Best Stephen King to get started with?

(67 Posts)
Slipsliding Sat 19-Jan-13 11:59:44

Never read him as put off by potential gore but loads of MNS recommend him so I must be wrong!?

SparkyTGD Sat 19-Jan-13 12:13:04

Different Seasons is good, 4 books in one, not too gory (if memory serves me well, apologies if wrong).

I loved 'The Dead Zone', not typically 'horror' either.

Kyrptonite Sat 19-Jan-13 12:21:08

I read the one about time travel and Kennedy assassination. Was very good. Have not read any others so going to recommend it.

It's called 11.22.63 I think!

I liked Insomnia.

Slainte Sat 19-Jan-13 12:26:49

I loved Needful Things, it will keep you on the edge of your seat smile

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 19-Jan-13 12:26:57

I loved Carrie- not really gory, just absolutely fascinating!

maresedotes Sat 19-Jan-13 12:31:36

I loved 11.22.63 too.

I think IT was one of the first of his I read and it is really scary but a great book.

I think, 'The Green Mile' or the story, 'The Body' (which became Stand By Me) would be good places to start.

OneHolyCow Sat 19-Jan-13 15:24:35

11.22.63, that was my first and I really enjoyed it!

discorabbit Sat 19-Jan-13 15:26:38

definitely the short story collections, his novels go on a bit imo

Susieloo Sat 19-Jan-13 15:38:09

The ones from the 80's are the best I think-go old school and read salems lot, needful things and it. He lost his way a bit in the 90's and i dont think he's ever really got it back although i did quite like Under the Dome and its being turned into a mini series next year. The green mile and the Shining are always worth a read. I started his latest one about time travel but got bored so didn't finish it although I do want to know what happens!!

Clawdy Sat 19-Jan-13 17:13:07

"Christine" and "The Dead Zone" are compelling reads. I really disliked "Pet Cemetery" as I had two little boys at the time,and found the story-line sick and distressing. I stopped reading his novels for a long time after that.

fedupandtired Sat 19-Jan-13 17:23:16

My favourite is The Stand - all 1400 odd pages of it (the uncut edition). Films good too if you've got a spare 6-7 hours!

Currently working my way through 11.22.63 and I have to be honest and say the only reason I've stuck with it is because I read good reviews. I'm hoping that by the time I've reached the end and conclusion I'll think it was a good read but at the moment I'm not that fussed about it.

Clawdy, I didn't like Pet Semetary either, nor Cujo and I didn't have dcs when I read them.

I like Eye of the Dragon. Firestarter another good one to start with I think. I also like Bag of Bones, Different Seasons, The Stand, Nightmares and Dreamscapes is my favourite short story collection.

His later ones - Cell, Duma Key, Under the Dome, Lisey's Story, 11.22.63 - are all good but not as good as his earlier ones. You can really see the effect his accident had on him imo

HermioneE Sat 19-Jan-13 17:54:22

Lol at the complete lack of agreement on here grin

Christine or Needful Things or any of the short story collections get my vote. The longer ones like IT are great but maybe go for something shorter if you're unsure whether you'll like him.

Susieloo Sat 19-Jan-13 18:32:08

Forgot about The Stand-I love that book

I like Christine too!

HermioneE - I guess he's so prolific its hard to pick one favourite that everyone will agree on grin

fedupandtired Sat 19-Jan-13 18:38:40

Ooh yes, I loved The Cell too!

EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 19-Jan-13 18:39:24

The Stand is my favourite. I read one of his more recent ones where everybody's mobile phone turned them evil - it was just silly.

PariahHairy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:52:28

I wouldn't start with the stand tbh, took me a few goes to get through and I am a fan.

The girl who loved tom gordon is pretty absorbing and short, not very supernatural though. IT is very very long, but quite easy to get into, the dead zone I liked. Bag of bones is very good and moving, more of a ghost story.

One that I really rate is the long walk, it's in the bachman books, really stays with you.

sookiesucksvamps Sat 19-Jan-13 18:54:08

I agree the stand the dome and cell couldn't get into liseys story shall I give it another go what's it about?

PariahHairy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:55:06

Oh god yes how can I forget the shining and misery, I adore insomnia, the stand and others but not sure I would recommend them to get people hooked.

Slipsliding Sat 19-Jan-13 19:24:21

Wow, he obviously arouses strong feelings and disagreement. Not sure where to start now confused. Maybe the short stories...? Or The Stand or 11.22.63, but again , not a unanimous choice. Hmmm

Different Seasons!

<bangs gavel>

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 19-Jan-13 20:04:57

The Stand and then The Dome, struggled slightly with 11.22.63

VivaLeBeaver Sat 19-Jan-13 20:07:56

The stand and under the dome are his best IMHO.

I'm trying to get into the gunslinger series as everyone raves about it, have read the first 3 I think but not loving it.

SpeckleDust Sat 19-Jan-13 20:08:29

The Shining <gavel>

SoYo Sat 19-Jan-13 20:09:42

Needful Things first and then The Stand if you like it, also The Dark Half.

Manda472 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:13:36

My all time favourite is the stand, have read it so many times but have never tired of it.
It does depend on though what type of books you like as his a lot of his books are not necessarily horror.
Would agree that his earlier ones are the best.
Can't wait for his sequel to the shining that's due out in sept. Now if horrors your thing the shining is excellent....."here's johnny" wink

OmgATalkingOnion Sat 19-Jan-13 20:13:42

Bag of Bones.

I thought 11.22.63 went very flat at times. It was too long. Imho.

Lol poor Slipsliding will be more confused than ever now we've all said different ones.

OmgATalkingOnion Sat 19-Jan-13 20:15:12

I also thought Under the Dome was disappointing.

Loving the divided opinions.

Slainte - I adore King and would happily read his shopping list / notes to the milkman - but 'Needful Things' imho is shockingly, embarrassingly awful.

The Stand is sublime - but I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point.

Agree that 'The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' could be a good one to begin with.

Samu2 Sun 20-Jan-13 11:07:18

11.22.63 is awesome!

The Stand is also amazing. They are both in my top favourite books of all time.

Slainte Sun 20-Jan-13 17:22:31

Admittedly Remus I was in my 20s when I read it but it was the book that got me started on reading him so I may be looking back on it with misplaced affection smile

Hope the OP comes back & tells us what she picked.

Probably a different author altogether grin

pointythings Mon 21-Jan-13 18:51:19

I think Duma Key is one of his very best - not gory, just very, very creepy. I also really like The Dead Zone and The Green Mile, and IT. The Shining is the only book that has ever given me nightmares.

I also like Under the Dome, Insomnia and Needful Things, just because King does small town awfulness so very well.

Slipsliding Mon 21-Jan-13 19:22:59

It's going to be Duma Key ...... or The Stand but could also be 11.22.63 confused still. But thanks for all the heartfelt recommendations - he's obviously worth reading as you're all so passionate about the subject.

CoteDAzur Mon 21-Jan-13 22:17:14

I'd start with Dead Zone, Firestarter, The Stand, and The Shining. Old favourites.

I wouldn't say any of the above is really scary, except The Shining in parts. Duma Key really scared me, though. It is one of his best imho.

pointythings Mon 21-Jan-13 22:30:26

I agree with Cote - that's a good way to start with King (but then she is a King expert smile). Just please don't miss Duma Key.

CoteDAzur Mon 21-Jan-13 22:42:07

Thanks for the vote of confidence, pointy, but I don't think I'm a SK expert, at all smile Remus has probably read more SK than me. I read all his books (I think) until they started getting a bit dopy with Misery, Needful Things, etc. I came back to SK with Duma King which was exceptional but then read The Cell which was shockingly awful. So can't say if I will read another SK anytime soon.

I liked Misery, there were a couple of moments in it that were really heart-stopping for me. But agree that Needful Things was dire.

Has anyone read Blaze? Read it recently but haven't come across anyone else who's read it.

Ceasnake Tue 22-Jan-13 04:13:20

Cujo and NEEDFUL THINGS? No, no, no. Even King admits that he barely remembers writing either of them (written at the height of his addictions).

For beginners:

Pretty much any collection of short stories - esp. Skeleton Crew
Different Seasons - wonderful collection that is pretty much not horror. 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption' particularly brilliant.
The Stand


I like 'Blaze' for its links with, 'Of Mice And Men.' As a work of fiction it's good but as a KING work, I don't think it's one of his finest.

The one I find most scary is the novella, 'Apt Pupil.' Horrible and unsettling. And another one that has really stayed with me is another novella, 'The Langoliers.' And what's the vampire-esque one with the Library Policeman? Is that what it's called?

Don't know as I'm an expert but, as far as I know, I have read every novel and story collection he's ever published and most of them several times at least. I haven't read everything only published in magazines or anthologies.

DontHaveAtv Wed 23-Jan-13 11:33:45

The Stand is one of my favourite books ever. Under The Dome was good too. I love Stephen king.

EuroShagmore Wed 23-Jan-13 14:02:39

I read my first Stephen King last year (at 36) and started with The Stand. I loved it and nothing else has quite lived up to it, although I did like Under The Dome too. I hated It and was a bit ambivalent about The Dead Zone.

BTW, I find the first third of SK books dull. It's all scene setting and goes on and on for far too long, but just at the point I am really sick of it, it tends to hot up. So stick with it if you are not sure at first. The Stand is particularly long, but a masterpiece.

I must read The Shining. I love the film.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 14:13:25

The Langoliers is a terribly gripping read. YY to Apt Pupil too.

I adore The Dead Zone

pointythings Wed 23-Jan-13 18:40:22

Euro if you are referring to the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining you are in for a few shocks - he changed a lot of things. Including the ending, in a massive way. I prefer the book, by far, although Jack Nicholson is fabulous in the film, and the scene with the fire hose in the film is brilliantly done and very true to the book.

The Shining is an amazing book.

Noooooooo Jack N totally miscast and the woman even worse. As a film it works but as a representation of the book it is an abberation imho.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 18:53:32

I have never read the Shining. I wonder why? Perhaps because I loved the film so much?

rainbowriver Wed 23-Jan-13 19:13:16

I love Stephen King and have been reading his books since the eightees! I loved IT, The Stand, Carrie, The Dome. I've not read anything of him I didn't like so far.

Though definately haven't read all of them, none of the Gunslinger series? Also don't remember Duma Key at all, saw it recommended on this thread but not heard of it, don't know how I missed it!

Are there any Stephen King biographies worth reading?

Have you read, 'On Writing?' Part bio, part a creative writing guide, all excellent.

AViewfromtheFridge Wed 23-Jan-13 19:46:26

Different Seasons! How many other collection of novellas can boast that three films have been made from them? The Body (Stand by Me) a lot darker than the film, (Rita Hayworth and the) Shawshank Redemption brilliant, Apt Pupil deliciously dark and The Brething Method actually quite touching.

If not, I really liked the Kennedy one (11.22.63) or whatever it is, it's cleverly done, although a bit slow in places.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 19:59:14

I really liked 'On Writing'. But I truly loved Danse Macabre - I re-read this one many times.

Different Seasons is brilliant, I agree.

There are just so many good ones, it is hard to think of them all.

I've been reading SK since I was 12 (The Shining) so 20-mumbles years now!

Remus yes, liked Blaze with the link to Mice & Men, but it kind of fizzled out imo. The ending was a bit meh and definitely not one of his best.

Apt Pupil is creepy, but very good.

Rainbowriver, you really should read The Dark Tower series. The Gunslinger is good, it took me a while to get into as it's written very differently from any of his other work, but the whole story is amazing. Especially when you see glimpses from some of his other books.

I still have Wind Through the Keyhole to read, waiting for a day on my own to get stuck into it.

I was really, really disappointed with, 'The Wind Through The Keyhole.' I hate being disappointed with a King book but that felt like an absolute waste of time to me.

Danse Macabre good - but some of the things he raves about are dreadful! The Haunting Of Hill House, for example, is appalling - but it is his favourite book ever, iirc.

pointythings Wed 23-Jan-13 22:20:57

I've kept away from The Wind Through the Keyhole because I felt that the Dark Tower series was finished and didn't need anything adding to it.

But I think that's King - when he is good he is very very good, and when he is bad he is horrid.

Re the film of the Shining - the reason I like Jack Nicholson in it is that I like Jack Nicholson. I think other than the fire hose scene, I've more or less severed it from the book. Although the little boy who plays Danny is fab.

Totally agree with you about the woman who plays Wendy, she is portrayed as a drip and in the book she is most definitely not. What I really resented about the film was the end - it completely lacked the explicit clarification of the hotel as a malevolent and sentient entity in itself, and it also lacked the redemption of Jack Torrance in the way he destroys himself with the roque mallet so that Danny can escape. I also think killing the Hallorann character was unforgivable and unnecessary.

Which is why I think the book is so much better.

Does King like The Lottery? I've always thought that was one of the great horror stories.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 22:25:01

I don't think THOHH is appalling! I think it is good. Sparse, but good. But then I am obsessed by Alan Garner so I obviously go for sparse.

He does rate the Lottery iirc

pointythings Wed 23-Jan-13 22:31:19

Humphrey I love Alan Garner! Apparently he has written a sequel to the Weirdstone/Moon of Gomrath sequence - have you read it?

<apologises for hijack>

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 22:35:24

I went to see him talk about it at Cheltenham Festival. I was so startstruck blush. He was amazing.

I have the book, I just have not read it yet. I am waiting until I am alone which is a rare thing in this house.

I find he needs (and deserves) my utmost concentration.

Have you read Thursbitch? That book did my head in, but in a brilliant way

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 22:35:42

or even star struck

HumphreyCobbler Wed 23-Jan-13 22:37:11

Different Seasons. I also have a soft spot for Insomnia, it was the first full length one I read.
I love King (but have read nothing recent), sad to read here that his more recent stuff seems to be losing its way sad
Oh, another of my favourites is Gerald's Game. Such a 'simple' storyline but such a frightening situation.

CheerfulYank Wed 23-Jan-13 22:54:59

I love, love, LOVE the Stand, but it is a lot to start with.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Dolores Claiborne, and Firestarter are shorter and gripping IMO.

Full Dark, No Stars is a recent short story collection that I really liked.

rainbowriver Thu 24-Jan-13 10:07:46

Just ordered Gunslinger and On Writing. Hope I like them!

I nearly always use my Kindle for books now and haven't read a paperback for a while, but for some strange reason felt King should be read on a good old paperback!


anonymosity Fri 25-Jan-13 04:33:36

I agree on The Stand. Its the only one I've read. I had a bf who bet me I couldn't get through it in a week - so I did, just to prove him wrong and I quite enjoyed it.

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