Happy Birthday Bilbo and Stephen
If you’ve been reading any book blogs or visited bookstagram today, you’ll have realised that today is the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit and is also Stephen King’s 70th birthday. The Hobbit is, of course, my favourite book of all time, whereas Stephen King is someone I am slowly rediscovering again. He was my favourite author in my teen years, but I got away from reading him for about 25 years.
I discovered The Hobbit in the early 70s, when Bernard Cribbins read it on Jackanory for a week. I can remember rushing home from school to see it – no VCRs in those days – because I didn’t want to miss a word of it. The same year we read it as a class at school and I was hooked. In the early 80s we got a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer and one of the first games I got was The Hobbit adventure game, which came with the copy of the book pictured above. I don’t think I ever finished the game and seem to remember that things used to go awry whenever I got into Mirkwood. The Hobbit is a book that I read at least once every three years and I never grow tired of it. I haven’t watched the recent movies yet and have written enough about it here and elsewhere, so I don’t need to go over my reasons why again.
My first encounter with Stephen King came when I was about 14 or 15. If I remember correctly, I think the first book of his I read was ‘Salem’s Lot. I had never read anything like it before and for the next few years I read anything of his that I could get my hands on. My favourite book of his at the time was The Dead Zone. I got it round about Christmas one year and read it in less than two days. I read it once again the following year, but haven’t read it since. I’d be interested in reading it again to see how much I like it now.
In the mid-80s I read Skeleton Crew and it is still my favourite King short story collection. Included in it is the story that still freaks me out, The Monkey. A character in one of the Toy Story movies brought back memories of it to me again and I had to search out the story again. Sure enough, it still freaked me out as much as it originally had. Reading that collection again ignited my interest in King’s books again and I slowly got back to his books again. The problem is that in the ensuing years he has written so much more that I’m having a hard time catching up. My favourite book of his from recent years is the one in the above picture, 11/22/63, which is an awesome read. I haven’t seen any of the recent King movie adaptations yet, but I intend to watch them eventually. I’d like to read The Dark Tower series first and try to reread It as well, because it is so long since I read it.
So, happy birthday to two literary ‘giants’ that have had a huge impact on my reading life. I look forward to catching up on the Stephen King books I have missed and also to many more still to come. I also look forward to many more readings of The Hobbit, but I don’t think it will ever be knocked off the top of my favourites, although there are perhaps Stephen King books that come close.