Stephen King Noob: Book recommendations

I want to start this by saying I’m not much of a reader. Most of my entertainment comes from tv and podcasts, but I’ve been racking up points on audible, and I think I want to finally begin the Stephen King works. 

Lately i’ve been into horror, which is new for me. I realize that Mr. King does more than just horror, but right now that’s what I’m looking for. 

So I’m here to ask the die-hard Stephen King fans, what order should I read these books, and most importantly, where should I start in this catalogue to set the tone for the books to come? 

Also, because I’m a bit unclear on this, are a lot of his works connected as in they are in the same universe, or do they simply contain Easter eggs to other books? 

Thanks everybody! 
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Comments

  • The Eyes of the Dragon is one of the shorter ones, and I vividly remember reading it as a teenager (one of the first King novels I read).

    It's typical King, battle of good vs evil. Fully realized characters. Lots of minute details and digressions.

    After that head straight for Gunslinger and the rest of the Dark Tower series :D
    gguenotBrandonTheBardElisa
  • gguenotgguenot CA
    edited August 2018
    Salem’s Lot
    Carrie
    The Stand
    Pet Semetaty
    Misery
    The Shining
    Eyes of the Dragon
    11/23/63
    The Long Walk
    The Dark Tower Series

    (these aren’t in order of my favorites by any means, just a good, well rounded, list of King Novels to let you fully appreciate TDT

    ElisaBrandonTheBard
  • hitmy said:
    The Eyes of the Dragon is one of the shorter ones, and I vividly remember reading it as a teenager (one of the first King novels I read).

    It's typical King, battle of good vs evil. Fully realized characters. Lots of minute details and digressions.

    After that head straight for Gunslinger and the rest of the Dark Tower series :D
    He can’t go straight to DT. He needs to read the classics first; plus a lot of characters in his other novels peak their head in the DT
    BrandonTheBardElisa
  • MattyWeavesMattyWeaves Mid-State New York
    I think one of the first things to say is, erase any possible memories you have of King adaptations to tv and film.

    Nearly all of them are different from the books, sometimes in major ways. And some of them are terrible because of it.

    With that said, I consider myself a big King fan, but I've never read any of his horror novels, so take that for what it's worth.

    The Dark Tower series is the where I started and its one of the best things I've ever read. A lot of people tend to hate on the last few books, but at some point you should read or listen to them. They are what connect his universe, but that's all I'll say about that.

    A personal favorite of mine is Lisey's Story. It's the closest you'll ever get to a "romance" novel from him, but it's so much more than that, a bit of a thriller with a slight fantasy element. I'm a writer because of that book, so I'm a bit biased.

    11/22/63 is awesome too, a really great historical fiction novel. King went and studied the whole Kennedy assassination and came up with his own ideas on how he should tell the story. It's much more than just a book about Kennedy.

    Joyland was a perfect book to read during the end of summer. Now to labor day would be a great time to try it. It's different too, it's part detective part young adult, at a summer amusement park near the beach.

    Just to go waaaay out of the box, he has a book called, On Writing, which is about writing and how to write things, etc. But, it's also part autobiography and a really interesting look into his life.
    gguenotBrandonTheBard
  • 11/22/63 is romance as well. Literally had me weeping silently at the end lol
    MattyWeavesgguenot
  • kingbee67kingbee67 Los Angeles Ca.
    I read the edited version of The Stand years ago. It is probably one of the best. I was thinking of reading the unabridged version. Now that I mention it I’m gonna get it this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation. Oh, I was supposed to recommend. Well there ya go.

    Come on down and meet your maker.  
    Come on down 
    come on down 
    come on down and we’ll make the stand! 
        The Stand - The Alarm
    BrandonTheBardElisaTaraC73voodoorat
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    If you’re not much of a reader, I’d say start with the short stories - especially the earlier collections like Skeleton Crew and Nightnares And Dreamscapes. King is a rambler - I love him, but some of his novels are doorstops, and when I was trying to get my teenage daughter into his stuff (she’s not much of a reader either) I got her to start there because I knew she would not have the patience for a huge novel first up. It will also give you a gauge of whether you like his style and if you do, you might be more inclined to enjoy the longer stories. 
    BrandonTheBard
  • man, just skip all this King nonsense and spend a credit on the best SF/Fantasy/Horror ever written: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/301538.The_Darkness_That_Comes_Before
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    I'd actually say give Carrie a shot. It is one of his shorter books, and each chapter is really relatively short. It also keeps hopping around to different perspectives and ways of telling the story. It isn't his most polished work, but it is pretty awesome.

    Pet Semetary was my first real love as a kid. It also isn't super long (by King terms). It is a gut-wrenching story though. 

    Salem's Lot is terrifying and worth a read. 

    As for the King-verse...many of his books take place in the same universe. Characters will be mentioned, or businesses or towns or prisons or incidents from his other stories will be mentioned in passing. You wouldn't really notice unless you are an avid reader of his stuff, so it isn't that distracting.

    For example, there is an eclipse which takes place at crucial moments in both Gerald's Game as well as Dolores Claiborne, crazy stuff happens therein, but if you didn't read both books, it wouldn't have stood out. There are other stories like The Stand that take place outside of this universe for obvious reasons. Then there are books like The Dark Tower series which take the King-verse to a meta-level. 
    ElisaBrandonTheBard
  • The Shining is okay, movie was much better,

    I’m almost done w/ the Stand, I like it better than the Shining, but I wish I would have listened to the abridged version.

    Do not read IT. Just watch the movie released last year, and the one that will be released next.
  • Frakkin TFrakkin T Currently Offline
    seanray said:


    Do not read IT. 

     Worst. Advice. Ever. IT is King's meditation on childhood and how it shapes adulthood, and it's his true masterpiece.
    ElisaTaraC73Tomalexwhitham
  • amyja89amyja89 Oxford, England
    I’m pretty sure The Green Mile is the only King I’ve read to date, it’s not horror, but it profoundly moved me!
    BrandonTheBard
  • Frakkin T said:
    seanray said:


    Do not read IT. 

     Worst. Advice. Ever. IT is King's meditation on childhood and how it shapes adulthood, and it's his true masterpiece.
    I was a big Stephen King fan as a child, and had to give up reading IT because I found it too scary. The other books didn't bother me.
    Elisa
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Frakkin T said:
    seanray said:


    Do not read IT. 

     Worst. Advice. Ever. IT is King's meditation on childhood and how it shapes adulthood, and it's his true masterpiece.
    Yeah. Can't say I agree recommending a movie that hasn't even come out yet over reading a book that has and is awesome. There are nits to pick with the book of course. It probably could have used stronger editing and some weird-third-act-coked-out-King-stuff. But there is also some of the strongest stuff he has done in it. The world building and mythology is amazing. Speaking to Frakkin's point about it being a meditation on childhood...there is an amazing paragraph about the library which I will need to find that just is entirely beautiful. It brings a tear to my eye practically. 
    BrandonTheBardTomalexwhitham
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    amyja89 said:
    I’m pretty sure The Green Mile is the only King I’ve read to date, it’s not horror, but it profoundly moved me!
    I read that as a thirteen year old boy and I finished it between classes in junior high. I was a sobbing mess for the rest of the day. It destroyed me. It has horrific elements, but not strictly horror. I'd put that on the list of must-reads also.

    One that I still haven't got around to that I need to is 11/22/63. I have heard fantastic things about it. 
  • I used to read SK pretty often but has been many years.  I remember the Shining as being a standout for the writing quality and the story is interesting. The movie changed quite a bit from the novel, especially with the Dad character,  I think they are both good but end up with very different overall feeling.  Worth reading for sure.

    Christine is another one I liked, I remember it being a bit shorter than some, and a bit sillier premise than some of his horror books (it is about a possessed car) but is a horror story and has a lot of tropy Stephen King Characters so may be a good one to get a feel for him.

    For non-horror the Shawshank Redemption was a pretty good book. 
    Elisa
  • Frakkin TFrakkin T Currently Offline
    amyja89 said:
    I’m pretty sure The Green Mile is the only King I’ve read to date, it’s not horror, but it profoundly moved me!
    I read that as a thirteen year old boy and I finished it between classes in junior high. I was a sobbing mess for the rest of the day. It destroyed me. It has horrific elements, but not strictly horror. I'd put that on the list of must-reads also.

    One that I still haven't got around to that I need to is 11/22/63. I have heard fantastic things about it. 
    11/22/63 is one of the most unputdownable books I've ever read. Once it hits the final third it's a breakneck pace to the end. I must have read the last 300 pages in an afternoon. OP was looking for something scary, though, and it's not really a horror novel at all, at least not in the way that the older stuff is. I concur with @Dee--read the short story collections first. Skeleton Crew and Night Shift are my two favorite collections, but N & D and Everything's Eventual also have some great great stories. 
    sbench2
  • Theres also a lot of cool short stories in Bazaar of Bad Dreams
  • TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
    edited August 2018
    Start with:
    The stand 
    insomnia
    carrie
    the short story books 
    It 
    then dark tower

    Edited: my first SK book was Salem’s lot - start there :)
    gguenotBrandonTheBard
  • seanrayseanray Texas
    edited August 2018
    @Frakkin T I won’t get into details, because I don’t want to give out plot points, but SOOOO much of the book is useless. There is some great things, but ultimately, the great about It doesn’t outweigh the bad.
    Just watch the movie, scarier, and most importantly, shorter! I’m listening to the Stand right now, about 2/3rds finished, and probably will recommend that, but again, sooo much stuff that should have been edited out. I am listening to unabridged, so maybe it’s my fault, but I find myself with all of King’s novels wishing he’d get on with it.

    @Garthgou81 I recommend It pt 2 based on how strong pt 1 was last year. Maybe I should wait until I see the movie, but knowing the same people as PT. 1 are behind it, and the great cast, I feel secure in my recommendation.
  • my first was it, my second was the stand.  i later read the dark tower books (i didn't hate on the later ones but i hated on the last one).  they're all good, although you have to kind of forgive king his dialog.
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    edited August 2018

    Christine is another one I liked, I remember it being a bit shorter than some, and a bit sillier premise than some of his horror books (it is about a possessed car) but is a horror story and has a lot of tropy Stephen King Characters so may be a good one to get a feel for him.
    Christine is one of my favourites, and pretty under the radar - you don’t often hear people talking about it. 

    I also have a soft spot for the movie, even though it’s kind of cheesy (starring Keith Gordon, who went on to become a director of many of BM’s favourite TV shows - worlds collide!). 
    majjam0770
  • @Dee Christine movie had a great score too. I love John Carpenter, and I felt he brought his style to that film and made it better than it would have been if another filmmaker made it.
    Dee
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @seanray I don’t even remember the score, but I’ve been sitting here wondering if I have the movie on a hard drive somewhere, because I haven’t seen it in a few years and I want to rewatch it now I’ve remembered its existence, so I’ll pay attention for that. 
  • So many suggestions, with no clear winner. I think I’m gonna take Dee’s advice and start with a short story collection, and while I’m at it, I’ll pick up Salem’s Lot. Thanks a lot baldies for your help. It’s good to know that when I need advice I can come here.  <3
    gguenotDeeTaraC73
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    voodoorat said:
    my first was it, my second was the stand.  i later read the dark tower books (i didn't hate on the later ones but i hated on the last one).  they're all good, although you have to kind of forgive king his dialog.
    Yeah, his dialogue has always irked me. Its definitely not my favorite part of his style. 
  • chriskchrisk Indianapolis
    What’s interesting about the James Gunn stuff is that those alt-right goons apparently never read IT. 
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    So many suggestions, with no clear winner. I think I’m gonna take Dee’s advice and start with a short story collection, and while I’m at it, I’ll pick up Salem’s Lot. Thanks a lot baldies for your help. It’s good to know that when I need advice I can come here.  <3

    BrandonTheBardMattyWeavesTaraC73
  • edited August 2018
    Paul Giamatti reads a story in “Skeleton Crew.”

    Well, if that doesn’t sell it, I don’t know what will. 
    DeeTaraC73
  • kingbee67kingbee67 Los Angeles Ca.
    edited August 2018
    Hit the ole Barnes and whatever. They had a well stocked King section. I picked up the one I mentioned up top. The one that caught my eye was the 11/22/63 @Frakkin T” mentioned that one. It looks huge if I live long enough to finish The Stand, 11/22 will be my next read.

    Also who would’ve thought about writing a book about the day before the premiere episode of Doctor Who. Crazy!
    MattyWeavesTaraC73
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