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My Top 5 Stephen King Novels

Updated on May 9, 2015
King at the 2007 New York Comic Con
King at the 2007 New York Comic Con | Source

The King of Storytelling

I love stories. Whether they be told in film, in books, or by a friend, I am always up for a good story. For my money's worth, Stephen King is one of the great American storytellers.

Very few authors have thrilled me, scared me, and entertained me so much over the years like Stephen King has been able to do. Almost every book that I have read by him has been great. And some of his writings transcend greatness and move into the realm of truly amazing.

King has written over 50 novels as well as numerous short story collections. He has also authored comic books and a few non-fiction books. These are my 5 personal favorite books that he has written.

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5. 11/22/63

If you could go back in time and stop a certain event from happening, would you? What about if it was the assassination of President Kennedy?

King explores this concept in an epic tale of time travel. This massively good story is proof that Stephen is still King.

Published in 2011, this is the best novel that King has written in the past decade (apart from the Dark Tower novels, the last two of which were published in 2004 and Lisey's Story).

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4. Salem's Lot

Originally published in 1975, Salem's Lot came out way before the current wave of vampire mania tamed the genre.

A classic, both in the body of King's work as well as the vampire genre, Salem's Lot is truly creepy.

Like The Shining (which receives an honorable mention below), Salem's Lot is a book that I had to read with the lights on. I also had to make sure that I wasn't sitting by a window when I read it. If you wonder why that is the case, well, just read it for yourself.


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3. It

First published in 1986, It is the winner of the 1987 British Fantasy Award.

The tale of a group of kids being harassed by dark forces is so engrossing. Pennywise the clown is such an amazingly creepy character who singlehandedly managed to turn an entire generation of readers off of clowns forever.

At over 1,100 pages, It helps to put the 'E' in the word Epic.

Michael Whalen's original cover for the Gunslinger
Michael Whalen's original cover for the Gunslinger | Source

2. The Gunslinger

Originally published in 1982, this book is actually a collection of 5 stories which had been previously published from 1978 to 1981 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Dark Tower series comprises my favorite stories of the Stephen King canon. Having to choose just one book from the Dark Tower series is hard because each one is so good in its own right.

However, since I'm listing favorites, I've chosen my favorite, The Gunslinger, the first book in the series. (If you're not familiar with the Dark Tower, see below for more about this series)


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1. The Stand

First published in 1978, The Stand is hands down my favorite Stephen King novel.

I am enthralled by stories about apocalyptic events and post-apocalyptic worlds. This novel is both of those as well as being an 'ultimate showdown' kind of novel, the kind that pits good versus evil with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

This is truly an epic tale, and one of my all time favorite books from any author and any era.



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The Dark Tower series

Considered by many to be King's magnum opus, The Dark Tower series is the lynchpin that holds together his literary universe.

This career spanning story, which King began in 1970, starts in The Gunslinger as a spaghetti western type story. But far from being merely a western, it has elements of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi.

The original story sets the stage for a much larger narrative which evolves into a twisted mix genres that spans 8 novels total, short stories, several comic books series, even an online game tie in, and ties in to many of his other works.

Rumors have swirled around over the past few years of an adaption to the big screen. Multiple filmmakers and actors having been attached to it at various times. At the moment, the project seems to be in limbo, and may never materialize. One can hope though!

Honorable Mentions

It is extremely difficult to choose only a handful of books from such a large body of work. So here are some honorable mentions that didn't quite make it into the top 5:

  • The Shining - This book is creepy, very creepy in fact. If I was prone to nightmares, this would have given them to me. In this book, King manufactures an atmosphere of terror which is matched in only few of his other books. If reading it at night, keeping all the lights on is a requirement.
  • The Dark Tower series - All of the books in the series are great books; the first four are truly spectacular books. Any number of them could easily top any King fan's list.
  • The Talisman - A modern day type fantasy of a boy who can cross over between our world and an alternate world.
  • Desperation - This is one of the most greatest thrill rides that Stephen King has ever taken me on. It is funny and horrific at the same time.
  • Lisey's Story - My second favorite King novel from the past decade.

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      Jayfort 3 years ago

      Love both versions of The Stand (first printing and later, the un-abridged)! Fond of the film they did also.