On Douglas Adams's 65th birthday, pick up 'The Hitchhiker's Guide'

'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with David Shuman, a bookseller at Book People in Richmond, Va.

Since today would have been Douglas Adams's 65th birthday, there was really only one book that Shuman felt he could recommend: Adams's classic, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

First published more than 30 years ago, the comedic space romp is a fan favorite. Shuman himself rereads it every few years, along with Adams's other four books in the series.

For anyone who hasn't experienced the mix of off-the-wall humor and deep philosophical musings that "Hitchhiker's Guide" is known for, Shuman says: Dive in.

"It's a humorous sci-fi book about philosophy and 'why are we here' and 'why do we die'," Shuman said. "Douglas Adams managed, in a humorous way, to tell universal truths."

"I got a lot of my philosophical and political start reading Douglas Adams. Before I discovered 'real philosophers' as a teenager, I read 'Hitchhiker's.'"

The book opens moments before Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway. Arthur Dent, the hapless main character at the center of the book, is rescued at the last minute by his best friend, who turns out to be an alien at work on "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," a travel guide for navigating outer space.

"Shenanigans ensue," Shuman said.

For anyone who has been waiting to pick it up, Shuman said "if you need a humorous way of discovering why we're here, this is the answer to all of your questions."

Then he clarified: "I didn't necessarily say they'd be the right answers."

Adams would approve.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.