Stephen King recommendation?

frogman81

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Hey there, interested in checking out some Stephen King. I read the first book in the Dark Tower series and found it interesting but a bit psychedelic for me by the ending. I also read his short story collection - Full Dark, No Stars, which was fairly enjoyable but not very memorable. Lately I've been pretty taken by the Gothic Romance genre and the writing tends to be (obviously) quite "high-brow". I have to admit I enjoy this style (Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton, Bram Stoker, even Bret Easton Ellis...) and I find Stephen King's writing somewhat "low brow" - meaning the characters are often disadvantaged, abused, with slang-based dialogue etc... Somewhat like the characters that Rob Zombie loves making movies about... This could just be my limited exposure to King's writing?

I hope I'm not coming off as a total douche... I suppose maybe my enjoyment of what I consider "high brow" literature is a bit of aspirational porn for me. I guess I'm wondering: has Stephen King written any white collar horror lol?

Secondary question - I thoroughly enjoy a good eerie New England forest setting. I have yet to read any Washington Irving although I intend to. Any other suggestions in a similar style?
 

bostjan

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Almost everything from Lovecraft was set, at least in part, in New England.

I enjoyed "Thinner" by King quite a lot, but I certainly wouldn't consider it high-brow. I think he's a popular writer partially because he's so down-to-Earth about his character development. I honestly haven't read much fiction at all, but Stephen King is one of my 3 or 4 exceptions.
 

rifftrauma

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King is really more supernatural than horror in my opinion. I've read most of his books and never really got the "horror" vibe from the majority of his work. I think he kinda gets thrown in the "Master of Horror" category, as it's catchy and makes for good marketing.

If you're after a single book that really summarizes what King is all about, then check out the uncut version of The Stand. Most of this is purely opinion, but I feel that the uncut version of The Stand really is King's best singular work. The Dark Tower gets much better after the first book. The next three books are pretty great for setting up the back story, making whats considered King's magnum opus feel much more alive than the first book.

Some other worthy mentions, the seriously under rated Tommyknockers if your interested in Sci-Fi, The Eyes of the Dragon for fantasy, or Needful Things, which I feel again is just kinda like supernatural, not horror. Also, the stuff he wrote under his pen name, Richard Bachman, is generally more fucked up for lack of a better word than most of his normal writings. Check out The Long Walk.
 

isispelican

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You can't go wrong with the classics, Shinning, It, Salem's Lot etc (thinking about it most of his books are classics hahah). One of my favorites is The Stand, it's got a really epic rock & roll vibe throughout. Dream Catcher and Cell were also cool. The Dark Tower is his absolute masterwork though. Shit, just grab one and go!
 

jco5055

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I feel like I can chime in, as I've literally read every King novel up to and including It chronologically, as well as the uncut version of the Stand.

I'd definitely say his best work was in the 70s (and this includes the Stand since it was originally '78). I think after reading It I just need to take a big break from him. Christine was the first book I read from him that was not at least a "really good/enjoyable" from me, and everything after hasn't been up to par from his 70s stuff imo. For years I actually liked his "low-brow" style and other thriller novels, basically I got completely pooped out of reading like fantasy/sci-fi because it felt like it was so dense.

But reading It made me fully realize how he's definitely not the best writer out there. Sure, for how popular he is he's amazing, but he definitely has a problem with endings and getting sidetracked/going on tangents which would have been better with an editor.

But a lesser known book I'd recommend (since I'd say his best is probably the Shining or the Stand but a person can't miss those when looking for recommendations) is the Long Walk, I really enjoyed it. The Talisman was also pretty good, that may be thanks to Peter Straub "refreshing" a book compared to it being 100% King.

PS I also thought the Gunslinger was only ok, but talking with an ex-coworker who loved the Dark Tower it seems like it might be accepted that the Gunslinger is a bit meh compared to the saga overall?
 

KnightBrolaire

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If you want flowery prose/ gothic horror , check out Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat books.

As far as King goes, he doesn't really have any books that read like flowery prose besides some sections of Misery (which is a great book).
 

mongey

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I have read quite a few

I'd say the stand and thinner were my faves

there is also a collection of short stories he wrote under a ghost name . robert bachman or something. it has the running man , which he wrote and Hollywood took and totally butchered, which is good . but it also has a story called the long walk which I rate as his best work . but it has been a long time since I read it
 

frogman81

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Almost everything from Lovecraft was set, at least in part, in New England.

Interesting to note about Lovecraft. He has been on my list of authors to check out at some point, and I had always associated him with sci-fi.

...I think he's a popular writer partially because he's so down-to-Earth about his character development.

You're probably right there.

If you're after a single book that really summarizes what King is all about, then check out the uncut version of The Stand. Most of this is purely opinion, but I feel that the uncut version of The Stand really is King's best singular work.

This seems to be a recurring recommendation.

One of my favorites is The Stand, it's got a really epic rock & roll vibe throughout.

I like the sound of that.

If you want flowery prose/ gothic horror , check out Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat books.

I've been slowly working through her books but I put down Queen of The Damned for awhile. I feel like her writing kind of came apart when it was brought into the modern day setting. The "Wolfkiller" scene in The Vampire Lestat as well as the "Happy Times in New Orleans" chapters with Lestat, Louis and Claudia in Interview With The Vampire will always be classic readings for me.
 

spudmunkey

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Needful Things was my favorite king book. 2nd would be...I'd say Carrie, Christine, and "Four Past Midnight", which was a collection of short stories. The Dark Half was another favorite.
 

mongey

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Needful Things was my favorite king book. 2nd would be...I'd say Carrie, Christine, and "Four Past Midnight", which was a collection of short stories. The Dark Half was another favorite.
needful things is a good one actually. had totally forgotten that one
 

NateFalcon

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Tommyknockers and The Stand are good classics. For shorter reading Thinner was cool and The Body (which Stand by Me is based on) is also pretty good. I’m more of a Dean Koontz fan myself for that particular style
 

lemeker

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Different Seasons is a collection of novellas of his. It has Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body and The Breathing Method (which is my favorite all time of his). I also liked Delores Claiborne a lot.
The movies for Shawshank and The Body (Stand By Me) were fairly similar, but Apt Pupil fell short. The book was so much better, and made the kid feel more disturbing.
 

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Don’t know if it was mentioned but “Bag of Bones” is a slow-read. Builds up nicely as far as pacing goes. I ended up really liking it. Haven’t read a lot of King though so idk how it stacks up.
 

Andrew Lloyd Webber

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@frogman81

Any preference regarding print vs audiobook? I’ve consistently gotten the most out of King’s respective junkfoods through someone else reading it (King himself, in particular), and that may be a point to weigh against something you want specifically for the reading ritual.
 

frogman81

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@frogman81

Any preference regarding print vs audiobook? I’ve consistently gotten the most out of King’s respective junkfoods through someone else reading it (King himself, in particular), and that may be a point to weigh against something you want specifically for the reading ritual.

Interesting question. I’ve never used audiobooks. The idea has piqued my curiosity before, but since sampling a Tolkien audiobook ages ago that was super cheesy I haven’t given them a real shot. Since I’m a pretty slow reader maybe this would be a good chance to try one out.
 

Andrew Lloyd Webber

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In that case, I’d recommend the Blood and Smoke or LT’s Theory of Pets audiobooks for an audition - Short stories read by King.
 

KnightBrolaire

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Interesting question. I’ve never used audiobooks. The idea has piqued my curiosity before, but since sampling a Tolkien audiobook ages ago that was super cheesy I haven’t given them a real shot. Since I’m a pretty slow reader maybe this would be a good chance to try one out.
just don't get IT as an audiobook. It's like 20 hours a chapter :lol:
 


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