Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Reading 2009

I don't know about you, but I've never really thought about summer reading lists. I usually take novels one book at a time, never planning when or what I'll read next. In fact, I've lost track of the number of times I thought I would read one book, only to shove it back in the pile for something else. And as you can see from my "Currently Reading" section, I even have a small grouping of collected short stories that I occasionally pull off the shelf, either in between books or when I'm looking for something different at the moment.

My thoughts about reading lists will change for this summer, though, And that only because my list is short.

For the Summer of 2009, I've selected just one book, and because of work, family, and writing, I imagine it will take me the rest of the summer to read it. Starting today, I will crack open Stephen King's The Stand for the second time in my life.

My first attempt ended in failure. Looking back on it, I fault my youth. I was a junior in high school, and didn't have the temperament to focus my way through such a daunting novel. However, over twenty years have passed since then, and I believe I am now ready to try again. The path is no less intimidating, though. Since my first attempt, Stephen King has also released the complete and uncut edition, adding over four hundred pages of manuscript to the story. To be sure, this is not a new book, with any new characters. Rather, this is The Stand as it was originally written, prior to publishers telling Stephen King that he needed to trim it down. And clocking in at well over eleven hundred pages, the complete version promises to take me at least a couple of months to read.

On one hand, I am excited about the journey. On the other, I wonder if trying to tackle something so big at this point in my life will jeopardize my chances of finishing this time as well. As many of you probably will agree, when it comes between reading and writing, the writing must always take first priority. Still, I'll give it my best shot.

What about you? Do you believe in summer reading lists? If so, then what are your selections for 2009? If not, what are you reading right now? If you're reading nothing, then considering joining me on the journey through The Stand. WB Greta has already expressed interest. Maybe we can compare notes and learn together about various issues of writing from a Master Storyteller. For my part, I think reading a large novel like this will provide some good topics to discuss out here on Powder Burns and Bullets.

See you somewhere between the pages.


  1. Stephen, I'm going to post a photo of the TO READ pile currently wobbling on my bookstand. You'll die. Or I might if it topples over on me in the night :) Look for it on my blog and get ready to laugh.

  2. Stephen, I know King is considered a great writer but I gave up trying to read his books after starting both Carrie and Cujo. I can't handle the language and horror of his books.

    The library gave me entry forms to submit in a summer reading program contest, and the first book I've read for it so far is called Broken Angel, by Sigmund Brouwer. It's an engrossing story set in a "futuristic Christian dystopia." I loved it. My next book is going to be One Year to an Organized Life. If I actually try to get organized I may not get to read any other books...

    Good luck with The Stand.

  3. I have to wonder if all that added material actually improves the work or not. I've never read The Stand (long or short), but would not be too inclined to pick up the longer version. I might give the original (short) version a shot though. I've enjoyed the other stuff by King that I've read.

    My summer reading list is pretty much dictated by my two book clubs. I already missed the June book, Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku, but hope to do better for the July and August selections. They include: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Bootheel Man by Morley Swingle, and Water For Elephants (which I've already read) by Sara Gruen. Plus there is another one in there that I have to pick. :o I've got my work cut out for me.

    Plus I have to get through another 250 or so short stories in a contest I'm following... Ack!

  4. reading list are the books stacked by my bed, in the “library”, on the end table and out on my book shelved wall. And I just added 3 more to them yesterday 2 for reading and 1 for the pictures (bab- poster sized). I don’t understand how my Beloved expects me to go into a book store and just browse?

  5. Stephen,

    I'm not a summer reading lister either but I always have a pile of 'to reads' around.

    Perusing your stack of 'just reads' I see we like some of the same stuff. I'm currently reading Elmore Leonard's ROAD DOGS.[!] Next up is a non-fiction magazine Wild West. Then it's back to digging through the stacks for a novel to drag me away from the dreary summer weather.


    Oh - and I've read a bunch of King but not The Stand. Good luck with that one!

  6. Easily my favorite King story of all time. It's one of those that you are glad is long because you really don't want it to end. Well, for me anyway. I forget the order of some of his earlier books, but you'll see where he's gone to the well or the well he's drawn water from, but that's my only knock.


  7. LOVED The Stand. But... I can't read his stuff any more. Ever since I got my kiddos, it all seems too fiercesome... though I do have MISERY on my TBR list in the next 5 years. So have fun, and don't forget to bring your flashlight to bed...

    I am finishing up MIDDLEMARCH, a tome clocking in at 892 pages. Next up is Jonathan Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS and I am toying with plunging into Pnchon;s GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. Plus my debut summer reads.

    Have fun. I look forward to your impressions of the Horror Master's finest work. Peace, Linda

  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's interesting to see who has an actual list, and those whose list is basically their BTR pile.

    It was also interesting to see the comments about Stephen King. Because of the content of his books, Stephen King is one of those authors people either love or hate. For me, I think he goes over the top on the profanity; however, I tend to overlook that to get to the deeper heart of his suspense and his characters, which have always been rich IMO.

    Whether The Stand is too long, or not long enough, depends upon each reader it seems. Even here, I have one person who expressed concern about the length (which is also why I've never attempted Lonesome Dove), and then another who thought he didn't want it to end. Maybe the length can be tolerated if the story is there? And maybe my opinion on this issue regarding The Stand will be a nice posting down the road.

    Paige: I know exactly what you mean. Some women have a thing about shoes, some guys a thing about their tools. I have a thing about books and bookstores. It's hard to leave without something in my hand.

    Kim I would like to compare notes with you about Road Dogs, get your take on it.

    Keep up the good reading, everyone.