Hello, and welcome to the first instalment of our very own Halfords’ Book Club: Novel Thoughts!

It’s fair to say that I, halfordsnikki, LOVE books. Big books. Little books. Novels and non-fiction. I like books so much that I had to invest in a Kindle because there is simply no room left in my house for any more books (and I’m also on Kindle number three because number one was too bulky and I dropped and chipped the screen of number two).

There’s a favourite quote of mine that I think sums up reading rather well;

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

That comes from the great contemporary fantasy master, George RR Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire (also known as Game of Thrones).

What I’ve Been Reading

So, what has been keeping me up until the wee hours recently? That would be 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Begun way back in January according to my Goodreads account, I finally finished this beast of a book over the weekend.

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A great departure from the works King is typically known for, 11/22/63 focuses on high school English teacher and frustrated writer, Jake Epping. One day he is shocked to discover the owner of his local diner, Al, appears to have both contracted advanced cancer and aged a fair few years in the space of a single night. Al sits a bewildered Jake down and explains that he has time travelled back to 1958 and spent several years living in the past, whilst only 2 minutes have passed in the present.

To cut an (incredibly) long story short, Al explains to Jake that he can travel back to 1958 through what is best described as a wormhole in his diner, and presents Jake with the task of stopping the assassination of John F Kennedy.

What follows is a fascinating case study of human relationships and the intricacies of time travel as envisaged by King. Although King could perhaps benefit from a more ruthless editor at times (my Kindle copy was 859 pages long), the pages aren’t wasted. He is a master of character development, taking us on an intriguing arc where we see the protagonist change quite dramatically.

Alongside Jake are a cast of incredibly well developed characters. You can’t help but be sucked into the wormhole alongside Jake and spat out into the sights, sounds, smells and smoke of an artfully recreated late ’50s America.

That Stephen King can write a good love story may come as a surprise to those who are new to his work. 11/22/63 features a bittersweet romance that takes up a good portion of the book. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is filler; it’s a driving force behind the actions Jake takes.

I’ll be honest; though I ended up giving this book 5 stars, it did take me a whopping five months to read. Its pace lulled to a slow meander in the middle and I ended up moving onto other books as my patience waned.
I returned to the book afer a few months as I didn’t want to waste the 400 pages I had already read, and I’m so glad I did. Sometimes the best things come to those who persevere.

“When all else fails, give up and go to the library.” – Stephen King, 11/22/63

The book has since been transferred to the small screen courtesy of HBO and James Franco. I have watched the first two episodes and it does deviate a fair deal from the novel. I have a feeling that this will be yet another case of, “The book was better!”

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So, what’s next on my to-read list? Well, I’ve just picked up this to indulge my inner science nerd. I have a feeling it may take me a while to get my head around!

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This book has some serious heft; it’s definitely not a beach read! That’s why e-readers are such a good idea when heading off to sunnier climes. If that’s your plan, don’t forget to take a power bank! As fantastic as e-readers are, it’s no fun if they die just at that crucial cliffhanger moment.

Tell us: what’s on your summer reading list?

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