He's a habit I've carried into adulthood and remains one of my favourite writers whether with the horror he's best known for (Duma Key is one of my most memorable reads of the last five years, and in my King top 3) or the new Bill Hodges detective fiction. As this review of Mercedes Man sets out, King had absolutely no difficulty moving into new genre territory. And I still have all six copies of the editions he published of the Green Mile in series.
I've not everything King's written - there would hardly be enough days in the year to follow his prolific output - but I've read a fair bit, and one has had an impact above all others: The Stand.
This is the only one of King's novels I've read twice, despite its huge length (1,300 pages!) on top of which I've listened to the audio version so brilliantly read by Grover Gardner - all 47 hours of it.
What beguiled me as a teenager - the book was published in 1978, I read it in about 1983/4 at 12 or 13 - was what continues to beguile me now in King's writing: his peerless story-telling. Over those 1,000+ plus pages King spun a fantastical epic yarn featuring larger than life characters - including Randall Flagg, perhaps King's greatest villain - embroiled first in a quest for survival as the human population of the Earth is wiped out by a virus and then in an epic battle between good and evil.
King is the master of the set-up and this book is exhibit A. As the world falls, so the forces gather and we are introduced to the key characters as they move across the chess board ready to take their positions for the final reckoning. The death of one character - no spoilers, just in case you've not read it yet - haunted me for years.
The Stand was the first post-Apocalypse novel I read and gave me another habit I maintained until now. Dystopian fiction is probably the sub genre I've reviewed the most on this sight, a list that includes Station 11, World Made by Hand, The Things That Keep Us Here, Last Light and Charlie Higson's YA series. I love The Walking Dead - despite the fact that every episode is essentially the same! I think of all of these in the context of The Stand which imprinted the interest in 'What If?' in me.