On Stephen King

I’ve said about a million times on here that I’ve never read any Stephen King novels. Not one. Probably sounds crazy, but it’s true. Lately at work a few of the guys have been talking about some of his work. They know I haven’t read him and no one is trying to force their favorite books down my throat. But it seems like everyone I work with has read him. Even though no one there is trying to get me to pick up a King novel, I’m starting to inch closer to doing so.

But I wouldn’t even know where to start. I don’t know if he writes series or standalones or what. I just know that he’s had about 321 books adapted into movies and that he’s very respected by fans and authors alike. So perhaps it’s time for me to jump on board.

But that’s where you come in. Which Stephen King novel should I start with? I haveΒ 11/22/63 on my Kindle from forever ago, but I’ve never even gotten the idea into my head that I should actually read it. Kind of like the Kindle First books I’ve downloaded. I only know maybe ten King titles off the top of my head, so might as well just recommend anything. Go.

On this day in 2014 I published One Space, Two Space…There is no Debate.


62 thoughts on “On Stephen King

  1. John! I’m a Huge SK fan; he actually prompted me to become a writer, but enough about me.

    Where to start? Honestly, he writes about Everything. Different Seasons is a nice book that shows his range. There are four stories in this collection, three of which have been turned into feature films. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redeption became the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil about a boy interested in learning about Nazism, The Body became Stand By Me and the last one is a doozy which may or may not be a film called The Breathing Method. Some images you can’t ever un-imagine.

    IT is one of my favorites – which is long and the TV miniseries is pretty awful (the one about the clown). The Stand is an epic novel about good vs. evil. The miniseries version is okay but the book is better.

    The Green Mile is pretty awesome. That one was published as serials when they came out, revealing a new book once a month. You can purchase the omnibus anywhere (or singles if you like).

    He’s written fantasy. Eyes of the Dragon – great story with dragons and knights.

    His Dark Tower series is also Pretty long and epic as well. The kool thing about a big chunk of his novels is that he references other characters from previous novels, so he’s written this whole world covered in his books.

    Needful Things about a store that sells things to folks which causes some consequences.

    Carrie is his first novel and the one I read the most (because it’s so short). It’s written intermixed with articles and prose to make it seem like a reportage about this girl with telekinesis and adolescence.

    Both Pet Sematary and Cujo are pretty raw and creepy. Okay, I can go on.

    I feel like you should start with short books. Carrie. Cujo. Even Misery is a great one. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Pet Sematary, Cell (if you like zombie stories), Dolores Claiborne/Rose Madder about women overcoming their struggles with different obstacles, Firestarter about a girl with pyrokinesis (movie starring young Drew Barrymore), Blockade Billy (literally just two short stories in one collection), and The Shining. There is more because he’s been publishing since the 70s so…yeah. Oh since you like crime stories, Joyland, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes could be stories you would enjoy. Like I said, he’s written about A Lot.

    Let me know if you wanna know more!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He writes loosely-connected stories, most of which take place in the same universe (there are two universes, actually). He’s also written a limited series or two, such as the seven-part Dark Tower series and _The Green Mile_, which I believe has been collected now.

    My advice? Start with _The Shining_, his (arguably) seminal work. If you don’t like this book, you likely won’t like the others.


  3. I agree that The Shining is a great place to start. Also, one of his earliest works, The Running Man (the novel that inspired that horrific abomination of an Arnold movie that should never have been made) is an intense, fast read that is much more psychological than horror. But then again, King’s best works are, in my opinion, the ones that are more psychological and less mainstream.


  4. I’ve only read a few but his short stories are better than his novels. Too many times, he takes what would work great as,a short story and forces it into a full sized novel. The only novel length book that I would recommed would be the stand. Find his early short stories if you can.


  5. Someone else mentioned the book of four novellas called “Different Seasons” and I agree that’s a good place to start, particularly if you don’t generally read supernatural horror stuff. I also really enjoyed “Dolores Clayborn” (it might have a different title in the US) but I didn’t like “Needful Things” because it’s not really my kind of book. Good luck and happy reading!


  6. Hey John. As you probably already know, I, too, am a big fan of Stephen King. Like someone else said, he was a big influence in me wanting to become a writer. I have every one of his novel, including the novels he wrote as Richard Bachman, which includes the aforementioned The Running Man (although the movie says it’s based on a novel by Stephen King, technically…). Anyway, The Stand is definitely my favorite King book, however to start with that one could be daunting, though it is a terrific apocalyptic story. It is also a behemoth of a novel. My suggestion for where to start would be either Carrie or Misery, as both of these novels are very short, but give you King’s flavor in all the right doses. Then again, Needful Things is also a terrific story (just don’t watch the movie because that one sucked!)

    Starting with his short story collections (which he has 8) might also be a good choice, since you can read them in short bursts. If you wanted to go that way, I would start with Different Seasons (which another poster said has The Body and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption), Skeleton Crew (which includes The Mist and The Raft), or Four Past Midnight (which includes The Langoliers and Secret Window, Secret Garden). Of Course, Nighmares and Dreamscapes is also a great read, and it has tons of really good short stories in that one.

    It is definitely hard to choose just the right book. I guess it depends on your tastes, as someone else said, because King doesn’t just write horror.

    If guess if I had any good piece of advice, I wouldn’t start with 11/22/63.

    Good luck. Can’t wait to see what you choose.


  7. UGH KEYBOARD FAIL. I hate that WP won’t let me delete comments -_- Anyway, I’ve read The Green Mile. It was pretty good. I really enjoyed The Stand and The Langoliers as films, so I imagine they’d make great books.


  8. I’m too lazy to see if someone’s already said this, but my first King novel was The Stand. It’s incredibly epic and like 1000 pages (or more?!) but it’s by far my favorite of his work that I’ve read.


  9. I’m a couple of days late and I know you only take YA rec’s from one person but I’m going to recommend The Eyes Of the Dragon. It’s a quick read and it doesn’t necessarily read as if it’s for the younger crowd.
    I would also recommend going with something from his older works first, then the newer stuff; the style is still the same but there’s just something really different between the old and the new.


  10. Well, John, I’ll go ahead and add my two cents worth, since you asked so nicely. πŸ˜€

    I also recommend you begin reading his early works, but for a reason different than any stated here; and for some it would be a turn off.

    As he’s progressed into the “icon” he is considered now, he has written more end more profanity. Now, I’m not religious, but I think too much cursing is superfluous, only making the story slow down.

    I know that to put them into the speech of the characters makes for a more common discussion, but throughout the text, to me, just shows laziness on the part of the writer.

    The last works I read completely by him were the Dark Tower series. From what I remember, he planned a four-book series. I read, even anxiously awaited the installments. At the end of the fourth, as I anticipated the finale, a note from Mr. King announcing it would be extended. (He’s still adding to the series, I believe.)

    That’s when I began reading other Authors more.

    So, yes, read his earlier stuff first, if you must read them at all. In fact, as Bryan said, Begin at the beginning (and my add-on) and see how far you get.


      • I agree.

        But I find there is enough in everyday life, even from myself, that my fiction, if no other, does not need it to move the story. For me, writing fiction is about making stuff up, not relaying reality.

        Understand, please, I am nothing special, and thinking not of high-and-mighty things. Personally, I don’t much care for the things reported from the land of realism, so shall spend my time, instead, reporting pure BS. πŸ™‚



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