Recently I’ve spent a little time going through my history of reading Stephen King books.
Back in 2010, when I was in my mid-40s, a friend bought me the first four Dark Tower novels and told me they were “pretty crazy”. He is a long time friend, but buying each other presents it not something we usually do. I figured they must be something quite special since he bothered to get them for me, but as is sometimes the case with books as presents I began reading The Gunslinger more out of obligation than anything else.
The truth is, in my younger days when books like ‘Salem’s Lot and It and The Stand were being published I was too much of a snob to consider reading anything “horror”. I dismissed Stephen King as a pulp writer, cashing in on gullible readers who didn’t understand what a truly good book was. (I cringe as I write this, but I hope I have shaken off such prejudices now!) Also, I’d had a couple of big scares (the first being Trilogy of Terror on the TV when I was much too young; the second being Alien) that I’d lost a lot of sleep over and hadn’t fully recovered from. So the idea of reading a Stephen King book actually scared me. So to an extent, the “snob” thing was a cover for my fear 😉
So I started The Gunslinger both with a sense of obligation, and also some trepidation – what was I getting myself into?
Clearly, from the list above (and everything else on this blog), I really enjoyed The Dark Tower – I loved it! How silly of me to put things off for so long! But although I read (and then listened to) The Dark Tower several times over the next few years, it wasn’t until 2014 that I branched out and read something by Stephen King *other* than The Dark Tower. I picked up a copy of The Stand.
I found The Stand compulsive reading, but I perhaps suffered from the problem of over-hype: I’d heard so much about it being King’s best work that I was somewhat let down. I still wasn’t bitten by the Stephen King bug.
Finally, in 2016, after travelling to The Dark Tower for the fourth time, I decided to branch out and investigate some of the other related Dark Tower stories. I began by buying the audiobook of Everything’s Eventual (unfortunately the version I purchased was not complete and only had half these stories) mainly to listen to Little Sisters of Eluria and the eponymous story featuring Dinky Earnshaw. I moved on to Insomnia, and began enjoying the expanded Tower universe. Also, I think part of this exploration was because I’d finally begun working on the Dark Tower Timeline, and wanted to understand how these other stories fit in with the overall Dark Tower universe. I wanted to get the Timeline as accurate as possible and didn’t want to miss out on anything important.
From there you can see how my interest in expanded Dark Tower stories flourished, and I started to dabble in the non-Dark Tower stories as well.
I’m now well on the way to reading King’s entire works. 27 books down – a good start but not even half way … and that’s a *good* thing!
Long days and pleasant nights,