When I talked about The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy previously, I forgot that I wanted to bring up my first introduction to H2G2. It was a summer camp that I went to for several years when I was growing up, called Camp St Charles.
It has apparently changed a bit since I attended; it's now coed, for one thing. And that, by itself, is so big a change that it's hard to imagine. Still, I wish that had been the case back when. Between going there, and going to an all-boys middle/high school, I ended up awfully sheltered from the fairer sex.
The good part of that was that, going to RPI, with its (then) 5:1 ratio, I looked at it and said, "Hey! There's girls around."
The bad part was that I got there woefully unprepared to deal with those girls.
Anyway, to get back to my original point, when I went to summer camp, one of the counselors (a Dave Mudrock, IIRC, who I knew because he was also the archery instructor (I liked archery a lot back then)), when telling stories in his cabin at night (and occasionally at other times and places) would recite from H2G2. Since I never stayed in that cabin (and he wasn't there every year, either), I only got a small sampling of the silliness, but even that little bit was enough to make me respect it.
For better or for worse, I was only able to find the Dirk Gently books when I went looking for H2G2 (go figure!). Still, I liked those an awful lot, and had no trouble finishing them.