Hitchhikers' Guide: A modern-day bible
To celebrate Book Lovers Day, we have asked you to share your favourite read. Stewart Andrews tells us about Douglas Adams' classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
It starts with mild-mannered Arthur Dent struggling to connect the words "yellow" and "bulldozer" in his hungover mind, and ends at the end of the universe.
In between the book is populated by a two-headed, three-armed egomaniac, a shapely astrophysicist, an infinite number of monkeys, a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias, incredibly bad poetry, a small fish and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of witty social commentary.
In The Hithchikers' Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams managed to portray our humanity while wrapping each of its aspects, both positive and negative, up in alien characters and settings, allowing him to poke fun at what it means to be human while allowing us to laugh at ourselves.
Adams underpins all this with an in-depth understanding of real science explained in such a deceptively facile and humourous way that even a spotty tween (as I was when I first read it) can grasp easily without the explanation being a chore.
Beware though, if you are an easily offended religious person, this might not be the book for you. Adams' light-hearted treatment of all things godly might not have the ring of reverence that you've been looking for.
On second thought, maybe it's exactly the book you need to read. One of the major themes of the book, and indeed the whole six-book "trilogy", is about how our very human need to believe is based on our preconceptions, and defines the limits of our perception and potential.
Its fascinating blend of cosmology, psychology and satire is what makes this book a modern bible, an alternative way of looking at everything. If you think that's a bit too deep, Don't panic! It's a bloody good laugh too.