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Now, what is this article about?
This is no normal book review article. In this post, I will be ranking all the Stephen King books I have read. I decided to do it this way because I don’t really think each novel needs its own post. A lot of you know who King is, a lot of you will have already read one or more or all of the books that will be in this list. So why not rank them instead? Then, in the comments, you can argue with me about why I am wrong!
Just kidding, I’m never wrong.
I haven’t read everything that King has written, so will only be ranking what I have read (42 entries in total, equating 52 books/collections). This was really hard list to compile, because a lot of books were so close to each other. Anyway, I tried my best. Onwards!
The man, the master, a King of Horror. Also, is that what a chambray shirt looks like?
Stephen King needs no introduction. King sold his first short story in 1967 (“The Glass Floor” to Startling Mystery Stories) and he continued to sell short stories as a way to supplement his income as he worked as a laborer at an industrial laundry. His wife, Tabitha, helped a lot to support him as he started his writing career. Thank you, Tabitha. Seriously.
In 1971, King began teaching English at a high school in Maine, while continuing to work on novels and short stories. Horror fans will know that his first novel was Carrie, published in 1974.
Besides being an accomplished author, King has also taught creative writing at the University of Maine and has a bit of an acting career – having often appeared in movies based on his novels (my favourite was him as a pizza delivery worker in Rose Red). Though, his role as Jordy Verrill in Creepshow‘s “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” will forever haunt me. He made his directorial debut in 1985, as well as his directorial debut, with the movie “Maximum Overdrive”.
King is the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts.
A short bio for a man with a long history in the horror industry but, if you’re a horror fanatic like me, he really didn’t need an intro to begin with.
I’ll begin with least favourite and continue up to the one I love best. Each story will have year published, a short summary, and my reasoning for my placement. You’ll notice that the bottom third of the list (least favourites) all have one thing in common, I usually read them and then forgot them, and have a hard time remembering what they are even about.
The middle third were novels I remembered and liked in one way or another. Top third were books I usually liked enough to re-read.
42. Bazaar of Bad Dreams, short story collection (2015) – Last because I remember the title, had to google the contents. After googling, I did remember the short stories but had, otherwise, forgotten everything about it. Simple put, I guess it wasn’t memorable to me.
41. Night Shift, short story collection (1978) – Another issue where I had read this collection but had forgotten most of the contents.
40. Insomnia, lack of sleep and some Dark Tower cross-over (1994) – an alright story, but I didn’t really like how the female characters were portrayed.
39. Elevation, man suffers from weird floating issue (2018) – I just felt like it was a weird book about a man saving two lesbians because they didn’t know how to socialize with a small town. Just weird. And not scary.
38. Doctor Sleep, Danny from The Shining, is back! (2013) – I really think The Shining should have been left a standalone. Danny became a rather bland character and the plot was just…meh.
37. Under the Dome, a whole town is trapped in a dome, oh dear (2009) – This was a pretty strong book up until the end. Then it kinda ended with a flat note.
36. Christine, don’t trust cars, just don’t (1983) – Amusing but I had a hard time with some of the plot points, as well as suspending my disbelief far enough with this one.
35. Firestarter, she burns things… with her mind (1980) – an alright novel, the characters were a bit flat.
34. Dolores Claiborne, a woman on trial for murder and the daughter who comes back (1992) – while not an amazing plot, I somehow sort of liked it? I also watched the film with Kathy Bates, so that may have biased me.
33. The Tommyknockers, alien gas invokes genius acts (1987) – this book stuck with me, but I can’t say it was amazing. Definitely an interesting read though.
32. Outsider, a shapeshifter eats people, nuff said (2018) – decent but not a favourite at all.
31. The Dark Half, an author’s pen name comes to life (1989) – I liked this story when I read it but never liked it enough to read it again, which is what elevated other novels up in the list.
30. The Bill Hodges Trilogy (Mr. Mercedes – 2014, Finders Keepers – 2015, End of Watch – 2016), a detective encounters the supernatural with some sidekicks – I liked the series enough to buy all three books, but in the end it just really did jive with me as well as other King books.
29. Thinner, man goes on a gypsy curse enforced diet (1984) – I liked the ending of this, but otherwise, not much of it stuck with me.
28. ‘Salem’s Lot, small town and vampires (1975) – I did like this novel and found it a fun read, but I can’t remember most of what happens in it besides major plot points.
27. Needful Things, a shop owner has everything you need, at a price (1991) – I quite liked this story premise and the whole Elvis woman has stuck with me forever.
26. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, a little girl lost in the woods and her love of baseball (1999) – I have a fondness for forest set tales and this one is no different.
25. Duma Key, a man buys a lake house and gets haunted by strange visions (2008) – while the beginning of the book was slow, the idea of art bringing evil alive, and the ending was a lot of fun.
24. Cycle of the Werewolf, boy meets werewolf (1983) – a spooky combo of the boy who cried wolf, scrappy kids, and homemade weapons.
23. Gerald’s Game, sex games gone wrong (1992) – I actually wrote a review about the movie that came out based on this book. The book was a lot better. The nightly visits from some strange figure and the daytime patrols of a ravenous hound? Oof, what a creepy story.
22. The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole, a gunslinger tells his friends a spooky story (2012) – As much as I liked The Dark Tower series, this book was just alright for me. It got this high because of my love of the DT lore.
21. Cujo, bad dog (1981) – My mom actually told me she has a fear of St. Bernards because of the movie. The book is much better, with more complexity, and a darker ending.
20. Carrie, don’t mess with the quiet girl (1974) – a classic. Some definitely powerful scenes, but also some rather slow ones.
19. Skeleton Crew, short story collection (1985) – contains some of my favourite short stories such as “The Mist” and “The Raft”.
18. Nightmares and Dreamscapes, short story collection (1993) – it’s higher than the other collection just because I liked more of the stories included. Favourites being: “Suffer the Little Children” and “Crouch End”.
17. Four Past Midnight, novella collection (1990) – a fun collection of novellas including “The Langoliers” and “Sun Dog”.
16. The Bachman Books, collection of short novels published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman between 1977 and 1982 – I really loved “The Long Walk” which is why this collection got vaulted up pretty high. “Rage” and “The Running Man” were also really good additions. Just a stunning, creepy collection.
15. Misery, fans suck sometimes (1987) – a clever little novel and an excellent read.
14. IT, clowns were never okay and this book is no exception (1986) – if you ignore the orgy scene, this is an excellent book and hefty to boot. Perfect for a vacation in a small town.
13. Black House, written with Peter Straub, a man tries to stop a serial killer and gets sucked into the Dark Tower multiverse (2001) – I love the whole multiverse within King’s works and this story was no exception.
12. Everything is Eventual, short story collection (2002) – this is actually the very first King I’ve ever read. It has a ton of amazing stories and also introduced me to Roland from The Dark Tower series with “The Little Sisters of Eluria”
11. Lisey’s Story, a woman has to survive the aftermath of her husband’s death (2006) – a well-rounded, haunting story. Scenes from this still rise up in my memories and make me shiver. Can openers? Oof.
10. The Shining, man takes family on vacation (1977) – the book is so much more disturbing than the movie adaptation. Just an excellent book.
9. Rose Madder, a woman, a painting, a beast of an ex (1995) – the fairy tale-esque feeling of this story made it one of my favourites.
8. Dreamcatcher, some friends go on a cabin retreat and I am starting to think King doesn’t like vacations (2001) – another haunting and quite disturbing book. It also has an awesome, wide-sweeping plot.
7. Bag of Bones, man goes to beach house for a retreat and, in trying to help a local woman, gets involved in the town’s dark past (1998) – this book, wow. Just a lot of suspense, disturbing scenes, and haunting themes. I’ve read it a few times now.
6. Cell, cellphones mess us all up (2006) – an overall satisfying read. Maybe if I reread it now, I would find it dated a bit, but currently one of my favourites. A mix of zombies, technology, and long journeys.
5. Pet Sematary, please just cremate your deceased ones, okay? (1983) – a classic. Creepy kids, cursed burial grounds, some cosmic horror, and the usual macabre King ending.
4. Revival, resurrection meets Lovecraft (2014) – I suppose it’s no surprise that one of King’s most Lovecraftian novels is near the top of my list.
3. The Talisman, written with Peter Straub, boy goes on quest to save mom, meets horror (1984) – I think I have to have read this four or five times now. Just an epic, dark journey of a tale and it has a lot of Arthurian overtones.
2. The Stand, virus creates the reckoning, oops (1990) – a massive epic about a post-apocalyptic world torn between the forces of good and evil.
1. The Dark Tower series, seven books about gunslinger Roland Deschain and his ka-tet (1982 – 2004) – here it is! My favourite! I lumped the whole series together because, when I re-read them, I read them back-to-back and don’t separate them in my mind. Oy is the best character in the world, hands down. I loved this series enough that I bought the graphic novel adaptation even. In fact, after I read Everything is Eventual, I read this next because of the short story “The Little Sisters of Eluria”. This series made me laugh, cry, and kept me on the edge of my seat. *chef’s kiss*
And that’s it, folks! A massive ranked list of the 52 King novels and collections I’ve read. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Until next time!