Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Reads: Pratchett's Witches

If you don't know me, I'm a creative writing major with a passion for literature, so if you're reading this frequently, you'll likely be getting weekly reading updates (essentially, what I'm reading and why you should read it too). This is the first of these.

I'm currently enrolled in an intensive half-semester online literature class, which means about 150 pages of heavy reading per week, plus a paper and discussion board postings. It's a lot of fun. I love it. The online thing is sort of confusing (I've never taken an online class before) but I'm getting used to it. However, the huge amount of heavy reading required means that my "for fun" needs to be something light and easy--otherwise I'd end up talking like the characters in old novels and the people who have to spend a lot of time with me would probably kill me.

I like an element of fantasy in my books (yes, I'm a huge nerd). My favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, Roger Zelazny and Terry Pratchett. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pratchett's work, it's always humorous and entertaining, with a little bit of social commentary buried beneath the funny. They're light reads, but they do make one think, at least a little. I love his books about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, but for the past...week and a half or so, I've been reading his books about the Lancre Witches, and they're great.

These books aren't really about magic; they're about the characters, all of whom are beautifully crafted and resonate with something deep inside us that tells us how old women are supposed to act. Granny Weatherwax is a crotchety old woman who helps people reluctantly, usually by telling them she's helped them in a way that makes them believe it to the extent that their problem goes away. Nanny Ogg is a boisterous, fat, usually drunk old woman with a cat that torments every other creature in the village, though she's convinced he's a real sweetie. And Magrat Garlick, whose parents didn't know how to spell Margaret, is a younger woman who thinks being a witch should be about doing magic instead of knowing when not to do magic; the others consider her a "wet hen."

There are also three "young adult novels" that are just as relevant and entertaining as the others, about a headstrong young girl named Tiffany Aching who is learning to become a witch and dealing with being almost thirteen at the same time.

As fun as Pratchett's books are, they aren't numbered despite the fact that there's a definite order to them. So if you intend to read any of them, check out the Discworld Reading Order Guide first.

One of the stories I read for my class this week, Xingu by Edith Wharton, is a great quick read. It tells the story of a group of women who meet to talk about art, literature, and culture in general, and how their desire to look cultured and knowledgeable eventually makes them all look like idiots. I strongly recommend reading it--I guarantee you know someone like these women. The full text is available on Project Gutenberg, and if you click the underlined "Xingu" up at the top of this paragraph, it'll take you right there.

Lastly, I would like to publicly congratulate Neil Gaiman and one of my favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, on their engagement. I know they'll never see this, but I love knowing that two people who make such great art are getting married. I hope the best for them--and I hope at least some of their wedding photos end up online.

No comments:

Post a Comment