Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Blog > Book Review: Going Postal

Hi folks! I’m back again with another of my book reviews. Last time I was discussing Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road… and now it’s time for something completely different. As promised, I picked up Sir Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, a book from his Discworld series which stands alone.

Cover of Going Postal

Going Postal's main character is Moist van Lipwig, a con artist given the “option” of turning over a new leaf and breathing life back in Ankh-Morpork’s postal service, which means we start the book with his “execution”, and it takes a while to get round to the post office part. Once it does, the results are a little dismaying for those of us hooked on sending postcards: mail hasn’t been delivered for years, and mostly lies around in heaps in the building, threatening avalanches and blocking off rooms. Moist clearly has his work cut out for him.

As with most of Pratchett’s work, Going Postal is full of humour: that kind of humour that hits the nail on the head. Take this quote about librarians:

People flock in, nevertheless, in search of answers to those questions only librarians are considered to be able to answer, such as “Is this the laundry?” “How do you spell surreptitious?” and, on a regular basis, “Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.”

Having worked in a community library for a while, I can tell you that you really don’t go long before you get asked questions like that!

I never really got into the Discworld books before I read Going Postal, but it turned out that what everyone kept telling me was true: sometimes, you just have to find the right book to start with. For me, that was this book, with Moist and the golems and the gargantuan task of not only getting the post back up and running, but also fulfilling some prophecies, avoiding assassination, keeping Lord Vetinari happy, and winning some pretty epic bets. The postal service is at the heart of Going Postal, as you’d expect, and Pratchett’s very conscious of how important those connections between people are, even amidst his humour.

I have to admit that some of the scenes got a little too into the slapstick end of humour for me: there’s an initiation for Moist as a proper postman, once he’s persuaded people to come back and start posting letters, and it relies on things like Moist falling over random items (because postmen end up falling over things in the line of duty, like rollerskates left lying around). It’s a bit heavy-handed at times… but there’s a lot of the intelligent humour that comes from playing with words or saying things which are true in a funny way, too. Moist is a scoundrel, but he grows on you—I found myself really wanting to know how Moist would figure things out and get the mail delivered.

Overall, I’m glad I decided to read this! I’m pretty sure I’ll read Making Money (another Discworld book featuring Moist) in the near future.

Cover of Long Live The Post Horn!

That said, my next review for this blog will be a review of the English translation of Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth (translated by Charlotte Barslund). As ever, I’d love to hear more suggestions for books I should read. I’ve recently picked up Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine and its sequels, so I’ll be reviewing them soon… but after that, I’d particularly like to read some non-fiction about mail/postal services/postcards. I have a few ideas, but it’d be great to hear yours as well—let me know via the comments to this post, send me a message, or drop a note in the forum thread if anything comes to mind!

on

Tags:

34 comments so far

vintageknit, Australia
What about reviewing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrow. It’s about letter writing.
on


rococoabean, Australia
I am shamefully unfamiliar with this book - even though I am a bit of a Discworld fan - but I was lucky enough to see the film adaptation (from 2010) over Christmas. It's quite delightful, if you can get hold of it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Pratchett%27s_Going_Postal
on


Nique, Canada
I love love love the fact that there are book reviews done here on MAIL! The Postcrossing blog is the best I've come across. Thank you for inspiring us to read 📚
on


letterstotheo, United States of America
Utterly fantastic! As is 'Guernsey'!
on


foudetimbres, Switzerland
One of my favourite books form the Discworld series!
on


aerobear, United States of America
Going Postal is one of my most favorite Pratchett books I’m so glad you discovered it! As someone mentioned, the movie adaptation is quite well done, too.
on


BryonD, United States of America
I’ve never read it so thanks for enlightenment us! I will order it from my local library!
on


Speicher3, Germany
Did anyone mention... needles?
on


postmuse, United States of America
I adore Discworld, and Going Postal is a favorite. I’d also recommend The Truth as a first read in the series. Thank you for the wonderful review!
on


Flippie, Canada
Thanks for the tips. I going to my bookshop soon and take a look or I can find your recommendations. I'm lucky that some of our bookshops are still open during the pandemic.
on


snailmailingnancy, New Zealand
Thanks for you review! Will have a gander at tracking down the book.
on


shiguzman, Costa Rica
Thanks for the review! It's necessary to read the other books of the saga before reading this one? This is my first time knowing about Discworld!
on


LoveReading, Netherlands
I simply love the Discworld series! All titles ended up in my bookcollection. For the diehards after Making Money there's one more book with Moist von Lipwig in a leading rol; Raising Steam!
on


teamug, Germany
@shiguzman - I also started in the middle of the discworld novels and found it first a bit confusing as T.Pratchett's style is very unique and different. But once one gets used to his very different storytelling you can start anywhere in the series. Yes, there is a general storyline somewhere that connects the series, but each book is a closed and more or less independant story and focus soemtimes changes too. But the "discworld novels" all take place in that flat world shaped like a huge pizza :-) - although Terry Pratchett also wrote books set in different places.
on


tw1nlyn, United States of America
LOVE all the Pratchett books!! Own them all......
on


thudthwacker, United States of America
_Going Postal_ is one of my favorite Discworld books, and I advise any and all who are interested to look into the Discworld Emporium, which sells many Discworld-related items. Among them, they do regular releases of Discworld stamps -- all the ones mentioned in the book, as well as many others. And they're wonderful -- well-printed on perforated, gummed paper, with selvage and everything. Excellent for a Cinderella collector with an interest in fantasy worlds, or for a subtle but wonderful addition to a card you're sending to a Pratchett/fantasy/Cinderella fan on Postcrossing.
on


Singalarius, Germany
"Going Postal" is a very dangerous book! Once you have read it, you will be hooked and have to read all other books of the Discworld. That will keep you busy; to find the books, to read the books, to dive into a fantastic world and keep your brain working to compare it with our way of life...and take care about needles...
on


Demmi, Romania
Howdy & Thanks for your review!
Added to my reading shelf :)
Stay Safe & Healthy!
Happy reading and Happy Postcrossing!
:) :D
on


CatharinaG3, Netherlands
Ah, this is one of the few Discworld books I don't have yet. I read them in Dutch translation though, so I have to figure out the Dutch title and then see if it's available somewhere. Love Terry Pratchetts humour!
on


Susaninutah, United States of America
A history of the US postal service is Neither Snow nor Rain by Devin Leopard. Does anyone know of a book like this that’s global?
on


hkappespc, United States of America
LOVE Going Postal (and Guernsey Potato Peel Society as mentioned aboved). Two more of my favorite epistolary novels that I give as gifts are Ella Minnow Pea and 84 Charing Cross Road. If you are looking for a nonfiction book, The English Man Who Posted himself by John Tingey is inspiring for anyone who likes to bend the rules a bit ;)
on


VulpineBliss, United States of America
I second 84 Charing Cross Road and its sequel. :)
Here is a link to a list of epistolary novels that might help you find some more titles:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistolary_novel
on


rjmom, United States of America
Although I always urge people to read the book first, there is a two-part television film of Going Postal. It stars, among others, Claire Foy and Charles Dance. Sir Terry Prachett also makes a cameo appearance.
on


Ajduncan64, United States of America
I loved Going Postal, it was the first of his books I 'read' although I actually listened to it. It was great fun!!!
on


hstrykid, Czech Republic
I love Terry Pratchett! His books always leave me happier and also thoughtful about how we live our lives. I thought of this recommendation even though it's not a book but a podcast: https://www.alieward.com/ologies/2018/6/18/36-deltiology-with-donna-braden

The podcast host - Alie Ward - is curious and cheerful and she loves to communicate science to the world. Ologies is a podcast where she interviews "ologists" about their particular specialization or field of study. This episode is about postcards. I found it to be a fascinating look at postcards and collecting.

Thank you for all you do! Les
on


MiddLin, United States of America
I look forward to your book reviews. Thank you for posting them!
on


AWEF, United States of America
These book reviews are great! Going Postal and Making Money are in my Top 10 Discworld books. The Griffin & Sabine books are magical! I look forward to reading your reactions to them.
on


alison41, South Africa
I read Going Postal years ago, and enjoyed it at the time, Reading your review, the description of the chaotic (non) postal service in Ankh Morporkh unfortunately is pretty close to the current state of our postal system since the Pandemic. There have been times when I despaired and wondered if I could still belong to Postcrossing, given the difficulties we face but luckily, things are slowly improving. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
I've read all the Discworld books over the years, and enjoy Pratchett's satire.
on


alison41, South Africa
I read Going Postal years ago, and enjoyed it at the time, Reading your review, the description of the chaotic (non) postal service in Ankh Morporkh unfortunately is pretty close to the current state of our postal system since the Pandemic. There have been times when I despaired and wondered if I could still belong to Postcrossing, given the difficulties we face but luckily, things are slowly improving. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
I've read all the Discworld books over the years, and enjoy Pratchett's satire.
on


Byrons_brain, United Kingdom
I absolutely love Going Postal, it’s one of my favourite Pritchett’s along with the Night Watch. I’m also going to pick up long live the post horn, sounds brilliant!
on


ozpom, Australia
I love the review and have been told about Terry Pratchett so I will do something about it TODAY
thank you
on


Sommerrainer, Germany
One should read the books in the order they were written as one can see then how the characters develop. The early ones are also shorter and more to the point.
on


Bookhuntress, United States of America
Thanks for the review!
Even if you have read Going Postal (or other Discworld books), give the audio books a try--you may get jokes that you didn't while reading, and you will know how to pronounce all the names correctly (spelling comes from the books) :) The first best readers are Nigel Planer and Steven Briggs.
I have a partiality for the Night Watch and Moist Von Lipwig subsets.
on


rosylime, United States of America
I just finished reading “I will Always Write Back” by Caitlyn Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. Its all about how being penpals changed their lives.
on


Back to top