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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2018/01/12 Permalink
    Tags: bag of bones, black house, blaze, , cell, christine, cujo, cycle of the werewolf, delores claiborne, desperation, dreamcatcher, duma key, end of watch, , , from a buick 8, gerald's game, , , joyride, lisey's story, mr. murder, needful things, rage, , roadwork, rose madder, , , stephen king books, stephen king books ranked, take a stand, the colorado kid, the dark half, , , the girl who loved tom gordon, the regulators, the running man, the shining, , the talisman, the tommyknockers, under the dome   

    A Definitive Ranking of Every Stephen King Novel Ever 

    Stephen King is a literary icon, a status he’s achieved by a) defining a genre; b) writing brilliantly; and c) being prolific. In other words, not only has Stephen King written some genius novels (and short stories, novellas, essays, and works of criticism), but he’s written a lot of them—49 novels to date, in fact, with number 50 coming up shortly.

    Note, however, the use of the word “some” up there. While we’d argue that King has never written a bad novel, there’s certainly a spread. We don’t just read the books so you don’t have to, we also rank them so you don’t have to. Without further ado, here’s how we see the novels of Stephen King—from absolute genius to, well, not so genius.

    To Be Determined: The Outsider

    King’s newest novel is due out in May, 2018. What do we know? We know it involves the brutal murder of a small boy, and that a mountain of physical evidence pointing to a beloved schoolteacher and family man as the killer. King loves stories about exploring the dark side of a person, but we’ll have to wait and see what he does with the plot this time around. After all, it’s never as simple as that.

    49. The Tommyknockers

    King has been open about his past drug abuse and other issues, and admits he wrote this book while high as a kite. It shows. Oh lord, does it show. Somewhere under the heart-pounding, jittery self-loathing, there’s a fascinating germ of an idea—alien artifacts (including an entire spaceship) are compulsively unearthed by folks in a small town, with disastrous results—but the only term that really fits the final product is “hot mess.” Though an immanently readable hot mess.

    48. Rage

    There’s a term for a writer’s early work: juvenilia. This novel was King’s first, and was later published under the Bachman pseudonym. The story of a teenager who murders two teachers and takes a classroom of students hostage, it’s quite simply not very good in comparison to what followed, filled with the sort of overheated writing that young authors often engage in while thinking they’re being provocative. After a rash of shootings at schools, King pulled this book from distribution, and it’s hard to find these days—and not worth chasing down, save out of curiosity or super-fandom.

    47. Rose Madder

    This messy novel reads like two separate stories merged together uncomfortably. In one, you have a realistic and brutal tale of an abused woman. In the other, there’s a magic painting that serves as a portal to another world. Even after the abused woman steps into said painting to flee her attacker, they never stop feeling like two separate stories.

    46. Cell

    We won’t say King phoned this one in (because that would be a bad pun), but it does almost read as a parody of his vintage work. From the flimsy premise—a mysterious pulse turns anyone caught speaking on a cell phone into a hungry, aggressive zombie—to the stiff dialogue, there’s not much to recommend here beyond some admittedly visceral thrills and the veiled references to The Dark Tower.

    45. The Regulators

    The mirror novel to Desperation is entertaining and has some moments of fantastic, chilling horror, but the premise (an autistic boy, assisted by the same evil entity that orchestrates the horrors of Desperation, gains the ability to alter reality in his neighborhood) wears thin by the end. What’s more, without the interesting parallels to its sister novel, The Regulators is much less interesting still.

    44. Dreamcatcher

    King wrote this alien invasion story shortly after he survived his famous accident, and it reads like a journal kept by a man in immense pain (and on a lot of painkillers). It’s the sort of body horror that can be—and frequently is— effectively creepy, but the verisimilitude actually goes too far, until you feel like you’re reading King’s private pain journal. On top of that, the self-consciously gross and hilariously-named monsters (literally called “sh*t-weasels”) come off as silly rather than scary. The less said about the ill-advised film adaptation, the better.

    43. Bag of Bones

    This isn’t a bad novel—in fact, it’s pretty darn good. If another writer had published it, we’d look on it more fondly. But since it was written by King, you can’t help but notice that it’s in just about every way a retread of themes, motifs, and tics he’s explored before—and usually better. A good novel? Yep. A mediocre Stephen King novel? Double yep.

    42. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    This is the story of a girl who gets lost in the woods with nothing but her portable radio, tuned to the Red Sox game. That’s it. As exposure and dehydration worsen her physically, she hallucinates a pretty horrific scenario, leading to a battle with the God of the Lost in which the terrifying creatures and events mirror the reality of her struggle to survive. It’s a slight story that now also suffers from being a bit dated—after all, Tom Gordon isn’t exactly a household name any more.

    41. From A Buick 8

    Use a high concept (a 1953 Buick Roadmaster abandoned at a gas station is not, in fact, a 1953 Buick Roadmaster, but some kind of doorway to another dimension that occasionally disgorges bizarre alien items or creatures) to tell a series of stories about it in a campfire/ghost story structure, and the result should be something great. While the individual stories are interesting, and the overall concept creepy, the lack of a definitive ending to it all undercuts the success of the novel.

    40. Joyland

    Another story as flimsy as it is pleasant, Joyland is basically a toothless coming-of-age narrative with just a hint of a mystery. It’s an enjoyable read, but doesn’t really stick with you, good or bad. It just is.

    39. Cujo

    Cujo has some great ideas, but is among the weakest of King’s earlier novels. While it sports his usual skill at depicting characters and setting, ultimately it’s a story trying to wring horror and tension from a rabid dog; while it’s well worth reading, it never quite leaps off the page the way some of King’s more successful books have.

    38. Blaze

    Blaze is a tough one to rank. It’s well-written and often engaging, but ultimately, the story of a brain-damaged con artist who kidnaps a wealthy man’s baby for ransom then bonds with the child is kind of weightless. There’s nothing “wrong” with it, it’s just a story you forget almost immediately, which is something you can’t usually say about King’s work.

    37. Dolores Claiborne

    Your mileage will vary on this one. Some fans rank it much higher. Told as a long, rambling monologue by the title character, it’s impressive that King can maintain such a unique voice for so many pages, but rock-solid technique aside, the story—while not uninteresting—is slow as molasses. Some readers thrill to the immersive experience and the slow-burn mystery, but others find it hard rowing.

    36. Doctor Sleep

    To say there was some excitement among King fans when a sequel to The Shining was announced would be an understatement. The book is actually less a sequel and more an update on the character of Danny Torrance—which is fine. Danny is more interesting as a supernaturally gifted adult than he was as a kid, but the antagonists are, in a word, weak. You might read “spiritual vampires” and think otherwise. You would be wrong.

    35. Finders Keepers

    The middle novel of King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy is a pretty good procedural yarn that ties into the first novel in interesting ways, but then sets up the third book in a clunky, heavy-handed fashion. Te reason it’s not a few ticks higher on this list is mostly because King engages in some rare lazy plot work, making a few things happen simply because he needs them to in order for the plot to hang together. King almost never cheats, so it really hurts this one.

    34. Duma Key

    The story of an artist who loses an arm and gains the ability to affect events through his paintings, there is much to love in this lush and often frightening novel. But it’s also rambling and a bit overlong. A tighter edit would push it up this ranking.

    33. The Colorado Kid

    When you’ve written as much as King, experiments are inevitable and laudable. This straightforward crime novel is an experiment that takes a decent if not particularly riveting story and ruins it, because it’s a mystery that is never resolved. According to King (and we believe him) that was the whole point, but while we give him credit for the artistic ambition, it renders the book frustrating.

    32. Cycle of the Werewolf

    Each chapter in this illustrated novel is a self-contained story that links with all the others to form the narrative. It’s a pretty straightforward werewolf story about a small town terrorized by one of the creatures, whose true identity is worked out by a wheelchair-bound boy—but it’s very well handled, and the unusual structure elevates it.

    31. Roadwork

    A truly underrated novel, and one of the few full-length novels King wrote that has absolutely zero supernatural or horror ingredients. It’s the story of a broken man served with an eminent domain buyout from the city, which intends to build a highway through his neighborhood, and his increasingly violent efforts to resist. It’s pretty intense novel, with a gut-punch of an epilogue, and has actually become more relevant as time has marched on.

    30. Lisey’s Story

    There is some great stuff in this novel, centered on the widow of a brilliant novelist as she reflects on their relationship and private and unique language while dealing with the emergence of repressed memories and the very real threat of a super-fan stalker who goes from threatening to violent. While King’s rumination on the inner workings of a relationship is interesting, there’s far too much of it in here, and the supernatural aspects feel tacked on. That said, at its core, this is a very good story, and certainly one of the most unusual in King’s oeuvre.

    29. The Running Man

    An early novel published under the Bachman pseudonym, The Running Man depicts a dystopia centered on an insane gameshow—this time having the contestant hunted by professional assassins on live television. It’s one of the most action-packed of all King’s novels, more of a thriller with a fantastic premise than anything else—but it’s a tightly written, gripping sci-fi story that has aged very well.

    28. Under the Dome

    King fans argue about this one a lot, but in many ways, it’s classic King. The premise is elevator pitch-ready (a town discovers that an impenetrable, invisible dome has suddenly appeared, cutting it off from the rest of the world), the characters are vividly imagined and (mostly) realistically drawn, and the payoff is one of the more clever and imaginative ones he’s ever engineered.

    27. Desperation

    Another of King’s ambitious experiments was the simultaneous publication of Desperation (under his own name) and The Regulators (under the Bachman pseudonym), with the books telling stories set in parallel universes that share characters and other elements. Of the two, we rank Desperation much higher: the tight, claustrophobic atmosphere of its premise—people traveling a lonely highway are pulled over and kidnapped by a possessed police officer and imprisoned—is a creepy and effective.

    26. End of Watch

    The final book in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy nudges the story into the supernatural, as the serial killer Mr. Mercedes has acquired some limited mental abilities that allow him to manipulate people and objects from his coma-like state. It’s a genius move, elevating the story beyond its need to wrap up the story and tie off the loose ends.

    25. Mr. Mercedes

    King’s efforts to evolve as a writer have produced some great work. While Mr. Mercedes, the first of a trilogy of crime novels, isn’t perfect (some of the characterizations are a bit thin and clichéd, as if King were aping other crime novels or TV shows) it’s tense, pivoting on a serial killer (who opens the story by running down innocent people in a Mercedes, hence his moniker) who taunts a retired police detective with his plans to kill again and again.

    24. The Dark Half

    Some of the best stories have very simple concepts. This one is razor-sharp: a writer finds that the pseudonym he’s been writing under has become much more real—and independent—than should be possible. And his dark half is doing terrible things. The psychological richness of this idea, especially considering King’s own history with pseudonyms, combined with the tightness of the writing put this one in the middle of the pack.

    23. Black House

    When King and Straub wrote The Talisman, King’s multiverse was still more of a notion than a firm concept. Its sequel, however, ties Jack’s story of parallel universes firmly to King’s Dark Tower saga, as an adult Jack whose memories of his earlier adventures have been repressed slowly realizes a serial killer plaguing a small town is actually an agent of the Crimson King. Jack retains his rare ability to flip between universes, and must reluctantly take on the task of saving not just his own, but all of them. It’s a rare example of a sequel that updates and matures its characters, themes, and universe in equal measure.

    22. Revival

    Revival is one of King’s best recent efforts—a chilling and unique work of horror that hits all the right buttons. A beloved minister loses his faith and pursues experiments in “secret electricity” that enable him to heal almost any affliction (with terrible side effects). He creates an experiment in order to communicate with the afterlife—and comes to the awful realization that the afterlife is a hell in which enormous, ancient monsters enslave and torture all humans, no matter what kind of lives they led. It’s bleak, depressing, and a fantastic read.

    21. Sleeping Beauties

    Co-written with his son Owen, this 2017 novel supports a high-concept premise (women begin falling into a supernatural-like sleep, becoming cocooned in a gauzy material, and react violently to attempts to wake them) with a rock-solidly realistic world to support it. The key to many of King’s best ideas is the futility of fighting against forces you have no control over; in this case, the women’s efforts to stay awake indefinitely has that rough-edge of pure terror that propels this novel into the top-half of King’s work.

    20. Christine

    If you stop to think about it, it’s remarkable King could take a hoary old premise like “haunted car goes on killing spree” and somehow generate a thoughtfully scary novel from it—but Christine is so much more than the sum of its parts. Tapping into the excruciating pain of being gross and unpopular in high school, King transforms adolescent rage into a universally horrifying experience.

    19. Needful Things

    The first part of this story is just King gleefully turning the crank, bringing the tension to an almost unbearable level before unleashing hell. A simple concept—a magical store where your darkest desires can be acquired, for a hidden and terrifying price—is elevated into a commentary on humanity, society, and the craven nature of people’s inner lives. When it’s casually parodied on Rick and Morty, you know you’ve written an all-time classic.

    18. Gerald’s Game

    Another choice that will likely spark some arguments, Gerald’s Game is one of King’s least supernatural horror stories, finding its terror in helplessness. The genius comes in the levels of helplessness King explores, ranging from the helpless sense of being trapped in a relationship, to the helplessness experienced by victims of child abuse, to the literal helplessness of being tied to a bed in a remote, deserted location. There’s a reason this book inspired one of the best King film adaptations of all time.

    17. Thinner

    Another Bachman Book, the premise for this thriller is so sharp and simple you can sum it up in one elevator pitch-ready sentence: a selfish, overweight man kills a gypsy woman and escapes justice, but is cursed by her father to grow ever thinner, no matter how much he eats. That’s it. It’s that simple. As the man steadily loses weight, his desperation grows to frightening levels. The richness of this plot, full of dark symbolism for modern-day America, remains powerful—and the blackly comic ending still packs a punch.

    16. Insomnia

    King himself regards the novel as something of a failure, but there are two reasons we rank this one, which is about a man who loses the ability to sleep and starts experiencing strange visions that might be more than simple hallucinations,  so highly. One, Insomnia is inextricably linked to The Dark Tower series, and could even be regarded as an essential part of it, in a sense—it features the first mention of the Crimson King, in fact. Two, it’s a daring and ambitious story, exploring some of King’s most stunning concepts with a real emotional punch, and a classic King premise involving a character who loses control of their own body.

    15. The Long Walk

    You know your writing career is going well when you’re forced to invent a secret identity in order to publish all the books you’re writing. The Long Walk, another one of the infamous Bachman Books, was The Hunger Games before The Hunger Games, except reduced to its most brutal basics—a group of young people are forced to walk until all but one of them is dead. It remains a surprisingly effective dystopian thriller.

    14. The Eyes of the Dragon

    While King is still often described as a “horror writer,” he’s been exploring other types of stories throughout his career. In this fantasy, King shows that he can craft a devious plot using any tropes at hand, and displays the same sort of worldbuilding prowess that has made The Dark Tower books so powerful.

    13. The Talisman

    Another transporting fantasy entry. Many of King’s stories involve children; the limited agency and mystification with adult concerns enhances the terror of his bogeymen and grants a level of verisimilitude to some of his more fanciful concepts. Co-written with Peter Straub, this story of parallel universes, which can be traversed if your twin in the other universe has died, centers on 12 year-old Jack. Jack seeks to cure his mother’s terminal cancer by locating a magical talisman, leading him through several dark and dangerous adventures that add up to one of King’s most satisfying stories, though the blatant homophobia throughout does dull its sheen, three decades on.

    12. Firestarter

    Ultimately, many of King’s best stories deal with primal forces, forces that are so terrifying in part because we can’t control them. Nothing is more primal than a child’s simple view of the world, when coupled with her immature impulse control—especially when that child has the power to set just about anything on fire with her mind. This one gets overlooked even by long-time fans, but a reread will remind you of its unadorned storytelling genius.

    11. Pet Sematary

    One of King’s greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to zero in on fundamental human experiences—like the loss of a beloved pet, the powerful yearning we all experience when we lose any creature that we care for, the state of fear parents live in for their children’s safety. What would you do to bring something—or someone—back? King asks that question and then offers a story that could have been kind of silly, but makes it absolutely terrifying when the magical titular spot does indeed bring the dead back to life—except different.

    10. The Green Mile

    One of the most successful of a string of King “publishing experiments,” The Green Mile was originally released as a “serial novel” in six installments. It’s the story of a mountainous, simple-minded black man named John Coffey, who in 1932 arrives on death row at a penitentiary nicknamed the Green Mile, having been convicted of murdering two white girls. King masterfully mixes issues of race, sadism, and mercy into the story as Coffey’s innocence becomes clear in parallel to the realization among some of the more compassionate guards that he has incredible empathetic and healing powers.

    9. ‘Salem’s Lot

    King is the consummate artist who respects what came before and builds on it. Raised on old-school vampire stories, his take on the story incorporates all the classic tropes, from the slightly insane vampire’s assistant to all the old rules involving sunlight, permission to enter, and seduction—and gives them all a modern twist that still feels fresh and frightening, even four decades after its publication.

    8. 11/22/63

    King’s career is so long, he’s been through several phases, like any artist. 11/22/63 is part of a late-career surge (still ongoing) of particularly strong, character-focused work. Time travel has been done so often in sci-fi it’s difficult to find a fresh angle, but King managed it using one of his trademark techniques: the inexplicable Mystery Spot located in a nondescript location. Tied to the Kennedy Assassination (still one of the most seismic events in U.S. history), the story morphs into a tragedy so subtly the reader barely understands why they find the ending so powerful.

    7. Carrie

    King’s first huge success is a relatively simple story that touches every reader in a universal sore spot: the hell of adolescence. King shows his talent for identifying pain points and exaggerating them just enough to make them terrifying, from Carrie’s humorlessly religious mother to her effortlessly cruel peers, building up to that classic moment when a suffering girl with strange powers makes everyone regret how they’ve treated her.

    6. The Stand

    The sheer scope of The Stand meant it was either going to be a tremendous success or a messy failure; not only does King offer up dozens of characters and settings, he tells an apocalyptic tale that starts off as a plague story and transforms into a biblical battle between good and evil. Even after he released the expanded version, replacing much of the material excised during the original editorial process, the story still hangs together perfectly, setting a multi-genre bar for success few writers could ever hope to clear.

    5. Misery

    If there’s a King novel that’s familiar to folks who don’t read King on the regular, it’s Misery, the story of a popular but conflicted writer who winds up in the clutches of his highly unstable biggest fan. Here, King perfected his technique of wringing true terror from scenarios that have nothing to do with vampires, ghosts, or ill-defined alien technologies—and everything to do with the fact that hell is other people. Crazed reader Annie Wilkes may be the most compelling villain he’s ever created, and that’s saying something.

    4. The Dead Zone

    King is at his strongest when his characters and story are rooted in a realistic world populated by regular folks—regular folks who just happen to be dealing with incredible circumstances. The Dead Zone, in which an unwilling psychic sees a terrifying vision involving an unstable politician, is the Platonic ideal of such books. As a bonus, it’s a surprisingly current book for the political present.

    3. The Dark Tower Series

    The eight novels that make up King’s multi-dimensional science fantasy epic vary a bit in quality, displaying a sag in the middle that’s surprisingly common for multi-book SFF series. But few would argue that the first three or four are mesmerizing, and the final book brings everything back to such a high level that the averaged score for the series, which tells the circular quest of the world’s last Gunslinger on a quest to reach the titular Dark Tower, the axis on which all worlds (including those depicted in many other Stephen King books) turn, puts it near the tippy-top of his massive oeuvre.

    2. It

    It can be surprisingly divisive, partially due to its epic length and partially due to a specific scene that was pointedly left out of the film and television adaptations (and thank goodness, because: gross). For our money, though, It is King tapping into the collective childhood terrors that we all share and generating a literary nightmare that finally made the world face it’s chief threat: clowns. That, and memorable characters and a palpable sense of place have made it a book that endures, and will continue to do so.

    1. The Shining

    The Stephen King Top Ten could be argued up and down, but there’s little doubt that The Shining—his most parodied, most famous, twice-adapted novel—is always going to be a contender for the top slot. We rank it number one because it’s in many ways the ideal King novel, the novel scientists would create if they sought to grow a King novel in the lab. Every theme, flat-out terrifying moment, and character is 100% Stephen King working at the height of his powers.

    What’s your number one King?

    The post A Definitive Ranking of Every Stephen King Novel Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 3:02 pm on 2015/10/26 Permalink
    Tags: are you afraid of the dark?, , , , iq test, , the shining, ,   

    Take Our Quiz to Determine Your Horror Story IQ 

    A good scary story can sink into your bones and leave you afraid of the dark for years to come. The best horror writers know exactly how much detail to leave in and what to leave out to create unforgettable moments that make you shiver. Test yourself by identifying the creepy quotes below. If you get more than 5 right, skip the tricks and go straight to the treats. Less than 5? That’s scary. Camp out in the dark with a flashlight and some boo-worthy reads to catch up with your fellow horror fans.

    1. “I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me!”
    2. “Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”
    3. “Is he worse than the parent who gave to society a neurotic child who became a politician? Is he worse than the manufacturer who set up belated foundations with the money he made by handing bombs and guns to suicidal nationalists? Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain juice to stultify further the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of progressive thought?”
    4. “When the Fox hears the Rabbit scream he comes a-runnin’, but not to help.”
    5. “He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point.”
    6. “It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
    7. “Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.”
    8. “…to all the monsters in my nursery: May you never leave me alone.”
    9. “…nobody can protect anybody else from vileness. Or from pain. All you can do is not let it break you in half and keep on going until you get to the other side.”
    10. “The wise man knows what he does not know—and the prudent man respects what he does not control.”

    Answers:

    1. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    2. The Shining, by Stephen King
    3. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
    4. Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
    5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
    6. The Passage, by Justin Cronin
    7. Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice
    8. The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
    9. Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
    10. The Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson
     
  • Monique Alice 4:20 pm on 2015/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , misery, , salem's lot, , , the green mile, the horror, the shining,   

    Top 10 Must-Read Stephen King Books 

    With over 60 titles to his credit, Stephen King is one of the world’s most prolific authors—and he has been terrifying and captivating us with his prose for nearly half a century. The scariest part? He seems to get better at it as the years go by. What many King newcomers are surprised to find, however, is that he’s no one-trick pony—King’s writing can and does detour from his familiar grisly stomping grounds. It can be said that his true subject matter is the darker side of human nature. However, he provides a strong counterweight to the darkness by showing us the humor, levity, and innocence in even the most dastardly of his characters. In addition, King’s career has been, in many ways, a love letter to his home state of Maine—you can’t get through a King novel without wanting to visit. In this way, King’s books transcend genre and appeal to all lovers of the written word. So forget what you’ve seen in the movies—whether you’re new to Stephen King’s oeuvre, or you’re working on indoctrinating a friend, reading the following 10 books is nonnegotiable.  

    10. Carrie
    King’s first published work is the story of a shy, good-natured teenager who wants what all high school kids want: to have friends and to be “normal.” Not that Carrie has any idea what normal really is, since she has spent the whole of her young life being harangued by her abusive religious zealot of a mother, and tormented by the cruel kids at school. The thing is, Carrie isn’t, strictly speaking, “normal.” She has a supernatural gift those who mistreat her could only dream about. She will have to choose whether to call on this power when the going gets tough.  

    9. The Shining
    Did we say forget what you’ve seen in the movies? Because nowhere in King’s work is that sentiment more necessary than with respect to The Shining. Yes, we all love Jack Nicholson, and yes, the movie was great. It was just a very, very different story from the book. Jack Torrance jumps at the opportunity to become the caretaker for the majestic yet unsettling Overlook Hotel, with wife Wendy and son Danny along for the ride. Things get darker and more horrifying from there, with the hotel coming to vivid life around the family, and turning what was supposed to be a respite from the outside world into a terrorizing intrapsychic nightmare. In addition to much stronger, more well-rounded characters, get ready for lots of hotel fixtures you won’t recall from the movie, including the world’s scariest shrubbery and a boiler room that will make you fear your basement for life. As a bonus, check out recently released sequel Doctor Sleep.

    8. Pet Sematary
    One word sums up this King favorite: underrated. The novel is classic King—it starts with a happy family in a small town. All is well, until a heavy dose of tragedy and a generous sprinkling of the paranormal rip this story right off the rails. This book is best known for its scary subject matter (King was way ahead of the curve on the whole “creepy kids” trend Hollywood became very fond of a few years later). However, it’s the depth of the familial bond and all the love and grief that comes along with it that truly make this story one to remember.

    7. The Dead Zone
    If you’re looking for that quintessential King novel that will ensure you spend many evening hours glued to its pages when you should be sleeping, this is it. Johnny Smith is a teacher who has fallen into a coma after a tragic accident. Upon waking, he is shocked to learn that he has psychic abilities. As time passes, Johnny struggles to navigate the world with his new gifts, and is faced with a stomach-turning choice about whether to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. This is one of King’s most masterfully paced books, and it will keep you riveted until the final curtain falls.

    {{EAN5}}6. It
    Don’t understand why some people are terrified of clowns? After you read It, you will. It’s 1958 in Derry, Maine, and seven teenagers are bonded forever when they come together to combat a mysterious and heart-stoppingly evil force. Despite their best efforts to put the past behind them, they’re once again summoned to protect their town when, 30 years later, the evil stirs again. This book is one of King’s most frightening, without a doubt—and it’s the love King instills in us for the characters and the community that truly makes us fear for and root for them with all our hearts.

    5. Misery
    For all those who think King’s stories have to rely on the supernatural to raise the hairs on readers’ necks, Misery is one notable exception. There are no aliens, evil spirits, or Native American burial grounds in sight. The story begins when a celebrated but jaded author  loses control of his car on his way through a treacherous mountain pass. Alone and unconscious, our hero seems all but lost when, miraculously, a local good Samaritan happens by and comes to his rescue. Imagine his relief when he awakens and discovers his savior is not only a trained nurse, but his number one fan. What follows is a chilling treatise on obsession, celebrity culture, and the fathomless depths of the human will to survive.

    4. Salem’s Lot
    After he debuted with Carrie, many wondered if King would be able to match that novel’s success a second time. Salem’s Lot proved King was more than a literary flash in the pan. Set once again in his beloved Maine, the tale blends King’s customary love for small-town life with a classic horror theme: vampires. When a schoolteacher and his girlfriend fight back against a town full of bloodsuckers, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. Be warned: sleeping with the lights on and a garlic necklace may or may not make you feel any safer after reading this book.

    3. The Green Mile
    The Green Mile is one of the greatest triumphs of King’s career. Originally released in six installments, the story took the publishing world by storm when all six concurrently ended up on the New York Times bestseller list—and with good reason. John Coffey is a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place is the general vicinity of a murder of two little white girls, and the place is rural 1930s Louisiana. Given those circumstances, it doesn’t take long for John to be sentenced to death via “Old Sparky,” the electric chair waiting at the end of the long green-tiled prison hallway, or the Green Mile. As he waits to be executed, John touches many lives—but can he do enough good to earn his own redemption? With this novel, King turns his unflinching gaze on the racism that permeates America’s history, and brings it hurtling into the reader’s present with supernatural force.

    2. 11/22/63
    Speaking of American history, few events have had more impact on American culture than the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In this novel, King envisions a world where an average guy could go back in time and stop that horrific tragedy. One part historical fiction, one part mystery, and one part action novel, 11/22/63 could only have been written by a gifted author who witnessed and mourned the death of JFK alongside the rest of the nation. In true King fashion, healthy doses of wit, romance, and laughter keep the story vital and fresh until the very end.

    1. The Stand
    The Stand is widely hailed as King’s crowning achievement. When a subject breaks out of a secure biological testing facility, he exposes humankind to a deadly strain of flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the population in a matter of mere weeks. With the impending apocalypse looming large, those who strive for survival are desperate for a leader. Two would-be leaders emerge, but it will be up to the people to decide which of them to follow. What unfolds is an epic battle: a last stand between good and evil that readers will never forget.

     
  • Maurie Backman 7:00 pm on 2014/08/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , the shining, , thomas harris,   

    6 Great Books to Read on a Dark and Stormy Night 

    The ShiningYou’re home alone, the wind is howling, and a steady rain is beating down heavily against your window. You put on your most comfortable pair of pajamas, pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate, and prepare to cozy up on your couch with a fuzzy blanket. Now all you need is the perfect book to let this dark, stormy night take hold of your mind, and we’ve got several suggestions.

    While you don’t necessarily need ominous weather to enjoy these great works, there’s just something about flashing lightning, crashing thunder, and the heavy pitter-patter of pouring rain that creates the perfect backdrop. For an even more intense experience, we suggest reading one of these books by candlelight. You can always turn the lights back on if you find yourself getting a little too spooked for comfort…

    The Shining, by Stephen King
    There’s a reason Joey from Friends had to stash this novel in the freezer halfway through. If you’re going to get drawn into the world of a haunted, isolated hotel, you might as well do it on a night that lends some realism to the already spooky setting. We won’t spoil the plot, but let’s just say supernatural forces abound to create a tale that’ll rattle you to your very core—especially against a stormy background of your own.

    The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    This collection features some of Poe’s most thrilling, suspenseful works, from the terrifying “The Pit and the Pendulum” to the fear-inducing “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Pick and choose your favorites and prepare to get swept away by the satisfyingly scary settings Poe creates. Throw in a little real-world thunder and lightning, and it won’t be long before you’re tempted to hide under your own covers until morning.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Nothing complements a Gothic Transylvanian setting like a pounding storm, ideally one that intensifies as you keep reading. Pummeling rains and wailing winds can only make this chilling novel better, especially if you’re reading it for the first time.

    The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
    Forget about the movie version. If you’re looking for a character that will truly mess with your head in the most thrilling of ways, Hannibal Lecter most certainly fits the bill. This novel screams psychological thriller, and against the backdrop of an already eerie night, you’ll be hard-pressed not to consider going to sleep with the lights on.

    Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews
    Now here’s a story that will captivate you in the creepiest of ways, especially when the dreary, isolated nature of the attic is echoed by a real-life raging storm. Reading this novel in an eerie setting of your own will elevate it in a manner that’s as thrilling as it is disturbing.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson
    The first novel in Steig Larsson’s trilogy introduces us to the ever-fascinating and complex characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, who team up to solve a mystery with a twist so disturbing it’ll leave even the most jaded of readers reeling. The intricate storyline and cold, icy, remote island setting make this masterpiece the perfect stormy night read.

    What books do you recommend for a dark and stormy night?

     
  • Maurie Backman 5:00 pm on 2014/07/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , the shining,   

    6 Book-Based Apps We Wish Existed 

    George Orwell's 1984

    Just try to name a day-to-day problem that an app can’t fix. Forgot where you’re going and need directions? There’s an app for that. Too lazy to blow out your own birthday candles? No, seriously, there’s an app. Apps run the gamut from wonderfully useful to frustratingly time-wasting, but we still think there’s a huge untapped market out there: that of lit-based apps. Here are a few that are book-inspired, and just ridiculous enough to be worth that 99-cent download:

    The Alice in Wonderland Reality Check App
    Sometimes it’s hard to know whether your mind’s playing tricks on you, or whether that long-haired guitar player in a cowboy hat you just passed on the street really was completely naked. Enter the Reality Check app, where all you need to do is submit a basic description of the oddity you just encountered. Using that information combined with your location, the app will spit back a weirdness quotient that will help you determine whether you’re indeed going crazy or actually saw what you think you saw. (Naked Cowboy in Times Square? You bet you saw it. Tap-dancing chipmunks at an Omaha YMCA? Maybe take a long nap before leaving the house again.)

    Mr. Darcy’s You’ve Got Game App
    Not so smooth with the ladies? Don’t settle for overused pickup lines and empty gestures that never work. Just plug in some information about the date you’re trying to land, and this handy tool will pop out a customized multi-step plan that practically guarantees success—with plenty of proud and prejudiced negs along the way. The path to true love never did run smooth, but this app guarantees ultimate success.

    The Catch-22 App
    So your boss wants you to include data from your company’s latest focus group in your weekly report, but the marketing team wants to wait to receive your report before releasing that data? What to do? Simply enter the no-win scenarios you’re faced with, and this app will spit back logical, practical advice that’s far more reliable than any Magic Eight Ball.

    The Gulliver’s Travels App
    Not sure where to head on your upcoming vacation? Try the Gulliver’s Travel app. Just enter your requirements—great food, comfortable climate, the ability to completely tower over the locals—and this trusty app will spit out a host of recommendations.

    The Shining Haunted Hotel App
    Love being spooked? Forget about ghost tours or creepy carnival attractions. To experience the real deal, consult this nifty app, which will tell you where to find the most eerie, ghost-inhabited lodgings in town. But you’re on your own once you’re inside the haunted hedge maze—those things have the worst reception.

    The 1984 Big Brother Is Watching App
    These days, you really never know who’s watching your every move. Choose your city, and this app will tell you where all the street cams and surveillance devices are hiding, so you’ll know when to think twice before littering or sneaking through a red light.

    What book-based apps do you wish existed?

     
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