Where to Start With Stephen King

Friday 11 May 2018

I've done a few recommendation posts for Stephen King books in the past, but nothing quite on this scale. I owe a huge thanks to Zoe at Readabiltea for the inspiration, as it was her Beginner's Guide to Agatha Christie that made me realise that my King knowledge might actually be helpful to new Constant Readers. Not that I'm an expert or anything, I just really like Stephen King's books.

One to Start With
The Shining is a classic - a classic horror and a classic King - so what better place to start? This was my second King read, and let me tell you, as a fourteen year old reading this it messed me up. It's just the right kind of chilling that, while it won't make you throw the book across the room, will leave you looking over your shoulder for topiary animals and dreaming of a hotel that wants to kill you.

One to Skip Over
Unless you're an avid baseball fan, I'd suggest giving The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon a miss. It's a short book and it is full of suspense and the feeling of dread if you do decide to pick it up, but it's also packed full of baseball terminology and analogies. And seeing as how baseball just... isn't really a thing in England, that made for a boring - and, at times, tricky - read. Because I didn't really understand what was going on I lost interest in Trisha's story, and that's saying a lot as I was very invested in whether or not she'd be found.

One That's Underrated
I feel like no one ever talks about Cell and I'm going to change this. The first ever Stephen King book I read (and perhaps what really started me on my zombie kick, sorry, The Walking Dead, you were just too late) this kept me hooked from the get go. It's reminiscent of early King, so if you don't get on with the way he inserts italicised thoughts into the narrative you might not like this, but it's such an interesting take on zombies. And, of course, there's plenty of gore for those of you who like your horror grisly. Supernatural fans, however, need not despair as there's also a bit of a twist with the Raggedy Man.

One That'll Creep You Out
Not for the animal lovers, Pet Sematary is hands down one of the most unsettling King books. Early on there's a scene that left me shaking thanks to how realistic it was, and this feeling never really went away. It's the perfect mix of supernatural and gore, and it again touches on the ideas of zombies, so it really does have something for everyone. There's a reason it's classed as 'iconic terror', so give your cats a big hug after reading this one. It'll make them feel good even if it doesn't help you.

One For the Gore Lovers
Continuing in the 'not for animal lovers' vein, Cujo is one hell of a bloody read that will leave you absolutely terrified of rabies. I'm not the biggest dog lover at the best of times, and I'm also prone to a lot of health related anxiety, so just why did I read this book? Throw in the fact I was adjusting to some new medication at the time of reading and you have one very scared Charlotte. The nightmares are worth it, though, as I've yet to read a better gory horror. Even if you're good with blood you'll still recoil as you read some of the descriptions in this.

One That'll Take You a While
The obvious choice for this would be It, but I feel that's a more... acquired taste, shall we say. Needful Things, on the other hand, again has something for everyone. It's long, yes (but shorter than It!) but it has fight scenes that turn nasty, mind-controlling supernatural elements, plenty of paranoia, a large cast of characters, and an overall interesting premise.

One That's a Personal Fave
And of course, no post on Stephen King would be complete without a mention of Misery. This book is just the right amount of realistic to get you looking over your shoulder and questioning how you interact with people. Paul Sheldon super-fan, Annie, wastes no time in crossing the line between 'guardian angel' and 'captor' in this tale of, well, misery. Definitely one for those new to horror or after more of a chill than an outright scare, but also a must read for any fan of the King.


  1. The Shining was the first and so far only King book I have read, but I really do want to read more. While a lot of his books aren’t really my cup of tea, Misery does interest me.

    1. I'd highly, HIGHLY recommend Misery! It's not too scary at all - more of a 'omg is Paul safe?!' kind of vibe - and it's all about a writer and his superfan, which is super relevant to being a bookworm haha. There is some gore towards the end in the climactic scenes, but it's nothing too intense.

  2. My boyf recently read Misery and he really enjoyed it so it is now on my tbr. My Mam also used to love reading King too

    1. Definitely recommend Misery! It's a pretty tame King if you're not too into horror

  3. Did you start with Christine, Carrie or Cujo? I started with Christine!! I never did read Carrie or Cujo-but my dad wanted me to watch Cujo when I was younger, so I didn't actually read the book. It is still an incredible book also! No one does horror better!!


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