My Journey to the Dark Tower :: Countdown to Halloween 2013

I made myself a fun little challenge a few months ago: To read the entire Stephen King Dark Tower series back to back from beginning to end. To add to the challenge, I gave myself one rule: that I get every book from Goodwill or garage sales or other second hand outlets (no library, I wanted to own the books, and no full price 'new' bookstore purchases either.)

I added the 'second-hand' caveat because Stephen King books are all over the place at the Goodwill and garage sales and flea markets, and they can cost upwords of three whole dollars for a hardback at Goodwill - cheaper still for paperbacks - even the large trade paperbacks are only a buck at goodwill, and of course books can be even cheaper still at garage sales.

I love King's work and have gotten tons of it this way, and I kept stumbling onto his Dark Tower books, a series which I had never read. When I found the first of the series: The Gunslinger in trade paperback form with all the neat illustrations in it I thought to myself it was a good time as any to start! So I began to snatch the rest of the series up whenever one came into sight.

It wasn't easy, I did not find them in order or find them all at the same locations, and I began reading the series before I even had them all! But I feel like I accomplished most of what I set out to do, and got a wonderful reading and thrift-hunting experience out of it to boot! 

I especially like how the variations in book types came together - some large, some pocketbook size, some with illustrations, some without, some thrashed, some pristine. This picture isn't all of them, but it is all of what I had at the time I took the picture (I have since given them all to my sister who intends on reading the whole series too!)

Okay, so I kind of cheated - the copy of Book 5 I had was missing a page (Aaargh, I hate that shit! Throw it away if it's missing pages, don't donate it, you idiot!) so I borrowed another copy from the library just until I got through that missing part, and although I finished the whole series through book 7 a couple weeks ago I have yet to find a second-hand copy of Book 8: The Wind Through the Keyhole. That being the case, I have read a couple books that are not the Dark Tower series since finishing Book 7 ( a book on Superman's history, King's 'On Writing,' and a Sci-Fi short story story anthology by Arthur C Clarke. Plus lots of comic books. I read a lot!)

In my defense I have also began reading King's 2003 updated version of The Gunslinger (which I also got from the library) to see what King added to those original stories which he first wrote in the late sixties and early seventies to better jibe with The Dark Tower - my copy of The Gunslinger being the original version - and it is my understanding that Book 8 is sort of a look back at some of the characters in their youths; so technically I started at the beginning (The Gunslinger) and finished at the ending (The Dark Tower) non-stop back-to-back and uninterrupted by any other non-Dark Tower books in between.

And while I have every intention of reading Book 8 as soon as I stumble onto it, I am ok with throwing in a few other reads in the interim. Honestly, I needed the break. Reading the whole series from chronological beginning to end was pretty emotional - I grew to love the characters and spent so much time with them in my thoughts, and as anyone who knows how the series ends...well let's just say I needed a break.

I am also very glad I was able to read the whole series non-stop. I can't imagine how painful it must have been for people to read to the end of any one of these books and have to wait years to find out what happened next! I'm also very glad King survived his auto accident of 1999 (I say thankya), because had this Magnum Opus gone unfinished the world of fiction would have been left with a terrible void.

Now I know The Dark Tower isn't the most Halloween-y of King's work, but King himself is Halloween-y enough to warrant this post. And fret not, I have more from the Master of the Macabre for future posts as the Countdown to Halloween 2013 continues. Stay tuned...if you dare!


  1. Yeah, the eighth book is a story within a story within a story. It's really inconsequential to the storyline.

  2. I'm on page 80 of book seven (same copy you have). I've slowly been reading this series for the past five or so years, but I have to keep taking breaks. Not because of how emotional things are, but because I get burned out on stuff very easily. I usually make it through one book, and maybe half of the next before I put them down, then don't pick it back up again for 2 years. I just finished Song of Susannah a month ago, and figured I was so close that I shouldn't take my usual break, I need to just finish it out.
    Well, I've been on page 80 for 2 weeks. I'm just burned out all over again, I try to pick it up and read it, but then I set it down and pick something else up from the stack of books I usually keep by my bed. I have to keep changing books, because that's like flipping through channels for me. The other problem is that, with the exception of TPB comics, I usually don't read fiction. I made an exception for this series and it's been rough.
    I can't imagine making it through all seven books back-to-back, I just don't have the stamina to make it through a challenge like that. So kudos to you, maybe I'll force myself to finish book seven before it's due back at the library.