How do you decide what books to read? Is it the genre or subject matter? Or maybe there’s one author whose work you just love to read. I think it’s fairly common for readers to get into one author and read his or her entire oeuvre. Obviously, serialized novels breed repeat viewership, but other authors you just come to trust even when the territory is new or different.
Excluding series, I have two authors with double nods for 30 Books that Shaped my Life. Today is the first “duplicate author,” with Stephen King’s The Stand. I am not a huge Stephen King fan, if I am to be honest. I’ve read a number of his traditional horror stories, and I don’t particularly like them. However, I do feel that Mr. King is one of the best writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. He can turn a phrase with eloquence and truth.
I’ve also held the man in high respect in regards to his professionalism. Mr. King has spoken at length about his methods, writing eight hours a day every day. His comments also helped me define myself as a writer when I wasn’t always confident I could. I read once where he defended his own writing against critics by saying, “If you are paid to write, then you are a writer.” I’m probably paraphrasing his statement, but it truly resonated with me. I get paid to blog, for example, which makes me a writer. I have no issues with writers who blog, those who create information or entertainment regardless of whether or not they receive remuneration, but Mr. King put a very nice litmus test out there for those of us who struggle to make it as writers.
Of course, most of us are not as prodigious as Mr. King, whose books could double as doorstops. In fact, when Mr. King wrote The Stand early in his career, the publisher refused to print it in its entirety. The abridged version was the one that was sold, and it was only after Mr. King became a best seller that he could put the longer version of his allegory on shelves. Trust me, The Stand is one of those rare long novels that you never want to end. The layers of humanity, of good and evil, of souls lost and found are so rich that the book haunts you long after you’ve finished reading. However, this is not the typical horror of Stephen King; he did contagion long before it became popular. A military experiment goes awry and the few people left on Earth must battle against Satan and his minions. Long before they take their stand, you get to enjoy a quest of Biblical proportions. It’s a trip well worth taking.