Over the span of his 50-year writing career, Stephen King has published close to 60 novels and over 200 short stories. He has even had success writing under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Almost 70 of his novels and stories have been turned into films, including the new version of “It” which opened in theaters on September 8th. His first novel co-written with his son, Owen King,“Sleeping Beauties,” hits bookstores on September 26th and I, for one, cannot wait!
It is incredibly difficult for me to narrow down my list of favorites from this author as everything I’ve read, I’ve loved. However, the list below represents a good cross-section of his work, both novels, and short stories. Be sure and share your favorite Stephen King book (or movie!) in the comments below.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
1975: “Salem’s Lot.” As with most of King’s novels, this one is set in Maine. A writer returns to the small town where he grew up only to find that all of the townspeople are turning into vampires. Fun fact: Stephen King has said more than once that this one was his favorite.
1977: “The Shining.” Often considered King’s most defining horror novel, especially true for those who also saw the movie version starring the incomprable Jack Nicholson. Once again, this novel’s main character is a frustrated writer who takes a position as a caretaker for a remote hotel. The writer’s son has a gift, “the shining” which gives him a unique perspective on the creepy, isolated hotel. Supernatural forces take over and insanity follows.
1983: “Pet Sematary.” This time around, the main character is a Chicago physician who moves to Maine with his family and their cat, Church. Their elderly neighbor warns the family about the speeding trucks on the nearby highway. When Church is killed on the road, the doctor learns that there are two “semataries,” one where the pets are buried, and the one where anything buried comes back to life. Any. Thing.
1984:“Thinner.” King wrote this short novel under his pseudonym. The main character in this novel is very difficult to like. He is an obnoxious, incredibly overweight lawyer who manages to avoid conviction for vehicular manslaughter because he knows the judge on the case. The family of his elderly victim, however, will not forget. They are gypsies and the curse they place on the lawyer causes him to become emaciated. As he becomes more desperate to reverse the curse, his life spirals out of control giving gluttony and revenge a whole new meaning.
1990: “The Sun Dog.” This was originally released as a novella and later included in one of King’s collections of short stories, “Four Past Midnight.” This is such an amazingly creepy story! A teen gets a Polaroid camera for his birthday and begins taking pictures. However, the pictures that develop are never the ones he actually took. Soon, a dog shows up in the pictures and the teen realizes that there is a story to the pictures that he cannot avoid…or survive. Plenty of King’s unusual small town characters make this one a real treat.
1996: “The Green Mile.” This one is kind of unique. It was first released as a serial novel, six individual paperback books, before being released as one larger work. It tells the story of a death row supervisor and his guards and their encounter with an empathic inmate. I have to admit that I really enjoyed Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan in the movie version of this amazing supernatural story.
2008: “The Gingerbread Girl.” This short story was included in the collection titled, “Just After Sunset” whose hardcover edition featured a really cool holographic image on the cover. This one is a twisted retelling of the classic Gingerbread Man story. Amy is a woman who obsessively takes up running to cope with her overwhelming anguish and pain following the death of her daughter. Her obsession tears apart her marriage and she ends up in small-town Florida where she falls victim to a local predator who kidnaps her. Her escape is epic, as is her vengeance.
2013: “Doctor Sleep.” Thirty-six years later, this is the sequel to “The Shining.” Danny is now an adult, working in a nursing home, and attending AA meetings in the hope of avoiding the fate that befell his father. Along with his work companion, a gifted cat, Dan helps the elderly residents crossover peacefully when they die, earning him the moniker, “Dr. Sleep.” When Dan encounters a young girl with a shining stronger than any he’s ever encountered, it becomes clear that he will have to face all of his demons if he is to help her survive. She is being hunted by a group of seemingly harmless retirees who are actually anything but….they survive on the “steam” emitted by children with the shining as they are tortured to death. This is one of the few sequels that does the original justice and can truly stand alone as well.
What’s your favorite Stephen King novel? Tell us in the comments!