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I’m currently reading Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63.
The intriguing story line, about a schoolteacher who has the chance to go back in time and prevent JFK’s assassination, has prompted me to think about my favorite Stephen King books. This was no easy task but I have managed to pick five of his works that stuck out for me (in no particular order).
1. Carrie (1974): This could be called "the one that started it all" since it was King’s first novel. The story, about a high school outcast who reaches her breaking point with the students who have tormented her by utilizing her telekinetic abilities, became a part of pop culture and even has some haunting echoes in the aftermath of real-life tragedies such as Columbine. The book’s success led to Brian De Palma making an equally memorable film out of it in 1976 with Sissy Spacek in the title role.
2. The Shining (1977): For me, this is the definitive haunted house story (even though it takes place in a hotel). I must also confess that I thought Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film version, overall, did justice to it (even if King himself disagreed enough to make a TV version in 1997). The story of a hotel caretaker driven to violence against his wife and son by otherworldly forces is creepy from beginning to end.
3. Cujo (1981): Sometimes simple stories can be just as rewarding as complex ones, such as this story about a woman and her son trapped in a broken down car by the title character - a rabid Saint Bernard. Like the previously mentioned King books, this story was made into a memorable film in 1983.
4. Cycle of the Werewolf (1983): This is unique in King’s work in that it is not a novel, but more of a short story, with fine illustrations by Berni Wrightson. During the course of a year, a priest realizes that he is powerless to prevent his occasional transformations into a beast, while a boy attempts to destroy him.
5. On Writing (2000): King has also written non-fiction, and my favorite of his work in that field is this book, which also serves as an autobiography, with the master giving us moments in his life which led to making him the genius we know and love him as today. For aspiring or established writers, this book is definitely a must-read.