Stephen King | Where to Start
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
If you haven't heard of this writer...well...where have you been?
There are still so many classic King books that I still need to read such as Salem's Lot and Finders Keepers. However, I thought I would make a little collection here of all the books I have read with my thoughts. If you have never read a King book, WELCOME! I hope this post inspires you to try out one of his books.
This was the first audiobook I tried out. In hindsight, I do not recommend listening to this whilst walking home alone in the dark.
If you were to ask someone to name a King book off the top of their head, The Shining will likely come to mind. It's a horror classic for a reason. When I was staying in Betws-y-Coed in Wales, the hotel I was in reminded me exactly of the Overlook. My dad thought it would be hilarious to say "REDRUM" whilst walking the corridors...
I don't think I've ever met someone who hasn't loved this book or at least didn't find it creepy. If you haven't read this one, you would have likely seen the film featuring Jack Nicholson (the book is better)
If you are new to King's work, I think it's best to start with the classics. However, I recommend reading this book during the day...and not in a creepy old hotel.
When Jack Torrence is offered a job at the Overlook Hotel, he views it as the perfect opportunity to spend time with his family and work on his writing. Being alone in a hotel already feels isolating. As the harsh winter settles in, the sinister forces around the hotel become more apparent. Danny Torrence seems to be the only one who can detect these strange dark forces...
This is another gem I enjoyed as an audiobook. There were moments when I genuinely had to pause it and take a minute because of certain moments in the book...if you've read it, you'll know what I'm talking about.
If you like strongly character-focused books - you should check this one out. I could not fault this book at all and found it incredibly disturbing and eerie. Annie Wilkes put me on edge. It's not often that a fictional character makes me feel genuinely frightened and uncomfortable. I think this particular King novel as an audiobook was brilliant.
Paul Sheldon is a best-selling novelist. One day, Paul is in a horrible car accident in a blizzard. Thankfully, he's rescued by Annie Wilkes - his number one fan. Annie is obsessed with Paul's work and nurses Paul after his accident. She's his nurse but also his captor...
Another popular King book! I'm sure most of you guys have heard of this one. Is this another audiobook fav? YES! Carrie is quite a short novel and for someone who is usually a bit intimidated by long books, I was excited to try this one out.
For me, this isn't a particularly scary book but it's certainly a modern classic.
Carrie is one of those books that I will always recommend to those who want to read more King books. It's more of a supernatural read than Misery.
Carrie White is an isolated and misunderstood teenager. But Carrie isn't like the other kids. She possesses powerful telekinetic powers that aid her violent rampage of revenge...
Under The Dome
If I had to pick my all-time favourite King book, it would be a very close tie between Misery and Under The Dome.
Like the books above, I enjoyed this one as an audiobook. I remember listening to it whilst studying for my exams in my second year at university. There were moments when I would just sit at my desk, completely forgetting about my work just so I can concentrate on the story. In hindsight, I probably should have focused on my essays...
Now I usually struggle with really long books - I know that sounds trivial but huge books are intimidating to me. But I just loved this one. I was very much invested in the characters like Dale Barbara and Julia Shumway. I think once the author has got you attached to the characters, it's really hard to say goodbye to them when you finish the story.
I don't think I could recommend this one more!
Chester's Mill is a small town in Maine that is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Cars explode on impact. Planes crash. Dale Barbara teams up with a few others like newspaper owner, Julia Shumway to try to figure out what the hell is going on. But the reigns of power are being snatched by Big Jim Rennie - a local politician who will do anything to maintain his control over the town.
Don't get me wrong, I love my cat Carrie, but she's already a bit scary as a normal living cat...an undead one would just be terrifying.
I made the mistake of seeing the film first. The book is so much better and more disturbing. I wasn't as creeped out as with The Shining. However, anything involving kids or animals is the perfect setting for a horror story.
What got me hooked on this book was the ending synopsis - sometimes dead is better.
It's all too good to be true for the Creed family. They now have a beautiful home in rural Maine. Everything seems perfect. Little does this family know that something sinister awaits in the woods nearby. Something the father will deeply regret discovering...
I read this book during the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic and it felt a little bit too close to home. I'm pretty sure this has recently been made into a TV series on Amazon but I strongly recommend reading the book first if you are interested.
For someone who struggles to read long books, I did enjoy this one. It was a slow-burner but I think King did a brilliant job building up all of the characters. There were many moments when I wanted to read just one more chapter. The reality of this world was really disturbing. Although I did struggle with the length, it was still worth the read.
First came the virus. 99% of the world's population is wiped out within a few weeks. The survivors are scared. It's only a matter of time until everyone is forced to take a side between Mother Abigail in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg - known as the 'dark man'.
If you loved The Shining, you should make time to read the sequel. Surprise, surprise, this is another King story that I enjoyed as an audiobook!
I was a bit worried when I started this one that I would be disappointed - sometimes sequels don't live up to the original. However, I found this book just as disturbing as The Shining and I think fans of the original will love this one!
Dean Torrence is trying to forget his demons from the Overlook Hotel. He wants a different life and moves to New Hampshire, joins an AA committee and secures a job at a nursing home. One day, he meets a 12-year-old girl named Abra who, like himself, possesses a remarkable gift. She also has a bit of "shine". Dan is forced to help protect Abra from a group called 'The True Knot' - a group that feeds off children with powers like Abra's.
Who would have thought that you can make something like a car scary? We're all used to creep houses but a car that is out to get you...well that is different.
I remember reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams which had a short story in it that was also about a creepy car - that particular storey freaked me out.
I had a lot of fun reading this book - it's one of King's long ones but so worth it.
It's love at first sight for Arnie Cunningham. He names his 1958 Plymouth Fury "Christine" and becomes obsessed with it. Dennis notices a gradual change in Arnie. At first, Dennis is happy for his friend and his newfound confidence. However, little does Dennis know that darkness surrounds "Christine".
I don't usually sleep great so what did I decide to do? Read a horror book called Insomnia...
I think what I particularly enjoyed about this one was its subtle references to other King books like Pet Sematary.
This one is more of a slow-burner but I think that was necessary for the sake of the character's development. I felt quite vexed for Ralph Roberts - the opening of the book was very intriguing.
Since the passing of his wife, Ralph just can't sleep. Every day he just seems to sleep less, despite how worn out he feels. Is it the sleep deprivation...or is he seeing coloured ribbons streaming from the people around him? However, Ralph isn't the only one who experiences these strange visions. Ralph and his friend Louis are both engulfed in these stranger visions.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Whenever I feel like reading more horror, I always try to find King books that I haven't read yet. I spotted this one when I was in Waterstones and hadn't heard of it - so of course, I had to get myself a copy.
This is quite a brief horror (under 300 pages) so it's worth checking out if you prefer shorter reads.
Trisha McFarland makes the mistake of straying too far away from the path whilst hiking with her mother and brother. As she continues to get lost, the only comfort she has is her radio. She's a huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox pitcher. Tom Gordon is her only comfort whilst she's alone in these woods. Little does she know that something else is following her trail.
This is one of King's more recent books and I loved it. Given that I have the worst attention span ever, it was great to read a book that I just could not put down. I was always trying to justify reading one more chapter and trying to comprehend the mystery in this book.
It was so bloody creepy! If you want to understand why Stephen King is the master of horror, you should read this one! I'm pretty sure it was the 2018 GoodReads Choice Winner.
An eleven-year-old boy's corpse is found violated in the town's park. Indisputable DNA evidence points to only one man responsible - Terry Maitland. However, new evidence emerges that provides Terry with a strong alibi - CCTV footage showing that he wasn't even in town when the crime was committed. How can one person be in two places at once?
This King book has been on my TBR for the longest time. I was really intimidated by this one because of its length and contents. I really loved the films and after reading this book, I can see how they were pretty faithful to the original book. It was really creepy and disturbing - probably not the best book to read at night before bed!
I felt very attached to the Losers' Club and found myself rooting for them throughout the book. The only part that didn't sit well with me was the ending - the section concerning how the kids defeated IT the first time around. Those who have read this, you'll know what I'm talking about. Let's just say that there was a very valid reason why it was excluded from the films.
Aside from that, everything from this book from the writing and characters was awesome - King eloquently reflected how human beings can be just as terrifying as creepy clowns. Whenever there was a chapter with Henry Bowers, I was genuinely on edge. Although this is a very, very long book, it's worth every page!
There's something not quite right about Derry. Evil is lurking in the streets, in the drains, and in people's dreams. They all float down here...
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I hope this little selection has been useful if you're new to King's work and want to know where to start. I still have so many to read myself!
What's your favourite all-time King book?
All of these photos are my own - you can keep up to date with my current reads & reviews on my Instagram @readwithmims & @jemima_reads