Best Stephen King Books – Every single novel

Carrie (1974)

Stephen King’s first book was also the first one to be adapted on the big screen. Recalling the events of the day when Stephen sold pictures right of his books he said that he was fortunate to have that happen to his first book. He was only paid $2500. 

Carrie is the story of a teenage girl who develops strange supernatural powers. The story revolves around Carrie how she was humiliated by her classmates on prom night and how she took revenge. It is hard to blame Carie for what she did to the town. 

Salem’s Lot (1975)

This book revolves around a writer named Ben Mears. This book was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and Locus Award. In an interview, Stephen King told the media that Salem’s lot is his favorite book among his all books.

Strange events take place when Ben comes back to the town Salem’s Lot after 25 years. He revisited to write a book on an ancient house that now belonged to an Australian immigrant Kurt Barlow. It is exposed later in the novel that Barlow is a vampire who has turned half of the town people into vampires.   

The Shining (1977)

Although the previous two books of Stephen King also belong to the horror genre, this is the one that set him as a prominent writer in the horror genre. The setting and characters of the novel have been inspired by Stephen’s personal experiences.  

The novel revolves around the family of Jack Torrance who is recovering from alcoholism and anger issues. He takes the job as a caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado Rockies. Hotel is haunted which possesses Danny, Jack’s son at first but later it possesses Jack. Jack’s anger issues and the problem of alcoholism made the situation worse.

Rage (1977)

It was written with the name “Getting It On” which was later published as “Rage”. Book is associated with real incidents of school shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. King wrote a nonfiction essay in response titled “Guns”. 

Charlie Decker, a high school senior somehow loses his mind and commits a crime such as killing his teachers and taking his classmates as a hostage. Along with Charlie’s instability we also see his classmates’ instability. The perspective of the reader’s mind changes when they hear Charlie say he does not know what has triggered him to do this but he will regret it once it is done.  

The Stand (1978)

Stephen King started this book with the excitement of writing an epic like The Lord of the Rings. It was hard for King to write this book given its several storylines and characters. This is King’s longest work he has ever written. It sold 4.5 million copies. 

The book presents us with a situation where a deadly virus has spread in the town. Due to its originality, there is no cure available for it. Half of the world’s population die within one month of the virus outbreak. In this global pandemic, some people are immune to the virus. Book later revolves around how remaining people live their lives and how other fearful incidents take place.  

The Long Walk (1979)

American Library Association listed it under the best 100 books to read for teenagers in 2000. Although it was not Stephen’s first book to be published, it was the first book he started writing. 

The book is set in future dystopian America. The book starts with hundred teenage boys taking part in an annual race called “The Long Walk” or just “The Walk”. Contestants are called “walkers”. Which seemed a fun walk, in the beginning, is something that scars every walker now. It is a game in which they either win or die. The walk will end with only one boy left alive.  

The Dead Zone (1979)

The book was adapted to book a movie and a tv series. It was dedicated to Stephen King’s son Owen. It was also the one that was ranked among the top 10 books of the year by the United States. 

Johnny Smith who developed psychic abilities when he was a child suffers from his identity. Johnny wants to live a normal life without attracting people towards his psychic ability. Johnny’s life changes when he sees a terrifying vision and tries to prevent the horrifying future taking the matter in his hand. The future of the world is in Johnny’s hands now.  

Firestarter (1980)

A science-fiction, horror, thriller Firestarter was nominated for the best British Fantasy award, Balrog Award and Locus Poll in 1984. Stephen dedicated this book to an author Shirley Jackson.

Drug testing ruins a father-daughter’s life. Andy, the father, develops telepathic abilities where daughter Charlie has power over the imagination. Most of the book captures Andy and Charlie’s escape from the hands of the government organization “The Shop” that does drug testing. In the entire book, Charlie and Andy are seen running and hiding from The Shop. Will they be able to bring the truth forward? 

The Mist (1980)

The town of Bridgton, Maine suddenly is covered in mist. Among the confusion town, people realize mist is filled with dangerous creatures that attack and kill people. The story develops around the protagonist David Drayton who is stuck in the supermarket while shopping with his son. There are other people too who refuse to believe outside danger. When the manager of the supermarket witnesses the death of his employee by these creatures he warns others that are inside about danger lurking outside. There is only a small group of people that safely reach a car and run for their life with a little hope in their hearts.

Cujo (1981)

It won the British Fantasy Award in 1982 and was soon adapted for film making in 1983. It was criticized by many critics for its miserable ending. If Stephen wanted the book could have been given a nice ending with Tad surviving. 

Cujo is a nice Saint Bernard who always tried to keep his family happy. He is bitten on the nose by a bat and ends up getting rabies resulting in killing several people in his madness. Two families’ lives are ruined and in the end, both are trying to move on from the unfortunate incident that took place.

The Running Man (1982)

Another science fiction thriller by Stephen King is set in the future in the year 2025. In the dystopian United States economy is falling and violence is rising. The book has a total of 101 chapters that follow the countdown format.   

A game that no one can expect to take place in the real world. But the reality is filled with such gruesome intentional events. Ben Richards takes part in the game of hunting to save his family and breaks the record. The ending of the book is not clear, what will happen next and if the game will continue to take place without any interruption.

The Dark Tower (1982)

The Dark Tower is a series of multiple books by Stephen King. The first part of it, The Gunslinger was published in 1982. The book was revised by King in 2013 and since then changes have remained in later prints. The story is set up in a parallel world that has some similarities with our world.  

The search of the man in black by Roland Deschain the last gunslinger becomes interesting when he meets several people in his way. He later discovers that he is on a never-ending quest. 

The Body (1982)

It was first published in Stephen’s 1982 collection Different seasons. It was later adapted for a movie titled Stand by Me. George McLeod, a friend of King accused him of plagiarism. He said King has taken the idea of a novella from a short story that McLeod wrote. King refused all accusations.

The story revolves around four boys that go in search of a dead boy’s body. While being on a quest they fight with each other and witness some strange events. Upon finding the body they tell it to the authorities. The reader is forced to assume that the body was possessed by some kind of evil that resulted in the deaths of boys who remained in the town.    

Different Seasons (1982)

It is a collection of four short novellas by King. King explores the more serious subjects in these stories other than horror. All four of his novels were adapted for making movies. In 1994 The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The book includes Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The breathing Method. King and his editor published all four novellas at the same time so that word takes his not so horror book well. At that time, the long word format of straight-fiction was not taken so well by the audience. 

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (1982)

One of King’s novels that appeared in the collection of Different Seasons. It was taken well both on and off the screen. In 1994 its movie adaptation was nominated for seven categories of Academy Awards.  

The protagonist Andy Dufresne is sentenced for a long time in prison for killing his wife and her lover. In prison, he bonds with a man named Morgan Freeman. In the story, only Andy knows that he did not commit the crime. Book explores the brutality of prison life and the survival of prisoners. 

Christine (1983)

Another horror fiction by Stephen revolves around a car that possesses a supernatural power. Arnold, also called “Arnie” buys a car from an old man. Dennis, a friend of Arnie, suspects something weird associated with the car and decided he dislikes it. After owning the car, Arnie’s physical appearance has improved but he has become cynical. The car possessed by its last owner kills several people. No one knows the truth since it has the ability to repair itself.  

The car seems indestructible and might kill more people. It is unclear what will happen next, the reader too is caught in the thought of Christine will ever die. 

Pet Sematary (1983)

In 1986 it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. The novel has been adapted two times to be made into a movie one in 1998 and second in 2019. King got inspired to write this book after a real-life incident took place when his daughter’s cat was crushed by a car. 

The story involves a family of four husband-wife and two kids. Ellie has a cat named Church that is run over by a truck. Unable to break the news to his daughter Louis buries Church in the unholy burial ground. Church comes back to life after this but what comes back from the ground is not the loved ones. “Sometimes dead is better”. 

Thinner (1984)

This book is inspired by an event of Stephen King’s life. He used to weigh 236 pounds and was warned by the doctor to lose weight. He was also asked to stop smoking. King was angered by the idea that losing weight was not his decision but of his doctor. What if someone started to lose weight and was unable to stop it from happening?

Billy Halleck, a lawyer, is cursed by an old woman’s father. The woman was crushed by Billy while he was driving the car with his wife. After the old man cursed him he started losing weight even though he was eating anything he could find. The curse can not be taken back but it can be given to someone else. 

Skeleton Crew (1985)

It is a collection of 22 works by Stephen King. In it, 19 are the short stories, two poems, and a novella. The introduction of the book where King addresses his audience directly reveals the origin of most of his short stories that are in the book. Short stories too explore King’s favourite writing genre horror. It includes science-fiction, horror, and thriller. The book was well-received by critics arguing that King has shown more depth in this work compared to the previous ones.   

It (1986)

It is Stephen King’s 22nd work and 17th novel. The novel explores the themes, power of memory, childhood trauma, recurring echoes in adulthood and overpowering the evil by trust and sacrifice. In 1987 it won the British Fantasy Award.  

It revolves around seven children that are most likely to become the town’s evil entity’s prey. The entity is called pennywise that comes in the form of a dancing clown to attract kids. To be safe from Pennywise kids need to overcome their fear. 

Misery (1987)

Unlike King’s other horror works this one does not involve supernaturality. It is a psychological horror that revolves around a famous writer and his fan Annie Wilkes. King reveals that the book title has two meanings one is the name of the central figure of the protagonist’s famous work and the other is the state in which King wrote this novel.

Paul, a famous writer, is kept as a prisoner at a psychopath fan Annie’s home after an awful accident in which Paul was injured. It was later revealed that Annie is a serial killer who used to kill the elderly and infants at the hospital. 

The Tommyknockers (1987)

King identifies this science-fiction horror as an awful book. In an interview, he said his writing suffered due to drug consumption and this was the last book he wrote before cleaning up. 

The book starts with Roberta Anderson’s stumbling upon a strange metal object into the wood which was actually an alien ship. The ship was releasing an invisible gas that was changing people into strange aliens that before populated the ship. Although the gas made townspeople very innovative it also made them savage. Gas also does not let people leave the town which is making them cynical. 

The Dark Half (1989)

It was the second best selling book of 1989. The novel was adapted for a film under the same name. The book explores unrevealed truths as horror. 

A writer and a heavy alcoholic Thad Beaumont is not a successful writer. But his crime novels which he writes under pen names are successful. After a mock burial of George Stark’s alter ego somehow strange activities start occurring. Till the end, it is unknown if it was Thad himself who killed everyone or it was his evil half that was still inside.    

Needful Things (1991)

Stephen King wrote this book on his drug addiction and alcoholism. The book was adapted under the same name for movie making in 1993.

It deals with a shop owner having evil intentions. It is not clear in the book if the person is possessed or the things he owns are possessed. A shop is opened in town that sells antique things at such a low price. The owner of the shop asks his customers to play mean pranks on other people that results in violence.

Gerald’s Game (1992)

This is a suspense novel that Stephen king dedicates to his wife Tabitha and his sisters. It is a story of a woman whose husband gets a heart attack and dies while she is still handcuffed to the bed. 

The woman while being handcuffed to the bed confronts her childhood traumas. She realizes all her life events were a result of her trying really hard to not get back the memories of her being sexually assaulted by her father. In the end, she is saved by her own willingness to overcome her fear.       

Dolores Claiborne (1992)

It is a psychological thriller that is narrated by Dolores Claiborne. This novel has no breaks, no chapter names or any double spacing to give the reader a sense of changing places of events. It is read as a continuous manuscript. 

In the story, Dolores is confessing her crime to the police. Police suspect Dolores for killing her wealthy employer Vera. In the book, Dolores is seen confessing to her crimes to the police. There are no live incidents, the book only involves old stories and events of Dolores’ life.    

Insomnia (1994)

Stephen King has made several references from The Dark Tower in this book. To some readers, it was unsatisfactory that they did not follow the references. 

The protagonist of the novel starts having trouble sleeping after his wife’s death. Due to insomnia, he starts hallucinating. It was only later that he realizes the strange happenings are not his hallucinations but real strange events that are taking place in Derry. Some readers find it extra long then it needed to be.    

The Green Mile (1996)

This is Stephen King’s series novel. It was originally published in six parts that were later combined and released into one part. The volume includes The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, The Two Dead Girls, Night Journey, The Mouse on the Mile, Coffey’s Hands, and Coffey on the Mile.

A block supervisor Paul Edgecombe realizes that new arrival John Coffey in “The Green Mile” has healing abilities. John Coffey is convicted of raping and murdering two white girls. Paul later comes to know that John is innocent and wants to free him but John wants to die so that he leaves this cruel world.  

Desperation (1996)

Desperation another horror novel by Stephen King was released in the same year of its mirror novel’s release The Regulators. Two novels are set in a parallel universe and almost every character exists in both novels. 

The story starts with two couples taken captive and locked in a small deserted town Desperation. Later they realize there are other people held captive too. They plan their escape. In escape, some survived and some died while saving others.  

Bag of Bones (1998)

The book won both Bram Stoker Award and British Fantasy Award. At its 10th anniversary, it was published with some editions including Q&A with King. 

Mike Noonan even after the four years of the death of his pregnant wife grieves for her. The story revolves around a 3-year-old Kyra who is cursed to die by drowning. Mike tries to save kids from the evil entity that possesses people so that it can kill children. The book ends on a positive note.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000)

This book deals with Stephen King’s own experiences as a writer. He also includes his advice for young emerging writers. King divides the book into five sections. In C.V. Kings talks about the life events that influenced his writing. In “What Writing Is” King asks all readers to take writings seriously. In “toolbox” he discusses English mechanics. “On Writing” King gives advice to new writers. In “On Living: A Postscript” King talks about his car accident and how it affected him.    

Dreamcatcher (2001)

This book helped Stephen King to cope with the 1999 accident. It took half a year for the writer to complete this novel. The title which King had in mind for this book was cancer but his wife persuaded him to change it. 

Four friends save a young teenager Duddits who has powers such as telepathy, shared dreaming, etc. Four boys reunite in woods for their annual hunting trip where they are stuck in an alien invasion and US army colonel. In the end, it is implied that their new friend Duddits can save the world.    

The Colorado Kid (2005)

A new intern at The Weekly Islander Stephanie McCann impresses everyone by her knowledge of the tipping procedure. Later they get involved in a discussion about unsolved mysteries. 

There is a mystery of The Colorado Kid too who finds out the identity of a dead man. The secret of him knowing the fact is not revealed so that newspapers and magazines do not twist the story in order to get the mystery out of it. Stephanie has the knowledge now it is upon her if she wants to act on it. 

Cell (2006)

The book deals with psychological disorders in humans after a global phone call has been made. It revolves around a father who is trying to get to his son without being harmed from those humans turned into vicious animals. 

After the phone call has been made all phone users are killing other phoners that they see. Although it is not revealed in the book there are some indications that phoners will start attacking non-phoners too. The survival of Clay is essential to save his son. –  

Stephen King Goes to the Movies (2009)

It is a short story collection of Stephen King’s previous short stories that have been adapted for a movie. The stories included are “The Mangler”, “Low Men in Yellow Coats”, “1408”, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, and “Children of the Corn”.  

In this book, each story has a new introduction by Stephen King. In the appendix, there is also a list of Stephen King’s 10 favourite film adaptations of his work.  

Under the Dome (2009)

Before writing and finally releasing Under the Dome Stephen King already worked on the same idea two times. First, he started writing about it in 1972 and the second time he started writing on it in 1982. A Small town of Maine is separated by an invisible force from the entire world. Going near the dome line is deadly and several people are injured due to its sudden fall in the town. The survival of the town is tough without any connections from the outside world.   

1922 (2010)

1922 is a novella that was published in the collection Full Dark, No stars. A movie based on this was released on Netflix on 20 October 2017. 

The story starts with a dispute between a husband and wife having different desires of living in another place. The dispute takes a deadly turn when Wilfred plans to kill his wife with his son Henry. The idea of love, anger, sadness, and guilt has been explored in the novel. A mistake or a crime that never leaves you alone and takes your life in the end.    

11/22/63 (2011)

Book soon became a number 1 bestseller after its release. It stayed in the same position in The New York Times’ best-seller list for more than three months. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2011. 

A time traveller Al wants to prevent John F. Kennedy’s murder because he thinks doing so will change the future for good. While time-travelling, he developed cancer without completing his mission, and now he seeks help from a high school teacher Jake Epping. Jake’s trips to the past only make him realize that he is making the future worse. Changes made in the past for a better future must be undone in order to bring it back to the same condition.

In The Tall Grass (2012)

In the Grass is the second book of Stephen King and his son Joe Hill together. Originally it was published in two parts one in June-July and the other in August. A film adaptation of it was released on Netflix on 4 October 2019. 

Cal and Becky two inseparable twins while being on a journey to their aunt’s home come across a field of grass. They hear a voice screaming for help from the grass. Cal steps in to help the kid and Becky follows him with the fear of being left alone. They never come out of the grass!  

Joyland (2013) 

The first edition of the book was only published in paperback. The book was adapted for a TV series by Freeform. The Guardian reviewed it as “a far gentler, deeper, more thoughtful book than the one it masquerades as.”

A 21-year-old student at the University of New Hampshire Devin Jones gets a Job in Joyland. His fate is soon read by the park’s fortune-teller Madame Fortuna. Devin is destined to meet a girl with a red hat and a boy with a dog. Book explores many themes including love, trust, and belief.   

Doctor Sleep (2013)

This is a sequel of The Shining that secured first place on The New York Times Best Seller List. It won Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 2013. A movie adaptation under the same name was released in 2019. 

Danny who now as an adult goes with the name of Dan has submitted to alcoholism and anger issues like his father. It is later revealed in the novel that Dan has a half young sister Abra who shares the same “shining” powers. Abra’s abilities are greater than Dan’s. They both fight the evil entities that possess the Overlook hotel to save good souls.    

Mr. Mercedes (2014)

The first hardboiled detective novel of Stephen King has three parts. The first part was published in 2014, the second in 2015, and the third in 2016. It won Edgar an award in 2015 by the Mystery Writers of America. 

Bill Hodges, a private investigator, receives a letter from “Mr. Mercedes”. An incident took place at a job fair where several people were killed and injured by a Mercedes. Although he is fed up with his career and wants it to end Hodges still investigates it. Mr. Mercedes is a psychopath who has a troubled relationship with his alcoholic mother. Book reveals the truth behind the incident of Mr. Mercedes. 

Revival (2014)

In an interview, Stephen King revealed that Revival is inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan. 

Charles Jacobs, a new minister of a small town loses faith in God after his wife and young son died in an auto accident. He leaves town and wanders to get some peace. Jacobs develops some power from electricity to heal people. He uses Jamie for a big experiment in which he wants to use a dead woman’s soul to reach his dead wife and son. 

Finders Keepers (2015)

This is the second book of Mr. Mercedes’ trilogy. Following detective cases of Bill Hodges. The book is connected with the last book through Tom who got disabled in the Mercedes incident.  

The book starts with the murder of a famous author John Rothstein. Morris Bellamy who murdered and robbed John wanted a proper ending of the author’s trilogy Runner. Morris has sentenced to life in prison for another crime he committed. Before going to jail he left his money and manuscripts in a truck near his childhood home. When Morris comes out of jail he finds the trunk empty. At the same time, Tom’s family’s improved condition grabs Hodges’ attention.     

End of Watch (2016)

This is the last book of Mr. Mercedes’ trilogy that deals with Bill Hodges’ cases’ event. Originally the title of the book was announced The Suicide Prince which later changed into End of Watch.

In this book, Brandy Hatfield makes a comeback. He now possesses the power of getting into people’s minds and moving small objects using his brain. Brandy plots against all the teenagers that escaped death in concert where Hodges and his team caught him. Through a video game, he forces teenagers to commit suicide. 

Sleeping Beauties (2017)

Both King and Stephen King both participated in this novel. In the announcement of this novel, Stephen King told media that Own has brought him a great Idea, it is too good to be revealed before the book launches. 

Book deals with the idea of having a place that only women own without any men. A woman Eve Black says she is sent in this world by other out worldly beings who believe that women can have a place without evil like war and abuse. 

The Outsider (2018)

Although this book is not a part of Mr. Mercedes’s trilogy we see Holly Hodge’s assistant using the same tool she used in the first book to hit Brandy. 

Ralph Anderson a police detective arrests a teacher Terry Maitland in the charge of killing and raping an eleven-year-old. Book unveils the truth of Maitland’s being innocent and the existence of an evil entity from the outside world that is called the Outsider. Outsider possesses great power and he needs to be stopped.   

Elevation (2018)

Stephen King while commenting on the book said this is an antidote to our divisive culture, as gloriously joyful as “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Scott Carey, a resident of a small town Castle Rock comes across some odd events that take place in his life. He weights the same with or without clothes no matter how heavy clothes are. He engages in a fight with his neighbour that is a lesbian couple and trying to set up a restaurant. Town people do not want anything coming from gay couples. This is a story of the existence of humanity where evil often occurs but humanity never leaves.  

The Institute (2019)

Several critics have compared this book to the Firestarter (another book by Stephen King). They find it more terrifying than the last one as multiple kids are tortured in The Institute. 

Luke Ellis’ parents are killed so that he can be abducted by the members of the institute. Director of the institution Mrs. Sigsby is brutal and ruthless, their only aim is to extract powers that children possess like telepathy and telekinesis. Luke Ellis becomes more desperate to leave the institution but it seems impossible.  

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