11/22/63 – Stephen King | The Multi-Genre Manual

To this date, this is the largest book I’ve ever read!!! (I’m really excited about it, if you can’t tell.)

I don’t know what it is about finishing a long-ass book — a good one, in this case — but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something great. As someone who reads slow as fuck and never finishes series, I’m super proud to have made it to page 842 (even if it did take me 4 months to do so).

I’m terrible at transitions and introductions, so let’s just get into the review!

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The Details

Stephen King’s 11/22/63 is a multi-genre — Sci Fi, Historical Fiction, Romance, and a splash of Dystopian — novel that follows Jake Epping, an English teacher turned time traveler.

After his friend, Al, discovers a “rabbit hole” in his diner that travels back to September 9, 1958, Jake is tasked to try and stop the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. Once Al is diagnosed with cancer, he provides Jake with all of his notes and sends him into the past with hopeful ideas of a better future — specifically one without the death of Kennedy.

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The Review

Why wouldn’t my first Stephen King read also be my longest read? It feels like it’s meant to be.

My first King book ended up being a 4/5, so that must mean I started with a good book. I’ve always heard very controversial opinions about Stephen King, whether it’s his endings or long descriptions, and I was a little skeptical picking this up.

Thankfully, 11/22/63 was the perfect first King read because it had all of the elements I love: marvelous writing, captivating characters, a unique plot, and an alluring, complicated romance. However, I do want to include a TW for male gaze because it made me pretty uncomfortable throughout the narrative, which is the main reason why this novel didn’t get a 5/5 rating (you can only hear so many descriptions of a woman’s breasts).

I now understand the hype surrounding Stephen King’s ability to craft complex characters where you genuinely feel like you know them. Other than Jake’s slight sexism, he has been one of the most 3-dimensional and interesting characters that I’ve ever read. The way he spoke of Sadie was both admiring, yet a little creepy, but I think that harmony is what makes King’s characters so great. He seems, at least in 11/22/63, to be very talented with implementing equally positive and negative elements within his novels. A ying-yang, if you will. As a libra, that is much appreciated.

Speaking of characters, I was shocked and surprised that King had me feeling sorry for Lee Harvey Oswald, the president murderer. This definitely doesn’t help the fact that my family and past coworkers label me as a “communist”, but seeing Lee as a “family man” — I use the term lightly — reminded me that Lee was still a human. Killing someone because they don’t share your opinion is messed up regardless, but I love an unlikeable character, and King portrays him in a light that made me feel bad for the poor guy. King probably made most of it up — he even put a disclosure stating that he’s not trying to explain what happened. Either way, I admire King’s ability to transform a hated man into a, somewhat, sympathetic family man.

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Another aspect that I loved about 11/22/63 is how Stephen King includes multiple genres, like historical fiction, sci-fi, etc. It could’ve been the size of the book, but I feel like I read 5 different types of stories in one. With all the different plots, I feel like I lived a lifetime alongside Jake Epping, and I can truly say that I’ve never felt that way with any book or series. Maybe it’s the amount of description and details or my own personal reading experience, but I care a lot about this story regardless.

To be honest, I put this book down for about 2 months in between reading it — life was busy, as always –, but I didn’t have any problems picking it back up. It did take me a minute to remember the first half of the book, but King was wonderful at keeping me up to pace. Of course, I had moments of “wtf is happening? who is that?” but I usually found/remembered the answer within a few paragraphs.

Let’s conclude with the ending, shall we? No spoilers, of course.

The ending of 11/22/63 upset me so much, but in the best way possible. Now, I know King’s ending are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I admire his ability to catch his readers off guard. It’s something I keep thinking about, and those, to me, are the best types of endings; whether you like them or not.

The way things ended with Sadie and Jake broke my fucking heart, to say the least. I was more invested in their relationship than the main JFK plot, and the way things concluded for them hurt me wayyy more than the state of the world with an almost-assassinated Kennedy. Sadly, the dystopian world was very underwhelming, but I was on the edge of my seat (or bed) to see what happened to Sadie and Jake. Honestly, if Stephen King completely erased the JFK plot, I would probably like the book even more. Then again, it wouldn’t be a King novel without multiple story lines that may not even have any purpose at all? Of course not.

One thing I actually loved about the ending of 11/22/63 was the explanation of the Green/Yellow/Black Card Man. I never really knew what the man represented (I had my guesses, of course), and King impressed the hell out of me with his take on dimensions and time travel. His intelligence definitely shines through his writing and creativity.

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The Show

I watched the Hulu adaptation of 11/22/63 because JaMeS FrAnCo, and I enjoyed it at the time. However, after reading the book, I’m disappointed in the adaptation.

It’s been a while since I watched the show, so I definitely need a refresher to write a thorough review. The one thing that bothers me is the fact that they gave Jake a helper, Bill. Bill’s brought up in the very beginning of the book for a few pages, but they attached him to Jake’s hip throughout the show. He didn’t even need him! I understand that it creates more dialogue since no one probably wants to follow one single guy just waiting for one single day to come up, but I think James Franco could have pulled it off and made it just as good.

I’ll have to rewatch the show to have a concrete review of it, but I don’t even know when I’ll get to it. Maybe one day!

The End

Even though I know King’s 11/22/63 won’t be for everyone — that’s King for ya –, I would 100% recommend it to anyone and everyone. I have always been terrified of larger books, but this book has me goggling at IT for Halloween time. It definitely has some faults and is a little dated, but the characters and writing are enchanting and phenomenal. A super enjoyable read!

Ending the Fear of Big Books

I don’t know what it is about that 500 page milestone, but there is just something inside of me that immediately repels the idea of starting a big book.

Maybe it’s a feeling of unworthiness, or even a feeling of incompetence, but I seem to steer clear of all big books.

Honestly, I didn’t even think about my fear of big books until I watched Ariel Bissett’s video “trying to end my fear of big books!!!” and it inspired me to finally take on this terrifying challenge.

After watching Ariel’s video, I realized I was missing out on a lot of incredible books and literature all because of that daunting 500 page mark.

I love reading, and I usually romanticize this idea of books never ending and being immersed in a world I love so much, so why would I not want to tackle a longer read?

Perhaps I’m afraid of spending so much time on a story that I may not even enjoy? Or maybe I just have commitment issues (which seems more likely)?

No matter the case, I’m ready to add some big books to my TBR list! So, I present to you a few chunky boys that I plan to get to some time soon.

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

To be honest, I have no idea what this book is about except a whale and a ship? I think? Nevertheless, it’s a classic, and I want to see why this gigantic book is so memorable and held so highly. I’ve heard very mixed reviews regarding the story itself, but I’m trying to go in completely blind to develop my own unbiased review.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

I actually never heard of this until seeing Ariel’s video. Much like myself, Ariel is a huge fan of George Orwell, and this book is apparently based on his novel 1984. I have no idea what it’s about, but I have to read it solely because it’s based on George Orwell’s novel.

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

I love France. I love literature. So why would I not include some classic French literature?

This book has been on my TBR FOREVER, and I just need to read it already. One of my classmates in college talked about how this was his favorite book and how awesome it was, so he definitely solidified Dumas’ classic text on my TBR.

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Yet another classic that has been on my TBR for a long time, but I have been too intimidated to pick it up. Not only am I intimidated by the size, but I also have no idea which translation to read. To be honest, I’ll probably just pick up the book with the nicest cover, but I’m also terrified to pick up a bad translation because I don’t want to dislike a story because the translation is poor, you know?

If you have a favorite translation, or know of a really good translation, let me know! I would greatly appreciate it 🙂

11/22/63 – Stephen King

Ah. Stephen King. A man I can trust.

I’ve already seen the Hulu adaptation of this book and I was addicted to it. Part of my addiction was obviously seeing James Franco dressed like a 1960’s heartthrob for hours, but I was also so engaged with the story and the concept. So even though I may have spoiled myself for the ending, I still want to read it simply because I loved the show. Plus, Stephen King is an incredible writer, so I hope his writing will help ease me into big book territory since I know (hopefully) that it will be enjoyable.

I also added King’s 11/22/63 to my blog post “15 Books I Want To Read In 2020“, so this particular book will definitely become one of my top priority reads.

I hope you plan on joining me (and Ariel, of course) in breaking down the stigma of big books being completely petrifying! Let us immerse ourselves into brand new worlds, and experience stories we have always been too afraid to dive into.

Honestly, I’m mainly excited to finally understand these big book references! How cool will that be!?

15 Books I Want To Read In 2020

Oh, the places we’ll go.

Now.. I know what you’re thinking…

“Zoe, it’s the end of February. It’s a little late for this, don’t you think?”

To answer: Yes, I know we’re already two months into 2020, but my seasonal depression is just now starting to wear off. So, as they say, there’s no better time like the present!

Ever since graduating in December, I haven’t really read much of anything. After spending almost two years consecutively binge-reading books assigned by my professors, I decided I deserved a well-deserved break from reading.

However, that break has lasted two months, and I’m ready to start finally reading some books again!

So, without further ado, I present a list of 20 reads and re-reads that I want to get to in the 2020 year.

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Re-Reads

To begin, I thought I’d share which books I want to re-read. These re-reads mainly consist of classic literature that were previously assigned for my classes, as well as some old favorites.

1. The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri

Even though The Divine Comedy technically consists of 3 epic poems (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso), but when combined, they truly stand as one cohesive narrative and story. Plus, since they’re poems, they’re pretty quick reads.

After taking the best Dante course in college (shoutout to Dr. Reid), I completely fell in love with Dante and his incredible story of literally dragging himself out of his own hell and finding acceptance and love within himself.

Since our class was assigned to read The Divine Comedy twice, this will be my 3rd re-read of this epic poem. Every time I read it, I feel like I’m taking a new journey and still finding things buried within Dante’s masterpiece, and I’m really excited to see what I discover this next time around!

2. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles was the first Victorian classic, and perhaps the first classic ever, that I read. This novel really paved the way for my love of Victorian literature, such as the Brontë’s and the infamous Jane Austen, as well as my entire literature endeavors.

Of course, I’ve always loved reading ever since I first learned how to read, but as my life started getting busier with cheerleading practices and jobs in high school, I didn’t have as much time to read. I first went to college thinking I was going to be a veterianarian, but complicated chemistry classes and THIS BOOK helped me decide to change my entire future.

Because Hardy’s book holds a sentimental value close to my heart, I’m really excited to pick it up again and see if it still holds up!

3. Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James

I’m sure everyone will judge me for this re-read, but hear me out.

There’s obviously a lot of controversy surrounding this series, but I completely fell in love with it when I first read it. I’m still a pretty big Fifty Shades stan (I’ve watched all of the movies too many times to count), but I’ve only read the books once. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED these books, but I am interested to see if I’ll still be rave about them the way that I do.

James’ book is sentimental to me much like the way Twilight is. A guilty pleasure, if you will. It is also how I found out about Tess of the D’Urbervilles in the first place, as well as the publishing world. So, even if I don’t end up liking it, I can still thank the Fifty Shades series for helping me find my love of literature.

4. Paradise Lost – John Milton

Honestly, I’m only putting this on here to try and hold myself accountable for re-reading this soon.

I was lucky enough to have an amazing professor that assigned and taught our class Milton’s entire epic poem recalling The Fall of Satan, as well as Adam and Eve.

However, with 18 credit hours and tasked to help organize and campaign for the 2018 Milton Marathon, I didn’t exactly have the time to “fully grasp” (aka not finish) the entirety of this poem.

Basically, I want to re-read it just so I can say that I read it all.

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New Reads

Now here’s a list of books I’ve been dying to get to, but keep pushing them to the side.

5. Various Plays – William Shakespeare

I’m a hoe for Shakespeare. Let’s just get that out now.

My first college English course was Shakespeare, and I was literally obsessed with anything Shakespeare for months (especially Richard III). To be honest, I miss that feeling.

In all honesty, I would love to finish all of his plays by the end of the year, but let’s just say “various” in case that doesn’t happen so I can feel better about myself.

6. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

I actually start this novel a few weeks ago and just never picked it back up.

Even though this is one of the most famous Victorian classics, I have no idea what it is about, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I have a feeling this one will be another favorite!

7. 11/22/63 – Stephen King

Yet another book I started a few weeks ago and sadly put down (are you seeing the pattern yet?).

I have yet to read a Stephen King book, and I refuse to stay that way this year. I’ve definitely spoiled myself by already finishing the Hulu series adaptation of this novel, but I couldn’t stop myself from watching it. James Franco in the 1960’s? Yes, please.

I’ve only finished one chapter of this so far, and I’m already enjoying it so much. I know when I pick it up again, I’m not going to be able to put it down. But who ever complained about that?

8. Astrophil and Stella – Sir Philip Sidney

Another classic set of poems that I have yet to dive into. As a lover of complex and difficult romantic relationships, I’m really excited to get into this juicy love affair.

Other than the love affair, I’m not very familiar with what Astrophil and Stella is about, but it’s just one of those classics that you know is incredible.

9. Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlow

Fun Fact: I thoroughly enjoy exploring adaptations of Satan. No, I’m not satanic.

But I do love when writers create “Satan” figures that are deep, complex, and resonate a lot with what it means to be human, evil, etc.

I could go on forever about my research on Satan as a fictional character, but we’ll save that for another time.

10. Various Poems and Prose – John Milton

Somehow, I took a 3 month course all about John Milton and his works, yet I feel like I’ve only begun to crack open the interesting character that is Mr. Milton.

As I stated earlier, I would like to try to get a re-read in of Milton’s Paradise Lost, but I’d also like to explore his work even more. This man took 6 years off to “study” (basically reading a lot), so he must have quite a lot of influences.

Milton always stated he was destined for greatness, so let’s see what his other works are all about.

11. City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare

Again, ANOTHER book I put down and never picked up. Why do I do this to myself?

My friend Matthew swears by The Mortal Instruments series, and, apparently, so does the majority of the BookTube community.

I know a lot people read these growing up, much like Harry Potter, but I guess I was too infatuated with Edward Cullen at that time to really broaden my horizons.

I flew through City of Bones, so I’m sure I’ll finish City of Ashes super quick once I finally pick it back up again.

12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J. K. Rowling

Again, I know what you’re thinking.

“Zoe, shouldn’t this be in your re-read section? Everyone has read the Harry Potter series.”

Wrong.

I wasn’t interested in anything Harry Potter until around 2016. Of course, I’ve watched all the movies now, and I’ve even been to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando a couple of times. However, I’ve never read the books.

I do remember “reading” through the first book a few years ago, but I can hardly remember anything about it. So, here’s to a thorough read through.

13. Various Poems – John Donne

I’ve always heard John Donne being compared to Fifty Shades and other erotic ideas, and I’m honestly here for it. Surprisingly enough, I’ve never read any of his poems, even though I love Fifty Shades.

I have no idea what to expect, but I’m ready for the raunch.

14. Wilder Girls – Rory Power

I remember when this book came out last year, and everyone created all this hype around it. I always tried to start it, but classes and family kept getting in the way.

Apparently, Wilder Girls has a similar premise to Lord of the Flies, which I still haven’t read, but I believe it has something to do with being stranded/quarantined. I’ve also heard there’s body horror in this book, which really isn’t my thing, but I want to be invested in the hype, if there is any hype to be had.

15. Animal Farm – George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 completely changed my life. Naturally, I’m ready to pick up more of his works as fast as I can.

I love how Orwell tackles the issues of social classes and inequality, so I’m super pumped to finally get to another one of his well-known works. From what I’ve heard about Animal Farm, it seems like it might compete with my love for 1984.

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And the list goes on

To be quite frank, I originally planned on making this post 20 books instead of 15, but I didn’t realize how little my TBR truly is (at the moment, anyway). However, as we all know, the TBR list is constantly evolving and basically endless. There are always books, both old and new, that are always popping up on my radar.

Will I get to all of these books? Probably not.

Would I like to try to get to all of them? Hell yeah!

Apparently, this year seems to be a catch-up on all of the classics I have yet to read, as well as a few modern books here and there. I hope you found some new books, poems, or plays from this list to add to your own 2020 TBR!