SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 11, 2013

Book Notes: Reading recommendations from Peabody Institute Library

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — It’s almost scary, how Stephen King manages to stay on top of best-seller lists.

But that’s what the author from Maine has done with “Doctor Sleep,” a sequel to “The Shining,” his 1976 novel about a clairvoyant boy named Danny.

“I’m reading it now; it’s fantastic,” said Michael Wick, senior reference librarian at Peabody Institute Library in Peabody. “Danny has grown up, and he’s a recovering alcoholic. His father suffered from it, too.”

King had his own struggles with alcohol, Wick said, but they have done nothing to diminish his popularity with readers.

In recent years, he has also enjoyed success with “Under the Dome” from 2009 and “11/22/63,” a treatment of President Kennedy’s assassination that was published in 2011. “Joyland,” a crime novel that came out this year, is also selling well.

“King is hitting his stride right now,” Wick said.

JK Rowling had less success after abandoning her renowned Harry Potter series and didn’t recover her popularity until she changed her name.

“She wrote ‘Casual Vacancy’ as JK Rowling,” Wick said. “It got panned. Everybody was wondering if she would do anything different.”

What she did was publish “Cuckoo’s Calling” under the pen name Robert Galbraith, which got a warm reception from readers and critics.

“One of the people at the publishing house let it slip that this was her book,” Wick said. “It’s blown up, and everybody’s reading it.”

Another title Wick has enjoyed is a memoir, “Coming Clean” by Kimberly Rae Miller, which describes her life as the daughter of two hoarders.

Hoarding as a topic has had plenty of exposure on reality television, Wick said, and the genre of memoir suffers from overuse.

“There’s a glut of memoirs,” he said. “Everybody who has some odd story writes a memoir.”

But the writing in “Coming Clean” makes it compelling and helps readers appreciate how miserable the condition of hoarding can be.

At one point, Miller’s parents bought a new house to accommodate all their junk, Wick said. It was so big and filled with so much stuff, someone started living in their attic, and they didn’t know.

“I gave this book to my wife, and she devoured it in two days,” he said.

Another memoir, which Wick hasn’t read but which he believes will be inherently interesting to people in this area, is by Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr.

“It’s coming out next Tuesday,” Wick said.