Stephen King is such a prolific author that a scientific study is required to understand which of his published books are his very best. In order to scientifically determine his best works one needs to consider, not only all of his novels, but the author as well.
I wanted to include a quick biographical section on Stephen King in my scientific study, so naturally I went to his website stephenking.com
I expected to find how many books King has published, but determined that the number is incalculable. He does have a list of his written works, so if you have a strong scrolling ability, you can try to determine the total that way. Please let me know if you find the answer. I suspect it’s a constantly changing variable.
There is some interesting biographical information on his website. Stephen King is 6’4” tall, which is unexpected and newsworthy. He met his wife in a library, which is the most appropriate and adorable thing ever. Much more about his life, parents, where he lives, etc. on his website.
The FAQ section is by far the most entertaining part of his website. The FAQ answers such questions as, “Are you dead” and “Is it true that you have retired”. Also, you are NOT invited to trick-or-treat at his house and of course you cannot send him your manuscript. Poor guy gets some strange questions, frequently.
I went to great lengths to ensure the scientific accuracy of this list. As you know Stephen King is constantly publishing new works and I wanted to consider all of his titles. This meant that I had to search multiple websites and scroll through numerous pages of data. Did you know that Stephen King has 100 pages on Goodreads?
I excluded short story collections (sorry, If It Bleeds) and anything written by “Richard Bachman”. Sequels were also excluded.
All of the following titles earned at least a four star rating (plus or minus standard deviation) on Goodreads and have at least 50,000 votes.
These are Stephen King’s scientifically proven best books in order of popularity:
Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen.
Green mile (series)
When it first appeared, one volume per month, Stephen King's THE GREEN MILE was an unprecedented publishing triumph: all six volumes ended up on the New York Times bestseller lists—simultaneously—and delighted millions of fans the world over.
Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with "Old Sparky," Cold Mountain's electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he's never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefes... and yours.
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
Welcome to Derry, Maine ...
It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real...
They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name.
Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader - she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.
The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed's rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.
Thousands of miles away from the small township of 'Salem's Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to 'Salem's Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.
An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.
As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.
In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis's parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”
In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.
As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.
A note on Standard Deviation:
Two books were included on this list with ratings of 3.99. I included them on the list because they are widely praised and have more than 150,000 ratings each. They are Pet Sematary and Outsider.
It was very hard to stay impartial, but I can prove that I did because Under the Dome did not make the list and it is my personal favorite. Also, IT is on this list and I will never read IT because I’m a scaredy kitten.
What is your favorite Stephen King novel? Are there any that you are too scared to read?
Summaries from Goodreads
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