Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Stephen King’s Short Stories: A Top Ten List

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As you might imagine, I am from a very Irish family (surprise, surprise! Rory O’Connor doesn’t exactly sound French). The holiday has nothing to do with this post. If I wanted to try and connect the two, I would tell you that I come from a very Irish family, and like many good Irish families I am from the northern New England area. If we’re getting specific, I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, but by the time I was in elementary school we were living in Portland, Maine. And Maine is the home of Stephen King. Perhaps his legendary status in his home state is the reason it was deemed appropriate for an eleven year old to read IT. I don’t know. But I do know that my sincere devotion to SK began at a young, impressionable age*. And the connection, however tenuous, is made.

So when Wendy asked me if I would be interested in co-hosting a Stephen King event, I said yes. What better way to spend the month of March than (re)reading one of my favorite authors (and convincing others to do the same). I didn’t expect it to get quite as out of hand as it has – the books have taken over (although in all honestly, that is not an unusual state in my house). Last week it was choosing my favorite novels. This week’s list will feature my favorite short stories. It’s hard to narrow it down (thus the need to consult all of the books). Just for fun, I thought I would share a behind the scenes snapshot of #KingsMarch.

Kings March Library Inset

10. The Library Policeman. Flowers in the Attic is a dubious choice for the children’s library.

09. Gray Matter. Don’t drink the funny tasting beer.

08. The Body. Although there are differences, I love both the short story and Stand by Me.

07. The Langoliers. Every flight needs an extra pilot and a voice of reason.

06. Crouch End. The charming side of London…

05. Children of the Corn. A classic case of don’t judge the book by the movie.

04. The Raft. I can’t help thinking of this story every time I see water with oil on the surface. And what would happen if I touched it?

03. Jerusalem’s Lot. A ‘Salem’s Lot prequel that’s very much worth reading.

02. A Good Marriage. A lovely mediation on whether you can ever truly know another person. And if you’re willing to accept what you find once you do.

01. The Mist. A mysterious mist and a hopeful ending – what more could I ask for? (Except that they not butcher the movie…)

Do you prefer novels or short stories? Or, like me, are you an equal opportunity reader? Because I really enjoy both formats. It’s also rather astounding to realize exactly how many works of Stephen King have been made into movies.

*It is entirely possible I will never overcome my fear of spiders and clowns. Or sink drains.

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  • Shannon @ River City Reading

    I’m sorry, I can’t focus on Stephen King because I’m so distracted by how gorgeous your library looks. It’s even better than the last time you shared pictures! Those built-ins, that tufted sofa (even though we know how much I hate mine, they just look so good)…I love it.

    • Rory

      It’s a little more lived than the last time I shared pictures. It’s frustrating because by the time I get home from work I’ve already lost most of the natural light and the photo looks a bit wonky (color wise). But I’m glad you like it! Feeling like purchasing a house in Colorado…? 😉

      Also, like you, I love the idea of my tufted sofa, but in all actuality it’s a pain in my ass. And you have a light dog and dark sofa and I have a light sofa and dark cats. Because that just seems to be the natural order of things.

  • Jennine G.

    I typically don’t read short stories, but I know better than to say I won’t or I don’t like them. I have come across plenty of awesome short stories! And Stephen King’s are often novella like anyway.

    • Rory

      Yes, he doesn’t seem to employ the 5 page short story too often. And really, my favorite short story by him is really more of a novella. My benchmark for this list was under 150 pages.

  • Lianne @

    Great list! I love how you set up your Stephen King books in your library <3

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too 🙂

    My TTT

    • Rory

      Because I’m trying to rank stories and read all I can, the SK books are overflowing. Normally I have them lovingly organized on the shelf behind glass doors (as one does).

  • Samantha

    Your library is gorgeous.

    I haven’t actually read enough of his short stories to have a top 10 list. I really need to get on it. 🙂 I’ve heard there is a short story about Roland Deschain in one of the collections which I would probably like to go for first. 😛

    • Rory


      I think some of his best work appears in his short stories. He has a wide range from literary fiction to out and out gorefest (Survivor Type is beyond disgusting, good, but disgusting).

  • Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    Beautiful! Seriously, I’m jealous!

    Also. . . blog looks amazing!!!

    • Rory

      Haha, you’re jealous of my unorganized books.

      I’m only kidding! Seriously, thank you (for both compliments)!

  • Liesel Hill

    I actually haven’t read any of those. I haven’t even heard of Jerusalem’s Lot, but that sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. 😀
    My Top Ten List

    • Rory

      Give it a chance if you ever stumble across it. It’s good.

  • Letizia

    Reading your post has made me realize that I need to read more of his short stories. I love his novels but have only read ‘The Body’ from your list. I’m like you, I love short stories as much as I love novels – both can be so amazing.

    You have a beautiful living room and library (I also have dark walls and a white sofa!)

    • Rory

      Great decor choice!

      If you liked Body, I would definitely try and pick a few of these up. He’s a great short story writer.

  • Words for Worms

    Children of the Corn (the movie) scared the crap out of me. YOU KNOW I’M A CHICKEN. I can only assume the book is more frightening…

    • Rory

      The movie was definitely different for the book. But yes, I think it exceeds the Katie-scare-quota, so give it a miss.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB

    I really love your asymmetrical shelves!

    • Rory

      Thanks 🙂

      • Angie @Angela’s Anxious Life

        Yes.. where did you get those???? If you don’t mind me asking.

  • amyo3119

    I loved reading short stories in high school and college. I rarely pick them up now. I should though, I just tend to grab novels.

    • Rory

      Novels are what I typically pick up too, but I go through short story phases every once in a while. And if it’s an author I really trust – like Stephen King – I make a point of it.

      Sometimes I wonder if I love The Body because I love THe Body, or if I love The Body because I love Stand by Me (which I saw before reading).

  • Anna

    I like both novel and short stories. Stephen King is my favorite author and I really love his compilation of short stories, “Everything’s Eventual.” I especially loved “The Man in the Black Suit” and “1408.”

    • Rory

      Oddly enough, Everything’s Eventual might be my least favorite collection (that or Just After Sunset). However, my least favorite Stephen King is still usually yards ahead of anything else…

  • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    Cujo totally got me in the mood for more King so I picked up Skeleton Crew next because his short stories really are something amazing.

    • Rory

      Warning, as I consider myself a fairly unflappable reader, Survivor Type is really frigging disgusting.

      • Rory

        Which sort of makes it worth reading just for that aspect…

        • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

          I’ve been warned that The Raft is terrifying.

          • Rory

            The Raft is sort of perfect short story horror. Although there’s one odd part, which I won’t name, that makes me think I’m either wired differently than most people or I think too much about things. (Probably a bit of both.)

          • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

            I think The Mist is the only one to have actually scared me (yet). I am positively terrified of watching horror films but love scary stories even though they don’t really scare me. I think I’m wired weird too.

          • Rory

            I successfully watched the new Carrie last night. I was proud of myself, I didn’t get scared. It helped that I was putting together an 8 cube Ikea expedit (by myself) cursing the way-too-tiny allen wrench that I was supposed to be using.

  • Andi @ Estella’s Revenge

    I definitely need to read more of his short stories. He does them so well, and I really think they’re the sweet spot for his son, Joe Hill, as well.

    • Rory

      I do love SK’s short stories. I’ve only read one collection of Joe Hill’s (20th Century Ghosts, I don’t know if he has more), but I thought NOS4A2 was perfect.

  • naida

    It depends on my mood really. His short story collections are fantastic, but sometimes I just want to live inside a nice long King novel for a while. I do love it when he collabs with his son, In the Tall Grass was deliciously creepy.
    Great post! I love finding fellow King fans to discuss his books with.

    • Rory

      I loved In the Tall Grass, that last scene still haunts me (that margarita bit). I didn’t think their collaboration on Throttle was as good, but I still enjoyed it.

      Me too, I really love a lot of his work. Though I can admit that there are a few duds, of course, but overall I am consistently impressed.

  • Priya

    This is interesting. I’m a long way from making this list, have only read about five short stories by King recently and ages ago, a few from Nightmares and Dreamscapes! I can see A Good Marriage is the next in Full Dark, No Stars. Can’t wait to read it this week!

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