Friday 5 August 2011

Stephen King for Teenagers!

I read the guardian quite a lot for it's news and reviews on books. I highly recommend it for book fans as there are often interesting articles. I usually come across one or two that I mean to post about and I somehow always forget. Not this time. I think most Stephen King fans are aware that the author is often slated by many for writing genre, selling millions and having over 30 books to his name. He isn't taken seriously in literature circles. I could go on a whole rant about that but I won't. All I will say that because of this it was refreshing to see someone writing a positive article about him but also recommending him (you can read the article here). I think I have read just about every King book and almost all of them as a teenager. I was 13 when I picked up "It" and I have fond memories of reading it although not quite in the same way as the journalist.

My first attempt at reading the book failed because it scared the hell out of me. I picked it up because I had seen the tv adaptation and since someone I very much liked was in it (Jonathan Brandis) I had to read the book. Sadly I got half way through and after a week of sleepless nights I gave up. Such a shame since I begged my parents for the book for my birthday. It didn't help that my fearless younger sister would cackle saying she saw the clown staring in our bedroom window. I was old enough to know it wasn't true and to scoff at her but it didn't stop me from sleeping with the light on that night (if I had saw Friends round about then the book would most definitely have gone in the freezer). Six months later I tried again and succeeded. I was so proud of myself and I actually enjoyed it. It then got passed on to my mum and King became another author for us to share.

The result was many visits to the library to read the rest of the books. My mum would always read them after me and she then got my aunt to read them. For birthdays and Christmas I would usually get another King book. Pocket money was spent on them too until I amassed quite a collection which got passed round my family too. Unlike the journalist reading them didn't turn my home area into Derry in my mind (thankfully, I'm not sure I could have taken it) but I discovered that I was brave enough to read horror (although not brave enough to watch it). For a change I was recommending books to my mum and aunt which also felt good.

I then happily discovered that one of my friends was a huge fan too. We spent a lot of time talking about them. Our favourite thing to do was to list the books which crossed with each other. This habit of Kings always gave his books an extra edge of creepiness in my mind but I loved it too. I am sure we missed out on quite a few. I tried to re-read them all again years later and note done the crossovers but never finished the project.

I think that as a teenager they kept my mind opened. I was reading classics too. In fact I was reading just about anything I could get my hands on back then. If it was placed in front of my and I was told it was good I would read it. I only really came across book snobbery when I started working with them. I have even been accused of it myself because there are some authors and genres I just don't like. Most book snobs I know though wouldn't touch King or any genre. To me they are missing out as thanks to my teenage reading habits I discovered an author who might be popular but to me he did have merit. I thank king for teaching me not to dismiss someone based on where their books sit on a shelf or how many they have written.

So yes, I would recommend his books to teens. Just so long as they won't scare them to death.


  1. +JMJ+

    I read Needful Things as a teen. It scared the bloody hell out of me! I didn't want to go shopping for a whole month after finishing it! =P

    Just last year, I finally tried Christine. I was surprised at how well written it was--and then surprised at myself for being surprised. Other readers whose opinions I respect are quick to say that King is vastly underrated and is just plain GOOD; this was just the first time I really saw it. Christine is still the first novel that made me feel sad after I read it because I could no longer keep up with the characters. They felt like real people to me and I was terribly sorry that they didn't have blogs or Facebook pages that would let me know how they are doing these days. (!!!)

  2. JMJ,

    Needful Things scared me as a teen too. Actually I think most of his books did. Even the ones I didn't particularly like such as Gerald's Game.

    I love it when you read a book and you don't want to let go of the characters. I think this is one of Kings strong points. His characters are so strong and well developed. It's the one thing that I have always loved about his books. When I was a young teen I remember watching "Stand By Me". I didn't know at the time that it was based on something King had written. I do remember thinking that it reminded me of his writing because of the characters. I think his writing is that strong.

    I read Christine but the subject didn't appeal to me. I was never into cars and I a possessed/haunted car just didn't do it for me. I still read it because it was a King book and actually enjoyed it. Another sign of how good King is. I think a true testament to his writing is his Dark Tower series. If you haven't read those I highly recommend them.

  3. I hated the horror genre till I read Stephen King. The first book I read was "The Shining" and it was so scary - but it was actually, wonderfully scary - unlike the usual combination of pale ghosts and loud noises and such! I love how King manages to create the horror from inside the people's minds and thoughts. I have read very few authors who can create such intense characters. I had no idea Stephen King was so underrated that "he isn't taken seriously in literature circles". It's a shame!

  4. He really does have a way of bringing the horror from inside people rather than using ghosts and other monsters. The Shining is one of my favourites too. Definitely one of the best. I think genre in general isn't taken particularly seriously in literary circles. It's a shame but at the end of the day all these people are missing out.