Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to dedicate a post to one of the best horror writers of all time.
No, I’m not talking about H.P. Lovecraft, or the not-really-scary-at-all Edgar Allan Poe, but about Stephen King, as you probably already guessed from looking at the title. So for those of you who haven’t read Stephen King but are thinking about trying him out, this is the post for you.
(Keep in mind, I haven’t read all of his books yet, so feel free to recommend some of his novels not mentioned here if you like.)
If you don’t actually like horror, you may enjoy Different Seasons, a collection of novellas, the best of which were Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption and The Body. The former is an inspiring story of hope, and the ending is so powerful that if I were a doctor, I’d prescribe this story in the place of antidepressants, and I’m sure my patients would thank me for it. The latter’s a beautifully written coming of age story, filled to the brim with almost too much nostalgia.
If you like romance, I’d suggest 11/22/63. This book is a love story disguised as a time travel novel, and the ending made me shed a heart shaped tear.
If you like vampires, you’ll love Salem’s Lot. Admittedly this book starts out slow, since it takes a while for the vampires to truly become a threat, but trust me when I tell you that it pays off well. These vampires are nothing like the ones in Twilight—they are vicious, horrifying creatures that are almost impossible to kill.
If you like not being able to sleep at night, then I’d suggest reading The Boogeyman: a short story in the collection Night Shift (I’ve only read a couple of those stories so far), which caused me to check my closet before going to bed each night. Then there’s It, which is about a crazy creature, usually taking the form of a clown, that comes back every twenty-seven years or so to feed on innocent children. His (though it’s actually a her) picture is shown above. Lastly, there’s The Shining, which is one of the few books to actually make me sweat while reading.
If you like suspense, but not the type that keeps you up at night, then my first suggestion would be The Gingerbread Girl, a short story in the collection Just After Sunset. It starts with the feel of a soap opera, but quickly turns into a action thriller when a psychotic killer kidnaps the main character and she then tries to escape. Then there’s The Running Man, a dystopian story not unlike The Hunger Games, where a man is being hunted down by an entire nation for the sake of entertainment.
If you enjoy thought-provoking novels, try Sometimes They Come Back, which is a bittersweet short story about someone with post 9/11 survivor’s guilt. There’s also The Stand, if you don’t mind the length.
If you like fantasy, try out The Dark Tower series. I’ve only read the first three novels in the series, but they were terrific. The Gunslinger was a strange, beautifully written story about the main character Roland, who’s basically a more badass version of Clint Eastwood. The Drawing of the Three was just a set-up book, but it was the best set up book I’ve ever read. The Waste Lands was simply terrific, and the ending hung on the biggest cliff of all.
If you like children’s books, you may like The Eyes of the Dragon, a light fantasy book King wrote for his young daughter. There’s some parts in the novel that aren’t exactly child-friendly, but for the most part the content stays PG level.
If you like young adult fiction, (as in, the main characters are teenagers), you might enjoy Carrie, which is a lot like a John Green book, except not at all. There’s also The Long Walk, in which a hundred teenage boys compete in a competition where you must out-walk everyone else. But here’s the kicker: the moment you slow down under four miles per hour more than three times, you get shot down. This book makes you feel physical pain.
Have a nice time developing mental scars, everybody.