You’ve no doubt seen or heard the iconic Jack Nicholson shout, “Here’s Johnny!” preceded by his crazed eyes and face pressing through the hole he axed in the door. Though the movie is a classic, it can’t hold a candle to the real deal: The Shining novel itself.
Written by Stephen King over the course of 6 short weeks, according to Grady Hendrix in an article on Tor.com, his swift typing came as a result of the close-to-home turmoil that he infused with the main character Jack Torrance.
Part of what makes this novel the perfect fall read is that–well, it takes place in the fall. Part of why we read novels is to feel and sense a new place, whether it’s real or imagined, and The Shining is basically a $10 months-long stay at a luxury hotel, overlooking the steep Colorado mountains. Doesn’t that sound like the vacation of a lifetime?
Of course, interesting locations are only part of what makes a novel great. We want danger and drama! And The Shining doesn’t disappoint. The story focalizes around the three characters of the Torrance family; Jack, Wendy, and Danny, who decide to spend the fall and winter months alone at the Overlook Hotel. Though the ominous implications are made clear right away (the first chapter for crying out loud), the family sees it as an opportunity to bond and heal from harsh wounds.
Among the lesser-known benefits of reading The Shining is the fact that it is actually quite different than the film adaptation and, in Stephen King’s opinion, far better. The reason harkens to the story’s major themes, which Will Ashton explained in his article about the author’s infamous fiery response toward the adaptation:
For those who don’t know, “The Shining” is one of King’s most personal stories. The novel explores a struggling writer/ex-teacher whose history of alcoholism has resulted in him being jobless and on the verge of divorce… [and] while Jack Torrance is a troubled character, he is also someone who values his family and wants to do the right thing.Will Ashton – Cinema Blend
For those of us who have seen the film, it is clear that Jack Torrence showed none of the compelling traits promised in the novel, which makes it an immensely valuable read.
Also, compared to many horror genre favorites, the scares in The Shining are far more subtle, at least in the beginning. There is always a sense that everything described in the hotel, which may seem harmless at first, will appear later, bearing drastic consequences.
Whether you’re looking for your next horror fix or another book to cozy up with, The Shining satisfies in many areas like setting, character, and themes. If you’re interested in more Stephen King novels, check out this article about his novella Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. For some more fall reading, check out Alicia Aldridge’s article 5 Cozy Reads To Celebrate The Autumnal Equinox.