I will never stop saying this: everyone should read Stephen King.
I can practically hear people replying, “But I don’t like horror.” Never fear! Stephen King is a writer of stunning range and endless imagination. His books range from historical fiction to fantasy to thriller to coming-of-age tales to memoir and beyond. His expertly crafted characters, no matter what scenario or genre they are in, will stick with you long after you turn the last page.
In honor of the master storyteller’s birthday, here are my recommendations of a Stephen King book for every reader.
For the history buff
English teacher Jake Epping’s life changes forever the day his friend Al tells him that the storeroom in Al’s diner is a portal back to 1958. He enlists Jake in his mission to travel back in time and prevent the JFK assassination. Soon Jake finds himself living in the ‘50s under an assumed name, placing himself into the world of troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald in this gripping historical thriller.
“Regardless of what genre of literature one prefers, 11/22/63 comes down to this: it is a gripping, harrowing, tragic, and beautiful story about love, memory, evil, and how the best of intentions can go awry... This is King for the faint of heart, for the history buff, for the romantic—for everyone.”
For the YA reader
One of my very favorite novels, this tender coming-of-age story follows college student Devin Jones, who takes a summer job at the Joyland carnival hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart, but he winds up facing the legacy of a murder, the fate of a dying child, and revelations about life that will change his world forever.
College student Devin Jones takes a summer job at the Joyland carnival hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart, but he winds up facing the legacy of a murder, the fate of a dying child, and revelations about life that will change his world forever.
For the memoir lover
In this inspiring combination memoir and master class on writing, King shares advice on craft and offers a glimpse into the life experiences that have made him the writer he is today, from his childhood and early career to how writing helped him recover from a near-fatal car accident.
“Nothing I have ever read about the writing life has moved or inspired me more. Whether or not you are a King fan, whether you are a professional writer or have never written a word, this is essential reading on the art of writing and the art of life.”
For the cop show aficionado
If you find yourself binge watching cop shows, you’ll love this pulse-pounding thriller. Bill Hodges is a depressed retired cop who is still haunted by the mass murderer he never caught—a man who drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd. Then Hodges gets a letter from the Mercedes killer, threatening to strike again, and he knows he must stop the killer himself.
Retired cop Bill Hodges feels depressed and purposeless, still haunted by the one that got away—a sadistic killer who drove a Mercedes into the crowd at a job fair. But when he receives a taunting letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, Hodges will have to come out of retirement to prevent another massacre.
For the sports enthusiast
Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland gets tired of the drama on her family hiking trip, so she wanders off into the woods and gets lost. As night falls, Trisha turns to her radio for comfort, listening to broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games featuring her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. As the radio signal fades, Trisha starts to imagine Tom Gordon is there with her, protecting her from what lurks in the woods.
For the fan of dystopia
In near-future dystopian America, Ben Richards desperately needs money, so he signs up for The Running Man, an ultraviolent reality show where he must struggle to stay alive as an elite strike force attempts to hunt him down and kill him for a TV audience. If Ben can survive for 30 days, he’ll win a billion dollars. But no one has ever lasted more than eight.
When writing as Richard Bachman, Stephen King created one of his most nerve-racking tales: a dystopian novel in which a desperate man agrees to appear on a deadly game show called “The Running Man.”
For the ghost story devotee
Four years after the death of his wife, novelist Mike Noonan is plagued by grief, writer’s block, and vivid nightmares set in his Maine summerhouse. He reluctantly returns to the house and is drawn into a fierce custody battle between a local millionaire and a young mother as well as the mystery of the lake house, now the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors.
The 2011 two-episode miniseries “Bag of Bones” is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Mike Noonan is a bestselling author who is unable to write in the wake of the sudden death of his wife. Plagued by nightmares, he returns to his Maine lake house where he starts receiving messages from his wife from beyond the grave.
For the lover of Westerns
The basis for the recent film adaption, the first book in King’s epic Dark Tower series is a genre-busting fantasy Western about Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, on a journey to save his decaying home, Mid-World, by reaching the fabled Dark Tower, despite the efforts of The Man in Black to prevent him from completing his quest.
For almost a decade, Stephen King fans have been yearning to see this epic series on the big screen, and they’ll finally get their wish with this adaptation, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. It tells the story of the fallen land of Mid-World, through the eyes of a knight whose primary mission is to save his decaying world by reaching the titular tower that stands at the intersection of time and space. This mix of horror, western, and sci-fi will be a must-see. RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2017
For the reader who can’t get enough of vampires
Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion will help him cast out his own demons and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.
One of the most ambitious and terrifying novels about the undead ever written, ’SALEM’S LOT explores what would happen if vampires existed in our modern world. When a young man returns to his hometown, he quickly realizes that it’s harboring something dark and evil. Can a small, insular town survive, or is it—and the rest of the country—doomed?
For the psychological thrillers afficianado
In this intense, claustrophobic thriller, novelist Paul Sheldon is severely injured in a car accident and rescued by his #1 fan, nurse Annie Wilkes. But when Annie finds out that Paul has killed off her favorite character, she is willing to use any means necessary to keep Paul prisoner until he writes a new novel that is to her liking.
When novelist Paul Sheldon is in a terrible car crash on a wintry night, he is rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, who just happens to be his biggest fan. But when his latest novel isn't to Wilkes's liking, Sheldon becomes prisoner to her violent temper. The novel is gripping and nightmarish and the 1990 film features Kathy Bates at her creepy, demented best.
For the reader who loves a good cry
I openly cried on the subway, reading the end of “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” a moving story about Andy Dufresne, a banker who is falsely convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary. There he meets Red, a prisoner who smuggles in items from the outside world. Andy’s requests for a rock hammer and a Rita Hayworth poster are all a part of his shocking plan.
“You’ll find the themes of hope and innocence weaved throughout the four novellas that comprise Stephen King’s DIFFERENT SEASONS, warped and broken as they may seem. The ways in which they’re tested, sustained, mangled, or transformed are often uncomfortable but always captivating.”
For the romantic
Hear me out on this one—LISEY’S STORY is a touching portrait of a marriage and the bonds of love that can outlive death. Lisey lost her husband, celebrated novelist Scott, after a 25-year marriage of profound intimacy. Lisey knows that there was a place Scott visited—a place that both terrified and healed him, where he went for inspiration. Now, as she begins to go through her husband’s papers, Lisey embarks on a dangerous journey into that dark place.
“When it comes to creative demons, [King’s] are possibly the best, and in LISEY’S STORY they’re on their most vivid, startling display.”
For the fan of The Walking Dead
After a super-flu wipes out 99 percent of the world’s population, those who remain are scared and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community, and Randall Flagg, who delights in chaos and violence. As the two leaders gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.
An apocalyptic classic, Stephen King’s novel is a vision of a world ravaged by plague and caught in a bitter struggle between good and evil. When a patient escapes from a biological testing facility, carrying with him a strain of super-flu that destroys a majority of the population, two surviving leaders emerge. Whoever is chosen will lead—and change—humanity forever.