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Thread: Stephen King - where to start?

  1. #1
    figuring it all out HaHs's Avatar
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    Stephen King - where to start?

    Never read any Stephen King. Never really watched any adaptations of his work either, though I've seen The Shining (and also the episode of Friends that talks about it a lot). That's literally the extent of my SK experience.

    But I do want to try some of his work. The question is, where do I start?
    What do you recommend?

  2. #2
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    My first recs . . . maybe more as I think on it:

    The Stand
    It
    From a Buick 8
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  3. #3
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaHs View Post
    Never read any Stephen King. Never really watched any adaptations of his work either, though I've seen The Shining (and also the episode of Friends that talks about it a lot). That's literally the extent of my SK experience.

    But I do want to try some of his work. The question is, where do I start?
    What do you recommend?
    If you're not deeply familiar with horror as a genre, I'd suggest Dolores Claiborne, though Bag of Bones is extraordinary.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    I'd start with a short collection, like Night Shift, and then maybe something in the middle, though it'd help to know what kind of stuff you're interested in, as he does have a range of stuff -- I think I'd suggest 11-22-63, because it's more mainstream, not really horror, and interesting on a bunch of levels, maybe Needful things, which I think straddles the line and I like...

    I wouldn't suggest The Stand, to start. I know people love it; I hate it. That's not why I wouldn't recommend it, exactly. I think it's kind of the epitome of what separates people on King; it embodies what I find irritating in some of his work, and what some people love (a LOT of people really like some of his stuff, either by name/series/whatever, and can't stand other stuff, more than with many other authors who people tend to blanket like or not, in my experience). It's polarizing and, in addition, it's a fucking doorstop.

    Not that 11-23... is short, but it's more universal. Regardless, I'd say Night Shift.

  5. #5
    Resist. Love. Go outside. Marlys's Avatar
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    Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, The Shining, Different Seasons. Then Misery, Dolores Claiborne, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I like his short stories, too.
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
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    Carrie
    Salem's Lot
    The Shining(very very different from the movie, the book is far superior)
    Pet Semetary(One of my faves!)
    Dream Catcher

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  7. #7
    Have pen, will travel Cindyt's Avatar
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    Salem's Lot
    Carrie
    Cujo
    It
    The Stand
    Different Seasons
    Any short story collection
    The only thing you can't fix is a blank page.--Bonnie Hearn Hill

    Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
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    Stephen King is one of my all time favourite writers however some of his books I just couldn't get into. He writes a wide variety so if you try one of his books and don't like it, don't assume that you won't like any of his books.

    My favourites: Misery, The Shining, Dolores Claiborne, The Dark Half, The Langoliers (novella - I think it was in "four past midnight" but I no longer have the book so I can't check, it was one of his books of novellas.)

    On my "want to read" list: 11/22/63

    Recently read: The Mr Mercedes series (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch) - the first two are different to his other works as in they're more detective novels than horror (with horror scenes, but the real world not the supernatural kind), while the 3rd is more like your traditional horror. (Yep genre shift mid series... I think King tried break as many of these "rules" that get trotted out to new writers as he could with this series.)

    Currently Reading: Dr Sleep. Sequel to The Shining many years later and the MC is Danny (the little boy) as a grown man. The story's different enough from The Shining that I'd recommend someone reading it even if they didn't particularly like The Shining.

    The ones I couldn't get into I might try reading again at some point, as tastes change as you get older. I'm also probably going to see the film IT even though I couldn't get into the book, for the simple fact that I thought that the book of The Shining was great but didn't like the film much (didn't like that they killed off Dick Hallorann - comes across as typical Hollywood racism, seeing as he was essential in the book and killing him off at the point he was killed off pretty much made the entire character pointless. Plus I was just generally expecting it to be more like the book) so it can happen the other way around, right?
    Last edited by neandermagnon; 09-24-2017 at 01:26 PM.
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  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    As someone said, It is a wonderful experience. Then I might be biased, but reading the Tower is also a good way to spend your time.

  10. #10
    figuring it all out HaHs's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recs guys. I've done some googling of the suggested books and so far Salem's Lot sounds the most appealing, so I may start there. I do also want to try a short story collection though I haven't decided which just yet. (Any nudges there are appreciated!)

  11. #11
    figuring it all out airandarkness's Avatar
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    Ha, I just asked this question on my Facebook feed. The most recs I got were for The Shining, Pet Semetary, and Needful Things. My uncle said those first two were the books that really scared him. That said, I also decided I'm going to start with Salem's Lot, just because it sounds like my kind of book and I want to start with one of his early works.

  12. #12
    Have pen, will travel Cindyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by airandarkness View Post
    Ha, I just asked this question on my Facebook feed. The most recs I got were for The Shining, Pet Semetary, and Needful Things. My uncle said those first two were the books that really scared him. That said, I also decided I'm going to start with Salem's Lot, just because it sounds like my kind of book and I want to start with one of his early works.
    Let me tell you about Salem's Lot. I read it during breaks at work and continued to the end--about 4:30 a.m. I had to be at work by 7:30 a.m., but I was too scared to fall asleep. None of his other books have scared me that bad.
    The only thing you can't fix is a blank page.--Bonnie Hearn Hill

    Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

  13. #13
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    Two recommendations based on personal anecdotes:

    One year my brother rented The Shiningand started watching it with my mother, sister and I. It was one of the only times on record when my mother turned to me and said "Jason, I think you should probably go get ready for bed" to which I had no argument. I huddled under my covers for hours. The book scarred me shortly thereafter, for better or worse.

    *****

    I have a very clear memory of my brother reading Misery one holiday season while we were all tucked in a log cabin in the cold recesses of Michigan. My mother, a cousin or two, and I were busy puzzling away when he came pattering downstairs upon finishing the book exclaiming:

    "I'm so glad someone is still awake!"

    Of course I had to read what all the hubbub was about and have been forever scarred similarly!

    *****

    Then I read IT all on my own. Then Night Shift. Most recently his On Writing.

    So, there's my contributions!
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  14. #14
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    If you're new to King, I'd suggest starting with one of his "classics" - Carrie or The Shining (I'd vote for the latter). Any of his short story collections (Four After Midnight is my favorite). And On Writing, if you want to know more about his process.
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  15. #15
    Special Snowflake? No. Hailstone RedRajah's Avatar
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    Danse Macabre is one of my favs, on the non-fiction front. It's interesting reading that and then following it up with On Writing.

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    On Writing is an excellent book that every writer should read.

    I'm not quite as big on his short story collections, but there are some gems out there.

    Starting off, you can't go wrong with the Shining or Salem's Lot as others have mentioned, but my favorites are It and The Stand.
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  17. #17
    figuring it all out Jeff Bond's Avatar
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    With King, it definitely depends where your interests lie. He's largely gone away from horror, and some of his newer stuff -- like 11/22/63 -- is downright critically acclaimed. The Mr. Mercedes series is solid crime fiction, propulsive, but even some genre titles like Joyland are kind of slow burns compared to his older stuff. I enjoy his books across the spectrum, though.

    My personal favorites are The Stand and Under the Dome. Huge worlds, broad casts. I think he's great with that type of canvas.
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  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW
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    Stephen King is going to wind up as one of the great and most revered writers of his time. Not so much because of his craft (although he's pretty good at that), but because of his energy and the breadth and depth of his narrative concepts. Almost everybody I know likes some of his work more than others of it, but the details vary widely. For me, with my reader preferences, I really like The Gunslinger, the opener of his Dark Tower series, but I didn't enjoy the sequels at the same level.

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  19. #19
    figuring it all out Felix's Avatar
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    His early short stories are riveting but my all-time favorite is The Stand. Every word is so perfectly chosen. I would love to spend an hour in his brain but I'd be terrified that I'd never make it out.
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  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW HarvesterOfSorrow's Avatar
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    My favourite novel is It. That's not just Stephen King; that's novels, in general. I could rave on and on how much I love that book and how you should read it. But when that book is clocking in at over 1,100 pages in hardcover (and I think 1,400 in paperback), maybe you should wait awhile before giving It a whirl.

    I always suggest Misery first. It's short, sweet, two people in a small house, and scary as shit. Mostly because Misery can happen. Besides that, I would suggest:

    Carrie
    Cujo
    Christine
    Different Seasons
    (a collection of novellas that ended up being adapted into Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, and Apt Pupil)
    The Shining

    "He's gone! He's gone from here! The evil is gone!"

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    John Carpenter's Halloween.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW redfalcon's Avatar
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    All of his early stuff is great. The Shining was scary ass hell. The Dark Tower series is great, different from his other stuff but great. Bag of Bones is my current favorite by King, followed by From a Buick 8. The Stand is another great one. I loved It when I was younger, every time I reread it as I get older the prepubescent gang bang to fight evil gets creepier so I've given that one up.

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