Reading Stephen King – September 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I thought the best way to start my Fall reading is with some Stephen King books. I have only ever read his novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which was fantastic. I was looking forward to joining the millions of readers that love Stephen King.

0671024256.01.LZZZZZZZTitle: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Memoir, Writing
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook & Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app & Library book sale
Date finished reading:  September 6, 2019

Goodreads Description: “Long live the King,” hailed “Entertainment Weekly” upon the publication of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

christineTitle: Christine
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 29, 1983
Pages: 503
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: September 14, 2019

Goodreads Description: Just Another Lovers’ Triangle, Right?

It was love at first sight. From the moment seventeen-year-old Arnie Cunningham saw Christine, he knew he would do anything to possess her.

Arnie’s best friend, Dennis, distrusts her—immediately.

Arnie’s teen-queen girlfriend, Leigh, fears her the moment she senses her power.

Arnie’s parents, teachers, and enemies soon learn what happens when you cross her.

Because Christine is no lady. She is Stephen King’s ultimate, blackly evil vehicle of terror…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

apt pupilTitle: Apt Pupil 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 179
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 15, 2019

Goodreads Description: Todd Bowden is an apt pupil. Good grades, good family, a paper route. But he is about to meet a different kind of teacher: Mr. Dussander. Todd knows all about Dussander’s dark past. The torture. The death. The decades-old manhunt Dussander has escaped to this day. Yet Todd doesn’t want to turn him in. Todd wants to know more. Much more. He is about to learn the real meaning of power—and the seductive lure of evil.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

38926465._SY475_Title: The Body
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 80
Format Read: Ebook/Audiobook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: It’s 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, has disappeared, and twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio come to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up in a small factory town that doesn’t offer much in the way of a future.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

shiningTitle: The Shining 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 28, 1977
Pages: 659
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Series Book #1
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 30, 2019

Goodreads Description: Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: As an introduction to Stephen King, I think this month went really well. I do not read many horror novels, so I was nervous on how I would handle reading Stephen King, hence why I started with his nonfiction memoir On Writing. However, much to my surprise I really enjoyed reading Stephen King from his memoir to his short stories to his full length novels.

First, let me say that his memoir is fantastic and should be read even if you are not a Stephen King fan. I am not just saying that because he mentions DePere, Wisconsin, a town I lived in for 3 1/2 years. Half of this book is a memoir about Stephen King’s life and the other half provides his writing tips and conversations he has had about writing. On Writing gives you a glimpse into King’s childhood. He also discusses his addiction to alcohol and his recovery after being struck by a car. That event in his life occurred during the writing of this book and almost killed him. For the most part, I absolutely loved this book. I guess the only thing that started to make me a bit uncomfortable was how many times King mentions the full name of the individual who was driving the car that struck him. Frankly, that individual was not sufficiently punished by the judicial system, and so maybe King mentions him repeatedly in his book out of the bitterness of this situation, which is justified, but still made me feel uncomfortable.

After reading, On Writing, I was ready to dive into his works of fiction. I listened to Christine on audiobook. When I was on my lunch break, I would read his short story from the Different Seasons collection called Apt Pupil. I actually thought this was a good pairing, because it helped me establish why I loved Christine but did not like Apt Pupil very much. Christine was an absolute thrill ride (pun maybe intended). Apt Pupil really dragged for me. While they both had very violent scenes, I found those scenes much more tolerable in Christine than I did in Apt Pupil. The characters in Apt Pupil were just so sick and twisted. I can also say to myself that those were humans doing those acts of violence in Apt Pupil, where as in Christine much of the violence is done by a car (an object). I also really enjoyed the telling of Christine through a narrator (Dennis).

The Body was also told through a narrator, Gordy, and was a good next short story to read, as it was far less disturbing than Apt Pupil. I feel horrible writing this, but this style of literature made a much better movie. If you haven’t seen Stand By Me, you should. It is a great adaptation of this story. I found it a little confusion in the reading of The Body to understand if the narrator was in the past or the present. That could also be because I listened to it on audio instead of reading my physical copy. However, the experiences and conversations between the four friends, Gordy, Chris, Teddy, and Vern, as they go in search of a dead body, were wonderfully told – entertaining and at times funny.

To end my month of reading Stephen King, I finally read The Shining and no it is not like the Jack Nicholson movie (though I admit I love the movie too). This was a great conclusion, as I absolutely loved this book. It was my favorite for sure. It had characters I cared about, fantastical elements (a possessed murder house & people who have a special ability called the shine), and intense, scary moments that made it hard to read but at the same time made it hard to stop reading. Also, Dick Halloran, you rock my world! I can’t help but be tempted to read King’s follow-up novel called Doctor Sleep, but I am nervous that he changes the characters enough (especially Danny) that I won’t enjoy it.

I have heard from other readers, that Stephen King’s writing it too simplistic. It may be simplistic, but I think he creates magic with his words – simple or not. He makes you scared of things you never thought you would be scared of and uses important topics as themes in his stories, like bullying, alcoholism and friendship. “Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant, did you ever notice that?” (from The Body) I avoided Stephen King for so long, because I just did not think I would enjoy his type of horror (or the horror genre in general). I was wrong though and am glad I finally read his works. I will definitely be reading more.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Have you ever read Stephen King? If so, what are your favorites?

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