The day has finally arrived. I have a copy of King's 11/22/63 in my possession. I've been looking so forward to this. Shoot, this is possibly the most anticipated book of my life.

Exaggeration? Maybe, but I've had this great feeling about 11/22/63. It's been a long time since King wrote about the early 60's. I think it's a time that is very dear to his heart.

The greatest reading hours of my life have been spent with Stephen King. Sadly, I can't say that I've loved all of his books, but I sure did love a lot of them.

Memories get rusty, but I do recall seeing the hardcover of Pet Semetery in a bookstore window and that I had not yet read a single word of his fiction. By the time Pet Semetery came out in paperback, I had read them all.

I read the majority of them over the Winter of 1983-1984. I started with The Shining and when I began reading that novel, it was like coming home for the first time. This was what I had been craving.

It was a delirious time for me, as I raced through one King book after another. I loved every book up until and including his mammoth novel of children and fear, It. After that...

I enjoyed The Eyes of the Dragon, for what it was. I liked Misery quite a bit, but not as much as many other fans did. The Dark Half, Four Past Midnight, and Needful Things were all enjoyable, even if they didn't bowl me over the way the earlier ones did.

Unlike a lot of fans, I thought that Gerald's Game and Dolores Claybourne were among King's best works.

I could go on and on, but the truth is, King's books were hit-or-miss for me for years.

Then there were the Dark Tower books. I struggled, suffered, through the first three of them. I bought the fourth and gave up shortly into it. These books just weren't for me. And it pained me to see King put elements of The Dark Tower in nearly everything he wrote for a while there.

Jump to 2008. Duma Key was coming out. I really didn't like King's previous book, Lisey's Story, and, please forgive me, but I almost gave up on Stephen King. Almost.

I dutifully checked Duma Key out of the library, half expecting not to finish it. To my very pleasant surprise, I loved Duma Key. The story about a man recovering from a brutal accident resonated deeply with me, as I was going through a sort of recovery myself while I was reading it.

And I absolutely adored Under the Dome. Same with Full Dark, No Stars.

King, it seems to me as well as a lot of other readers I know, has gotten a second (or maybe a third) wind and is writing at the very top of his game again.

I feel almost giddy with anticipation. Like I'm about to hang out with an old friend. And to those of us who've been reading Stephen King for a long time, it seems like we know him well. His introductions and nonfiction are so chatty and friendly. It's a wonderful relationship and like King, we have survived the hard years that all of us have weathered. Most of us are pretty sane. And good ol' Steve, he's still married to the same girl. We love him for that.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to retire to my bedroom. It's a cold, windy night. I'm reminded of that Winter so long ago, when I embraced each King book with such eager happiness.

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