Help my 75 year old dad get hooked on Stephen King

My dad is a binge-reader, and he called me and told me he’s started reading Stephen King. I asked him which exact book he was reading and the answer was “Christine.” I told him to put it down immediately before it ruined him for any other Stephen King books and that I’d send him a list to get started with.

He wants 4 suggestions, no more. I think my list is:

Classic early King:

Kings strong middle years:
The Shining

King’s renaissance:

Any arguments for other novels? I know The Shining isn’t on here but I think that’s the one to suggest when he comes back and asks “What book next?”

My suggestions would be:

(some might say Salem’s Lot, though that’s never been a favorite of mine)

Strong middle years:
The Stand (preferably not the extra-bloated version, if you can find it)

Duma Key or From a Buick 8
(although I agree that 11/22/63 is a great choice too)

The Dead Zone.

Oh dang, my last line in the OP should read:

‘Any arguments for other novels? I know The Stand isn’t on here but I think that’s the one to suggest when he comes back and asks “What book next?”’

Why can’t he read Christine? I’m not a big King fan, but it’s a perfectly serviceable supernatural thriller, surely?

I would have counted The Shining as early; and would have at least considered that as my example of early King. Firestarter isn’t one that immediately springs to mind as either his very best or most representative. I do like 11/22/63 as a representative of recent King. I’d be tempted to throw a collection of short stories or novellas on the list.

But really, I’d want to know your dad and his tastes before giving my recommendation.

Hmm. Tough choice for a new King reader. The Stand is actually my favorite of his earlier novels, but it might be a bit much for a new reader to try just to see if he likes the author. I would actually also suggest The Shining for his early stuff, or maybe The Dead Zone. Bonus for going with The Shining is being able to segue immediately to Doctor Sleep to pick up Danny’s story (I found this to be much more in King’s usual wheelhouse than the more recent Mr. Mercedes).

Concur with It for the “middle years,” though I’ve always particularly liked Misery for its musings on authorial obligation to readers. The Dark Half also has an author protagonist, though the story is much, um, darker.

As for recent years, there’s the aforementioned Doctor Sleep if you’re pairing it with The Shining, although I also agree 11/22/63 is a good choice. Mr. Mercedes is King’s attempt at crime drama and reads like an extended episode of Criminal Minds (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just atypical).

Oddly enough, I’ve never actually read two of his earliest, Carrie and Firestarter (I do mean to at some point), so I have no opinion on them.

So, my four suggestions would be:[ul][]The Shining[]The Dead Zone[]Misery[]Doctor Sleep[/ul]The added benefit being none of these are amongst his longest works, which I’d save for the second round.

I’d recommend Dead Zone and 11/22/63. They’re kind of thematically related. The main characters both are teachers and both concern assassination. One being an early work, the other being much more recent will give him an idea on how King’s writing has changed over the years. Based on which he likes more, give other recommendations based on that.

If he’s going to binge, I’d recommend Danse Macabre. It’s a collection of essays in which King examines horror, fantasy and the like in film, books and TV. Excellent read!

He might like IT. The sections with the kids in the 50’s are awesome. Yeah, the ending bites but the rest of the story rocks.


Start him on Night Shift. Short stories scared the hell out of me.

Why not Salem’sLot?

I liked both Joyland and the recent Mr. Mercedes as well.

The Green Mile and Rita Hayward and the Shawshank Redemption. And get the DVD’s too.

Loved Salem’s Lot.
The Shining is a must.
The Dead Zone for sure.
IT is some fantastic storytelling.
Pet Sematary for general creepiness.
The Dark Tower series, although books 5 and 6 are lame.
Cujo is good too.

My personal list:

Dolores Claiborne
Pet Semetery

I didn’t care much for It or a lot of his other longer books. I think he gets too long-winded and goes off on too many tangents in his longer books and I get bored with the tangents. His shorter books are more focused and I enjoy them a lot more. Just my opinion.

I had a hard time not putting The Green Mile and The Shining on my list.

I feel like there has to be a short story collection. King’s mastery in the format makes him pretty unique among modern novelists. It’s a tough choice but I’d go with “Skeleton Crew.”

The Long Walk.

I’ve read a fair bit of King, but certainly nowhere near all of his stuff. (looking through his work, I’ve read 17 of his books and have recently started Doctor Sleep). Of those, I’d pick the following 4:

The Shining (I read this after I saw the movie and was startled how much scarier the book was)

The fourth is tough. I loved the majority of the stories from *Everything’s Eventual *(with 1408 among the most terrifying stories I’ve read from him)…so I’m leaning that way.

I remember really, really liking The Dead Zone but I haven’t read it in 20 years, so I’m not sure how it compares nowadays.

Just looking back, I started looking over the Skeleton Crew stores too, and those were pretty flippin’ good too, though I read that when I was a teenager. I remember The Raft getting to me a bit. I should re-read that.

I agree that From a Buick 8 should be on the list. My 79-year-old dad loved it, having read only 12/22/63