Stephen King is not just one of the most-renowned horror authors, he’s one of the most well-known authors, period. The “King of Horror” has sold over 350 million copies globally and has written more than 60 novels. With so many to choose from, you might not know where to start.
We’ll outline a few options for you. Whichever you choose, experts suggest that it’s well worth it. “[King] has one of the most accessible writing styles in books,” says Gavin Wichmann, a bookseller at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I don’t read a ton of horror nor a ton of thriller, but I still find it easy to fall into his books. ...He just feels like the quintessential American neighbor.”
What is Stephen King’s biggest-selling book?
One place to start is with King’s top-seller. According to Writing Beginner, King’s biggest-selling book is “The Shining.” The novel was published in 1977 and tells the story of Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic, who moves to the remote Overlook Hotel with his family to work as the hotel's caretaker. According to King’s website, “Evil forces residing in the Overlook – which has a long and violent history – covet young Danny,” Jack’s son, “for his precognitive powers and exploit Jack’s weaknesses to try to claim the boy.”
What is Stephen King’s scariest book?
You could begin with the American author's scariest novel. However, which one is scariest is purely subjective. “He writes such a wide variety of horror that I don’t think there is any one answer,” says Wichmann. “Depends on who you are. … Some people have very specific fears.”
Experts have suggestions though. Wichmann points to “Cujo,” which is about a friendly St.-Bernard-dog-turned-killer, and “IT,” which is about an evil creature that preys on kids. Wichmann’s co-worker at Joseph-Beth Olivia Suttles gives King’s best-seller as her answer. She describes "The Shining" as the first book to scare her enough to keep her up at night. David Williamson, who runs Betts Books, an online bookstore that sells Stephen King collectible titles, chooses “Pet Sematary." The novel tells the story of a father and an ancient burial ground with “sinister properties.”
What makes King’s novels so frightening is a sense of believability. Williamson finds “Pet Sematary” scary because he’s a father and can relate to the fears and feelings of the main character in that way. Suttles echoes this general sentiment. “A lot of it is stuff that can happen to anybody and [King] just takes that and turns that all on its head,” she says. “I think that’s part of what makes it scary. Because you could look at that and think “‘Oh no, that could happen to me.’”
She adds, “King has a knack for turning common experiences into something absolutely terrifying.”
What is the newest Stephen King book in 2023?
Maybe you want to start your dive into King’s world with his latest release. If that’s the case, check out “Holly.” Released in September, the novel follows Holly Gibney, a character who also appeared in “Mr. Mercedes,” “Finders Keepers," and “The Outsider." In “Holly,” the title character works to solve the case of a missing young woman. NPR states that the book is a “gripping crime novel,” but “one that’s very close to the horror aesthetic King is known for.” The novel also has a political element. “Holly” is mostly set in 2021 and draws on timely political issues.
Key takeaway: There are many ways to pick your first King book to read. Try one of these options, or go to your local bookstore and ask for suggestions. You probably won’t regret it.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Which Stephen King book should I read first?