#SKweek Where to Start Reading?
As Stephen King is a very prolific writer, it’s incredibly hard to decide where to start. Do you start with his first published book, or his latest work? A thin one, or a thick tome? Below I’ve made a short breakdown for a place to start for different kinds of readers. I do believe there is a King book for almost everyone – he has written so much and so broadly, there is always one you will enjoy (unless you truly hate his style, of course).
Maybe you’re not very used to paranormal elements in books – Firestarter is a great place to start. This is also the first Stephen King book my mother read, who is usually a mystery and thriller reader. The story about a father and trying to protect his pyrokinetic daughter from the government that want her to experiment on will appeal to readers that love action packed books.
First, a man and a woman are subjects of a top-secret government experiment designed to produce extraordinary psychic powers.
Then, they are married and have a child. A daughter.
Early on the daughter shows signs of a wild and horrifying force growing within her. Desperately, her parents try to train her to keep that force in check, to “act normal.”
Now the government wants its brainchild back – for its own insane ends.
If you’re used to reading serialised fantasy books, the Dark Tower series might be for you. Starting with The Gunslinger this series at the moment encompasses seven books. The books have a Western kind of feel, and with over 160000 ratings for the first book on Goodreads, the series is very well-loved.
Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King’s most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement.
In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.
Arguably one of the best post-apocalyptic novels ever written, The Stand is one of Stephen King’s most read books. With an average rating of 4.30 on Goodreads, it’s clear that even forty years after first publication The Stand is still very influential. It is a huge book that I personally haven´t dared to best yet, but it’s very high on my TBR.
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
I had a terribly hard time picking just one book for the horror fan, but I’m going with IT (with an honourable mention for The Shining). It is one of the only books ever that I had a nightmare about. And no – it wasn’t about the clown. In my dream It was a giant blood-covered parrot.
Traumas aside, It is one of the awesomest and longest books I’ve ever read, and I’d love to reread it.
The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. “It” primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values.
Carrie was one of the first Stephen King books I read, and I think this is the most accessible one for young-adult reader. First of all it has about two-hundred fifty pages in most editions, so you’re not signing up for a month-long read. Secondly the entire book revolves around Carrie, a teenage girl that discovers her telekinetic powers. It’s very differently written from contemporary young-adult, but the story is amazing and let’s be honest, high school is still the same horrible place it was forty years ago sometimes.
The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.