(This is very long, sorry. Print it out for a rainy day should you care to)
The idea sounded deceptively simple.
Read 52 books in 52 weeks or, one year. And it sounded like a perfect quasi-New Year’s resolution. Something that didn’t involve strenuous physical activity, and something that I’d enjoy. After all, I enjoy reading. That, over the years had gotten away from me due to distractions and responsibilities that everyone has to deal with at some point or other.
And so I said, why not?
My job afforded me an hour for lunch, and choosing to pack instead of find some fast food joint allowed me to spend the bulk of that hour reading. I felt if I tried hard and stayed the course, 52 books could be squeezed into my life.
I started with a book I received for Christmas, The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Like most people I talk to, I used to like The Simpsons, back when it had a soul, and this book seemed to speak right to me, hinting at uncovering the stories of the golden years of the show. And unauthorized histories? The scandal! Unfortunately, it didn't really deliver, as the bulk of the interviews the book was based on didn't come from the key players, only the periphery and even people not involved whatsoever. I wanted it to be the New York Times covering the story, what I got was TMZ.
And then, just like that, done. My job I mean. Unceremoniously laid off from a position I held for five years. Nothing to do with performance, mostly due to political power plays way above my pay grade, I along with the rest of my department (yes, my entire department was asked to leave), found a bar that Tuesday afternoon and drank our shock away.
Obviously the 52 books in a year challenge was going to be affected. How, I wouldn't know and of course it really wasn't a pressing issue. While some would suggest being unemployed would leave oodles of more time for reading, others might suggest I should spend my time insuring I and my family would still be able to eat.
Anyway, perhaps subconsciously to deal with this major life event, I chose to revisit an author who was so influential in my childhood. Growing up during the height of Stephen King's productivity (and, dare I say, creativity), I had been a fan. (In fact, I'd still argue that Salem's Lot is one of the 25 best novels of all time.) I consumed all of King's major hitters in the 80s, and loved each one (even The Tommyknockers!) But as we both stumbled into the 90s (I, in awkward stages of puberty, he in uneven prose) we went our separate ways, and while I certainly read a some of his other books, he no longer gave me that joy I had felt with him before.
But, having received a Kindle for Christmas, I saw an opportunity to revisit my youth with Under the Dome: A Novel.
Not necessarily a typical King "horror" novel, the book tells the story of what happens to a town (and the people in it), when a large dome shows up and cuts it off from the rest of the world.
While I felt some of the storytelling felt gimmicky, I thought this was a great return to form for King. His characters were well fleshed out and the small town politics spiraling out of control kept me turning the page. Sure, the ending felt a bit rushed and tacked on, but what Stephen King ending doesn't? If you haven't picked it up because you think King lost his fastball, I can't recommend it enough.
Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel I received free at a Twitter meetup in Philadelphia in February of 2010. And let's just say there's a reason I got it for free. If you like generic thrillers with a twinge of the supernatural, it's an ok book. Plenty of cliches on top of cliches, but if you're a fan of the zombie genre, then it might be for you.