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Top 15 Stephen King Books

by Listverse Writers
fact checked by Alex Hanton

I have been a Stephen King fan for a long time and for as equally long as I can remember, typically scared witless from his horrific novels. I used to lie awake nights while racing thoughts of the evil this master of the macabre would put in my head danced around and played havoc with my psyche. Many of his books, in fact the fifteen you see here, have left lasting impressions on my mind and it doesn’t take much to recall their contents and want to read them all over again. Many of his stories have been translated into film. Some have been critically acclaimed like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Misery and quite a few have been laughable disasters such as The Lawnmower Man, Maximum Overdrive, and Sometimes They Come Back. But however you know him, from the films or his books, there is little doubt that Stephen is the King at what he does. So, with the newest release of one of his novels in movie form, The Mist, I present you with the top fifteen of his novels. Each is accompanied by a synopsis directly from The Stephen King Web Presence.

15. The Dead Zone (1979)


Waking up from a five-year coma after a car accident, former schoolteacher Johnny Smith discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancée married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems. When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future.

14. The Green Mile (2000)


They call death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary “The Green Mile.” John Coffey, sentenced to die for the rape and murder of two young girls, is the latest addition to the Mile. Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent, discovers that there is more to John Coffey than meets the eye, for this friendly giant has the power to heal.

13. Salem’s Lot (1975)


One of King’s high school classes was Fantasy and Science Fiction, and one of the novels he taught was Dracula. He was surprised at how vital it had remained over the years; the kids liked it, and he liked it, too. One night over supper he wondered aloud what would happen if Dracula came back in the twentieth century, to America. “He’d probably be run over by a Yellow Cab on Park Avenue and killed,” his wife said. That closed the discussion, but in the following days, my mind kept returning to the idea. It occurred to him that his wife was probably right! If the legendary Count came to New York that was. But if he were to show up in a sleepy little country town, what then? He decided he wanted to find out, so he wrote ‘Salem’s Lot, which was originally, titled Second Coming.

12. It (1986)


A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.

11. Tommyknockers (1987)


Writer Bobbi Anderson becomes obsessed with digging up something she’s found buried in the woods near her home. With the help of her friend, Jim Gardener, she uncovers an alien spaceship. Though exposure to the Tommyknockers who piloted the alien craft has detrimental effects on residents’ health, the people of Haven develop a talent for creating innovative devices under its increasingly malignant influence.

10. The Dark Tower Novels (1982-2004)

King-Dark Tower New

Including: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Wastelands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Susanna’s Song, The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower is a series of seven books by American writer Stephen King that tells the tale of lead character Roland Deschain’s quest for the “Dark Tower.” The Dark Tower is often described in the novels as a real structure, and also as a metaphor. Part of Roland’s fictional quest lies in discovering the true nature of the Tower. The series incorporates themes from multiple genres, including fantasy fiction, science fantasy, horror, and western elements. King has described the series as his magnum opus; besides the seven novels that comprise the series proper, many of his other books are related to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses.

9. Pet Sematary (1993)


The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

8. Christine (1983)


A love triangle involving 17-year-old misfit Arnie Cunningham, his new girlfriend and a haunted 1958 Plymouth Fury. Dubbed Christine by her previous owner, Arnie’s first car is jealous, possessive and deadly.

7. Insomnia (1994)


Since his wife died, Ralph Roberts has been having trouble sleeping. Each night he awakens a little earlier until he’s barely sleeping at all. During his late night vigils and walks, he observes some strange things going on in Derry, Maine. He sees colored ribbons streaming from people’s heads. He witnesses two strange little men wandering the city under cover of night. He begins to suspect that these visions are something more than hallucinations brought about by sleep deprivation. Ralph and his friend, widow Lois Chasse, become enmeshed in events of cosmic significance.

6. Cujo (1981)


The Cambers’ once friendly St. Bernard turns into a killer after being bitten by a rabid bat. Donna Trenton’s husband is in New York trying to contain a disastrous ad campaign. Feeling abandoned by her workaholic husband, who is frequently out of town, Donna Trenton embarks on an affair with a local handyman. Left to fend for herself, she takes her ailing Pinto to Joe Cambers’ garage for repairs only to be trapped with her son Tad in the sweltering car by the monstrous dog.

5. Different Seasons (1982)

Different Seasons

“Is horror all you write?” is the second most frequent question Stephen King encounters, he tells us in the Afterword to this superlative quartet of novels. Although he is by now a world-class grand master of the horrific, he resists entombment in that genre. That he can transcend horror is proved triumphantly in these four works. At the same time, nobody in search of the utterly distinctive King brand of driving narrative, graphically rendered scene and character, and stamp-on-the-clinging-fingers cliffhanger plot will go away unsatisfied.

4. Misery (1987)


Novelist Paul Sheldon has plans to make the difficult transition from writing historical romances featuring heroine Misery Chastain to publishing literary fiction. Annie Wilkes, Sheldon’s number one fan, rescues the author from the scene of a car accident. The former nurse takes care of him in her remote house, but becomes irate when she discovers that the author has killed Misery off in his latest book. Annie keeps Sheldon prisoner while forcing him to write a book that brings Misery back to life.

3. Carrie (1974)


The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she, has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peer at school her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.

2. Skeleton Crew (1985)


An outstanding collection of Short Stories Including:

The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
Beachworld Big Wheels
Cain Rose Up
For Owen
Here There Be Tygers
The Jaunt
The Man Who would Not Shake Hands
The Mist
The Monkey
Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut
Morning Deliveries
Paranoid: A Chant
The Raft
The Reach
The Reaper’s Image
Survivor Type
Uncle Otto’s Truck
The Wedding Gig
Word Processor of the Gods

1. The Stand (1978)


One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that – in the ensuing weeks – wipes out most of the world’s population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

NOTE: if this list reaches 100 comments, I will buy a copy of any one of the books listed here for the person who makes the 100th comment (you must be a registered user!).

fact checked by Alex Hanton
Listverse Writers

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