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Stephen King Books; Where to begin?

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Stephen King Books; Where to begin?

Old 01-09-03, 09:37 PM
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Stephen King Books; Where to begin?

I'm looking to begin reading King books, and would like to get suggestions on where to start.

I'm a pretty slow reader, and haven't read a whole lot since high school (not a lot then either!)

In high school I got into an author most don't know by the name of Joeseph Citro. He is from VT (my state) and is known as the Stephen King of VT, he has amazing books, but has moved away from fiction and is now writing books about ghost stories and stuff (factual or based on evidence etc)

So to conclude this tangent, I would really recommend him. I have all 9 of his books which can be had on any book merchant online.

Back to my question, I'm looking to get back into reading or at least to try to, and would like to know where I should begin with King.

Thanx!
Old 01-09-03, 10:44 PM
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Depends on what other kind of stuff you like. You mentioned you are sort of a slow reader; The Stand might not be a place to start, even though it's very good, because it's 800+ pages long.
Maybe a collection of his short stories--Everything's Eventual is the newest one, but while I liked many of the stories, only a couple gave me that 'Stephen King' feeling.
Here's a link to what looks like a pretty decent bibliography:
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/au...ephen_King.htm

Short story wise, Night Shift has a lot of good stories, including the ones that the movies The Lawnmower Man, Maximum Overdrive, Children of the Corn, part of Cats Eye, and Sometimes They Come Back, if not even more, were based on [based on = not much like the story at all.] They're also shorter, so you can get a good feel for him.

The Bachman Books are very good, especially The Long Walk and The Running Man [again, not much like the movie at all.] You can probably find these four in an omnibus, and I think they're all slightly shorter than a novel [probably 500-600 pages for all four novellas.]

Eyes of the Dragon is a fantasy, I believe he said he wrote it for one of his kids; again, it's good, but not what I would call 'representative' of King.

Desperation and The Regulators were kinda cool, in that both of them linked together somewhat--they weren't part of a series, but they referred to some of the same characters and events in different ways [like an alternate universe thing.]

My top 5 favorite King books are probably:
The Stand [almost sci-fi, 'end of the world/armageddon' type story
It [another long one, but has a very wistful tone to it; this is the one with the killer clown]
The Dead Zone [the movie is actually pretty close to the feel of the book; never seen the TV show]
The Running Man [has somewhat of a bleak tone to it, but very good]
The Long Walk [ditto--actually, all of the Bachman Books are somewhat 'darker' [psychologically] than many King books]
Close runners up:
Christine [the killer car]
Cujo [the killer dog] [are you noticing a theme here?]

[He wrote a few books under the nym Richard Bachman just to see if they would sell without his name on them. They didn't. So they rereleased them as 'Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman' and of course they sold like hotcakes.]

And I just started his newest, From a Buick 8, which so far seems to be more 'creepy' and ambience-focused than out and out horror.

Much of his stuff has been converted/bastardized into movies; some good, some decent adaptations, some good movies in themselves, but whatever you do, do NOT see the movie Graveyard Shift from 1990, it was one of, if not the, worst horror movies I have ever seen [and I like Troma films and enjoyed Jason X.]

I'm not sure if this helped or not, but Stephen King was one of the first authors I made a point of reading a lot of, and I'd be glad to try to answer any more questions you may have.
Old 01-09-03, 10:47 PM
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I read THE GREEN MILE and liked it in general. I started reading FROM BUICK 8 and got 20 pages in. I haven't picked it up since. That's not to say it's bad BTW.


I would really love to read THE SHINING because I hear it's great.
Old 01-09-03, 11:50 PM
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dtcarson:

thanks very much for your advise, I'll start with that web site and go from there.


anyone else, feel free to add.

thanks!
Old 01-10-03, 12:59 AM
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I'm pretty much in the same boat as you db. I just started Dead Zone. Back in high school, I read all the short story collections (not the novella stuff like Different Seasons, but Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, and The Bachman Books, which are all teriffic), but the only novel I ever read was Pet Semetary. Now, years later, I've picked up Dead Zone because I always liked the movie, and always meant to read the book to see what the diffs were.

That probably doesn't help you much, but there yuo go - that's my experience up to now. I guess I'm predisposed in believing that only his old stuff is worth the effort. I'll probably not tackle anything after Misery untill I exhaust the earlier stuff.

Just on an instinctual hunch, my tentative King list, ommitting Pet Semetary, since I've already read it, would be...

Dead Zone
The Stand
Carrie
Salem's Lot
The Shining
Misery
The Dark Tower series

I left off the Bachman books (the original first 5) because I've already read them, but I do strongly recommend them. Rage is out of print from what I hear, but you should be able to find the paperback of the 4 collected books easy enough at a used bookstore. If not, let me know. There are billions of them floating around Dallas.
Old 01-10-03, 06:25 AM
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When in doubt, go with publication order.

That's my preferred way of getting into authors with large bodies of work.

Even if the books go in a chronological order that doesn't match the release order (think Star Wars) I still find it best to watch the stories develop naturally, as well as watch the author hone his or her particular style.

King's best work is his earliest.

Carrie
'Salem's Lot
The Shining
The Stand
Night Shift
The Dead Zone


These are his first five novels and story collection in their release order. This, to me, is King's strongest period, as the books not only crackle with youthful energy, but King also spends time dabbling with the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam politics of the time they were written.

The King of the 80s leaves me a bit cold, as he's obviously settled into a comfortable formula.

I'd say that King's best "latter day" works are his books that don't dip into the horror genre: "The Green Mile," "Misery," and "Different Seasons."

"The Dark Tower" books are good, but they become quite dependent on the continuties of many of King's other works, and a lot of King's latest books like "Insomnia" and "Hearts in Atlantis" are actually written with DT in mind. DT is shaping up to be a way to tie all of King's works into a single "multiverse," not unlike Michael Moorcock's.
Old 01-10-03, 06:31 AM
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Originally posted by Mutley Hyde
I left off the Bachman books (the original first 5) because I've already read them, but I do strongly recommend them. Rage is out of print from what I hear, but you should be able to find the paperback of the 4 collected books easy enough at a used bookstore. If not, let me know. There are billions of them floating around Dallas.
After the Columbine incident, King voluntarily pulled "Rage" out of circulation. It's actually a very good story, and, if I'm not mistaken, King's first attempt at writing a novel.

Even though it's not in print, I don't think it will ever become scarce. Like most of King's books, there are likely millions of copies floating around out there.
Old 01-10-03, 08:10 AM
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Originally posted by Josh-da-man
When in doubt, go with publication order.

That's my preferred way of getting into authors with large bodies of work.
Mine also. I am doing that with SK's work right now. I just finished Cujo which I felt was a little flat, but that's just me. I would recommend Firestarter, Nightmares and Dreamscapes (another short story collection) Also if you find a liking to his work highly recommend It. That's a long book so I would not read it right out of the shoot for you, but if ya like him, I find that It is one of his best.
Old 01-10-03, 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Josh-da-man
When in doubt, go with publication order.

That's my preferred way of getting into authors with large bodies of work.



Especially with King, who has the habit of casually mentioning past characters or locales in his later books. Not critical or necessary for any kind of payoff, but it gives substance to his "universe".
Old 01-10-03, 09:11 AM
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I remember starting with "Cycle of the Werewolf" just because its only about 120 pages long (from memory).
Old 01-10-03, 10:47 AM
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could some post the complete publication order?

thanks so much everyone.
Old 01-10-03, 10:52 AM
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It's difficult to recommend a place to start since King has written so many different kinds of novels. The first book I read was "The Eyes of the Dragon." which is a fairly easy read, but not really a good indication of the majority of King's writing. I can easily see someone loving or hating this book and feeling the opposite about the rest of is stuff. My favorite is "The Stand" but it is a very long book. Salem's Lot is a book I would recommend to someone who is looking to start reading King. It is an earlier novel and not too long. Another great series of books King has written are the Dark Tower series. This starts with the Gunslinger, but this is also a book that, while short and maybe a good starting point since many of King's books in the last 5 years seem to integrate some aspect of the world created in The Gunslinger, may turn off a prospective new King reader. Many people have disliked this series of books. I personally have at least enjoyed everything I have read of King's. I hope you do too.
Old 01-10-03, 11:22 AM
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Carrie is a good place to start.

For the record, my favorite is Salem's Lot.
Old 01-10-03, 11:31 AM
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I also reccomend a short story collection. I'm fond of Skeleton Crew.

Then move onto Pet Semetary. If you don't like those two you probably won't like anything else.
Old 01-10-03, 12:44 PM
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As you live in VT youmight want to start (especscially given the weather of late) with Dream Catcher. I have a camp in the woods of ME and read it last winter and it held me captive.

Differnt Seasons has 4 stories in it of decent length: the book has spawned at least three movies: Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption and Apt Pupil. All very good and not much more than 200 pages or so each. The 4th story may actually be in production IIRC... That is a good starting point as are the other previous suggestions.

My two favorites by King are The Stand and the Dark Tower series but they may be a bit too long of a starting point.
Old 01-10-03, 12:50 PM
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Originally posted by db27
could some post the complete publication order?

thanks so much everyone.
http://www.stephenking.com/Bibliography.txt

Quite long so I won't post in here...
Old 01-11-03, 11:03 AM
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thanks again everyone, i've got some reading to do. i think i'm gonna go to barnes & noble and browse through them.
Old 01-11-03, 12:33 PM
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I've read Eyes of the Dragon which was a long time ago and I didn't really care for it, but may give another chance post LOTR.

More lately I've read the Stand, The Shining, and The Dead Zone and loved them all.

I believe he also wrote a short story called The Mist which I really liked.
Old 01-12-03, 05:33 AM
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Personally, I'd recommend you start out with either The Dead Zone or The Shining. Both of them are widely lauded and excellent reads, in my opinion. Also, since they're some of his earlier works, they don't contain many (if any) references to his other characters or related events in a different book. Furthermore, If I remember correctly, both books are under 500 pages, so they'll be easier to read than some of his other stuff.

Hope you find a good one, db. I've enjoyed pretty much every books of his that I've read, so I'm sure you'll - at least - dig a few of them.

P.S. If anyone could confirm or deny the accuracy of my comments regarding the lengths of "The Shining" and "The Dead Zone," that'd be appreciated. I'm fairly sure I was either correct or close, but confirmation would be nice.

P.P.S My favorite King book is "It," by the way. But it's over 1100 pages, so I'd recommend reading it later if you like his shorter stuff.
Old 01-12-03, 11:11 AM
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IMO, if you want to get to know King, I would start with his early to mid work.

Also, don't let the quality of the movie influence which book you go for.

I would suggest:

Pet Sematary (IMO, his most frightening work...esp so if you have children)
The Talisman (VERY long...but difficult to put it down)
The Dead Zone
It
Old 01-18-03, 03:39 PM
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I always liked his short stories better...A good read, without investing a large amount of time to read it.
Old 01-18-03, 04:18 PM
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I've only read a few of King's books, as I don't dig horror. His suspense writing is superb, though.

I would highly recommend MISERY and THE GREEN MILE. I thought THE STAND had some good stuff in it, but was too damn long.
Old 01-18-03, 09:46 PM
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Simple. Start with the ones that start with an 's'. The Stand, The Shining, Salem's Lot. You can't go wrong. If an SK novel starts with an 's' it's gold baby, GOLD!
Old 01-20-03, 01:11 PM
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Stephen King has started to turn into a papermill in the past several years. I think his work took a downturn at "Nightmares and Dreamscapes" and never really recovered. Not to say there's not some good stories in there, but nothing is of the quality of his earlier works.

Personally, I'd start with Skeleton Crew and Night Shift. There's a ton of good stories in each, many of which were made into movies (crappy movies, but movies nonetheless). Most of the stories are relatively short, and it's a good introduction to the world of Stephen King, and a good way to tell if you're going to like his work.

My absolute favorite book by him would be It. A very long, but amazing book. Reads quickly for its size.

I also preferred the original version of the Stand to the "director's cut" version.
Old 01-22-03, 11:22 PM
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I'd recommend The Shining, which is the one that really scared me. I started off with Carrie, Christine, and Firestarter myself (my junior high school library had those three.)

If you like fantasy, try The Eyes of the Dragon. One of my favorites.

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