By Amanda Cleveland • July 12, 2021
Fifteen years ago, I read Carrie and it inspired me to never pick up another Stephen King book again. So, the upcoming release of Billy Summers getting everyone so excited over Stephen King has left me feeling real awkward.
I am not saying King is a bad writer. His book On Writing is essential for writers, the man knows what he's doing... I just didn't like Carrie. But hearing everyone talk about their love has me ready to admit that a fifteen-year embargo over a book I read as a teen isn't fair. To celebrate Billy Summers and understand the phenom, I had his biggest ThriftBooks fans tell me what they love so much. Maybe they'll inspire me to give him another try?
Stephen King's Carrie, is one of the best female-revenge fantasies ever! – Laura
I love Stephen King because I love how vividly he describes the human experience under extreme and often supernatural circumstances. First got hooked when I read Carrie, but my favorite hands down is The Stand! – Rebecca
Even if I didn't feel it for Carrie, I love the enthusiasm, so let's keep going! It seems like The Stand is a fave:
M-O-O-N: that spells Stephen King, horror, and my love for The Stand. A love I have brought frequently into my life by mis-quoting Trashcan man and howling "MY LOVE FOR YOU" at my partner whenever I feel aggressively affectionate. I have yet to bring him a bomb, though, but I don't think I will. If you have no idea what I am talking about, maybe you should read The Stand. – Catie
King has a way of drawing you into each of his stories with his creative description of his characters. He wants to make you have a beer with Red and Andy in Zihuatanejo or just hang out with Stu, Frannie and Tom; M-O-O-N spells moon! He has an awesome imagination and it's not all horror stories but sometimes grand epic adventures. My favorite book is The Stand but I really like Duma Key and Lisey’s Story as well. – Sandi
I started reading SK at 8 years old, I've always been impressed with his ability to write about completely rational fears in fantastic and epic ways. Cujo: a parent's worst nightmare, being totally unable to protect your children from nature or beasts. Dolores Claiborne: how much would you sacrifice for the one you loved the most, and could you accept their hate for you through it all? The Stand: how would you survive a worldwide calamity and what side would you fall on afterwards? Would you be strong enough to stand? My all-time favorite is Rose Madder, a beautiful story of strength and kindness when you're at your lowest, at your most vulnerable, and you are still never alone. – Lauren
I don't know what Catie is talking about, she's right, but the passion here I can get! His fans are all so inspired. Yet...I need more persuasion.
I loathe Stephen King, his Insomnia literally gave me insomnia, as all his books do, I stay up turning pages way past bedtime. Sure, like any fan I'm looking forward to Billy Summers, but I'll be starting at the crack of dawn lest I prevent insomnia and get some rest once night falls. – Kate
MY FAVORITE HORROR WRITER! There's nothing better than a writer who can mess with the reader through his words and King is really THE King of psychological horror. He will have you questioning everything you thought you knew and that's exactly why I love his work. Not a day goes by where I don't think about one of his novels and how it left me feeling after reading it. His stories keep you on your toes and sit with you for life. – Roxanna
My first Stephen King book was It. It was also my intro to the genre. He scared the you-know-what out of me! The next book was Misery which also had me on the edge of my seat (and Kathy Bates in the movie!). Unlike killer dolls, what makes these stories truly scary is their proximity to reality. – Karen
This guy is keeping people up at night? Well, I don't sleep anyway; I could use something to do. Plus I do love psychological horror, and agree that the Misery movie is amazing.
That's the weird dichotomy in my skepticism, I actually love Stephen King adaptations but didn't take the plunge to his literature after Carrie. These three were overtaken by his storytelling, though, and have me reconsidering:
My first King book was Night Shift. I was about 12 and very much into short stories so I stumbled upon Stephen King’s collection and was addicted ever since. After finishing Night Shift twice (back-to-back), I wanted as much King as I could get so I moved on to the ambitious goal of reading The Stand. Never before had I experienced a book that consumed my thoughts and mind as much when I wasn't reading it as when I was. It was masterful to me then and has been on all subsequent reads. Years later, when I finished college and moved to NYC, I will never forget how frightened I was to go through the Lincoln Tunnel for the first time, that scene from The Stand still as vivid in my mind as the first time I read it. After The Stand I read every Stephen King book in order, and I would re-read books while I waited for new books to come out. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from Different Seasons is another one of my short story favorites and The Shawshank Redemption is my all-time favorite movie. I credit Stephen King for my passion for reading, my love of scary books and movies, and my very active imagination. I cannot imagine a world without him and all his literary influence. – Barbara
I wasn't a serious reader until I discovered King in 9th grade. The first film of his short story Children of the Corn had recently been released, and the collection Night Shift (that the story appeared in) was reprinted with cover art from the movie. Don't ask why, but there was something about crazed teens in the middle of nowhere worshipping a monster that lived in a cornfield (with no adult in sight) that captured my adolescent imagination, so I bought the book. After that, I was hooked, and The Shining, Different Seasons, and (my eventual favorite) The Stand were soon to follow. I credit King with starting a lifelong love of reading in me. – Terry
My first book to read cover to cover wasn't until after I had graduated from high school (thank goodness for Cliff's Notes). I had seen several of King's adaptations (Carrie, Cujo, Christine, The Shining) so was keen to see whether the books were better than the movies. I picked up It and read it over a weekend, hardly putting it down. Once finished, I couldn't sleep for 3 days it scared me so badly. King had gotten into my blood. After that, I was voracious. I read every work of his and own every book he has written. My favorite is the Dark Tower series which I have read four times. Just a bit of Teague trivia: What would my daughter's name have been if she was born a boy? Her first name would have been Roland. If you know you know! My favorite line of any book is: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Epic tale of good versus evil. – Teague
King converted all three into lifelong readers? Talk about influence.
I might be teetering on the edge of convinced! I just need one more bit of inspiration before I click add to cart:
Some of my favorite memories with my dad are reading Stephen King books or watching his movies together. We got into Stephen King after watching the mini-series The Langoliers (from his Four Past Midnight novella). After that, we read several of his books together. One of my favorites was The Tommyknockers, which is about a woman who uncovers a spaceship in the woods. My dad and I still have inside jokes about King's works, and even now, 25 years after watching The Langoliers, we still smirk at each other whenever we drive by those tall electrical transmission towers. - Rachel
Awww! Okay, I'll read every Stephen King book now, that is too cute.
With his enthralling tales being devoured cover-to-cover and inspiring lifelong loves of reading and horror, the legacy of Stephen King is obvious. Maybe this skeptic can give him another chance. Mr. King may have a new fan on his roster soon. What do you think, which King title should I tackle first?