Here’s my order of thinking on the vast catalogue of Stephen King – a man who shaped my nascent years and continues to give me pause.
1. The Shining
2. The Long Walk
3. The Dead Zone
4. Hearts in Atlantis
5. The Stand
6. Night Shift
7. On Writing
8. ‘Salem’s Lot
9. The Dark Tower
11. The Eyes of the Dragon
12. The Colorado Kid
14. The Talisman
16. Different Seasons
17. Everything’s Eventual
18. Skeleton Crew
19. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
21. The Green Mile
22. Pet Sematary
23. Four Past Midnight
24. Full Dark, No Stars
26. Danse Macabre
28. Under The Dome
29. The Running Man
31. Blockade Billy
34. The Regulators
35. Dolores Claiborne
36. From A Buick 8
38. Rose Madder
40. Cycle of the Werewolf
42. Bag of Bones
43. Gerald’s Game
45. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
The Dark Half
Just After Sunset
The Shining was my favourite book of all time for about a decade. It now resides at #2. It is there for it’s amazing characterisation.
The Long Walk is amazing. The sort of narrative that pulled me in completely, almost made me want to be there, and stuck with me forevermore. Such a simple idea and yet tweaked enough to become amazing. And that ending, nice.
I read my first King book when I was about nine – it was The Eyes of the Dragon. I loved it. I then moved onto Misery, I lost the paperback with about 50 pages to go. I’d go on to finish it years later.
I had actually started reading It when I was about eight but I think that was aiming too high.
The Dead Zone was one of those books that surprised me. I didn’t expect it to resonate so damn well with me but I was hooked and it’s one of the ones I give to people to convert them to King now. It’s not really horror, it’s not that spooky, and it’s got amazing character work in it. That first scene of Stillson is mesmerising and scary as anything, yet not horror at all, in fact, it’s far too human.
Hearts In Atlantis ranks that high purely on the ‘Hearts In Atlantis’ novella in it. I can’t even use words correctly to explain to you how much I love that story and what it means to me. It is just about perfection (and I admit it might only be to me but I’d prefer a story that’s perfect to me than a story just 95% awesome to everyone) and I’ve read it near on a dozen times. I adore this story – you get it?
Night Shift is just the ultimate short story collection, isn’t it? Everything is based on how well it stacks up against Night Shift.
On Writing is one of my favourite craft books. It is both instructional and inspiring. That’s exactly what I need when I’m looking to books for guidance.
The Stand is a mammoth undertaking and a very successful execution. Such a sprawling cast of charcaters and moments. I can almost see how its the favourite for a lot of people, it is damn good, but it’s trumped by a few in my books.
‘Salem’s Lot is one that’s grown on me over time. I keep mentally coming back to it and being impressed with so much of it. When you strip it back to its high pitch concept – an update of Dracula – it’s a ballsy move. I have an updated HC of it with these crazy photos. It’s pretty awesome.
I really enjoyed The Colorado Kid. It’s so well written and I was so into the characters that I didn’t mind the plot of it at all. I know this got kind of panned but I wholeheartedly disagree.
11.22.63 shocked me with how good it was. I really didn’t think King had it still in him anymore. Then he dropped this and I dug the pulp crime start, then the historical middle, and then the end gets kind of weird and then massively emotional. I may have misted up. I’m hoping people are still popping into his work because this one moved me.
I love pretty much all of King’s collections, be they shorts or novellas. You look at them all assembled and there are so many golden ideas. Kind of makes a man jealous and want to give up.
Christine is so much better than anyone gives it credit for. It’s a book about being a teen and how crappy your life is at that time. It’s fascinating, truly.
The Talisman is just a whole mess of fun. It’s kind of silly in parts, indulgent, but it gets the job done so well. You can’t ignore all that CCR.
I bought each chapter of The Green Mile as it came out. That was a fun prose reading experience. I’d like to get that again. Or do it myself one day.
Pet Sematary is a book you need to read before you have kids. I’m glad I did and now I’m glad knowing I’ll never read it again.
I wish I could remember more about Danse Macabre.
I was reading Cujo on a plane once and this lady next to me commented on how she couldn’t read King books because they were all horror and gore. She pointed to Cujo as a case in point. I explained to her that Cujo was really about the breakdown of a marriage and told her about what was happening in the book and it really floored her. She said she’s give the book/author another go. I was happy.
Under The Dome was really damn good but it did not stick the landing at all.
Carrie isn’t the breakout debut you might imagine. It’s solid, that might be all.
The Running Man is pretty damn prescient. And so is the film but in so many different ways.
He really kind of lost it in the late 90s for quite some time. Nothing truly good came of it.
For some reason, I have really fond memories of The Regulators. I know it’s not ‘good’ but I enjoyed it. More than Desperation which was fun but ultimately just trash.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was just completely forgettable. Cell was kind of bad.
Dreamcatcher has the most depressing opening 100 pages in the history of ever. A real downer. You can tell he was in agony in his chair writing after his altercation with the out of control van. It seems like that incident has informed every single word in some way ever since. And fair enough.
Of those I haven’t read, I’m excited for Insomnia and maybe Black House, that’s it.
I am incredibly excited for Joyland (another HCC book) and Doctor Sleep (a sequel to The Shining). You better believe I’ll be reading both of those as soon as they drop.
I should do one of these for the Stephen King Cinematic Adaptations – so much to cover and I’ve probably seen 90%+ of it.
The Dark Tower is a fantastic epic. I finished the last page, closed the book, and swore at it. I was not impressed with what just happened. Then an hour later, I realised it was a perfect ending. Such a great series. I started it in the mid-90s and finished it ten years later. I can’t imagine how it felt for people waiting since the early 80s.
This is my Dark Tower order:
The Drawing of the Three – such great characterisation and structure
The Gunslinger- just old school pulp perfection – possibly the greatest opening line in literature
Song of Susannah/The Dark Tower – I shotgunned these together and dug them together, so they are ranked together, I would not know how to separate them
Wolves of the Calla – weird but kind of wonderful
Wizard and Glass – this one didn’t grab me as much as I almost feel it should have
The Wind Through the Keyhole – completely superfluous but that doesn’t stop it being fun
The Waste Lands – just didn’t dig it, really
What are your thoughts on King?