I rarely read fiction these days, but beginning my sophomore year in high school I was a Stephen King fanatic. Over a period of four or five years, I read every novel he published up to that time. Over time I grew frustrated with the way I felt many of his books ended, with conflicts not resolved neatly and succinctly; the weak endings didn’t match the strength of his abilities as a story-teller. Still, reading the first 90 percent of each of his books was better than reading 100 percent of most of the other books I was reading at the time. I haven’t read much of his work lately, but I read “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” not long after it was published in 1999 (it was quite good) and “Hearts in Atlantis” a couple of years ago. “Hearts” was, for me, typical King – the first 95 percent was great, but after finishing the book, I was disappointed I devoted so much time it.
That wasn’t always the case, of course. Many King works were great reading for me. Here are my favorites:
‘Salem’s Lot. My favorite Stephen King work is a story of modern-day vampires. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that’s scared me. Great, great stuff.
The Dead Zone. Compelling story about a man who goes into a coma after an automobile accident, wakes up five years later and can see into the future. Was made into a pretty decent movie starring Christopher Walken.
Cujo. If you saw the movie but didn’t read the book, then you’ve missed the boat. This story about a rabid dog is horrifying, but the book tells the story partly from the dog’s viewpoint. You gain empathy for the animal, which makes the final scenes even more emotional.
The Green Mile. This six-novella work, released over six-month period in 1996, was later made into an incredible movie starring Tom Hanks. I actually listened to the unabridged audio version of the book, instead of reading it, but enjoyed it even more than the movie.
On Writing. This non-fiction autobiography and writing guide is excellent reading. The section about the publishing of “Carrie,” King’s first novel, is worth the price of the book alone.