Stephen King - what next for holiday reading?

(79 Posts)
PepeLePew Mon 23-Jun-14 22:42:57

I'm reading Under the Dome at the moment and loving it - it's everything I love about King. Real empathy, brilliantly drawn characters, people who act badly out of fear, shame, ignorance. The Stand is one of my favourite books ever and as a teenager I read Salem's Lot, Carrie, Thinner, Firestarter and a couple of others. But I hated Rose Madder (it was ok until she went into the other world and got lost in the maze) and Gerald's Game and I don't think I can stomach the more traditional horror stuff any more, so what next for my holiday?

I am bizarrely daunted by the idea of The Dark Tower series though I am told they are great. Are they worth trying? Or something totally different? What is the ratio of scary to awesome in IT? I'd give it a go if it was more than just a horror story (I think!).

DontHaveAtv Tue 24-Jun-14 10:13:35

I think you will like IT. It is scary, but it also has brilliant characters who you will love/hate. Its not as good as The Stand but its up there with his best imo.

CheerfulYank Tue 24-Jun-14 10:18:28

Love It! I also loved Dolores Claiborne and the Dead Zone.

Whowouldfardelsbear Tue 24-Jun-14 10:22:54

I found Needful Things a good Stephen King of the type you like. Also Christine. Neither are too gory or horrific but have brilliantly drawn characters and intrigue.

Dark Tower is not horror - it's more fantasy. It's brilliant, but the first one isn't a terribly good indicator of the series as a whole, and you have to be willing to work at it.

I think, 'Needful Things' is awful personally - embarrassingly bad - so deffo wouldn't recommend that.

How about some of the more 'real world' stuff, eg: The Green Mile or his new one, Mr Mercedes?

Aprildaisy Tue 24-Jun-14 18:27:07

The green mile is really good
Also from a Buick 8 if u can find it
Cell is good too and blaze and the stand and needful things oh nearly forgot Duma key that's good too

HercShipwright Tue 24-Jun-14 18:34:17

You've already read stuff that's Dark Tower. UtD is Dark Tower. The Stand is Dark Tower. So is Salem's lot. Most of King's books are part of DT. And it's completely amazing, and you should definitely read it. However if you really feel daunted by it you could try The Long Walk (which was written as Richard Bachman) or 11.22.63 - both of them are firmly part of DT but you don't have to have read DT to understand or enjoy them.

LairyPoppins Tue 24-Jun-14 18:35:55

Duma Key is interesting and might be good for holiday reading.

ScarletButterfly Tue 24-Jun-14 18:36:37

I second Needful Things. personally couldn't stand IT, but that's an issue with clowns rather than the book confused. Can also recommend Misery.

Another recommendation for Cell here.
Had started to go off King books but was given Cell as a gift and am now thinking I may have given up too easily after thinking he was past best.

PepeLePew Tue 24-Jun-14 18:40:00

This is helpful, thanks. I've heard good things about Duma Key and my brother loved 11.22.63 (and he is a huge SK fan). When you say UtD is part of Dark Tower, what does that mean? I've read a few references like that but haven't got to the bottom of what it means

LeBearPolar Tue 24-Jun-14 18:43:27

The Dead Zone is fantastic. I enjoyed Cujo, and The Dark Half is great. And you have to read Misery!

I like his short stories as well - Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, of course, but that's not the only good one. Apt Pupil is very sinister.

KillmeNow Tue 24-Jun-14 18:44:49

Cell turned me into a Stephen King reader. Before that I thought his books were not for me at all.
Then I read the Dome - great storytelling and then 11.22.63 which was fantastic at creating a sense of time and place.

I am reading the Stand now but that is such a huge undertaking that its taking me a long time to get through.

IT and Christine are brilliant.

ElleBellyBeeblebrox Tue 24-Jun-14 18:48:08

I am a huge fan, but the DT was underwhelming for me. Might need to read it again, found some of it quite hard going. I second Green Mile, or Misery if you've not read them. I loved Insomnia too but others don't always seem as keen on that one.

CastilianHhhhidalgo Tue 24-Jun-14 18:49:54

Duma Key is brilliant, as is The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. IT is one of my favourites and I really like The Shining as well. Don't be put off if you don't like the Kubrick film (I hate it with a passion), the book is infinitely better! Four Past Midnight is a collection of four novellas which are all good but The Langoliers and The Sun Dog particularly.

Most of SK's books are connected to the Dark Tower somehow. DH and I keep meaning to construct and infographic showing how they're all interconnected grin

Cheesymonster Tue 24-Jun-14 18:51:18

I loved Thinner. I think that was when he was writing as Richard Bachman.

HercShipwright Tue 24-Jun-14 18:52:44

The Dark Tower is an overarching construct within which much of King's work fits (either retroactively, through being included within the narrative in some way, or - in the case of the books published after the 'final' book - through references which place them within that construct). King himself is a character in DT. There are a few 'blink and you'll miss them' references in UtD which place it within DT.

11.22.63 is amazing. I had always been a big SK fan, but I found a lot of his from about 1995 a let down, so I just stopped reading the newer ones. 11.22.63 has sucked me right back in- next up is Under The Dome. 11.22.63 is not straightforward horror, more a time travelling fantasy. Highly recommended!

ElleBellyBeeblebrox Tue 24-Jun-14 19:07:23

Oh yes the Bachman books. The Long Walk particularly is fantastic.

Yes - Long Walk is brilliant: one of his very scariest imho.

Love The Langoliers too.

Didn't like Duma Key much.

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Tue 24-Jun-14 19:27:41

Thinner is wonderful, yes, and I love his collected short (though generally not very short) stories.

Sparklypants Tue 24-Jun-14 23:06:37

IT is one of my faves. I first read it when I was 14 and it has held up over all these years ( over 20 yrs....cough cough....) the characters are very well rounded and sk did what he does best, makes you care whether they live or die. Equally Duma key was brilliant, very chilling , more so than IT imo but a really good story to go with it. I'd avoid liseys story, the only sk that I've given up on.

Sparklypants Tue 24-Jun-14 23:09:52

Oh and doctor sleep is fantastic but you defo need to read the shining first. It's far far superior to the kubric film.

CoteDAzur Thu 26-Jun-14 18:53:33

The Cell is Stephen King's worst book - just a zombie story and badly executed at that.

I couldn't find much to my taste in Dark Tower, because it is (1) fantasy, and (2) a cowboy story. I hate fantasy and I hate cowboy stories. If you like them, Dark Tower might be your thing.

Older SK books I enjoyed: Firestarter, The Dead Zone, The Shining, The Stand

Newer SK book I enjoyed: Duma Key.

Agree that, "Cell" isn't his finest - but maintain that, "Needful Things" makes cell look like a newly found Nabokov masterpiece.


ElleBellyBeeblebrox Thu 26-Jun-14 19:00:50

I see your Cell and your Needful Things and raise you Dreamcatcher!

CoteDAzur Thu 26-Jun-14 19:42:22

Needful Things wasn't great but at least was an attempt at an intricate plot with various characters in the town etc. The Cell was just pathetic. The only thing I took away from that book is that SK doesn't understand a thing about tech.

Intricate? I found it spiteful and petty and gratuitous and pornographic. I loathe it.

CoteDAzur Thu 26-Jun-14 19:56:22

I said an attempt at an intricate plot. Not a successful one. But at least he tried, with various relationships between different characters etc.

Meanwhile back at The Cell... Not even any such attempt. Dumb story about running from zombies, then a laughable explanation so forgettable that I've forgotten it and that's it.

I preferred, 'Cell' on second reading. I liked the teenage girl with the tiny shoe, and the bit in the school.

Intrusivethoughts78 Thu 26-Jun-14 20:15:51

Haven't read all posts so may be repeating but Doctor Sleep is brilliant, it's a sequel to The Shining but good on its own too. I've just started Mr Mercedes and loving it! Big SK fan

PepeLePew Thu 26-Jun-14 21:12:07

Ok - am thinking

PepeLePew Thu 26-Jun-14 21:15:08


Right - there seems to be a consensus that Duma Key is great, so I will download that. I'll try IT - what's the worst that can happen? And I will also go for 11.22.63 which sounds wonderful. Will try the DT series another time - think my DF has all the paperbacks so might borrow one next time
I see him.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 26-Jun-14 21:17:55

I am about to finish the Dark Tower and I think I will be going into mourning sad

Those books really get to you

HercShipwright Thu 26-Jun-14 21:19:31

You say true.

Weeps for the fall of Gilead, and the gorgeousness of Roland...

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 26-Jun-14 21:22:07

The Talisman. It's written by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Excellent book.

Sparklypants Fri 27-Jun-14 08:57:34

I loved pet cemetery. I read this when I was quite young too. Not sure how it would stand up now...

Bag of bones was very good too if you fancy a good ghost story :-)

CaptainTripps Sat 28-Jun-14 22:17:51

Perdita is right - 11.22.63 is fab / amazing / unputdownable. What a cracking story with all the Lee Harvey Oswald stuff going on in the background. I felt like I was there. I was so sad when I finished.

You must read Mr Mercedes. An exciting detective-hunting-serial-killer story. I don't know how the hell he does it but his characterisation makes you fall in love with the characters. Loved the main character - a retired detective. And I really got inside the head of the killer.

Duma Key is just ok. But one thing I loved - again the characterisation. The storyline was just bleughh for me. But my love for the characters kept me going.

I've come to SK later in life. Next on my list is Doctor Sleep. And then Needful Things.

CoteDAzur Sat 28-Jun-14 23:02:29

Skip Needful Things, Captain.

iklboo Sat 28-Jun-14 23:08:55

Wonder why no-one's mentioned Tommyknockers grin :-p

Whowouldfardelsbear Sat 28-Jun-14 23:15:33

Is Tommyknockers rubbish? I just bought it in a second hand book sale for $2 and was about to start it . . .it is quite a hefty one and i don't have nearly as much reading time as I used to so would take a while!

iklboo Sat 28-Jun-14 23:20:04

It's......erm.....different. Not to my taste but you might really enjoy it. I thought it just got a bit too silly. Even for SK.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 29-Jun-14 11:20:22

I finished The Dark Tower at three this morning, it was one of those can't bear to stop reads.

It is true, I am in mourning sad

Don't let this put anyone off though, I am so glad I read them. Thanks to Remus who got me going.

HercShipwright Sun 29-Jun-14 12:01:22

Go back Jack and do it again...

HumphreyCobbler Sun 29-Jun-14 13:07:50

I wasn't expecting that. Excellent ending though

<still reeling>

Tommyknockers = load of garbage.

So glad you enjoyed DT, Humphrey. You see what I mean now about wanting to start them all again immediately?!

HumphreyCobbler Sun 29-Jun-14 17:21:41


grin Are you going to?

VelvetEmbers Sun 29-Jun-14 17:31:43

Dr Sleep is a follow up to the Shining.

Then there's the Talisman, and Joyland, as well as the new one Mr Mercedes (although I found that a bit odd as there was no supernatural element to it at all).

HumphreyCobbler Sun 29-Jun-14 18:11:05

I fished out the first book earlier. I am not sure I am emotionally robust for the later stages though sad

I had such a large gap in the middle due to finding Song of Susannah just too much to take when Pg with HG - could there have been a worse time for someone to read that book? grin I am hazy on the Pere Callahan part of the story and I was going to spend some time tonight on reading any articles I can find about the links between the series and his other books.

I really like the Pere C stuff. The Susannah/Mia stuff is a bit boring in places, I think, but agree that reading it when pregnant prob not the best idea!

HumphreyCobbler Sun 29-Jun-14 19:54:39

I absolutely had to stop. I just couldn't bear it. Which is testament to the power of the writing. I kept thinking I could SMELL what was happening.

RufusTheReindeer Sun 29-Jun-14 20:00:13

Has anyone mentioned The Talisman

Love that's in my top three

RufusTheReindeer Sun 29-Jun-14 20:02:32

Sorry velvet

I enjoyed NOS 4R2 by joe Hill, similar building up of characters probably because he is his son

pointythings Tue 01-Jul-14 15:21:13

I see your Tommyknockers and I raise you From A Buick 8. Beyond awful, and boring.

Duma Key is probably my favourite King, very little splatter and a beautifully drawn atmosphere of something-is-coming-to-get-you.

I also really liked Bag of Bones, it's a proper ghost story. The Shining and Dr Sleep are also worth a read, especially as a pair.

I'm a big King fan, but I'll be the first to admit he has written some shockers...

HumphreyCobbler Tue 01-Jul-14 21:43:23

Even in the shockers there are some compelling bits though. I always remember the bit from the poets tour in Tommyknocker - when the whole social situation explodes in a horrific way. That is a brilliant bit.

I'm not fond of, 'Duma Key' personally. I like the main character, and the guy on the beach, but not the 'horror' stuff (which is silly imvho) and the two sisters are so wet and boring and one dimensional.

Love, 'Bag of Bones' though.

ThrowAChickenInTheAir Tue 01-Jul-14 21:51:26

Bag of Bones is my favourite.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 01-Jul-14 22:14:15

mmm. Not read Bag of Bones.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 01-Jul-14 22:14:49

it is out of stock!

pointythings Tue 01-Jul-14 22:17:02

Remus what I like about Duma Key is the sense of foreboding that permeates it. The main character's daughters are a pair of soggy sponges, agreed.

What I love about it is the really well researched portrayal of a man recovering from head injury - King slaying his demons, very recognisable to someone who has seen other people go through it. His portrayal of a woman in the grip of dementia is also spot on.

CoteDAzur Tue 01-Jul-14 22:23:58

I didn't think highly of Bag Of Bones. Totally forgettable, and implausible.

I really enjoyed Duma Key. I love how SK takes an ordinary object and turns it into the stuff of nightmares. I was properly scared of tennis balls while reading that book.

Agree with everything you've said, Pointy - the old woman is a brilliant character and I'd forgotten about her. I'd actually have preferred it if it was just a story about the recovering man, the guy on the beach and the old lady, minus the so-called 'horror' and deffo minus the stupid daughters!

Is, 'Bag of Bones' the one with the rape scene and the near-drowning scene? Both of those have really stayed with me and are far scarier than any of the monsters etc (except maybe the Library Policemen!).

pointythings Tue 01-Jul-14 22:41:18

Remus I also think the old woman strikes a chord with me because I've watched my great-grandmother and my paternal grandmother go through it, and now it's happening to my dad... It's scarily accurate, SK must have RL experience of someone with severe dementia.

Cote isn't it amazing how people respond differently to different SK books? The ones some people hate, others love and vice versa. And (on MN at least) we can all argue our corner and be listened to.

Am I the only person in the world who really liked Lisey's Story?

pointythings Tue 01-Jul-14 22:42:02

Remus, yes, that's the one. The rape scene haunted me, because it was so bloody plausible and of its time...

I liked lots of, 'Lisey's Story' but not the other world stuff - and as for the tin opener...

pointythings Tue 01-Jul-14 22:52:30

The tin opener was horrific... The other world felt a bit repetitive, especially because I have read the Dark Tower series, that diluted the impact quite a lot. I think he wrote himself into a corner and couldn't get out.

Oh, I do love debating SK with you, Remus! And with Cote.

ThrowAChickenInTheAir Wed 02-Jul-14 08:00:39

I must admit I was a bit disappointed with Under The Dome. The final explanation for it seemed tacked on the end and unsatisfying after such a big build up.

Ilovecake80 Wed 02-Jul-14 08:07:58

Yes I loved the stand and under the dome, definetly read the dark tower series it is brilliant and you will always remember the brilliant characters.

Me too, Pointy. smile

PepeLePew Wed 02-Jul-14 22:32:51

This is so interesting and has really inspired me to try some
more SK (including the Dark Tower - I've just remembered I loved The Eye of the Dragon as a teenager. That's a "non standard" SK but feels as if there might be some links to DT). I was trying to explain what I love about the books of his that I have really loved to someone the other day - I think it is the way he paints the best and worst of human nature and makes you give a shit about the characters. He's not the most literary of authors but he can tell a cracking story and drag you in like no one else. And just occasionally he can break your heart when you least expect it - his most pathetic characters inspire contempt and sympathy and affection all in one go, and that's quite an achievement.

So, on the list (in order):
Duma Key
Dark Tower
The Shining
The Stand (worth a re-read I think)

pointythings Wed 02-Jul-14 22:42:24

Enjoy, OP!
I was talking to DD1 (who is 13) about things she might like to read and that she might like some SK - I think she would get on with IT.

PepeLePew Sat 12-Jul-14 23:20:57

Reporting back from a lovely holiday which was slightly overshadowed by a nagging sense of terror as I made my way through Duma Key. Thank god I was in the far north of Sweden with endless daylight, and about as far from a Florida beach as you can get, or I'm not sure I'd have made it through. Fell in love with Edgar, Jack and Wireman - what great characters...

pointythings Thu 17-Jul-14 22:37:21

Oh I'm so glad! Duma Key is a book I read over and over again - it is going to Devon with me for another re-read, I love it that much.

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