Discworld Pareto Read

Somebody posted on /r/slatestarcodex about pareto watching old TV shows. The idea is that you can watch the best 20% of the episodes to get 80% of the value of watching the whole show.

This gave me an idea. Many of my friends love the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. I had read a few of them but felt unimpressed. I didn’t really see what they were seeing. However, doing a Pareto read seemed like a great way to give the series one more chance.

There are 41 novels in the series. 20% of that, rounded up, is nine novels. I used GoodReads as the source for ratings and came up with the list below based on the ratings on 2021-08-30. I’ve also included my GoodReads ratings for the books.

Small Gods is one of the books that I had read earlier. The rest I read during 2022 and finished the reading project in December 2022.

No. Title GoodReads rating My rating
8 Guards! Guards! 4.29 ⭐⭐⭐
13 Small Gods 4.30 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
15 Men at Arms 4.34 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
25 The Truth 4.36 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
29 Night Watch 4.45 ⭐⭐⭐
32 A Hat Full of Sky 4.26 ⭐⭐⭐
33 Going Postal 4.36 ⭐⭐⭐
34 Thud! 4.32 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
38 I Shall Wear Midnight 4.28 ⭐⭐⭐

Note: I excluded the last book in the series, The Shepherd’s Crown even though it has high rating of 4.37. It was published after Pratchett’s death and my friends tell me that the rating reflects more people’s appreciation of Pratchett than it reflects the literary value of the book.

Well, how was it?

These were certainly the most enjoyable Discworld books I have read. The main appeal of Discworld comes from the insightful jokes, but these books had some plot and character development, too, unlike the books I had read before.

Especially I liked Small Gods and Thud!. The former can be read independently but to fully appreciate the latter, you’ll probably have to read a few of the earlier books in the City Watch series first.

If you want to taste Pratchett’s work, a Pareto read would be a good way to do it. That said, having finished the project, I feel that I’ve read enough Pratchett for now.