Discovering Stephen King

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I first encountered Stephen King’s work when I was about 11 years old. My dad would let us wander the used book stores he frequented and said we could pick out a couple. In the early 80s teen books as we now know them were non-existent. As usual, I wandered the adult stacks hoping for something that was not boring. There I found a battered copy of “Salem’s Lot” and thought, “Vampires are cool.” (I guess teens don’t change all that much.) I started reading it on the way home. It terrified me and yet I could not put it down. It was a dark and twisted world but the characters that inhabited it were very real. I worried about them and had trouble closing the book leaving them alone. Though I did put the book outside my bedroom door so it wouldn’t be too close when I slept. When I finished, I hoped he had written more…and was not disappointed. This blind date with a used book has led to a 30 year relationship that is still going strong.

I always browse the stacks of the library hoping for that moment of serendipity when I pick up a title (be it a book, CD or movie) and decide “why not?” only to find a new brilliant connection.

While Stephen King’s name is synonymous with horror he has dipped his toe (or ran his scalpel) through many different genres. If you are thinking of giving him a try here are some (but not all) of my favorites.
The Stand:

TheStandIs it really that shocking that the end of the world might start in a gas station in East Texas?

Most of the world is wiped out by a flu-like plague and the survivors try and find their place in a scary new world. The Stand contains a large cast of intriguing characters (good, evil and unknown) that would be right at home in George RR Martin’s Westeros, only instead of King’s Landing, the power struggle centers in Las Vegas. A dystopian nightmare decades ahead of it’s time.

The Dark Tower Series:

GunslingerSpeaking of epic fantasy…

This seven book series follows the Roland of Gilead, a heroic and tragic figure as he pursues the enigmatic “Man in Black” across the pages. A blockbuster otherworldly tale full of nods to many of Stephen King’s other works.

If you read the first book “The Gunslinger” early on and didn’t love it you might want to give it another try, King revised it in 2003 and it is now a start worthy of the series.

The Shining

Shining

When you think of the Shining, do you think of Jack Nicholson holding an axe and quoting Ed McMahon? If so, you are missing out.

A family snowed in at a deserted inn has a number of supernatural encounters. There is a line in this book that actually caused me to gasp, something that I rarely have happen during an entire horror movie.

Last year he came out with a very well-received and worthy sequel Doctor Sleep.

11/22/63

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Have you ever wondered if you were dropped into a tragic moment in history and knew what was going to happen, how you would stop it, without being committed as a lunatic?

This is what happens when Jake Epping finds a way to travel back in time to the years before the Kennedy assassination. How would a regular person with no past change the future?

On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft

ONwriting

I’m sure people ask Stephen King all the time where he gets his ideas, what makes him so successful and how does he know so many ways to completely freak us out. He tries to answer some of these questions in “On Writing” which looks at his career and personal struggles, including the van accident that nearly took his life.

I have never met Mr. King. But as a lifelong fan I feel I know him through his words and the worlds he has created.

Though from time to time I do have to put one of his books in another room while I sleep. Just to be safe.

~Kimberly Wells

Emily Fowler Central Library

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