Jamie Davis Writes


Stephen King

Keeping a Reading Journal

Keeping a Reading Journal

Do you keep a reading journal? I do! I am currently using one of our secret diary journals to keep track of all my book details. I do use Goodreads, but I know from experience that you can’t trust a third-party to keep your records (you never know when the company could decide to fold and all of your records could be lost) or manage your personal details, so I also keep a master spreadsheet of books I’ve read, along with a few notes, as well as a reading journal. 

Pictured below are some sample pages that I use in my indexed reading journal. I like to keep a written record of some book quotes that particularly strike me. This list is from Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” I keep the index updated with the title of the book and date read or noted. If I REALLY loved something, I will also tab out the indexed reading journal so it stands out to me even faster when I go to search later. 


I also keep a list of anticipated book releases for the year, with space to highlight and note when I have pre-ordered. I just ordered Rachel Caine’s third installment of The Great Library Series, “Ash and Quill” this morning, and I am SUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT! The anticipated release date is July 11. Other books that I am eagerly awaiting for the rest of this year include: Sleeping Beauties (Stephen King and Owen King, expected release date: 9/26/17); Before the Devil Breaks You (Libba Bray, The Diviners #3, expected release date: 10/3/17); After the End of the World (Jonathan L. Howard, Carter & Lovecraft #2), expected release date: 11/14/17); and The Lost Plot (Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library #4, expected release date: 1/8/18).


I also manage and index a master list of “Must Reads” in my reading journal for the year, to keep better focused on what I for sure want to read for the year versus the Goodreads everything I ever marked to read list. I keep my working “must read” book list small, and will only update it once I have completed the 10 or so “must read” items. 


Lastly, I also keep a running list in my reading journal of books read for the year. I am already up to 50 for the year, and that’s about right for me. The picture below is the beginning of the list, and the items that I have highlighted are books that I particularly loved. I will also use highlighting on my master spreadsheet in case I want to go back and search that way to find authors I may want to research for composing other “must read” book lists! 


Yes, I am an obsessed (but highly organized) reader! And I love it. 

What Did Stephen King See Inside The Stanley Hotel That Inspired Him to Write “The Shining?”

Bob and I spent Halloween weekend enjoying and investigating the famous Stanley Hotel in connection with a chapter for our upcoming book (America’s Most Haunted Hotels: Checking in with Uninvited Guests – slated for a 2016 fall release).

The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO

The most fascinating question that remains for me is what exactly (if anything) did Stephen King see that fateful night in 1974 that inspired him to write The Shining?

If you haven’t heard the back story, allow me to brief you a bit. King had a hit with Carrie, and had just turned in Salem’s Lot. Both stories were set in Maine, and he wanted a change of scenery, so he moved his family to Boulder, CO to work on his next novel. He had been tinkering with the idea of a boy who had psychic abilities, but the venue was tentatively set in an abandoned amusement park, and he just couldn’t work out the logistics of how the family would remain trapped there. He was stuck.

Back in 1974, The Stanley closed for the winter, and King (along with his wife, Tabitha), just happened to find their way there on the last opening night prior to the winter shut down. They were the only guests in the hotel that night, and were given what was the best room in the house – Room 217.

"Stephen King's Room" - Room 217, Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, CO
Outside “Stephen King’s Room” – Room 217, Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO

After their dinner, Tabitha returned to their room and King wandered the hallways of the empty hotel.

The endless hallway, where Stephen King roamed and was inspired to write "The Shining."
The endless hallway, where Stephen King roamed and was inspired to write “The Shining.”

Try as I might, I have not been able to turn up anything on whether or not King had any personal paranormal experiences while staying in the hotel that night. Nevertheless, there is no denying that whatever happened to him during his stay, he was inspired to write The Shining.

On Page 69 of George Beam’s 1992 biography, the inspiration for the story is explained as: “He imagined the fire hoses coming alive, thumping across the carpet. By then, whatever it is that makes you want to make things up, it was turned on. I was scared, but I loved it.” And on Page 215 of Rebecca Pittman’s The History & Haunting of The Stanley Hotel, King is quoted as: “It was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things.

It is a teaser comment, to me. It can make you infer whatever you want to infer, and maybe that is the point. Perhaps the story is simple, and is one that many of us can relate to. Haven’t we all stumbled upon a place that was “magic” somehow? Maybe the place just made us feel good, or maybe it inspired us to create. After all, that is what travel and new experiences unarguably do. That’s the point – to experience and be inspired. Sometimes the freedom of escaping is the only way to trip the wires.

But maybe, just maybe, King was faced with someone or something while roaming the “endless hallways” of the fourth floor of the abandoned Stanley Hotel. I don’t know.

But I think about it.

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