Read This: Ten by Stephen King


January 8, 2015 by Laird

The name-your-top-ten-favorite-Stephen-King-books-game has been going around since the start of the new year. Here’s mine; without commentary, not in order, and influenced by the fact that I read him voraciously in my teens and tend to favor that sweet, sweet early stuff.

1. The Talisman (with Peter Straub)

2. Salem’s Lot

3. The Stand   

4. The Shining

5. Different Seasons  

6. Night Shift

7. Skeleton Crew

8. The Bachman Books   

9. It

10. The Gunslinger

18 thoughts on “Read This: Ten by Stephen King

  1. William says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve only read one King novel – 11/22/63 and that was last year. But I have The Shining and the sequel on my to read pile.

    I’ve read a few of his short stories. I still remember Uncle Otto’s Truck from a year’s best horror anthology ages ago.

    But my favorite story of his (not that I’ve read many) would be Dedication. That’s one story that will never be adapted to the screen.

    • Laird says:

      Keep digging into his short fiction. There are gems to be found. Especially in Skeleton Crew…

      • Jake says:

        “The Mist” was my first hit of King. I used to prowl the local library and run my fingers along the spines of books, stopping whenever something caught my interest. I was twelve. Skeleton Crew, with that damned monkey on the cover. I sat down right there and read twenty pages before I remembered my grandma was waiting for me. The librarian pursed her lips a little, but I was still able to check it out. I read the entire collection that weekend, then bought a copy of The Gunslinger at a Walden Books.

        Man, I was gone.

  2. John says:

    I would also add “The Eyes of the Dragon”. More fantasy than horror, but I greatly enjoyed when I was growing up. Not to mention the appearance of his Flagg character.

  3. 1. ‘Salem’s Lot
    2. The Stand
    3. The Shining
    4. The Talisman (with Peter Straub)
    5. It
    6. Cycle of the Werewolf
    7. The Gunslinger
    8. Night Shift
    9. Christine
    10. The Running Man

    NOTE: I mostly read King in my teens and very early 20s.

    • Laird says:

      Same here.

      • Like or not, if you live in Maine and write dark fiction, you will always walk in King’s shadow. Rick Hautala knew that. Even a consistent bestseller like John Connolly (who spends half the year in Maine and half in his native Ireland) gets compared to King.

        I started reading King a year or so before I moved to Maine. The first book I read was THE SHINING. I found it on a spinner at the Great American supermarket in Herkimer, NY. I couldn’t see the movie, so I bought the book. It scared the living shit out of me. I was 13 at the time, and King hooked me.

        So when people ask me if Stephen King was an influence, I have to answer yes, even though I stopped reading his new novels around 1990. I still go back and read some of those old ones that gave me such great chills, though, especially THE STAND and ‘SALEM’S LOT and THE TALISMAN. No other writer hit me like that again until I was 16 and discovered H.P. Lovecraft in my high school library. In fact, I read THE DUNWICH HORROR AND OTHERS and THE TALISMAN back-to-back. Now there’s a fucking one-two punch for you!

    • Laird says:

      Love that Talisman. Most horror writers have to contend with King’s presence, but he’s less a horror writer and more a Dickensian institution these days. Weeds will grow in the cracks at any rate.

    • Dave Smith says:

      Bought everything published in paperback at my local mall (anyone remember Pickwick Books?) the summer of 1980 when I was 14 years old, had read grips of fantasy and sf to that point, but precious little horror — King changed my life, no shit for shooting. I read Danse Macabre (and all else in hardcover the week of publication) through Needful Things, or for the next decade, since then probably read half his output…but to me, there are two lists (maybe three if you count the film adaptations?): the novels and the shorter works and so, humbly submitted, here are my Top Ten Desert Island Stephen King Shorter Works, in no particular order:

      1. 1408
      2. The Mist
      3. The Mangler
      4. The Body
      5. Graveyard Shift
      6. Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut (one of the best Bradbury stories not written by Bradbury)
      7. Apt Pupil
      8. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
      9. Gray Matter
      10. Survivor Type

      Occurred to me there is nothing here from Nightmares and Dreamscapes, and so I double-checked, and yeah, and damned if almost every story in there is a total mystery to me by title…looks like there may be a reread coming up soon, thanks for the inspiration Laird…

      PS: In the recent Rolling Stone interview he shits all over The Tommyknockers, but I have a weird love for that book, and have been meaning to reread it after, what, about two decades? Anyone here going to tell me I’m nuts, and he’s right and I’m (somehow) wrong?

      • Laird says:

        Been an age since I read it. It does have the rep of being a minor effort. I like that he took on ETs.

  4. lilthundercloud says:

    I was always in love with his collections. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read The Gunslinger. Yet. Maybe 2015 will be the year!

  5. tom fattorusso says:

    Sticking with the short bits like razor cuts: Top 5—

    Sometimes they come back
    The Boogeyman
    The Mangler

  6. Laird says:

    Love the Boogeyman. The Ledge…

  7. Corey French says:

    “Hearts in Atlantis” was something of a spiritual journey for me when I was sixteen. The backdrop of the Vietnam War in the latter half of the book, along with the first stirrings of the counterculture and the boys’ obsession with the game of Hearts, provided something of an analogy to my own life growing up in the midst of the conflicts in the Middle East, and my own vagrant’s pissing hole of a town’s blind love of narcotics and other cheap thrills. I found out quickly through reading that book and surviving my first few angst-filled years of adolescence that everything you love has chains.

  8. […] few weeks ago, the Honey Badger put up a list of his top-ten works by Stephen King.  Since reading it, I’ve been thinking about compiling […]

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