This week’s Frightful Friday post is a little different. Rather than featuring a chilling title I read this week, instead I will focus on a title that has continued to haunt me for most of my life: Stephen King’s The Shining.
Since Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, is due out in a little over a week, I’m doing my annual “reread” of this monumental book. However, for the first time, I am listening to the audio book production. Having read this book approximately 15 times, one would think the fear factor would wear off. If anything, listening to this story read aloud to me is even more terrifying.
To kick-off this ode, let’s start at the beginning. I first experienced this novel when I was thirteen years old. I can remember it vividly: My siblings and I were spending the summer with my grandparents in West Virginia. My grandmother was a librarian in the small mountain town. We would walk up and visit with her, perusing the shelves. I had a habit (and I still do!) of picking the heaviest, thickest books off the shelf. We were limited in how many books we could check out and I wanted to take advantage of what books I selected. It was then I discovered Stephen King’s novels, specifically The Shining. This was the book that called out to me:
I picked it up, rubbing my fingers over the cover and the vast number of pages contained within. I went back to my grandparents house and began to read…and read….and read. A thirteen, this was the longest (and most terrifying) book I had ever read. Not only that, but I had just discovered an author who would continue to impress and terrify me for the rest of my life.
The thing about King’s writing is that it pervades the very core of your soul. It reaches deep down into your heart, sending shock waves of terror through your veins. In the best of ways, of course. That summer (I believe it was 1987) changed my life forever. After reading The Shining I began to devour every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on. I loved and appreciated each and every one of them, but none of them ever compared to this first experience.
As I got older, I made it a point to reread this book as often as I could. At first, it was every few years or every other year. For the past several years, though, I made a point of rereading it every.single.year. You see, it’s not only the content of the novel that draws me to this need to experience it over and over again. It’s the memories that come with that first read and each and every read after.
My grandmother passed away in 2010. While I have many wonderful memories of her life, the fondest ones are of her in the library. Of the first summer I spent away from my parents. The summer I discovered Stephen King. In years since, each time I discover a different edition of The Shining I must have it, adding it to my collection. I have about eight now, the covers varying a bit over the years. Yet the memories of reading that book for the first time remain the same.
So, be warned. Once Doctor Sleep is in my hands, I’m going to do a lot of squealing, singing the praises of the great Stephen King. But before I do so, I wanted to provide an explanation, an excuse of sorts.
I have never had the pleasure of meeting Stephen King in person. I have tried, on a number of occasions, to attend one of his events but it’s never really worked out in the end. But when I do (I know it’s going to happen), I’m going to shake his hand and thank him for having such an impact on my life….and then I’m going to squeal like a little girl.
Thank you, Stephen King, and thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me!