Reading Challenge: The Shining

OakMonster - Timberline Lodge as Overlook Hotel

Note: This is NOT a book review. It’s more of a story as to why I chose the book for the challenge, and my reflection after having read it.

You already know that one of yearly goal is to read 12 books a year. Coincidentally, my friend Naz set up a book challenge with, guess what, 12 categories.

  1. A book that intimidates you.
  2. A book you should have read in school.
  3. A book published before you were born.
  4. A book you’ve already read at least once.
  5. A book you can finish in a day.
  6. A book you previously abandoned.
  7. A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
  8. A book you own but have never read.
  9. A book that was banned at some point.
  10. A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller (for this one, I’d say Amazon “recommendations” should count, too.)
  11. A book you’ve been meaning to read.
  12. A book that’s published this year.

The list looks interesting and challenging to me so I’m going for it, starting with #3: A book published before you were born. [ETA: catch up on the progress here.]

Okay. I fudged this one a bit. Stephen King’s The Shining was published in 1977, a year after I was born. I was already a few chapters in when I saw the challenge, so we’re going to just roll with it, alright?

OakMonster - The Shining

To know why I picked The Shining is to navigate my sick and twisted, over imaginative mind.

Let’s go back to a 11-year-old me who had nightmares for days after seeing a hand getting blown off in RoboCop. (As a matter of fact, I never finished that movie.) I had horrible nightmares about bits and pieces of people which I happened to remember many of those dreams. Those memories in turn fueled more bad dreams. It usually an infinite loop for days on end.  So, before I settled in to watch an action movie with family is: is there any blood in it? For the most part, dad would do the Pause Censorship–he’d pause right before it gets gory, told me to cover my eyes, play through, then let me back in.

Fast forward to the 15-year-old me completely and utterly fascinated by Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. It’s the way he thinks, you see. All the ways he can get into people’s head and out of a jam.  Thriller and murder mystery becomes a thing for me. Who dunnit? Who got away? How was I fooled this whole time? How did they cover their tracks so well? Wow, that’s a genius way to get away with murder!

I don’t remember where I heard it recently that it takes a lot of creativity to be a good serial killer. I must agree.

Then we arrived at my sophomore year at USC. My screenplay and short films assignments were so unlike my bubbly personality that my professors were perplexed as to where those stories come from. And then just like all film students, you were introduced to some of the cinema masterpieces. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was one of those films.

Saul Bass The Shining

I had nightmares about the twins, the bloody elevator, and Jack-sicle for a week. But yet, I will re-watch that film any chance I get even if it will scare the bejeezus out of me.  The movie fascinated me to no end, but somehow, I didn’t remember wanting to read the book movie was based on.

Forward again to the early 2000s. I started to read a few Dean Koontz books after falling in love with The Watcher.  Then someone suggested that I should be reading THE master, Stephen King. Duh, right? So, I started with Dreamcatcher which was new at the time. Despite the fact that there were bits of it I didn’t care for, I do like how “Uncle Steve” (as he calls himself when writing for Entertainment Weekly) could transport me into the story. But then, I wasn’t that rabid of a fan. I picked up Full Dark No Stars in 2010, and then Doctor Sleep in 2013.

Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining. I figured that I am familiar enough with the movie, I should be able to follow along, and I did. But now I realized how different the movie is from the original book from the bits and pieces I could gather. Not long after that, I watched Room 327, a documentary/conspiracy theories on the movie.  But now I really, REALLY want to read The Shining.

One faithful day when we decided to showroom some books at our local Barnes & Noble, there sat the B&N collectible edition with three novels: Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining. Sold. I started with Carrie in December, and with The Shining movie always on the BBC during the holidays, I skipped Salem’s Lot and started on The Shining.

Now, many nights, Brandon would go to bed before I do, so I’d read with a flashlight so I don’t disturb him. The first night I read The Shining by my flashlight, I laid away for a long time–I was so scared!

I was also very conflicted for days after that. On one hand, I really wanted to find out what’s next, but on the other hand I dreaded reading more because I was getting increasingly scared. Eventually, I bought me a book light (easier than holding a flashlight), and finished the damn thing.

Naturally, I watched the movie the day after that to bring everything full circle.

The following weekend, I attended an event and spent the night at the Langham Hotel Pasadena…which is kind of like the California version of The Overlook. It has that old, historical feel to it. If I wasn’t well alcoholized that night, I probably would’ve been up over-imagining things and stay awake all night long.

OakMonster - Langham Hotel Pasadena

The Langham Pasadena

Now that I’ve finished one of King’s most celebrated novel, I’m going to make a note to read more of his classic stuff. I really do love his work. I mean, not many books keep me both intrigued AND scared to read more at the same time! I foresee more coffee AND alcohol in the future to get me through another Stephen King Experience. After all, Salem’s Lot is still waiting in that megabook.

Next up: #10: A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.

P.S. This mash up of The Shining and The Grand Budapest Hotel is stuff dreams are made of!

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