Thoughts  11/22/63 by Stephen King, Scribner 2011, 849 pages Hardcover.

You may already know this book is about time travel. You may already know that it centers on the idea of preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. You may have perceptions of Stephen King as being a horror writer and this means you either love him or dismiss him.


I am very impressed with Stephen King. I’ve only read three of his books:  Carrie (read it twice, actually), Lisey’s Story and his nonfiction book about writing, On Writing. I enjoyed them all. I think he is a helluva writer but I wouldn’t at all call him a favorite. I don’t like horror. BUT, his On Writing sold me and convinced me that perhaps he is actually a pretty good writer. Why I ever found out that he wrote On Writing and why I would be interested is curious. I think I read a back-of-the-book blurb he wrote about some book I did love (that was nothing like something I would expect him to read) and that’s how/why I gave him consideration. I now no longer dismiss him as ‘popular’ like I might with frantically produced paperback crap where the author’s name is in larger print than the title of the book. (I hate that.) I try not to be a snob but when that is the ONLY stuff some people read, I do judge. Shame on me, I suppose but READ SOMETHING ELSE, too!!  I know none of you are like that…

Where was I?

Horror-genre?  Nope. In fact, apparently there are references to past King characters that went write over my head and I never noticed so don’t let the King stereotype of his early works prevent you from reading this.

Dancing is life.

I loved this book about Jake Epping and how he travels back to 1958 to complete an assignment his friend Al didn’t live long enough to attempt. I loved his being a High School English teacher and taking on substitute teaching assignments while ‘laying low’. I loved how he fell in love! I loved the harmonies of time-lines and how obdurate that darn past proved to be.

I didn’t go into this with any expectations other than I am always intrigued with time travel stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t put this book down during the last half; stealing every second I could, bargaining with myself to find time and avoiding chores to get this darn book read.

Five slices of pie.

“Nice as pie,” I said, giving it the Texas twist: pah.”

If I wanted to think critically, I might be persuaded to agree that a few little things were either expected or typical or not fleshed out  in some way but nope. I enjoyed it too much!

So, if you want a different perspective AND to balance out this review with the last one I posted, I present Ti of Book Chatter’s not-quite-enthusiastic review of 11/22/63. Or is to be contrarian? Actually, Ti and I agree on books about half the time. I cannot use her thoughts on a book to predict whether or not I will like something but she always writes thoughtful reviews. We did agree on Model Home, Goon Squad and Owen Meany – that’s somethin’.  🙂

I liked Rhapsody-Jill’s review, too. She praised it.

BOOKS I WILL READ BECAUSE of 11/22/63:  Hardy’s Jude the ObscureThe Reluctant Wife, Time and Again by Jack Finney, The Lincoln Hunters – about time travel. Book I’ve already read that was mentioned which resulted in a SQUEEEE:  The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.


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40 thoughts on “11/22/63

  1. I’m a King fan, and I loved this book. It’s probably in my top 5 of all his novels. Loved the characters, the setting, the ideas, the whole thing. I had a few minor niggles about it, but the good stuff was so good that none of that mattered much.

    A lot of King’s books, btw, don’t really feel like horror novels to me. The Dead Zone, for instance, explores similar ideas to 11/22/63, but through psychic abilities, not time travel, and it isn’t scary at all. I’d recommend it to anyone who loved this.

    1. You are right about that, but boy-oh-boy do we (uh, the ‘us’-collective?) like to pigeonhole things sometimes. He wrote Shawshank Redemption and that doesn’t have freaky clowns in it, right? I actually saw The Dead Zone movie and loved it and you are right some more — that was cerebrally compelling and not genre-pegged shrieky-frightful.

  2. I’ve been hearing lots of good things about this book. I have an odd relationship with Stephen King. I think I’ve only ever read one of his books that I really liked (The Eyes of the Dragon). I’ve read several others that have left me, “Meh,” and also given up on several others, but some of my all-tiime favorite movies were inspired by King’s writing like “The Green Mile”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, and “Stand by Me”. So, I wonder if I should just wait for them to turn this one into a movie. 😉

  3. I’d love to read this someday. Sigh. I wish I could give any day an extra hour or two so I could catch up on my reading (and writing). I promise to write back soon. I was sidetracked the time I received your letter.

    Have a great week ahead, Care!

  4. I haven’t read Stephen King since high school, though I did enjoy his columns in Entertainment Weekly. I don’t like horror either so this does sound interesting. However, I have to point out that Stephen King writes blurbs for everyone — I see them so often at the library that I begin to doubt whether he actually reads all those books! They make me skeptical.

    And I completely agree about authors whose name is larger than the title on their books. Usually those books have library labels (with the author’s name AGAIN) covering up the actual title, because there’s no place else to put them on the spine. Hate shelving those books.

    1. I don’t read blurbs much. And I also haven’t been in a book store in eons, it seems. Methinks it was an Amy Tan book…

    1. I can’t get past the title of ‘Misery’. I can’t for the life of me figure out how that title would inspire anyone to read it? I really do expect it would be a good book, though. But I’m still holding out.

  5. Wow, yippee. Five slices of pie! I’d forgotten about On Writing. So, I’ve read two King books. The Green Mile was the other. I love time travel, so I’ll get to this one eventually. Time and Again is fun but slower than I expected. I’m a big fan of Jack Finney’s short stories.

  6. Thanks for mentioning my review! I can still get teary over that book! I had trouble talking my husband into it because he thought King only did scary books, but once I promised him this book was different, he read it and loved it also!

  7. Wasn’t this a great read? I hate how Stephen King doesn’t get his due because people write him off as a “horror writer.” He is a writer and a darn good one. He knows how to tell a story and make you care and get you involved. That is talent. I’m glad this book is showing so many people that he has the goods.

  8. I liked it that in the 80s King was writing under a pseudonym because his publisher said he was too prolific and couldn’t sell that many books each year under his own name (those books have since been relabeled with his name).
    Any book that makes you want to read other books has had a good effect!

    1. Is prolificy a word? oh, I looked it up: prolificacy…

      Yes, when it’s a book I’m loving and other book titles are ‘dropped in’, I pay attention.

  9. I think King is an excellent writer. He really knows how to tell a story, no matter what the topic. My fave that I read not too long ago was Duma Key. That one surprised me as I don’t recall it being all that popular when it came out.

    Sigh. 11/22/63 was not what I expected at all. I think when I figured that out, I was a bit hostile toward it. I really, didn’t care for the romance aspect or how it was written up.

    And yes… we agree about half the time. So much of what I like has to do with when I actually read it. A book that is totally NOT me might be a hit with me just because of how I was feeling on a particular day, but I will never like a book with shallow characters. Ever.

    1. BUT! It is impossibly to erase and try a book again when the mood might be better so you just never know, right? I’m still trying to figure out the formula of what I like and how to describe it – and then sometimes, whatever does it really matter? I like it or I don’t.

  10. I have to agree with Ti that some books make you react unexpectedly based on how you were feeling on a particular day. And I also do not like books that have shallow characters. I enjoyed 11/22/63 more than I thought because I was never a big history buff. Having the time travel and romance going on at the same time kept me going and made the history an easier read for me. Having said that, this was not one of my favorites of King’s but he has had lots of hits and misses with me.

    1. HI TEENI!!!!! I thought it most fun and would probably like more King books and they might surprise me. However, I doubt I will seek him out. We’ll just have to see what I read of his next and when. It might be years!

      1. Hi Care! 🙂
        You know what I think? I think it is not impossible to try and pick up a book again when you are in a different mood. I just think that heck, life is short and there are soooooo many good books to read that if something didn’t pull us in right away that we just move on to other things that interest us more. And there is nothing wrong with that. As they say, life is too short to read books you don’t like. That’s also why I won’t crochet anything for someone else if I don’t like it myself!

        1. Oh sure, on trying a book again at later mood but if you FINISH said book and didn’t like it, reading it again ‘for the first time’ just isn’t an option, was what I was trying to get across. You can’t make a first impression but once, right? That’s all. I just don’t think you can take a book you hated once and retry it. ALTHO… now that I say that, I suppose a book you loved in HS and then read 30 years later would be a totally difference experience. But you still bring expectations to things once experienced and it’s tough to recreate the joy of the story unfolding if you know it.

  11. Oh, sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you meant you put it down without finishing it. So, yes, you are right that you can’t make a first impression twice. Sometimes even putting down an unfinished book and trying again years later, I still just couldn’t get into it. I was an avid reader and i used to think it was a shame so I would force myself to finish books I wasn’t enjoying. But I got over that eventually! 🙂

    1. I don’t like to DNF; especially when I suspect the mood issue is preventing a good experience. But sometimes suspicions are ungrounded.

  12. I haven’t read King since college, but loved the sample of 11/22/63 I downloaded for my nook… just know I have to read this soon. Now Sandy has gone and confused the issue by telling me the audio version is to die for, too…

    1. Oh thank you for letting me know that this comment was Mishandled by my spamcatcher! And I have no idea why it would. You don’t have any links nor disgusting ideas to share.

      I don’t think it would have been a good idea for me to listen to this! But then I am still not adjusted to being able to listen on my iPhone rather than while driving. I’m glad I read it. Good luck!

  13. I’m with Ti on this one. I could have done without a lot of the romance stuff. I liked it well enough, but I thought it was longer than necessary and it took a few hundred pages for me to get into it. I read Bag of Bones last year and felt the same way. I liked it, but it could have used another edit (not grammatical errors, but just maybe cut out some of the story lines or tightened it up a bit). Gah, I always seem to be on the opposite side of the general consensus. I probably feel this way because, like Ti, I think I just expected it to focus more on the assassination, but that was a very small part of the book.

  14. I have to read this! I have stayed away from King all this time because I don’t fancy horror much, but this one looks suitable for my palate! Glad that you recommend it!

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