Hearts in Atlantis was surprisingly good. A bit weird in spots, though. I recommend it.
I am going to echo the call for his short stories. Even his best novels fall short on the endings, but he shines consistently in short story format. I would suggest* Night Shift* as it has more of the stories that have been adapted to other media that he might be familiar with.
And please, please, please get King’s memoir On Writing. An absolutely fascinating read.
I agree with Rick and Hello Again and think it would be best to start with one of the short story collections.
I’m not a King afficianado, so would suggesting The Bachman Books be considered heresy? I never had the patience for King’s novels, but I ate up The Bachman Books.
Needful Things got me hooked after I tried first with the Dark Tower which I could not get thru.
I loved Hearts in Atlantis-but for a new King reader, I just don’t think it’s representative.
Seconded. I was really surprised by the movie. I had not read the book and the movie, as good as it was, was only the first segment of the book.
Oh man, this is so hard to choose. So many good ones mentioned here to read as he gets deeper into the addiction, but this is about finding the best gateway drugs. Like, I’ll encourage him to read Eyes of the Dragon (love that book), and On Writing to see how widely King can range in genre, but is that the place to start? Probably not.
Maybe we are at:
11/22/63 (which I’m 100% committed to being on the list)
I haven’t read a lot of his stuff, but *Thinner *is just an amazing book. It was the 1st or 2nd King novel I ever read, and I’d definitely recommend it first in your shoes.
Pet Sematary was my introduction to King, and I was immediately hooked.
Misery is a must.
Definitely Night Shift or Skeleton Crew or both. I think it’s some of his best work. Your Dad can get a good idea of what King’s all about real quick.
Next, Misery. No supernatural stuff at all, a great plot, and so well-written. I only hope your Dad hasn’t seen the movie! It was a fine movie, but it’s always nice to not know how something’s going to turn out.
The Shining is my favorite (beating Misery by a thin margin), so I would definitely recommend that.
And fourth, The Stand.
I would say these books are in the top ten books I’ve enjoyed most in my lifetime, by anyone. I hope your dad feels the same way, I’d be interested to hear what he thinks!
I am in much the same camp.
The other nice thing about the Bachman books is that The Running Man is so different from the movie that it should show the OP’s father how you can’t judge any of King’s books by the movies produced from them.
I’m surprised to see Misery and the Dark Tower books recommended so often. I read King extensively for several years. Misery was the last book I read. It’s unfair to blame Misery alone for the fact that I haven’t returned to King, but it left me totally unsatisfied. The movie really was a better telling of that story, and I’m still not sure there is a story to be had anywhere in the Dark Tower.
Going back to the OP: The Stand is what got me into King in the first place and would be right at the top of the list. But maybe the fact that I like The Stand so much better than everything else makes it unrepresentative of King’s overall work?
King’s newest book Revival is very very good. It may even rank among his best. But it is also one of the darkest things I have come across in quite a while. I’m not sure it is appropriate for a 75-year old. Some books are better to read when you are younger.
How no one has made this into a low budget, creepy as hell movie, despite rumors for more than a decade, is beyond me.
The Stand is essential, as are his various collections of short stories, including the Green Mile. Another set of books not usually mentioned are The Regulators and Desperation. They’re meant to be read together. Good stuff.
Start with his novella “The Body”. It will evoke his own childhood and doesn’t contain any of the supernatural elements of King’s other work. Also, rent the movie “Stand by Me”, based on the novella. Both are outstanding works.
Then go to “Misery”, which again shows King’s writing talent at his best, plus introduces an element of horror, but not the supernatural. Again, the movie is excellent.
Then try “11/22/63”, which deals with historical events and adds in time travel in an entirely believable way.
If he’s not hooked by then, he’s not going to enjoy things like “Salem’s Lot”.
I don’t understand the hatred for Christine. Granted I read it years ago when I was much younger, but I enjoyed it. If your dad likes it, let him like it.
The Stand is always a good read during flu season.
I also really enjoyed It.
Really? My mother’s that age, and was born during WWII. Someone in that age group would remember peers dying of childhood diseases, the Nuremberg trials, the Korean War, the Viet Nam war, the Rev Jim Jones and Jonestown, any number of political scandals, the civil rights struggle (various flavors), Watergate, the hippies, free love, the yuppies, disco, and a whole boatload of friends and family dying along the way. They’d also have seen or heard of some horrible things happening in “nice” families and less-nice families.
I think that older people have far more toughness than people give them credit for.
True enough. It’s just that the story has a rather grim message for the aged. This is the first Stephen King story that actually gave me a nightmare after finishing it.