Pollyanna’s 2010 Reading Challenge: Reading on Discworld

Lyda here. I’ve been wandering through the blogosphere again. Lots of reading challenges for 2010. There’s the Book Awards challenge – 10 award-winning books (each book must have won an award different from the others) in ten months. And the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge – read 100 books between January 1 and December 31. And the Debutante Ball 2010 Reading Challenge – read current or previous debut books by the female authors who are members of this group blog.

So why toss another one out there?

Hey, why not? After all, there’s no such thing as too much reading!

Last year, I paid tribute to Lewis Carroll’s classic weirdness with Pollyanna’s Reading in Wonderland Challenge. This year, who better to  pirate memorialize than Terry Pratchett?

Again, Pollyanna’s challenge will be a bit… different. Honey, if you are looking for normality, you got off at the wrong bus stop! And there may be more than one Pratchett quote per challenge, because who can read just one?


The semi-rules:

* Start anytime. Start today. Start next month. Start January 1 – time-travel! – and include books you’ve already read this year.
* Read the books in any order you want.
* If you have a blog, write about what you’re reading for the challenge, and link to this post. Thanks!
* Post a comment to let us know you are giving it a shot, and let us know how it’s going.
* If you are doing another reading challenge or three, or reading for school, or any other reason – those books can count toward this challenge too.
* One book can count for more than one challenge. Just explain why it meets the criteria for more than one category.
* Whether you finish all of the assignments in six months or a year or two years doesn’t matter. Stretching the little grey cells, that’s the point.
* Skip one or more of the challenges if you must. I promise I won’t tell the Watch.

Note: The following Terry Pratchett quotes come either from my own reading of his books (in which case any errors are mine), or from Wikiquote on Discworld. You can find Terry Pratchett books here, or at your local bookstore or library.

The Challenges in absolutely no particular order whatsoever

1.”I aten’t dead.” (sic) Granny Weatherwax’s sign (used when she is out of body visiting the minds of animals and birds), Lords and Ladies


Read an autobiography or biography of someone who is still alive. Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “Witches Abroad” (when Granny’s sign reads: “I still aten’t dead.”)

2. “I meant,” said Iplsore bitterly, “what is there in this world that makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. “CATS,” he said eventually, “CATS ARE NICE.” Sourcery


And he was pretty sure that there was no way you could get a cross between a human and a sheep. If there was, people would definitely have found out by now, especially in the more isolated rural districts. The Last Continent


Read a book about an animal, or with an animal as an important character or plot point. Any of the Dick Francis’ marvelous books about racing would fit the bill, as would one of the wonderful books by James Herriott. Or the fantastic “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” by Douglas Adams , which he dedicated to his mom whom, he says, “liked the bit about the horse.” Or even “Moby Dick“, if you are so inclined. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Moving Pictures” (featuring many animals plus the Librarian [don’t call him a monkey!]), “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents”, “Pyramids” (learn why camels are so smug)

3. Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?” Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?” There was silence. Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”  Mort

Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about. What is string theory, really? Who was Deep Throat? And, now that we’re thinking about such things (y’all know you are)… How have attitudes and morals about sex varied and changed by country and era? (That book was my sister’s college graduation present to me – my first graduate course, she said.) Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Pyramids” (mathematics, philosophers, and what really happens to mummies), “Monstrous Regiment” (why military intelligence isn’t always an oxymoron)

4. Let’s just say that if complete and utter chaos was lightning, he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards’.  (describing Rincewind), The Color of Magic


Read a book with an anti-hero or anti-heroine. I highly recommend one of my favorites, “Expecting Someone Taller” by Tom Holt. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Guards! Guards!”, “The Fifth Elephant” (you could make an argument for any of the books with Vimes in them). “The Last Continent”, or any of the books that include Rincewind.

5. “I’d like to know if I could compare you to a summer’s day. Because — well, June 12th was quite nice, and…” The Fool, The Wyrd Sisters


“Well, basically there are two sorts of opera,’ said Nanny, who also had the true witch’s ability to be confidently expert on the basis of no experience whatsoever. ‘There’s your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like “Oh oh oh, I am dyin’, oh, I am dyin’, oh, oh, oh, that’s what I’m doin'”, and there’s your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes “Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!”, although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That’s basically all of opera, really.” Nanny Ogg, Maskerade


Read a book of poetry, or a book that contains poetry (the whole book doesn’t have to be poetry). Lyric poetry like “Le Petit Prince” definitely counts. So does Shakespeare. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Wyrd Sisters”, “Maskerade”

6. “It’s a metaphor of human bloody existence, a dragon. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s also a bloody great hot flying thing.”  Sam Vimes, Guards! Guards!


Read a mythological book, or a book of myths, or a book about mythology.The Hobbit” and the “Wrinkle in Time” series spring to mind. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Guards! Guards!”, “Witches Abroad”

7. The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality. Guards! Guards!


Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf  and read it. One way to do this is to look in the new books section, and pick something from a category you don’t usually read.

Just don’t interfere with the nature of causality while you’re there.

Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Good Omens”, “Nation”

8. The Yen Buddhists are the richest religious sect in the universe. They hold that the accumulation of money is a great evil and a burden to the soul. They therefore, regardless of personal hazard, see it as their unpleasant duty to acquire as much as possible in order to reduce the risk to innocent people.  Witches Abroad


Read a book about money. It can be factual or fanciful. It can involve someone making or losing millions, or it can be instructions on how to make your own millions, or how to manage the millions (or less than) that you already have. I recommend “Money Drunk, Money Sober” by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan . Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “Making Money”

9.  Vimes had never got on with any game much more complex than darts. Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks round, the whole board could’ve been a republic in a dozen moves. Thud! (2005)


‘Listen, Peaches, trickery is what humans are all about,’ said the voice of Maurice. ‘They’re so keen on tricking one another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.’ The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents


Read a book about politics. Or political history, or political theory, or political satire, or a biography or autobiography of a political figure. Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “Thud!”

10. ‘Shoes, men, coffins… never accept the first one you see.’ Thud! (2005)


Read a book about a protagonist going through a mid-life (or later in life) upheaval. “King Lear” instead of “Hamlet”, if you will. “Under the Tuscan Sun” would count.

Or read, not an author’s first book, but one written later in their life. Read “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” which “Hitchhiker’s Guide” fans often haven’t heard of, much less read. (I’m always pushing this book. Read it. It totally rocks.) Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “Unseen Academicals”.

11. The truth isn’t easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap, and much more difficult to find…  Sourcery


‘The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret’, The Anhk-Morpork Times,  The Truth


Nanny Ogg had a pragmatic attitude to the truth; she told it if it was convenient and she couldn’t be bothered to make up something more interesting. Lords and Ladies


Read a book about the truth – a non-fiction book, in fact. Alternatively, read a book about reporting on the news, or about something that was once believed true but has been proved not to be true. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Truth”, “The Fifth Elephant”

12. Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant “idiot.” The Colour of Magic


Read a book about a strange new land, or a travel book – fact or fiction. Books about space and other planets, including science fiction and fantasy, count for this.  Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Witches Abroad” (featuring Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlic traveling), “Jingo” and “Thud” (featuring Vimes), “Interesting Times” and “The Last Continent” (both featuring Rincewind), “Pyramids” (not like Egypt at all).

13. It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might. Equal Rites


Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics. I think y’all can find one of these on your own. Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “Equal Rites”

14. “You like it?” he said to Mort, in pretty much the same tone of voice people used when they said to St George, “You killed a what?” Mort


Nanny Ogg found herself embarrassed to even think about this, and this was unusual because embarrassment normally came as naturally to Nanny as altruism comes to a cat. Maskerade


Read a book that most people would be embarrassed to read in public, because of the title, the content, or the cover art. And then read it in public.

Pretty much any Christopher Moore book will do. “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” for instance.

Terry Pratchett book suggestion: Well, okay, I can’t think of a Terry Pratchett book that could embarrass you. At least not by title or cover art. He does have interesting things to say about sex, religion, and politics, but you really have to read the books to get to that.

15. He had the unique opportunity to watch Conina fight. Not many men ever got to see it twice. Her opponents started off grinning at the temerity of a slight young girl attacking them, and then rapidly passed through various stages of puzzlement, doubt, concern, and abject gibbeting terror as they apparently became the center of a flashing, tightening circle of steel. Sourcery


Read a book about a strong female protagonist. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, “Equal Rites”, “Monstrous Regiment”, and any of the books about the witches.

17. To Rincewind’s annoyance the Luggage barreled after her, cushioning its fall by dropping heavily onto a slaver, and adding to the sudden panic of the invaders because, while it was bad enough to be attacked with deadly and ferocious accuracy by a rather pretty girl in a white dress with flowers on it, it was even worse for the male ego to be tripped up and beaten by a travel accessory; it was pretty bad for all the rest of the male, too. Sourcery


Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, or any of the books with the Luggage in them.

18. “It would seem you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said.
“Have you thought about going into teaching?”  Mort


Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.  Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “The Unadulterated Cat”… oh wait, you might find it useful if you live with cats… how about “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (you will find out more about rats than you ever thought there was to know).

19. “… human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium…” Pyramids


“It’s not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It’s because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations.” Pyramids


It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.
Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected. Small Gods


Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Small Gods”, “Good Omens”, “Wee Free Men”… really, any of his books…

20. He [Vimes] wasn’t strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?) The Fifth Elephant


Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Fifth Elephant”, “Thud!”.


Twenty is enough, don’t you think? Besides, I have to go re-read my whole collection of Pratchett books now…

5 thoughts on “Pollyanna’s 2010 Reading Challenge: Reading on Discworld

  1. Sarah

    Pratchett’s witches are so very quotable lol. And now I am going to have to go back and read the Rincewind books, just to get my Luggage fix. I’ll take you up on this challenge, if only to re-read all of Pratchett 😉

  2. Pingback: The Pollyannas Celebrate Our Blogiversary! « Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Needles of Doom

  3. Marin

    You’ve read “Expecting Someone Taller”? or maybe I mean !

    I love that book and I don’t know anyone else who’s ever heard of it.

    So many reasons to love you, Lyda, and this is just one.

  4. lyda Post author

    Marin, you are going to love this. Gorgeous-And-Available-Engineer Brother is the one who not only told me about “Expecting Someone Taller” but sent me my now-much-battered copy.

    When is the wedding?


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