"When I was a kid I believed everything I was told, everything I read, and every dispatch sent out by my own overheated imagination. This made for more than a few sleepless nights, but it also filled the world I lived in with colors and textures I would not have traded for a lifetime of restful nights." — Stephen King
It is no secret that, much to the chagrin of my college professors, Stephen King is my favorite author. Ever since my grandmother put my first Stephen King novel in my hands, I have been a fan. I love the way he tells a tale-always with a little bit of mischief. He has not only given me nightmares, but he has inspired my joy of writing. Plus, he's not afraid to use the language that we all use, even if that includes a few f-bombs :) Now, not every Stephen King novel is a blood and guts, nightmare painted horror fest, many of the novels explore relationships between husbands and wives, friendship, and our shared humanity. Many of my favorites deal with the friendships between the most unlikely people. I also love the fact that he often makes heroes out of people that are often the outcasts of society. It was difficult narrowing down my favorite novels. The criteria was simple. These are the ones I've read more than once and plan to read again. Keep in mind, these are not Stephen King's greatest hits. These are my 10 favorite novels.
#10-Pet Sematary (1983). My grandmother, believe it or not, gave me my first Stephen King novel when I was in the 6th grade. That novel was Pet Sematary. I know, she probably shouldn't have, but I loved it. Louis Creed and his family experience the death and resurrection of a beloved cat, the death of a child, themes of guilt, a deadly highway, and the consequences of visiting the "Pet Sematary." I was repulsed and riveted. I couldn't put it down, and couldn't wait to read the next novel, but the movie? Yeah, that was a piece of crap.
"God grant me to SERENITY to accept what I cannot change the TENACITY to change what I may and the GOOD LUCK not to f*** up too often " — Stephen King
#9-The Shining (1977). This was my second Stephen King novel. There is inherent creepiness in an empty hotel. Personally, I hate walking down the hall of a hotel by myself, thanks largely to writer Jack Torrance and the demons both real and imaginary that drive him to the brink of insanity. Redrum, redrum...Try to sleep. I really wasn't fond of either movie based on The Shining, but I did love Jack Nicholson as who else?-Jack...
"It's strange how pain marks our faces, and makes us look like family." — Stephen King
#8-Bag of Bones (1998). This novel led to a Stephen King revival for me. I had branched out to other authors. I found it at Wal-mart one day, read it in two days. Loved every minute. It tells of a town haunted by a horrible secret surrounding the death of blues singer Sara Tidwell, and Mike Noonan's quest to solve it as he tries to move past the grief of losing his wife and child.
"If you liked being a teenager, there's something really wrong with you." — Stephen King
#7-Carrie (1974). This was Stephen King's first novel, published a mere four months before I was born. It tells the story of Carrie White, a bullied teenage outsider, who discovers she has telekinetic powers, and uses said powers to enact her own brand of revenge upon her tormentors. Although the movie was different than the novel, I did love Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Carrie.
"I think that we're all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better - and maybe not all that much better after all." — Stephen King
#6-Misery (1987). What would you do if you were able to save the life of your favorite writer? Probably not the crazy things Annie Wilkes had planned for her favorite writer Paul Sheldon who had the audacity to kill off her favorite literary character. Annie is one of my favorite crazy whack-a-doo literary characters, and Kathy Bates' portrayal of Annie at her cock-a-doodie craziest was perfect.
"People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk."-Stephen King
#5-Needful Things (1991). Leland Gaunt opens his new shop Needful Things, and immediately the people of Castle Rock are drawn to the shop for its one of a kind items and the curiously low prices, but what price are you willing to pay to have what you covet? Not to mention, exactly who is this Leland Gaunt, and what are his real motives? Leland plays the role of puppet master as he manipulates the town turning neighbor against neighbor and feeding on the dirty secrets of the townspeople.
"No one ever does live happily ever after, but we leave the children to find that out for themselves." — Stephen King
#4-The Body (1982). The Body is actually a novella that was part of Stephen King's collection Different Seasons. This coming of age tale follows Gordie Lachance and his three friends as they search for the body of a local teen who has been reported missing. The journey leads to not only the discovery of the body but a discovery about themselves. The movie version, Stand By Me, is equally wonderful starring Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, and the late River Phoenix.
"Get busy living or get busy dying." — Stephen King
#3-Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (1982). That was the original title of the 1982 novella when it was published in the collection Different Seasons. Red, a prisoner with the ability to obtain just about any contraband a prisoner could want, narrates the story of Andy Dufrense, a man sent to Shawshank prison for a double murder he didn't commit. The story also reveals the deep friendship developed between the two men and the lessons they both learn behind the walls of the prison. The movie starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins is fantastic and one of my favorite movies of all time.
"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." — Stephen King
#2-It (1986). In his novel Lisey's Story, Stephen King's states "Nobody likes a clown at midnight." After reading It, nobody likes a clown at anytime of day. The story follows a group of seven children from Derry, Maine who calls themselves the "Losers Club," because each one has a reason to be an outcast among their peers. The novel follows their battles as children and later as adults with Pennywise the Clown who houses something much darker beneath his clownish exterior. Coming in at over 1000 pages, It was one of the largest novels I read in high school. It took me a month to read (mostly because I was suppose to be reading The Scarlet Letter). The 1990 miniseries, with Tim Curry playing a deliciously evil Pennywise, has given a generation of children coulrophobia.
"Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." — Stephen King
#1-The Green Mile (1996). For the longest time, It was my favorite Stephen King novel. While I had heard about The Green Mile in college, I didn't read it until just before the movie was about to premiere. I was teaching junior high school, and many of my co-workers were talking about how great the movie was. So, I bought the novel. I hadn't read it because, I don't really like serials. I read it during breaks, it was in my hands during lunch, and those moments of waiting after school. Paul Edgecombe's tale about his life as a guard on death row and his encounters with literally and figuratively larger than life convicted murderer John Coffey. It follows Edgecombe's quest to find the truth about John Coffey, and what happened to the two little girls. It also teaches a lesson about humanity. I finished the novel in time to see the movie with Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan, who brought those characters to life so richly on the screen.
There they are, my 10 favorite Stephen King novels. Take a break and read one or as Stephen King says, "you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will."
Until next time, "Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life."~Stephen King