For years I collected hard-cover editions of newly published Stephen King.
The first book I ever read by King was the dystopian horror, The Long Walk, published in 1979 and borrowed from my local, small-town library the same year. My boyfriend and I had come back to our shared hometown for a joint semester off from college. I worked two jobs to afford a small apartment, my first rental. He stayed with his father.
I have no clue how that tiny little library, where my mother had signed me up years ago for a card at four, had the copy so soon after publication. I knew nothing of King. It was written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, and I loved it. King’s ability to speak as the everyman and open doors to common fears the majority of people keep tightly locked, to explore the best and worst in character and not flinch, well, love him or hate him as an author, the man makes a wild ride.
Death scenes work if the reader cares about the character who’s dying. Good fiction taps into real emotions.Stephen King, Interview by Dan Kois
I moved a lot over the next decade. There was always the one incredibly heavy carton filled with King’s books. Once I saved enough money to buy the hardcover, I would read it in one to three days, obsessively, depending on the length. I donated the collection to a library decades ago. My ADHD brain lost interest in collecting, but not the reading of King. Last month I listened to Fairy Tale as an audiobook. It was excellent, with a few loose plot ends that were questionable but still very good.
As a voracious reader, I have moved from reading actual books to reading primarily online. The glory of the internet, with its unlimited wealth of knowledge, is all I ever need. But the pull of an independent bookstore, when I can still find one, the smell as one enters, the quiet, the lighting, everything about the experience engulfs me.
I think it is true that you can learn a lot about a person by their bookshelf. Not as accurate today, with so much digital, but these are the only books I have not only kept a physical copy of but, if lost, replaced them. They total less than ten.
They are, in no particular order:
- The Magician’s Way William Whitecloud
- Fear Less Gavin de Becker
- Practicing the Power of Now Eckhart Tolle
- The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
- If It Bleeds Stephen King
- Party of One, The Loner’s Manifesto Anneli Rufus
- The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley
- Skinwalkers at the Pentagon Lacastki, Kelleher, Knapp
- The 48 Laws of Power Robert Greene
I love paranormal and horror, of course. Streiber’s Communion, though, scared the hell out of me. I was one of those readers that decided that the book’s cover with the drawing of the gray alien did not need to be staring at me in my own home, so off to donate it went. I’m not a fearful person, just the opposite, in fact. I have lived, camped, and hiked alone. I have always loved the darkness, the velvet night, since childhood. But when Streiber described going into those dark wood alone, all I could think was this quote:
Samuel Talor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Like one, that on a lonesome road, Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on, And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend, Doth close behind him tread.