Lists, Reviews

So you don’t read Stephen King…?

Okay, so since you are reading here, I’m just going to assume that you’re human and live on planet earth and know have read adore love worship Stephen King. If you don’t, you need to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself what you’re doing with your life. And then commit to making a change. On the off chance you haven’t read Stephen King, you’re in luck. I have. And as a book blogger, I’m semi-qualified to make the semi-accurate assumption that if you do pick up Stephen King, you’ll love him. You’ll want to do this sooner rather than later, so that when everyone else finally recognizes the lasting genius of SK, you can say you were ahead of the curve.

You’re welcome.

Stephen King

Maybe you don’t know where to start. Given the incredible length of his backlist, this is understandable. However, I can help. This week’s top ten list (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is dedicated to “Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read “X””. And x is equal to Stephen King. In the interest of variety, I’m going to consider Stephen King a genre and recommend five Stephen King novels for the novices among you and five Stephen King-esque books for the established fans.

Stephen King virgins:

10. 11/22/63. A SK novels for those who think they hate SK.

09. Bag of Bones. A haunted love story.

08. The Stand. The best flu apocalypse novel. Ever.

07. The Mist. A lovely little novella for those of you bothered by the sheer size of the aforementioned books.

06. Pet Sematary. For those of you looking to be a little scared – perfect right around October.

Bonus: Misery. Good book. Good movie.

Casual Stephen King fans:

05. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy. Okay literary snobs, this one’s for you. It could also be known as when the Western met Gothic horror.

04. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. In a word: Disturbing.

03. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Some might consider this cheating, as Joe Hill is his son. But this novel is a great ghost story.

02. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Another case of good book, good movie. I would also highly recommend Harbor by the same author.

01. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. Stand by Me meets classic horror.

So…to read Stephen King? Or not? That is the question.

(Photo found via Rhino Horror)

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  • Kidd

    A fine list indeed. I especially liked the reasoning behind each book. I’ve explained 11/22/63 the exact same way before.

    • Rory

      Right? There really is something for everyone.

  • Charleen

    I’d also recommend The Green Mile as a less hefty #10.

    • April @ The Steadfast Reader

      Yeah, I recommend that one as a less scary novel too – that and a lot of his earlier novels lack some bulk – I think Carrie is less than 300 pages…

    • Rory

      You’re right! That one should be one here.

  • April @ The Steadfast Reader

    All hail the King! Seriously, I thought about doing this list but then figured you might already be on it. 😉

    • Rory

      Yeah, I call dibs. Lame, but so true.

  • lisailj

    Limiting it to 5 actual SK novels must have been hard. I used to read all his stuff, and it’s so interesting because it was hit or miss for me. Either I jumped right into the book, or I struggled and gave up. Pet Cemetery was one I struggled with. I agree with Charleen and The Green Mile.

  • Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

    I’ve only read The Stand. Too scary, I think.

    Here’s my list of nonfiction you can’t resist!

    • Rory

      There a definitely a few that are a bit scary.

  • Trish

    Love this list. People keep telling me I need to read Bag of Bones but I’ve been too scared. Because I imagine a big bag of bones. Ahem. I also have Heart-Shaped Box on my Nook…for when I work up the courage.

    • Rory

      Well… The title is indicative of the subject.

      Heart-Shaped Box is a must.

  • Marisa @ The Daily Dosage

    Well, I hate to admit but I am a 40-year-old SK virgin! There I said it. I’ve always just went for the movies but I will keep your list close and make it my duty to read one this year. Or two. We’ll see.

    • Rory

      We have to change that. HAVE TO.

  • billoo

    As one of the ‘virgins’ I wonder how I can compete with the more experienced (readers) out there. Will try no. 9. Thanks for the list!

    • Rory

      That’s my favorite!

      • billoo

        Hmm. Rory, why did I get the feeling that you were going to say that?!


  • Katie @ Words For Worms

    This is all well and good, but where is your list for Stephen King fans prone to nightmares? I couldn’t look at my refrigerator magnets for weeks after Bag of Bones #chickenshit (11/22/63, The Stand, and The Green Mile are my nightmare-free cuppa.)

    • Rory

      I love that Bag of Bones scared you. It’s endearing.

  • Lianne @

    Ooh, thanks for the second rec from Lindqvist! My brother really enjoyed Let the Right One In but hated Handling the Undead. He may be interested in Harbour 🙂

    Am also going to check out all the other books on your list as I’ve hardly read any Stephen King books xP

    My TTT

    • Rory

      Harbor is really quite good. I think he’ll enjoy it.

  • Anne

    OK, you got me. I know I need to read some Stephen King but I get scared. I tried his gunslinger series but found it too dark. What do you recommend that isn’t scary?

    • Rory

      The Green Mile or 11/22/63 are great options. One is short and the other is long, so maybe start with The Green Mile.

  • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    Pet Sematary is one of my favorites of his. The Mist is quite possibly his scariest (for me). Although I haven’t read It and not sure I ever will. haha

    I’ve read several McCarthy’s but not only have I not read Outer Dark but I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of it! Heart-Shaped Box is THE BEST. I need to re-read that. Can’t wait for October to stock up on creepy reads for the season. 🙂

    • Rory

      Pet Sematary is probably my favorite of his scary stuff. IT is no good if you hate clowns. So, for you, I don’t recommend it. (There’s a pun to be had in there…)

  • Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    I used to read a TON of Stephen King when I was younger, but haven’t read him in years. A number of titles on this list are new to me, I’ll have to check them out!

    • Rory


  • Tanya Patrice

    If you describe a book as disturbing – it’s going on my reading list! So adding The Girl Next Door. Now, I’ve heard there are people who don’t read King out there – but I always put my hands over my ears when such nonsense is being said 🙂

  • Laura

    Awesome list. I’ve never read Stephen King. I don’t know why not. I have lots of his books on my shelves… I think I want to be scared, so maybe Pet Semetary?

    • Rory

      If you want to be scared definitely start with Pet Sematary. Of all of this books, that one disturbed me the most.

  • amyo3119

    I read IT last October, and I have been wanting to read 11/22/63 for a long time. However, it is intimidating because of how big it is.

    • Rory

      It is. Any time a book can double as a weapon, I have doubts about picking it up.

  • Samantha

    Joe Hill isn’t cheating. 😛 He has his own distinct style, but something about his writing does hint at his parentage. 🙂 I bought 20th Century Ghosts by him recently and am pretty excited to get started on it.

    I guess it’s because of how many books he has, I always feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, but then when I actually look at how many I’ve read, it’s probably more than from any other author. He is severely underappreciated for the writing talent he has, I think.

    • Rory

      Haha, just a little. Not to mention the family resemblance. 20th Century Ghosts is an excellent collection.

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I’ve never read SK. It’s like you wrote this post just for me 🙂

    • Rory

      I did, Allison. You’re going to LOVE him. I know it. 😉

  • Kerry M

    I love this! The first King book I ever read was 11/22/63, and I adored it. I’d long put King off because I don’t generally like truly scary horror novels, and I’ve always heard he’s such an excellent writer that his scary stuff is SCARRRRY. But I never realized how much of his backlist isn’t horror. I’ve since purchased (but haven’t read) The Stand and Under the Dome, and I listened to Joyland on audio and loved that too.

    Definitely looking forward to diving into more of his writing now that I’ve got my big-girl pants on and can stop being so scared of all of it.

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  • C.J.

    Excellent list, as always! I must try reading one of Joe Hill’s book, but where should I start? If only there was a list of books … (nudge nudge, wink wink). 🙂

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