I just ticked off one of my five year plan goals — Reading 41 Discworld novels

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

At the start of 2019 I set myself the goal of reading all 41 mainline Discworld novels and two years later I’ve finally completed that goal.

As a kid my stepdad would get a new book every year or so and told me about some of the characters which as someone who’s predisposed to high fantasy the mix of fantasy and humour peaked my interest.

I did read The Colour of Magic when I was about 15 but reading another 30-odd books seemed daunting so the goal was born out of me wanting to see what all the fuss was about but also I wanted to start getting into reading as a habit.

Reading Discworld

Discworld was Terry Pratchett’s ever evolving fantasy world where through following it’s inhabitants escapades in one book new concepts would be introduced and, in subsequent books the reader would get to see how that concept changed the world.

The books can be read in a number of ways with some people preferring to read only the books revolving around a set of characters such as Death or The Witches or you can read them like I did which was in published order.

The concepts covered by the books can sometimes be quite light-hearted such as what would happen if you introduced Football to a fantasy setting like in Unseen Academicals or deep such as Snuff which deals with the treatment of Goblins as a lesser race, after which Goblins are treated as equals and are integrated into the rest of the fantasy world.

Towards the end of the series especially as Moist Von Lipwig gets introduced the Discworld becomes relatively modernised with it’s own version of super computers, the internet and railways.

These technological advances don’t dampen the fantasy aspects of the world though, in fact an argument could be made that they enable more fantasy as the more connected world has the more traditional fantasy areas such as Überwald trying to figure out where they fit into the new era.

The dwarves in Discworld personify this, being written very observant to tradition and set in their ways but as more and more dwarves move to the city they start to lose touch with those traditions and even begin to realise that they need to break them, gaining things like gender identity.

That view isn’t shared by everyone though and towards the end there’s a backlash with fundamental dwarves destroying the new technology and attempting to overthrow the reigning monarch due to their adoption of technology and relationship with other races.

In a way the later books are almost more social commentary than they are fantasy but there is still enough to keep it engaging.

Forming a reading habit

In order to read all 41 books I decided that I would look to read a tenth of the book every night as a means to wind down and attempt to get sleepy. I drink a lot of coffee during the day as I code so having something not so bright to focus on in bed it better than doom-scrolling on my phone.

In the first year I think I managed to do this relatively well and got through a book every fortnight for 15 months until the UK went into lockdown and then that habit much like everything I did pre-lockdown went out the window so the last 9 books took me 9 months to read.

The hardest part of getting into the habit of reading before going to sleep is making sure you leave plenty of time to read. I would often work until 3am and then turn in and go straight to sleep so I had to consciously not get too wrapped up in coding and force myself to log off at 1am with the aim of reading for an hour or so before I slept.

Much like with every project I do I had to re-learn the importance of not being too hard on myself when I didn’t read or even a couple of months without reading as I got involved in building various projects or just struggled to balance work with having a life.

The important bit was I wanted to achieve the goal and I remained dedicated to it even if there was slight set backs.

I’m now reading The Unicorn Project in bed and keeping up the same structure which is making it easier to get through even if the subject matter isn’t as fantastical as Discworld and I’m hoping I can use this same approach to read more factual books.

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Colin Wren

Colin Wren

Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.