I still haven’t started reading for King’s March. But this week, Rory turned her Top Ten Tuesday post into a Stephen King list, and I thought that was a great idea… so I’m stealing it.
Obviously it’s not Tuesday, and you can’t even call this a top ten. This is my whole ten. Every Stephen King book I’ve read to date. The good and the not-as-good. Starting with…
10 – Under the Dome
This was the first Stephen King book I ever read, and still my least favorite of the bunch. It’s not that it was bad. But especially for a book of this length, there was nothing about it that really excited me. It kept me reading, but I came away thinking that maybe Stephen King just wasn’t for me. I’m very glad I didn’t decide to leave it at that.
9 – Cujo
Another of my least favorite King novels, this one starts off quite slow. The stage is set, the characters are introduced, but unfortunately I just never connected with any of them, and didn’t much care what happened to them. The “main event” – which actually takes up a good chunk of the novel – was compelling, but the book as a whole left me feeling pretty blah.
8 – The Stand
You might be surprised to see this one so low on the list. This was the second King book I read, after Under the Dome, and I think it was just too overwhelming for me at the time. It’s another book with a huge cast of characters and takes place on an even bigger scale. It was an overwhelming amount of story to get through. But, after discussing The Stand with other readers over the years, I want to give it another chance. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it more on a re-read.
7 – The Talisman
This was co-written with Peter Straub (who I hadn’t read before). I did enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I loved the idea of the different realities, and flipping, and “twinners.” It’s just one of those books where I liked the concept more than the execution. It was entertaining enough, but the story didn’t captivate me.
6 – The Eyes of the Dragon
I really liked this one. It’s told in what I think of as a traditional storyteller’s style, with a lot of asides and comments made directly to the reader. It’s a style that doesn’t always work for me, but here it fits perfectly. Another one I’d like to re-read sometime. (Maybe when I finally get around to reading The Dark Tower, since this is somewhat connected to that series… as are a lot of his books, I guess.)
5 – Misery
This was the first book to make me feel like, okay, I really do like Stephen King. It was also the book that made me realize I like King’s “smaller” works better than his epic ones. (So far I’d read Under the Dome, The Stand, and The Talisman.) Normally I enjoy big stories, with lots of characters and subplots coming together, but in this case, with only two characters and a single plot to keep track of, I could appreciate King’s writing a lot more.
4 – Doctor Sleep
I really enjoyed this companion novel to The Shining. Its ties to the earlier book aren’t as strong as I might have expected, but it was a great story. In fact, it was a struggle to decide, of the two, which to rank higher on my countdown. I think The Shining squeaked ahead purely because I had the advantage of reading it twice and really soaking it in. On a re-read of Doctor Sleep, I might change my mind. (Of course, I guess that’s the case for all of these rankings.)
3 – The Shining
I enjoyed reading this the first time around, but I really appreciated it during my re-read. It’s such great storytelling, filled with suspense and dread, although I was never really scared. I know some readers consider that a failure for horror, but it’s definitely a good thing for me.
2 – The Dark Half
This one takes an interesting concept – that you can become someone else when you write, especially when you actually write as someone else – and turns it into an extremely twisted story. I really enjoyed it. Pretty much the only thing I didn’t like was the level of violence. I’m not exactly squeamish, but was it all really necessary? I don’t know, but I think it kept me from engaging with it at that emotional level that defines my 5-star books. Still, highly entertaining, and this was my favorite King novel until I read…
1 – The Green Mile
It’s so hard to compare this to King’s other works, because it’s so unlike anything else I’ve ever read of his. I still often think of The Dark Half as being my favorite King novel, because this one just lives in a different place in my mind. I’d never seen the movie (still haven’t, actually) and knew only the barest details of the plot going in. I knew it was a great story that many people loved, but I was still caught off guard by the emotional toll it took to read it. It was a kick in the gut… but in the best possible way.
Which Stephen King books would make your own list of favorites?