Stephen King, an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy is one of my all time favourite authors. His books have sold more than 350 million copies world wide. King has published 61 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has written over 200 short stories, most of which have been compiled in collections. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.
I have compiled a list of my top 10 books I think I have read 90% of his work. I would highly recommend checking these books out if there are any you have not read.
1. Different Seasons. A collection of 4 novellas each set at a different season of the year. this is incredibly well written and most of the stories are based in reality. I think this maybe some of Stephen King’s most poignant work and really hits hard on many issues within human society. A collection of harrowing & at time heart warming tails spanning many interesting tropes most revolving in one way or another of a loss of innocence. This collection includes; Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption a heart warming tail of friendship & the horrors of prison life. Apt Pupil a dark tale about an American teenager befriending a WW2 Nazi ho has set up home in America, this is very dark & upsetting. The Body, a very heart felt story about four friends braving the American wilderness to find the body of a missing child. This was adapted into an incredible film; Stand by Me, which I am ashamed to say I discounted on my top 10 Stephen King film adaptations. The Breathing Method a rather disturbed take on childbirth.
2. Four Past Midnight. A collection of 4 novellas including; The Langoliers an incredible surreal sci-fi horror one of my favourite Stephen King stories, I am a sucker for a horror that starts on a plane. Secret Window, Secret Garden a harrowing story of revenge. The Library Policeman, HP Lovecraft would be proud this will make your skin crawl. Sun Dog another bone chilling & surreal horror revolving around a mystery creature only captured in photographs. Quite a heavy sci-fi horror theme to this collection. If you also enjoy HP Lovecraft’s writing I would highly recommend. Prepare yourself for four bone chilling psychedelic journeys.
3. Misery. Classic King. A writer, Paul Sheldon is caught up in a horrific car crash and is rescued by a “retired” nurse, Annie Wilkes who is also his “number 1 fan”. However everything goes awry when Annie is reading his most recent release and realises he has killed her favourite character, Misery. She quickly turns from nurse to kidnapper and torturer. Paul is forced to write Annie’s favourite character back to life. You get 2 books for the price of one here. Not only do you get to read the authors harrowing ordeal at the hands of his number one fan, but you get to read the book he is being forced to write. This is where this book gets really interesting as the type-writer he is using breaks more and more letters are missing from the prose and hand written in. The book he is writing is also incredible, a Victorian “pulp” adventure set in deepest darkest Africa. A thoroughly dark & high octane read.
4. The Dark Tower Series. An incredible anthology of books that blurs the fabric of reality. This series really hits home the possibility of a multi-verse. A very clever series that links other Stephen King stories, including IT & The Stand into a wider all encompassing universe of terror. Incredible.
5. Insomnia. A very surreal and psychedelic story. I love this book not only does it heavily tie into The Dark Tower series but also gets the psychedelic visual imagery spot on, you can tell from this & The Dark Tower series that at some point Stephen King was experimenting with psychedelic cacti & mushrooms. This book manages to be heart warming, political & scarily weird. Love it.
6. The Stand. A long read but worth every page. A masterpiece of literature. Set during and after an outbreak of killer flu this is a powerful book maybe a little to real to read right now though. If you are feeling brave enough though I highly recommend.
7. Under The Dome. This seems to divide fans of Stephen King however I love it! I was also stunned by the almost esoteric, cosmic enlightenment of it being released near enough the same month as The Simpson’s Movie. Plotwise this is very much The Simpson’s Movie but with meth, necrophilia, even more corrupt politicians & rape. A heavy read very claustrophobic which suites the narrative of a small town trapped under a dome incredibly well.
8. Bag Of Bones. This very poignant book mixes the classic ghost story genre with very poignant political sub plots. Basically this book is an exploration of everything wrong with America from gun violence/laws to racial inequality. Moving & creepy in equal measures.
9. Desperation & The Regulators. I have included both books here as they are linked by same characters, demons and setting however written under different names . The Regulators is written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. I love the isolated wild west feel of both these books and the originality of the demons. Both are very graphic and fast paced horrors, expect allot of spectacular deaths due to the local wildlife. The Richard Bachman edition is arguably more dark & unpleasant.
10. The Talisman. Here Stephen King pairs up with fantasy horror author, Peter Straub to create one of the greatest fantasy epics of recent times. I love the fantasy setting of Talisman and it’s sequel Black House both also tie into The Dark Tower series and both are exceptionally dark & fast paced. A must read.
A special mention should be given to the collection of novellas, The Bachman Books, highlights being The Running Man & The Long Walk. I found this collection exceptionally bleak and dystopian though hence why its not in top 10 a tough read. Proceed with caution.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite Stephen King books are. Hope you enjoyed the list.
Rabid Acid Badger