I’m not the only person who loves Stephen King’s writing. His popularity can attest to that. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t write a post about it.
You see, Stephen King holds a special place in my heart. He was the first author that showed me how raw story-telling could be. Prior to reading one of his books, I had mostly stuck to classics. I read things like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Tom Sawyer. They could be romping good adventures, but they were dry reads.
But when I was 11-years old, I picked up my first Stephen King book. It was The Dark Half. I was blown away. (And that’s not even his best book!)
King has a style of writing that worms its way into the heads of his characters. It’s choppy and messy sometimes, but it’s engrossing as heck. You not only feel what they feel, but you find yourself realizing you’ve had the same thoughts on your own (which can be disturbing, depending on which character you’re empathizing with).
Plus, I find the concepts Stephen King comes up with are phenomenal. They are simultaneously the stuff of legends and trashy pulp fiction.
He’s not for everyone. I get that. But if you don’t try him out at least once, you’ll be missing out on one of the best contemporary writers of our age.
Here’s a list of my top 5 favorite Stephen King books!
5. Under the Dome
Perhaps better than he writes fantastical monsters, King knows how to write real monsters, the kind that actually inhabit our world. Bullies with more than a simple sadistic streak, corrupt politicians with lies instead of blood running through their veins, and alcoholic fathers trapped in a body of rage and drink. Under the Dome is not a great read because of the giant invisible sphere the mysteriously encloses a small town. It’s a great read because of what happens after. You get to see what the town devolves into, and the best part is that it happens so slowly. Things just don’t erupt into chaos. Panic sets in after days and weeks go by. It’s a slow build-up, and the true horror lies in how you can actually picture some of your own town’s denizens going crazy in the same way.
4. The Mist
This was more of a novella than a novel, but I included it on this list for one simple reason. It’s the first book that ever really scared me. And by “scared,” I mean it scared me. I don’t know what it was about it exactly. Maybe it’s because I read it in one go, never stopping for a break. Maybe because monsters coming out of an impenetrable mist is particularly horrifying to me. Whatever the reason, with every word I read of The Mist, my heart started to pound harder and harder. I would recommend The Mist easily to first-time King readers because it has a sprinkling of everything that makes King King. It has grotesque creatures, creepy old ladies, random sex between strangers, and an ambiguous ending.
For me, Christine was what The Shining was to other King fans. The best/worst part of The Shining was the father’s fall from Nice Dad to Psychotic Dad. In Christine, the best/worst part was seeing Archie’s fall from Lovable Nerd to Douche-In-The-Making. And I love the perspective changes that occur. I don’t always like it when the narrator abruptly switches to another person, but it really worked for me in Christine. Plus, there was a tiny part of me that rooted for Christine, the evil car that takes over Archie’s life. After all, if you think about it, all she really wanted was to be the one thing in Archie’s life. She even “took care” of some nasty bullies that would not get off Archie’s back.
Of course It made the list. It’s a classic Stephen King story, complete with childhood nostalgia. I read It in 8th grade. It was a hefty read, but totally worth it. It creeped me out right from the very first chapters. The story of how little Georgie Denbrough lost his arm chilled me to the bone. I almost stopped reading it right there. But thankfully I continued, and the best part of reading It was being able to recommend it to my sister. For the longest time, Alya was a Dean Koontz fan, to which I always scoffed, “Koontz is Stephen King-lite. You want the real thing, go King.” I would only recommend It to people who a) enjoy a long read, b) are already a Stephen King fan, and c) won’t be turned off by a strange-as-fudge adolescent sex scene.
1. The Stand
The Stand is Stephen King’s masterpiece. Not only is its immensity impressive, the scope of the story is daunting. It’s akin to Game of Thrones. It follows the stories of several characters as they each experience the end of the world at the hands of the Captain Trips virus. The book then moves beyond that event and tells you the epic saga of what happens to these characters after the virus has wiped out most of the population. The Stand is huge, and I love it because it was the book that made me want to write. I would recommend this book if you have a love for apocalypse stories, really obvious themes of good and evil, or seeing main characters bite the dust.