Sep 17, 2017

Okay, Let's Talk: What's Your Favorite Stephen King Novel?

So... I realized something over the weekend. I was listening to a podcast that had intended to have a conversation about the new Dark Tower movie, but since it was, apparently, completely boring and not worth discussing, they decided to chat about their favorite Stephen King books, movie adaptations, mini-series, etc. And it hit me:    

I have never actually read a Stephen King book.     

I started a few when I was too young for them. They were in our house (my dad always had a trade paperback in tow when we were on vacation), and I snuck a couple of them into my room. "Christine" was the first, and there was one about an unborn twin that was born attached to the other dude's brain. (If you recognize this one, please share.)

I was too young for both of them, so I stopped before page 100, and then... I dunno, I just never got around to reading one for the next twenty years.

But, it's fall, and coming up on October, and it seems like as good of a time as any to dig into one. We have a few on our shelves already, but I aim to hit the used bookstore and the public library as well. So I ask you, ManMakers: 

What's your favorite Stephen King novel? How about film adaptations? Short stories?

Richard Bachman, etc, all apply. I'm hoping we can generate a solid list for both new fans and those who've dipped in a bit over the years, so please share your thoughts in the comments below. Cool? Cool. 




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Michael on Oct 03, 2017:

So many to choose from....

Skeleton Crew is a collection of short stories: The Raft, Survivor Type, and Word Processor of the Gods are really good.

For typical King thrillers, check out The Tommyknockers, The Dark Half, Needful Things, Misery, IT, Gerald’s Game, or Dreamcatcher.

11/22/63 is a really good book about a guy trying to save Kennedy.

The Talisman and The Eyes of the Dragon are more fantasy stories, but are two of my favorite King books.

Case on Sep 28, 2017:

To Alex's comment:

Murakami: that's it. Wow man, a lot more substance there.

Alex on Sep 27, 2017:

@Keith Peters, Yes! we need a Murakami ManMade discussion next!

Keith Peters on Sep 27, 2017:

I've read them all except the gunslinger stuff. Read 2-3 of those. Totally different style. Not so into it, but maybe I'll try again sometime. IT is my favorite King by far. And one of my top 3 favorite books by any author. The other two are by Hemingway and Murakami. It's not just that IT is scary. It's superb storytelling from start to finish. Amazingly crafted characters. The recent movie probably did a better job capturing the feel of the book than any other King movie, except maybe the Shining. But still the book leaves the movie in the dust. I've read it probably 6 times.

Dylan Brown on Sep 26, 2017:

1.) Pop Culture Happy Hour rules.

2.) It depends what you're looking for,

- If you want raw, terrifying horror the Shining and IT are both skin crawling creepy, supernatural horror. Both of their adaptations are also firmly in the "top 5" King movies.

- If you want something you probably wouldn't expect from King, 11/22/63 is phenomenal. It's a time travel story about a guy who goes back in time to stop the JFK assassination, but it isn't really sci-fi or fantasy, it's just sort of an excellent Americana story set in the 50's and 60's. It's my second favorite King book.

- The Stand is my all time favorite King book. It's split into essentially 3 acts, a terrifying "outbreak" story, a cross country post apocalyptic road trip piece, and a fantasy-esque showdown between good and evil. It's just awesome and I can't recommend it enough.

- Finally, if you want to just sort of "dip your toe in the water", King's short stories and novellas honestly might be his best work. The Mist, The Body, Apt Pupil, and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption are all awesome 150ish page novellas that you can read in an afternoon.

David on Sep 26, 2017:

I forgot to add 11/22/63 which I heard as an audio book. Outstanding. The Hulu series was just OK.

Chris on Sep 26, 2017:

Thank you, everyone, for your recommendation. I especially appreciate the reasons behind why you like what you like.

Please keep them coming! We're developing an awesome reading list here.

Alex on Sep 26, 2017:

I've read about 30 King books within the last 2 years. So, I think I am fairly non-biased, since I have read them all in the relatively same time in my life. Much like someone else mentioned, I haven't been a huge fan of the actual Dark Tower core books, but I've worked my way through the extended reading list and found that it is pretty cool how things from It all the way up to Gwendy's Button Box ties into the universe.

My favorite classic King books are probably IT and The Stand, I think I read them both in about 4 days each and just could not put them down.

However I am really digging his newer stuff that has some more sci-fi elements to them such as Revival and 11/22/63 (this one is probably my favorite because I'm a sucker for anything time travel). And even though Under the Dome wasn't my favorite, Big Jim was probably the most stressful, hated (in a well written way) character out of the 400 some odd books I have read (including a ton of different authors of course).

The ones I think you can skip are anything written as Bachman (unless reading the extended list of the Dark Tower, then I guess read The Regulators, though Desperation was so much better). And I hated Doctor Sleep with a passion. I think Doctor Sleep did to the Shining compares to what Go Set a Watchman did to To Kill a Mockingbird.

As far as movies, I loved the Mist. The new IT everyone is raving about was of course great.
Hated The Shining movie. I know, I know everyone in the world loves Kubrick, but Dick Halloran was one of my favorite characters in all of literature. A real classy bad-ass. I can’t stand how Kubrick dismissed him. I skipped the Dark Tower movie despite the great cast because those around me who I trust in King Assessments said it just ruins everything.

Nathan on Sep 25, 2017:

The early stuff, when he had just the right combination of cocaine, alchohol and talent. Misery, Pet Semetary, The Shining. I had high hopes for the Dark Tower series, only to be disappointed with each new book. (In particular sticking the ending has never been his strong suit.)

David on Sep 25, 2017:

My first foray into the King-dom is exactly what I tell others to read - Night Shift. An engaging collection of short stories. He's written other collections, all good, but you "never forget your first" as they say. As far as novels, probably Misery or Pet Semetary. "It" is very, very good too except for the end as I recall. Film adaptation, Shawshank Redemption or Green Mile.

bruno on Sep 25, 2017:

Oh man. So many good ones ... and I also haven't read any in *years*. Back in high school I loved Carrie, Firestarter, and IT.

Film adaptation: definitely Stand By Me.

Matt on Sep 25, 2017:

The Bachman Books (a collection of four novellas that he wrote under the pseudonym) is really good, and it seems to stick to King's strengths (well developed characters facing a interesting, thorny problem) without too much of what he sometimes overindulges (monsters, narrative bloat, etc). The Long Walk especially is at turns beautiful and heartbreaking, and the one about the kid who holds his high school class hostage is a great study in how well King can take a simple premise and run with it. Different Seasons, another collection of 4 novellas, is also good, and has Stand By Me (called The Body) and The Shawshank Redemption. Either book is a good example of how the King of Horror actually has some pretty serious non-horror muscle to flex as well.

Adam Hendrix on Sep 25, 2017:

Misery is by far my favorite in terms of horror. The movie is good, but as always: the book is better.

Cynthia on Sep 25, 2017:

I'm going to going go out on a limb here - how about Four Past Midnight? Got made into the Langoliers TV movie back in the day - creepy!

kentuckygoddamn on Sep 25, 2017:

The "unborn twin that was born attached to the other dude's brain" one is The Dark Half, which is pretty good.

My personal favorites that I've read are:

Needful Things
The Green Mile
Dolores Claiborne
Gerald's Game

As for film adaptations that I enjoyed:

Carrie (1976)
The Shining (1980)
Dolores Claiborne
Stand By Me
The Mist
The Shawshank Redemption