A book can save your life, it can move you away from the path you were on to something you never considered, it can open your mind and change you. The best books will transport you, inform you, move you to tears and make you laugh.
I have always loved to read, I truly cannot understand when people tell me they don’t read. I want to list all the pleasures they are missing. I want to make them understand how lovely it is to sit in a Summer still garden reading, or how comfortable it is to laze in front of a fire with a good book when it is miserable outside. From a practical point of view I don’t know how they manage on long journeys or what they do late at night when they can’t sleep. Reading for pleasure is such a part of me that I cannot imagine what I would do without it.
A few years ago I was unwell from a post- operative mishap and for some reason I didn’t want to read any of the books I had, I was tired, frustrated and blue and for the first time in my life reading wasn’t helping. Then someone gave me a Discworld novel, Men at Arms, and while everything else I picked up had failed this book lifted me out of myself, I was enthralled.
Since then I have read everything by Sir Terry Pratchett I could get my hands on. I have re-read every book and when I am a bit sad, sick or troubled the Discworld series is the well I go to for comfort. I also read these books because Terry Pratchett was a wise man who understood people so well and created characters with such depth that they became real to me. When I heard yesterday that he had died my heartache was not just for the loss of this great writer but because I also felt that I had just lost my beloved Esme Weatherwax, Gytha Ogg and Magrat Garlick. I would never hear any more about Carrot, Angua, Nobby, Colon and the rest of the Watch, there would be no more stories about Moist, Spike or Vetinari, no more Ridcully or Ponder Stibbons.
My deepest sadness is for Sam Vimes, if you haven’t read any of the Discworld novels or if you are disdainful of the fantasy genre I would advise you to lose this misguided prejudice immediately and find a copy of Guards!Guards! and keep going until you get to Snuff, here you will encounter one of the greatest characters ever imagined and written.
Another amazing character is Tiffany Aching, I am just waiting for my nieces to hit their tweens so I can introduce them to this hero. The Tiffany Aching books have both broken my heart and delighted me and if you want books with a well –rounded, layered female character at their centre then this is the series for you. Terry Pratchett wrote women well, from witches to warriors, sex workers to awkward adolescents and everything in between, the women in his books are never side characters, they are fully fleshed out and interesting and I love them all.
If there is a small child in your life find one of Pratchett’s children’s book and take some time to sit with him or her snuggled up next to you and introduce them to this great writer. Then as they grow up introduce them to Johnny Maxwell, Maurice and his Rodents, Tiffany Aching, all of the Discworld novels then Good Omens and everything else.
Sir Terry Pratchett through his writing has changed me, he has helped me through some tough times, made me laugh and cry and his books have done all the best things books should do for their reader. Terry Pratchett was taken too early by an insidious disease and he railed about the lack of research funding that is invested in Alzheimers so if his work has touched you in any way a fitting tribute would be to support Alzheimers research if you can.