Stephen King is an American author known around the world for his horror stories, many of which have been turned into terrifying films. Carrie was his first published novel (and enabled him to leave teaching and become a full-time writer), The Shining remains his bestselling book. It’s also been recommended on Five Books by other novelists as a major inspiration for their own writing.
However, while Stephen King is probably the greatest living writer in the horror book genre and his new novels, in a variety of genres, continue to entertain and absorb readers, it’s his memoir, On Writing, that is absolutely unmissable. It’s impossible not to be deeply moved by his story and his struggles, and his determination to carry on writing, despite rejection after rejection, an inspiration for all of us. That the book might also improve your writing skills is a nice side benefit.
On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Stephen King revealed his own five favourite Stephen King books: the short story “Survivor Type” which appears in the Skeleton Crew collection, Misery, Lisey’s Story, The Stand (his 1978 novel about a mutated flu strain that wipes out almost all of humanity) and The Body.
Below, you’ll find all the novelists, critics and teachers of creative writing who have been inspired by Stephen King, which books of his they recommend and why:
Books by Stephen King
“In his latest novel, Billy Summers, there are no supernatural shades whatsoever (save a late Easter egg reference to a certain haunted hotel). Instead, he is in full noir mode, with a modest tale of an assassin on the requisite one-last-job-before-he’s-out. It meanders, it pays only the scantest regard to the rules of narrative structure, it indulges gladly in both casual stereotyping and naked political point-scoring. And it’s his best book in years”
Interviews where books by Stephen King were recommended
Which are the best horror books ever written? Novelist and horror expert Kim Newman, author of Anno Dracula, talks us through his top five and reveals which of the classics is, for him, the greatest of them all.
The lawyer, who’s defended many clients on death row, tells us why the legal system in capital cases is set up to fail, and says all of us should know more about what happens in an execution
The professor of creative writing at UEA says Joseph Conrad got it right when he said that the sitting down is all. He chooses five books to help aspiring writers.
From their egos and anxieties to the way they work, writers have more in common than we might think. The journalist and editor takes us inside the writing process and reveals who gives the best advice for aspiring authors
Whether you’re scared most by graphic body horror, the uncategorisable, or the blurring of boundaries between supernatural menace and psychological unraveling, this list will have something for you. Reflecting on the complex nature of fear, Xavier Aldana Reyes surveys the best modern horror and explores whether the genre might offer consolation as well as terror.
Daisy Johnson—short story writer, novelist, and the youngest author to be shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize—chooses the five books that most inspired her novel Everything Under and shares some of her writing rituals and philosophy.
Roger Ellory is a bestselling author whose recommendations include Annie Proulx, Stephen King and Truman Capote. There are, he says, no rules to great writing