says:

        Well that is a downside. I have an omnibus, but that’s also exciting too. Oh the life of a serial finisher and reader.

  3. Denise says:

    When I chose a book for my book club, lots of people hated it BUT I had chosen it for its talkability value rather than anything else. Our most memorable books have been those we disagreed on, but it can be kinda hard for the person who chose it!

    • Naomi says:

      I can see the challenge with choosing a book that will create discussion, while also being one that everyone will like. Often the best books to talk about are the ones that are more likely to be either loved or hated.

      • Denise says:

        Our group is so diverse I am not sure whether there is something we all love! I think that is quite unusual. My favourite book to talk about is the sort where it has strong good points but flaws as well.

      • Naomi says:

        I guess that is a good reason to take turns picking out books – you know you will eventually get one you like!

  4. whatmeread says:

    I think that Hitchhiker is more or less one running gag after another one. The series was never one of my favorites. A movie version that came out a few years ago with Martin Freeman made me appreciate it more than the actual book did, if that makes any sense.

      • whatmeread says:

        Yes, it was cute. I wouldn’t have watched it normally, but my husband wanted to. We liked it. I think it came out in 2005. You might like it a lot more than the book. It also has Zooey Deschanel.

  5. Emily J. says:

    I totally hate this book! I guess I am too serious of a person to appreciate it, but I also read a copy that smelled bad, so that did not add to my reading pleasure at all!

    • Naomi says:

      Ha! I once read a book from the library that smelled strongly of someone’s perfume. I couldn’t concentrate on the story at all! I wish I could remember what book that was…
      I think one of the reasons it did nothing for me is because it was too far out there for me to relate to in any way. I guess I don’t want to read just for pleasure – I also like to get something out of it. (I really wanted that answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything!)

  6. Leah says:

    I just listened to this book on audio a few years ago, and I thought it was a lot of fun! I hope your next book club read works a bit bitter 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      I think, like Kay said, this story might be better suited to movie form, or even audio (for me, anyway). I have much higher hopes for our next book! 🙂

  7. Lynn says:

    The way you describe this is almost exactly as I remember it. I actually read them all about 7-8 years ago (about age 50) and loved them!! They are senseless, ridiculous, and hilarious! I cannot adequately describe exactly why they appealed to me except it was “mindless escapism.” I can see where there wouldn’t be much fodder for book club discussion however, whether you liked it or not, because to me, there just isn’t much substance. I currently participate in two “face-to-face” books clubs that are quite different in their membership composition. I love hearing others’ thoughts!! I would have some suggestions for books that worked very well and were at least liked by all members, if you’re interested. Though I’m sure your group will discover some great ones, too! 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      I’d be very interested in hearing which books worked best for your book clubs!

      “There just isn’t much substance” is exactly what I didn’t like about it. I like to get something out of my reading experience, even if it’s just a little something. I’m glad you liked them, though!

      • Lynn says:

        Some of the books that all book club members liked or loved: A White Wind Blew by James Markert (historical fiction), The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister and its sequel The Lost Art of Mixing, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert (1st in the China Bayles series–mystery), A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick (1st in the Cobbled Court Quilt series), Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosney, Gemini by Carol Cassella, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Wow…we’ve read a bunch of great books! These all prompted good discussion, too… And there are more… 🙂

  8. ebookclassics says:

    I’ve read the book and seen the movie, but I can’t remember much of either of them. I remember they were both funny. I enjoy science fiction more than fantasy and I mostly have only read old school authors like Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Assimov. Have fun with your book club!

    • Naomi says:

      If I am going to read any science fiction, I think I would like it to have more to it. Something to think about – I found this book to be pure entertainment. I like to be entertained, but I think I need to think a bit more while being entertained. Everything in this book just seemed to be completely made up out of thin air. 🙂
      Sometime I would like to try one of Philip K. Dick’s books.

      • ebookclassics says:

        PKD’s most famous book is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Bladerunner, but that was a challenging book for me. I find his short stories quite funny and accessible. Many of them have been made into movies like Minority Report, Paycheck. I hope you get to try his work one day!

  9. Angélique says:

    Although I loved the series (I read the three first books), I understand what you mean. Douglas Adams makes me laugh my head off, but at the end of the book, I’d have a hard time telling you what it was all about. I wonder if the fact that it was a radio show first explains a bit of this: each chapter is hilarious but the story doesn’t seem to follow an actual arc. Stuff just happens. I still love it because it really cracks me up 😀

  10. JacquiWine says:

    I read Hitchhiker’s in the early eighties just before the TV series aired over here in the UK. I was at school at the time, and it was the perfect counterpoint to the classics and set texts, but I can’t recall much about it now!

    • Naomi says:

      Based on everyone’s comments, I either need to go back in time and read this in High School, or I need to watch or listen to it instead of read it.
      It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t remember much about it now – it is pretty nonsensical (in a good way). There is no doubt that the author is talented.

  11. Col says:

    This takes me back. I read this when I was a student and found it hilarious – but thinking back I’ve no idea why! Though Lynn’s comment makes me wonder if it was because I spent most of my time at Uni in a ‘senseless, ridiculous’ state!!!

    • Naomi says:

      Now that I think about it, it is probably the perfect kind of book to read while studying. Pure escapism and entertainment. It definitely has its merits. 🙂

  12. Cecilia says:

    I’m glad to hear your opinion here, as I think it might be a preview to mine. My brother read and loved this in high school, but he is also into science fiction which I am not, though I am willing to give it a try. One book I’m quite intrigued about is The Martian. Have you read it?

    That is great you joined a ‘real life’ book club! I think I am too intimidated to 😉 The two books I’ve read that I desperately wanted to talk to someone about immediately afterwards were A Pale View of Hills (Kazuo Ishiguro; unexpected twist at end) and The Light Between Oceans (about an Australian lighthouse couple who takes a newborn who’s washed up ashore). Will be interested in hearing about your book club activities!

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Cecilia! I have been wondering how you are doing – it’s good to hear from you!
      If you do give this book a try (for your brother), at least you know that it is not long. 🙂
      I have read The Martian, which was an unusual choice for me, but I was also intrigued by the premise and also the buzz about it. I am happy to say that it was worth the read (for me). I thought it was a fun read, and so so smart. I did review it if you want a more in depth opinion (it wasn’t completely perfect).
      The Light Between Oceans was good, and would make a good book club book. I remember it being so sad. The other one sounds good, too. Thanks for the suggestions! I am really excited about finally belonging to a book club. I was nervous too, at first, but now, I’m just excited. 🙂

      • Cecilia says:

        (Sorry for my late response!) Thanks, Naomi! I’m sorry I have been so bad about staying in touch/keeping up with your blog. I miss it! I’m glad to hear you thought The Martian was worth reading! I will check out your review 🙂

  13. BuntyMcC says:

    I’ve belonged to five bookclubs over the years and not a single rollicking discussion comes to mind. A lot depends on who is leading the discussion and whether they are able to come up with thought-provoking questions beyond, “who was your favourite character and why?” and “did you like the book;why or why not?” My current book club is discussing two books in April (March was stormed out): “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which I had never read, and “All the Light We Cannot See.”

  14. Lynn says:

    Thanks for the heads-up about Goodreads reviews, Bunty! Although, I rarely read reviews prior to reading a book–I want my own reaction to be free of any preconceived ideas as much as possible! 🙂

  15. Greg Long says:

    I remember listening to it as a radio show all those decades ago before the books and television show. I loved it both for the humor and the concepts. Yes, it is probably a product of its times and was even ahead of its times. But it was definitely best on radio ☺

    • Naomi says:

      Considering the year it was written, the author was actually very good at projecting the use of technology. We were thinking that the Guide itself was kind of like an ipad.
      Everyone’s making me wish I could hear this on the radio. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

  16. Care says:

    I do believe this book is a cultural “point-in-time” kind of book that if you read when it was HOT, and perhaps of the right age (teen? maybe) then this is one of those MUST READS. I read this recently and it felt so dated. I do know that it has tons of love but it was for people who read it AT THAT TIME. So, per your “at least I will be able to say I read it, and I will know what people are talking about when they refer to it.”, it IS valuable to have read it but not necessary to LOVE it. Some books just need to have been experienced and not for a like or it not question. IMO, FWIW

    So, for book club books! YAY to being in a book club! They are ALL different but CAN be so fun. I am in two now and one is extremely thorough to explore all the things – which is good because it is a big group. The other likes to interject the opinions which is fun and invites the tangents. The books that get the discussions ARE the love and hate ones and so it always gets a bit heated and interesting. Usually the ones that have a hot button, too which can be good and bad. HAVE FUN!

    • Naomi says:

      I agree. And, I am glad I read it, and one of the things I like about book clubs is trying books you might not otherwise have read. 🙂
      Are there any books that have been particular favourites for you?

      • Care says:

        Sure, and some not so much, of course. My goodreads category for this club shows that we read over 60 books together. We had great discussions for The Help, Still Alice, The Fault in Our Stars, The Book Thief, and many more.

  17. DoingDewey says:

    I loved this book and might love Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency even more. However, I was glad my book club didn’t vote on this book when it was one of our options, because I don’t think there’s much substance to discuss here. It is definitely one of those books where it’s nice to have read it so you get the references though.

    Congrats on finding a real-life book club! I’ve been in one for about a year and it’s one of my favorite things I do. We honestly don’t ever talk about the book for long and typically have similar opinions. I’m fine with all the talking about the rest of our lives that we do, because it’s a lot of fun, but I think next time I nominate books, instead of picking books I loved, I think I’ll try to pick books that are more controversial, so that hopefully we have more diverse opinions and more substantial discussion.

    • Naomi says:

      I like it when the discussion of something in the book leads to our own personal stories. You’re right, it can be just as fun to chat, but it’s nice for books to be the reason to get together!
      I’ve never heard of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – I love the title!

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