The Shining, Doctor Sleep, and My Appreciation for Stephen King

Not the loveliest cover art.

Central Cinema will be showing The Shining here on Saturday, October 31st, at 1:00 p.m. in our auditorium. Seeing that coming up on our calendar made me think about reading The Shining, and then about reading Doctor Sleep. And how much I appreciate that Stephen King’s books continue to captivate me, even after all this time.

I first started reading Stephen King’s books when I was in grade school. (I was one of those kids who read way above their grade level, so no matter what, I tended to read stuff that was kind of inappropriate for my age.) My small town’s library had some of his books, but I didn’t pick up The Shining right away. Instead, I read Firestarter, and Christine, and a few others. But then I discovered The Shining. And I was creeped out, but fascinated.

I went on to read more by King over the years, checking out some titles more than once (It, Misery) and wearing through my paperback copy of The Stand. But I hadn’t come back to The Shining until 2013, when I saw that Doctor Sleep was coming out. So, in anticipation, I picked up The Shining, to see if it was how I remembered it. It was better. And when I grabbed that copy of Doctor Sleep, and gulp-read my way through it, I got to the last page, and said out loud (to myself), “Good book. Good book!”

As a reader, I have felt that King’s books have gotten better over the years. Going back to those really early books, they don’t grab me. However, starting around the time of It (1986)—those are the books I re-read. And the most recent books, Finders Keepers, Revival, Mr. Mercedes, and Doctor Sleep?   They make me really appreciate how Stephen King doesn’t let me down. I sometimes worry when an author I like keeps writing, because I’m waiting for the day a book lets me down. It’s happened with other authors (and I’m sure all readers have had this happen). But not with Stephen King.

I read an interview with King in The Guardian, in which the author of the article wrote, “There is a lightfootedness to King’s prose, a quickness of thought and expression that over the course of decades has somehow always seemed modern. It’s partly a function of speed: his books err on the long side – a casualty of quick turnaround – but the action rattles along at a pace that is mimicked in the snap and verve of his language. In Dr. Sleep, the serial killers appear with ‘faces like old apples and the moon shone right through’. Danny, in the hospice, observes of a dead patient, ‘inside was all the clockless silence of death’. It’s what King does best, matching dim fears with indelible images, and it is recognised these days as a rare talent.” Perhaps that is the appeal for me; his books are expressive, his characters resonate, the pace is quick, and the storylines keep me hooked. I actually do delight in some of his characters and some of his stories stay with me long after I’ve closed the book.

So, consider coming in to see The Shining here at Central Library on Saturday the 31st, and maybe pick up a copy of The Shining and Doctor Sleep for a read. And, if you’re interested in his newest book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, why yes, the library does have that on order (and we’re happy to place it on hold for you)!


About centerforthereader

St. Louis Central Library, Center for the Reader, is where you can find fiction, reading suggestions, author information, and much more!
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