Back in the day, I randomly grabbed a copy of one of Pratchett's books as I bulked up my reading list for the next day when my vacation started. I woke up to 9/11 and the news of the four hijacked planes. Shocked and stressed, with the news playing in its continual loop in the background, I started reading "Jingo" - having no idea what the book was about, only that I needed something to distract me. I certainly didn't distract as I immediately saw the paralells, instead it helped me get through that week a little more sanely, a big scoop of anger taken out of me. I'll always be thankful to Pratchett for that.
Was Pratchett the first to articulate Flying Spaghetti Monster theories? I don't know the entomology of the Flying Spaghetti Monster but it seems a colourful derivative of Russell's Flying Teapot....the first undisprovable assertion (that I know of) to assail the believers in Gods. I think that one of the consequences of evolving an intelligence capable of complex predictions of consequences from actions and knowing the certainty of our own demise is the necessity for developing a parallel capacity not to see the whole thing as fairly pointless and head, "en masse", like a bunch of lemmings over the nearest cliff. Maybe it's an evolved survival mechanism that makes us capable of believing in flying teapots, spaghetti monsters and six impossible things before breakfast without any real proof whatsoever. Well, heading “en masse” like a bunch of lemmings over the not so very far away cliff of catastrophic consequences of climate change, general poisoning of environment and depletion of resources on top of an approaching (momentarily via mare nostrum) Malthusian crisis is actually what we do. I'd argue it's a strong sign of us as a species not being even halfway through the troublesome business of evolving any intelligence of note, making the individual exceptions at best a promise of sorts or sadly more likely a freak mutation that seems to have a hard time with becoming dominant in the gene pool.
First book to read: “Guards Guards.” Has the balance between jokes and seriousness that makes it a great place to start.
Best book: “Small Gods.” One for every theologian to read
Funniest book: “Maskerade.” The scene where Nanny Ogg is cooking her specials made me laugh and laugh and laugh...