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Stephen King Books to Read This Hallowen

Updated on October 18, 2015
Just take a sec to admire how Stevie is one of the few celebrities that has actually aged. You know. Like a real human.
Just take a sec to admire how Stevie is one of the few celebrities that has actually aged. You know. Like a real human.

What’s the appeal of Steven King?

What do we keep Stephen King employed? He seems to write a whole lot of crap, doesn’t he? It takes only a glance at the library shelves to notice that they’re overflowing with an abundance of novels that seem unable to make up their mind on what genre to adopt. Fantasy, supernatural, horror—what’s up with you, Steve? Pick your poison and stick to it.

But then there are those books that shine out from among the pile, notable titles like Kujo and Salem’s Lot. But even these don’t have terribly original plots. In fact, King seems to write about the same sort of characters all the time.

And that's exactly what makes him good.

Everyday America

King’s characters are people we know. The curious kid who runs all over the neighborhood poking his head into things he shouldn’t is a kid that we’ve all met. The nosy housewife is a woman we’ve lived across the street from our whole life. The cynical older man is a dude we’ve encountered many times before in the grocery store, who has trapped us in a metaphysical deliberation on life when all we wanted to do was pick up a bag of chips.

These people are our daily experience. And King takes our daily experiences and infuses them with terrible, outlandish realities that, because they are built on realistic cutouts of people we already know, become quite believable. His horror is the horror of everyday America.

So which ones should you explore this Halloween? Allow me to enlighten you.

Guys, who actually BELIEVES in this crap?
Guys, who actually BELIEVES in this crap?
Yes, this is the kid from "Sixteen Candles." I never thought I'd become pro-puberty... but DAMN.
Yes, this is the kid from "Sixteen Candles." I never thought I'd become pro-puberty... but DAMN.
Wanna guess where she sticks this knife?
Wanna guess where she sticks this knife?
Honey, I think the  pizza delivery boy is here.
Honey, I think the pizza delivery boy is here.

Fortunetellers, vamps, and nurses--Oh my!

King’s better books are the ones that take the average Joe who lives in Everytown USA and puts him in a situation that turns his whole comfortable world on its head. (The line between the supernatural and the fantastical is a thin one, however, and King doesn’t do too hot in the fantastical realm. See It for further details. Or don’t. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.)

With these particular stories, you really do feel like you’re reading a realistic account of a certain event, and the way the characters react are ways you could see yourself reacting. You are thrust into their skin and made to experience everything with them.

1) Dead Zone

Dead Zone is about a guy who can see the future. Not exactly within the realm of plausibility, right? And it isn’t really an original idea, either. But the way it’s told is quite ingenious. You really do like the main character—just your typical “nice guy”—and you feel for him as his life spirals completely out of control due to this newly gained power. The book is filled with violence, tragedy, and political intrigue. What else do you need?

2) Misery

If you’ve never read the book, at least watch the movie this Halloween. It’s a “cock-a-doody” experience you’ll never forget. (And you’ll totally get that reference once you see Kathy Bates flip her shit at James Caan for over an hour and a half.)

Misery takes the whole “crazy fangirl” thing to an entirely new level. And it will basically cure you of any wanderlust desire to take a road trip. Like, ever again.

3) Salem’s Lot

What could anybody possibly do with vampires anymore? We’re sick of them. Well, give this a try anyway, because it’s one of the most realistic vampire stories I’ve come across. The premise is that basically a vampire moves into a small town and proceeds to infect everybody, and the way it’s gone about is…well, real.

We all suspect our neighbor of being a vampire at one point (I mean, he never goes out in the day, so come on), but King takes it to new heights by showing you how this might actually look in modern times. Plus, the kid in this one is a know-it-all smartass, and who doesn’t enjoy that?

Sleeping with the Boogie Man

Man’s modern horror is one that infects his own little small town suburbia, and few embody this as well as King. So what’s the holdup? Curl up with Stevie this Halloween and enjoy them nightmares. ‘Tis the season, after all.


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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for sharing these recommendations Bernadette. The only one of these I have read surprisingly is Salem's Lot. I have seen the movie "Misery". Steven King's books either work or they don't. I read one chapter of "IT" and it couldn't get me in at all. But I liked "Needful Things", "Dark House or Black House" co-written with Peter Straub, and "Duma Key", "The Green Mile" and "Thinner." You are right about hm using the everyday characters in his novels though.