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Stephen King’s Favorite Books Revealed

Do you enjoy Stephen King's work and are looking for books with a similar vibe? You got it! Explore a list of books favored by Stephen King himself in this article.

Stephen King’s Favorite Books Revealed - Headway App

Stephen King: Who’s the 'King of Horror'?

Known as one of the most influential authors of all time, Stephen King, the author of "The Shining," "The Stand," "Misery," and "The Green Mile," is described as the 'King of Horror' for his popular terrifying novels. With blockbuster book-to-movie adaptations like Carrie (1976), Pet Sematary (2019), and It (2017), King’s work floats among the most prestigious of literary critics.

Interestingly, Stephen King has also published a number of works under the pen name Richard Bachman. This alter ego allowed King to explore different aspects of his writing style and tackle genres beyond his usual horror domain. Titles like "The Running Man" and "Thinner" showcase a different facet of King’s storytelling prowess, offering readers a broader perspective on his capabilities as a writer.

King may be a successful author with over fifty bestsellers, but he also believes all writers start out the same way: reading for inspiration. While not all of the books on his recommendation list are horror, King asserts that many of his reading choices have inspired some of his greatest works. According to King, ‘If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’

Whether you’re a fan of King’s work, his short stories, horror stories, fantasy novels, or you’re looking for books to help inspire your own reading endeavors, take a look at the horror author’s most note-worthy book recommendations.

Key points:

  • Stephen King is a notable author in the horror genre and is well-known for his out-of-the-box storylines and iconic characters. The successful writer has also expressed his fondness for reading and how making it a daily activity has proved to have a tremendous impact on his writing career.

  • As a horror author, Stephen King’s favorite books are mostly fiction. They range in genres from thrillers and mysteries to political dramas and historical fiction. Some of his top book recommendations include To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1984 by George Orwell, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

  • Some people have trouble finding books that appeal to their specific interests and tastes. If this sounds like you, we recommend downloading the Headway app! It is a great solution that will give you access to a broad library of book summaries from your favorite authors.

Why does Stephen King read so much?

Stephen King has said that he reads around 80 books every year. Think about it — that’s around two books a week! Although, that many books is considered pretty low-standard to King. Even though he claims to be capable of breezing through a book in a day or two, he still classifies himself as a slow reader. If you’re trying to catch up to the master of horror’s level of prestige, start by increasing your reading speed (WPM).

If you want to read as many (or even more!) books as Stephen King but don’t have that much free time, there’s an easy solution. Instead of reading full books, you can go for 15-minute summaries that convey the main ideas of a book. The Headway app offers thousands of book summaries to help you read more even if you don’t have a lot of free time. Try Headway today!

The Gerald’s Game author’s reading speed is almost as fast as his writing speed. With over 70 published books, Stephen King has written almost as many books as the number of years he’s been alive. More than 30 of these works have become bestsellers, and a few of them have even been created into hit films. However, with all these successful books of his own, why does Stephen King continue to read so much?

While King is a strong believer in reading for sole enjoyment, he also finds reading to be a worthwhile activity that helps to strengthen mental tools and inspire creativity. Stephen King reads because he believes it helps him with his writing and career. As a matter of fact, one of the major pieces of advice that King offers to new writers is to read for inspiration. In his own words, ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.’ 

To King, reading is the number one key to success in the writing field. Not only does reading provide you with key insights into what works and what doesn’t, but it also helps you become more comfortable with the process of writing. For someone who reads as much as Stephen King, it’s a wonder that he’s able to keep picking up a pen to write!

Stephen King’s top recommended books

King has stated, in his own words, that it would be nearly impossible to narrow down his favorite books to one list. Regardless, here are some — but certainly not all — of Stephen King’s top book recommendations.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Published during the Civil Rights movement, To Kill a Mockingbird has satisfied generations of readers and is considered a classic work of fiction for its outspoken values and ideas. Following the seemingly-ordinary life of a young girl named Scout in a sleepy Southern town during the Great Depression, this coming-of-age novel tells a much more brooding tale of the effects of racism and prejudice. As such, Scout and her brother Jem explore their neighborhood filled with eccentric neighbors and discover the hidden social hierarchy that exists within its corridors.

Although the focus of the novel is on Scout, many characters in the book take large precedence in the storyline and outcome. Namely, Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is a widowed lawyer newly appointed to represent an African-American man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of harming a Caucasian woman. As Scout and Jem watch the trial unfold, they learn dark truths about the society they live in and the people they once viewed as friendly, including teachers and fellow children at school.

During her father’s ill-favored trial, Scout and Jem receive backlash and taunts from people who look down on Atticus for taking on an African-American individual as a defendant. Moreover, tomboy Scout must navigate a world that constantly tells her to be a lady while her brother mocks her ruthlessly for acting like a girl. Packed with insightful concepts regarding the deep-seated racism and sexism in 1930s America and beyond, Harper Lee’s debut novel is viewed as a literary masterpiece by many people who enjoy intellectual works of fiction.

1984 by George Orwell

Do you remember this book from your high school English class? Perhaps you even read this book as part of your middle school summer reading list. Although 1984 is a dystopian fiction novella that is popularly read by teenagers in the American school system, Stephen King finds the concepts in this book to be rich enough to satisfy his horror-loving mind. It may not deal with gore and terrifying creatures, but there’s enough suspense and frightening depictions of power and political rule in this book to classify it as horror-approved.

George Orwell’s written work follows the life of Winston Smith, a low-ranking member of the party which governs one of three totalitarian states, Oceania. Set in the year — you guessed it — 1984, Winston lives in a society where a menacing ruler, Big Brother, controls people’s lives in every form, right down to the way they speak, act, and think. To avoid rebellion, if anyone dares disobey the rules of the party, they must face dreadful consequences and punishment. However, Winston is frustrated by the control and lack of freedom and proposes a subtle rebellion with his lover, Julia.

In a world where freedom is abolished, thoughts are monitored, and every breath and move is analyzed, Winston must find his voice and stand up to the leaders of an oppressive state while everyone else watches. The main purpose of this book is to warn readers against the precariousness of being under the rule of a totalitarian regime. In fact, not only does it detail what could happen, it suggests that a totalitarian society is entirely possible in real life. Readers can therefore learn the importance of freedom and resisting oppression.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Who said authors couldn’t praise their own work? Besides his bestselling works in the horror genre, this nonfiction piece is by far one of Stephen King’s favorite Stephen King books. Sharing details from his own experiences as a young writer dealing with endless rejection, King’s words of wisdom are worth hearing out by writers struggling to continue their efforts. The events and lessons that shaped King’s career come together to create a writer’s toolbox of skills and practical advice.

In his insightful work, King hashes out many of the most important things that a writer should know when starting out in the field. This includes reading a lot of books to gain an idea of what good and bad writing are. Moreover, a good writer should always stand strong in the face of judgment or rejection, as well as continue writing through challenges and writer’s block. In the end, King’s writing is designed to motivate but also teaches a sense of humility in the fact that everyone experiences tribulations in their lives and career.

As an advocate for aspiring writers, King shows how perseverance and a willingness to continuously improve mark the difference between success and failure. On Writing is a masterpiece in its own right, serving as a trusty guidebook to help beginner writers find their voice in a rather competitive industry. If you are an aspiring writer looking to gain inspiration for your debut novel or would like to take up writing as your new hobby, consider picking up this book to get started.

Listen to Stephen King’s favorite books with Headway

Reading is considered a time-consuming activity for many individuals — especially if the book in question is Stephen King’s horror classic, It, which sports over 1000 pages of pure terror. For the average person juggling school, work, and other obligations, setting aside time to read long books like these is usually pretty difficult to accomplish. However, reading is essential for many reasons, such as career advancement, self-development, and developing an increased awareness of social issues. 

Fortunately, the 3 must-read books listed in this article are available in summary format on the Headway app. If you’re looking for an easy solution to your time management problems that will help give you more time to read, this app offers a happy medium between the no-time dilemma and reading for fulfillment and growth. 

On Headway, you can track your progress, collect achievements and learn the key concepts of your favorite books on the go. With just 15 minutes of your day, you can use this app to crush your reading goals and master new skills quicker than ever before.

Looking to grow your reading library with more of Stephen King’s favorite books? Download the Headway app to receive access to thousands of audiobook summaries by your favorite authors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often does Stephen King read?

Stephen King reads around 80 books every year. Considering that’s about two books a week and up to seven books a month, King reads quite frequently, and when he does, he reads a lot. Much of his affinity for reading can be chalked up to his passion for writing books, but the main reason why King reads is to improve his craft. So, whenever Stephen King gets a chance to read, he takes it and adds it to his long reading list — which, at this point, is likely spanning hundreds of books.

What is Stephen King’s favorite adaptation of his books?

Several of Stephen King’s books have made it to theaters in the form of film adaptations. With so many to choose from, there ought to be one film that stands out to him the most. In an interview with The Rolling Stone, the horror fanatic answered the question: one of Stephen King’s favorite movies of his books is Stand By Me. A big reason why King chose this movie over other successful blockbusters like It is because the producers kept the same emotional feel that was reflected in the book.

Clearly, King values producers who take his work seriously and focus on the deeper meanings in his books. However, King also said that Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile came a close second in stealing his horror-loving heart.

What is Stephen King’s favorite genre to read?

The answer to this question might seem plain and clear — after all, it obviously has to be horror, the genre of all his bestselling novels. However, Stephen King may be a little harder to read than the average fan may think. King has admitted to many of his favorite authors being among George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and William Golding. None of these authors specialize in the horror genre. Instead, these writing geniuses work along the lines of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult fiction. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that King enjoys several genres outside of the horror community.

Why should I read Stephen King’s favorite books?

Stephen King’s favorite books are not just full of scary creatures; they’re also packed with interesting insights into what it means to be human and live in American society. Much like the books he writes himself, King enjoys reading books that have deeper meanings up for interpretation. For instance, one of King’s favorites, 1984 by George Orwell, is set in a dystopian era and forebodes the possibility of society becoming ruled by a totalitarian regime. Individuals should, therefore, read the books that King recommends for factors like self-awareness and gaining knowledge of important social issues.

What other books does Stephen King recommend?

Among other books Stephen King recommends are 'Watership Down' by Richard Adams, 'Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West' by Cormac McCarthy, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by J.R.R. Tolkien.

What Stephen King’s books should I read first?

We researched what books Stephen King’s fans recommend starting with, and the popular choice is "Salem’s Lot" as an introduction to the Maine Vampires in the Castle Rock area. Others recommend the Dark Tower series, "Night Shift" and "Skeleton Crew" short story collections, Carrie, The Shining, Pet Sematary, Cujo, Christine, It, and The Stand.

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