I have wanted to do a personal ranking of Stephen Kings novels for sometime now and have finally got around to doing it. This is not an original idea of course and if you look around on the internet you will find more, none of them the same as mine however.
I have not included the books written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (despite not being able to rank 'Thinner', one of my very favourite Stephen King books), collections of novellas and short stories, ( I have counted 'Hearts In Atlantis' as a collection), any non fiction works, e-publications, collaborations and The Dark Tower Series - they are a world apart from the novels. I have also omitted 'From A Buick 8', 'Joyland' and 'Dr Sleep' (this has my name on it for Xmas) which I haven't yet read but plan on doing so and will then add them to the rankings.
Stephen King's writing isn't for everyone but a lot of people haven't even tried his books for various reasons, mostly the stories are all viewed as horrors (which they aren't, well not the blood and guts type you may be expecting) and put some readers off but by far the most popular reason for not giving one a go is snobbery - any popular author is viewed as rubbish by many and Stephen King is obviously incredibly popular and by the book snobs reasoning the books must therefore be incredibly badly written. Not so as Stephen Fry commented on his BBC programme 'Planet Word' so if that doesn't satisfy even the most discerning of book hounds I don't know what will.
With these preconceptions in mind I have underlined the books that I think are most likely to appeal to new King readers - why not give one a crack?
The Stand - because this is the undisputed masterpiece and almost wiping out the human race is my favourite type of story
Dolores Claiborne - the strongest characterisation in all King's works, that's just my opinion of course, I read this in one sitting the first time and nearly fried my eyes
The Green Mile (originally published in six parts: The Two Dead Girls, The Mouse on the Mile, Coffey's Hands, The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, Night Journey, and Coffey on the Mile) - anyone who has seen the film will know this is just a damn good story. I first read this story when it came out in monthly instalments and it just about killed me having to wait a month for the next book, now of course I have them all and can read it all in one go - heaven
Misery - this really could happen, something similar probably has, that makes this book very creepy
It - a glorious epic celebrating childhood
The Tommyknockers - who doesn't love an alien invasion yarn? Don't let that put you off though - just like all these books it is really about people
Cell - Zombies, a road trip, a race against time and a plethora of characters, you gotta love it
Firestarter - revenge is always a goodie
The Dead Zone - special powers, an evil baddie and a moral dilemma, a golden oldie
Carrie - where it all began, Carrie will always have a special place on my bookshelf
Rose Madder - total girl power
Insomnia - grey power this time!
Bag of Bones - we all like a ghost story, especially with a Kingly spin on it
Pet Sematary - damn scary, I still have mental images but it's just too good not to read
The Shining - a famous film but as usual there is so much more in the book, I can't wait to read 'Dr Sleep' which solves the 'what happened next' question
The Eyes of the Dragon - a beautiful book, an old time fairy tale
Christine - the first King film I ever saw but again the book has more depth and scared me big time
11/22/63 - intricate storytelling, very clever
Dreamcatcher - friendship, aliens, a race to save the world - what fun!
Needful Things - a reminder that we all have secrets, some of them very unsavoury
Duma Key - big, low key story - sorry about the pun but if the word fits....
Salem's Lot - the only book on this list I could only read once - it gave me serious nightmares - well played Mr King (of course I was a lot younger then, I'm sure I would be ok now)
Cujo - just plain good reading, this story doesn't hang about
Under the Dome - the implosion of an isolated town is always a joy
Cycle of the Werewolf - another fairy tale with fabulous illustrations
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon - just go with it and see where it takes you, I think there are different ways to view this one
Gerald's Game - mind games, they mess with your head, but I guess that's the idea
Lisey's Story - the story of a marriage and yet more girl power - never a bad thing
Desperation - I have to be in the mood for this one but when I am it really worms it's way into my brain
So there it is, my personal ranking for now, no doubt it will change over time but it has definitely inspired me to do some re reading of old favourites, I think I will leave Salem's Lot until last though, just to be on the safe side .