The King is Read, Long Live the King!

by Rachel Baker on April 13, 2010

I’ve been on a Stephen King reading spree lately. I decided about two weeks ago to re-read the Dark Tower Series – if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In the course of reading the first book, The Gunslinger, I decided to read ALL of Stephen King’s books. The Dark Tower series is his magnum opus and many of his previously written books lead up to this in some way. Up until this point, reading Stephen King has been a guilty pleasure for me – his books have been the old standby. His books are the only books I’ve ever read that get the “Holy Shit! That was a GREAT book!” treatment.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned I was reading Stephen King in my early teens. I read them because they were long novels that would keep me busy for days. They scared the shit out of me, but they kept me busy. That said, I didn’t pick up the Dark Tower series until a few years ago. After reading the whole series, I did not feel like “where was this series when I was a teenager?” Frankly, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much then. And I certainly don’t think I would have “gotten it.”

Over Christmas, I read Under the Dome, and started to contemplate what it is about Stephen King that I love so much. I realized when I was a kid, I liked reading his books because they were about real people…and because they were really (really) long…and because they evoked an emotion I didn’t really know or understand (fear). Now though, I’m old enough to know the people he writes about, and it makes a world of difference in “getting it.”

Stephen King, in my humble opinion, does not write scary horror stories. I’ve come to the conclusion that he writes books about the demons we all face at some point in our lives; and his monsters are just the catalyst for these psychological and emotional demons. I just finished reading From a Buick 8, and this conclusion has never been more clear to me.

The main reason for wanting to read all his books is I want to see what I get out of them now that I’ve got twenty more years of life experience under my belt. Over the last couple years, I’ve found the books I’ve read by Stephen King to be incredibly philosophical. I think its important to remember that while Under The Dome was published last year and Duma Key (another one I read this year) was written in 2008; From A Buick 8 was written in 2002 and The Gunslinger was written in 1976. Stephen King’s writing has not gotten “more philosophical over the years” – it appears to have always been so. And that’s why I want to read all this books again. I want to see if my perception is true.

I hope you will bear with me over the next few months as I continue on this reading spree. I will not review these books in the normal sense, but instead share with you my thoughts on the books and what I got from them. Maybe his books are all the same with different names and different monsters; maybe they touch on a different aspect of the human psyche that we don’t really want to ponder because its scary as hell. Maybe some of you will decide to pick up a Stephen King book for the first time and become hooked as I am; or maybe some of you will decide even though you’ve hated his books in the past, you could give it one more try because there’s something a bit deeper there than just scary clowns, killer viruses and monster cars.

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