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As I have said before, I am a self-proclaimed Stephen King fan. While I tend to prefer his newer works, The Shining is just one of those classics you can’t not read at some point.
I am lucky enough to have inherited some of my mom’s books that she no longer cared to keep (not all pictured here). There used to be more of these sweet older Stephen King hardbacks (I specifically remember trying to read Pet Semetary once – I couldn’t get past all the descriptive detail at the time), but I think they may have gotten lost when we moved 9 years ago (or sold at a yard sale unbeknownst to me, like so many of my own books were). My version of this book is from 1977, when King had written only Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot so far. Very cool if you ask me!
I decided to reread The Shining because I recently bought its sequel, Doctor Sleep, one of King’s newest releases, during a day-after-Christmas sale at the local bookstore chain. A coworker is currently listening to it on audio, and he has told me that while it’s a totally different story, it does reference back to events in The Shining from time to time, and he’ll probably go back and listen to The Shining once he finishes Doctor Sleep. This tells me I made a good decision in rereading it first.
I struggle with enjoying King’s older books, and in fact I haven’t even read all the ones my mom gave me, but the first time I read The Shining, years ago, I loved it. That didn’t change at all this time around, though I definitely have a lot more perspective about the story events than I did in early high school.
Let’s be honest, most people know at least the general storyline of the book thanks to Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation that is still considered one of the best horror flicks of all time. Granted, Kubrick didn’t follow the book as closely as he could have, but isn’t that almost always the case? So I didn’t really think it necessary to post a book summary this time around. If you’re living under a rock somewhere (or perhaps outside the US) and have never heard of The Shining, then a quick Google search should bring you up to speed.
King does a great job at really putting you inside the heads of the characters with this book. Because of that, you get a sense of how the hotel is changing them, and how terrifying the events really are. Not to mention that he captures the thought patterns of the child, Danny, incredibly well. When you first think of someone reading minds (aka the “shining”), you immediately assume that the person doing so will know and understand all the thoughts/emotions he’s sensing. But kids don’t know what words like “Divorce” mean, nor totally understand complex adult emotions like what John feels when he’s arguing back and forth with himself.
Some of the scenes are still just as scary and creepy reading them again, like the moving hedges, the Room 217 visits, and when John gets drunk in the ballroom, partying with the dead. King does such a great job painting a picture of these events in your head that, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you can easily imagine what’s happening.
I really encourage everyone to read this book at some point in your life. Call me bias, but I truly feel it is an iconic piece of American literature. Also, check out the Background section of The Shining on Wikipedia to learn how Stephen King became inspired to write this book. I love hearing how authors come up with ideas and create stories, especially King.
Despite the fact that I reread The Shining in order to read Doctor Sleep, I have been throwing a few other “lighter” books into the mix first. Really, as much as I love his work, I can only handle so much King at a time. But I greatly look forward to picking up Doctor Sleep when I’m ready.
What do you think of The Shining?
Have you read Doctor Sleep yet?
If so, what did you think of it?
Do you ever feel the need to swap between various genres with your reading?
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