My preferences are not important. Just look at what I've read, note what's lacking, and tell me to read it posthaste.
I have never read any of Stephen King’s fiction, certainly not from any snobbery on my part. I had always heard great things about his storytelling from plenty of people, but the horror branch of speculative fiction was always the one I spent the least time exploring, and even though King has written plenty of quality material outside the limitations of that particular genre, the sheer length of his oeuvre kept me at arm’s length along with the several movie adaptations of his novels that I had already seen, which lessened my interest to go back and revisit the same story in its original medium-- a pleasure that has always paled for me next to approaching a story for the first time when you crack the first page of a book.
King’s voice is straightforward, welcoming, and no bullshit. The emotionally written passages on the magic of writing are never cringe-worthy; King isn’t selling you something in which he has no personal stake, nor does he regurgitate stale platitudes. Lending further credibility to the magic partly is the second portion’s practical counterpoint to the book’s earlier autobiographical section. The unexpectedly perfect cap to this book, that took me completely off guard was the final postscript in the postscript, “On Living”:
Some of this book-- perhaps too much-- has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it-- and perhaps the best of it-- is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.
Brothers and sisters, what more or better encouragement could you need? I have yet to encounter a book that better tempers that same encouragement with the advice to bring about the accomplishments one craves.