I was around 13 or 14 and spending my afternoons after school haunting the public library when I first picked up Good Omens, a book that would prove to be somewhat formative in turning me into the reader and writer that I am today. It was also the book that introduced me to two of my favorite writers: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
From there, it was but a short hop into the realm of Discworld. My local library had only a few worn paperbacks (and, in general, only a middling sci-fi/fantasy section — the vast majority of fiction books on offer were romances and westerns) and in 1994, e-books did not yet exist, except, perhaps, in their most protozoic form. So every time I managed to get into a bookstore that might have these books, I would buy several, though usually what they had was not a particularly sensible selection, as the books had not yet become popular in the US.
As a result, I read Discworld for the first time wildly out of order. This is not necessarily a bad thing, when it comes to the Disc, and is, in fact, the way most people seem to consume them. Discworld Reading Order lists abound, whether you wish to read them by order of topic (All of the DEATH books, perhaps, or all of the Witches, or all of the Night Watch), or read them by setting, or read them chronologically.
While I have read all but one Discworld novel, as well as most of the graphic novels and ancillary books, I have never read the books in publication order and, early in the year this year, needing to revisit some of my favorite comfort fiction, I decided to do just that.
I am nearly halfway through. As there are around 40 books in the series, it takes some time. Thus far, it has been a fulfilling journey. Most of my least favorite Discworld books are the early ones – but even there are things to love. You can see in them the bones of what would come, the idea of a world that had not yet fully expanded even to Terry. And in my favorites, I was able to find new things. Reaper Man hits especially differently now after Terry’s death, and after losing my mother. The things that Terry says about death . . . and DEATH . . . that became repeated themes in his later work and in his nonfiction and advocacy after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis are, after his passing, particularly poignant.
I still have not read every Discworld book. The last remains unopened on my shelf. I do not doubt that one day I will read it, when the time is right, but for right now there is some comfort in knowing there is one Discworld book remaining unread and new.