Book reviews by
Shalini

Stephen King Reading Order (The Ultimate Guide To All 80+ Books)

Stephen King refers to his fans as ‘Constant Readers.’ These are people who have taken the time to tackle his colossal 70+ book bibliography.

Although he has slowed down in recent years, Stephen King is one of the speediest writers out there, and fans can expect at least a book or two per year. This extensive writing has helped him to a comfortable income stream. You can read more about King’s net worth here.

So let’s say you want to start reading Stephen King. Perhaps you’ve heard a lot about him through the countless movie adaptations of his work, or perhaps you’ve already read a little but want to delve deeper into his novels.

Stephen King Reading Order (The Ultimate Guide To All 80+ Books)

If this is the case, then you’ve come to the right place! 

This is the ultimate guide to all 81 entries into the Stephen King Bibliography. We’ll give you a list of each one and even include the ‘Bachman books,’ that he publishes from time to time.

After, we’ll explain some good reading orders that will help you get the best out of his life’s work.

We’ve also included a short Frequently Asked Questions section that will take you through some common questions about this legendary author. 

Stephen King Quick Overview

Stephen King Quick Overview

Sometimes called the ‘American Charles Dickens,’ Stephen King is one of the most prolific writers of the last 100 years.

Starting as primarily a writer of horror fiction (If you like horror fiction, you might also like American Psycho. Check out this book review on it!), he has since branched out to write across almost every genre and has created some of the most treasured stories in recent history.

His work is hard-hitting, often brutal and terrifying, and always has a high emphasis on character over plot.

Numerous film adaptations have sky-rocketed his work to mass appeal, including Carrie (1976,) The Shining (1980,) Stand By Me (1986,) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

Stephen King is one of, if not the most renowned horror writers in history, and continues to write vivaciously even as he gets older. 

In his book On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft (published in 2000), he explained his process. Stephen King tries to write upwards of six pages each day on whatever novel it is he’s working on.

This means that he creates an impressive amount of stories each year. This means that fans—or ‘Constant Readers’—almost always have something new to read.

However, for people who are new to reading his work, the extensive bibliography can seem like a huge mountain to overcome.

Thankfully, his army of fans has a lot of opinions about good reading orders you can choose to take.

Whilst there isn’t any right path, there are some great ideas that will help you better understand his contribution to literature and the shared universe of horror, fantasy, and science fiction he has created. 

In the following sections, we’re going to give you a total overview of his work, and then give you some suggested reading orders.

Because Stephen King has a lot of different books, we’re going to try to give you an overview of some of the most important ones, and clue you in on some of the nuances of his work that make him different from other authors. 

Total Stephen King Bibliography

What follows is a list of every single Stephen King.

Some of them are short story collections – which we’ve referenced with the word ‘Shorts,’ and some use his alternative pen name Richard Bachman, which we’ve referenced with ‘Bachman.’ 

  1. Carrie (1974)
  2. ‘Salem’s Lot (1975)
  3. Rage (1976) (Bachman)
  4. The Shining (1977)
  5. The Stand (1978)
  6. The Long Walk (1978) (Bachman)
  7. Night Shift (1978) (Shorts) 
  8. The Dead Zone (1979)
  9. Firestarter (1980)
  10. Roadwork (1980) (Bachman)
  11. Cujo (1981)
  12. The Running Man (1981) (Bachman)
  13. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1982)
  14. Apt Pupil (1982)
  15. The Breathing Method (1982)
  16. Different Seasons (1982) (Shorts)
  17. Christine (1983)
  18. Pet Sematary (1983)
  19. Cycle of the Werewolf (1983)
  20. The Talisman (1984)
  21. Thinner (1984) (Bachman)
  22. Skeleton Crew (1985) (Shorts)
  23. IT (1986)
  24. The Eyes of the Dragon (1987)
  25. The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (1987)
  26. Misery (1987)
  27. The Tommyknockers (1987)
  28. The Dark Half (1989)
  29. Four Past Midnight (1990) (Short Story Collection)
  30. The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands (1991)
  31. Needful Things (1991)
  32. Gerald’s Game (1992)
  33. Dolores Claiborne (1993)
  34. Nightmares and Dreamscapes (1993) (Shorts) 
  35. Insomnia (1994)
  36. Rose Madder (1995)
  37. The Regulators (1995) (Bachman)
  38. The Green Mile (1996)
  39. Desperation (1996)
  40. The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass (1997)
  41. Bag of Bones (1998)
  42. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
  43. Hearts in Atlantis (1999) (Shorts)
  44. Dreamcatcher (2001)
  45. Black House (2001)
  46. From A Buick 8 (2002)
  47. Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales (2002) (Shorts)
  48. The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
  49. The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah (2004)
  50. The Dark Tower VII (2004)
  51. The Colorado Kid (2005)
  52. Cell (2006)
  53. Lisey’s Story (2006)
  54. Blaze (2006) (Bachman, final) 
  55. Duma Key (2008)
  56. Just After Sunset (2008) (Shorts)
  57. Under the Dome (2009)
  58. Stephen King Goes to the Movies (2009) (Shorts)
  59. Blockade Billy (2010)
  60. Full Dark, No Stars (2010) (Shorts) 
  61. 11/22/63 (2011)
  62. The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
  63. Joyland (2013)
  64. Doctor Sleep (2013)
  65. Mr. Mercedes (2014)
  66. Revival (2014)
  67. Finders Keepers (2015)
  68. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015) 
  69. End of Watch (2016)
  70. Sleeping Beauties (2017)
  71. Gwendy’s Button Box (2017) 
  72. The Outsider (2018)
  73. Elevation (2018)
  74. The Institute (2019)
  75. Gwendy’s Magic Feather (2020)
  76. If It Bleeds (2020) (Shorts) 
  77. Later (2021)
  78. Billy Summers (2021)
  79. Gwendy’s Final Task (2022)
  80. Fairy Tale (2022)

Where To Start With Stephen King?

Where To Start With Stephen King?

So as you can see, he has a lot of books! If you’re a new reader, the sheer size of this list might feel overwhelming to you.

Thankfully, there are some choice reads that fans consider his best work, and they could be the best place to begin.

In this section, we’re going to cover some of his most iconic works with reference to the type of reader that they might be perfect for. 

We’ve separated these into sections to do with genre, but you should know that Stephen King novels often cross the line between different genres.

You can also consider this a reading order, as we’ve made sure to order the lists in ways that complement each other.

Reading In Order

Firstly, let’s consider just reading each novel by its year of publication. If you like, you can simply work down the list we’ve included above.

This will give you a total understanding of every single thing he’s ever published. However, his bibliography is huge and some books aren’t as good as others!  

Horror Novels

Horror novels are Stephen King’s bread and butter. They are what has given him his name as one of the greatest authors of all time.

In this first section, we’re going to outline a reading order that will take you through some of the most important horror novels you should read. 

Just one note before we begin—there is a massive content warning for almost every one of these stories! Stephen King’s horror is known for its darkness, violence, and distressing themes.

If you’re not a person who deals well with being scared, then we’d recommend checking out later lists in this article. 

1. Carrie (1974)

Carrie is Stephen King’s first published novel, though not the first story he ever wrote. However, it is one of the most important works in his bibliography.

Carrie is a horror story about a girl with psychic powers. Upon the beginning of her first period when she is bullied by other girls at her high school, these latent abilities begin to awaken.

With an abusive, fanatically religious mother and classmates that want to publically humiliate her, Carrie becomes a monster and one of the most iconic horror characters in history. 

This is one of the best places to begin if you’re looking to read a short introduction to Stephen King’s horror novels that will give you a great understanding of his prose style, character development, and the tone of his other horror stories.

It’s a great little tale that moves with pace and paves the way for his later, more expansive horror novels.

2. The Shining (1977)

The Shining, without a doubt, is one of the most iconic horror novels ever written. It follows the Torrence Family (Jack, Wendy, and their son Danny) as they take over as custodians of the Overlook Hotel.

This might be one of the first stories that mythologizes the hotel as a setting for horror, and as the plot progresses you will see the family battle malevolent spirits—both internal and external. 

One thing to note about this book is that it deviates a lot from Stanley Kubrick’s legendary adaptation of the same name.

Although the general scenario is the same, there is a different central ‘heart’ to the novel that allows the ending to be more inspiring than cold, as is Kubrick’s version. 

Pick this one up if you’re looking to tackle something larger than Carrie, and learn why Stephen King is considered one of the greatest authors of his generation. It’s a must-read for horror fans and Constant Readers alike. 

3. Cujo (1981)

This might seem a strange third pick for Constant Readers, but it’s another one of his most iconic stories, that shows the reader how much he can do with a relatively simplistic plot.

In short—Cujo is the story of a Saint Bernard that gets rabies whilst chasing a rabbit in the woods. I

t follows multiple characters throughout the town of Castle Rock, as Cujo slowly loses his mind and begins to cause big problems for all.

We won’t go into spoilers, because the plot of this book is at its heart suspenseful, but just know that it’s a real page-turner.

It also acts as a great introduction to other stories that jump around and explore multiple points of view. 

An interesting fact about Cujo—it’s actually one of the only books that Stephen King has little to no memory of writing.

At the time of its creation, he was struggling with intense substance-abuse problems. It’s for this reason that many Constant Readers consider it to be one of his most terrifying novels.

It’s deeply introspective, gripping, and shows just how good at horror writing he is, even when he isn’t using paranormal monsters or entities. 

4. IT (1986)

4. IT (1986)

One look at this novel and you’re probably going to be overwhelmed at how large it is. At over 400,000 words, it is by far one of his longest books.

IT is widely considered one of the greatest horror novels ever written. It follows the story of the Loser’s Club, a group of kids living in the city of Derry who find themselves pursued by a psychotic, shape-shifting clown who wants to eat them.

Pennywise, as he is called, is one of the most iconic horror monsters ever created, and has become a vital part of popular culture.

If you’re looking for something terrifying, long, and sweeping, then this is a great book to pick up. It’s as long as it is as it tells the story of a lifetime, flitting between two time periods—the 1950s and the 1980s.

You will learn a lot about each character, as you will become completely immersed in the world that Stephen King has created. 

5. Misery (1987)

Although this novel is often also called a thriller (If you like Thriller Books, check out the works of Jack Carr and how to read them), we think that it fits the horror genre just as well. If you’re looking for something short and suspenseful, then this is a great choice for you. 

Misery tells the story of Paul Sheldon, a writer who has for years resented his job of penning romantic, period dramas.

As he drives to his editor to submit the final entry of his long-running series (whereupon he has killed off the eponymous main character), he gets into a car wreck.

When Paul wakes up he finds himself badly injured and being nursed back to health by the creepy and strange Annie Wilkes, who just so happens to be his number 1 fan.

As the story progresses we see Paul fight for survival as Annie keeps him locked away and forces him to write a better ending.

This is a thrilling novel that focuses primarily on two characters and has some contemplative sections about the redemptive qualities of writing as a craft. 

Other Essentials

Next up, we’re going to give you a short list of some of the most important books he’s written outside of horror. These will give you a good idea of what fans love, and the order in which you should read them.

1. The Stand (1978)

The Stand is sometimes called a horror novel, but it’s probably best called a post-apocalyptic thriller.

When a terrible virus ravages the United States of America and resets culture, readers watch as a tale of good and evil unfolds.

This one is widely regarded as one of his best novels, but like IT before, it is extremely long. We’d recommend this one for fans who want to see the best he has to offer once they’re comfortable with his prose style. 

2. 11/22/63

This next one is an example of a Stephen King book that doesn’t fit into the horror genre at all.

11/22/63 is a time-traveler novel that follows a man who goes back to the 1960s to try and stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It’s another very long book, but one that is perfect for fans of thrillers with a supernatural twist. 

3. The Dark Tower Series (Multiple Years)

Want to see what happens when Stephen King tries his hand at fantasy fiction (If you like Fantasy themed books, check out The Legend of Drizzt Books and how to read them)? This 5-part series follows the Gunslinger as he battles The Man In Black.

It’s a strange mix between a classic Cowboy Western, Science-fiction, and fantasy.

 If you’re looking for something strange that is easy to read but also deep and contemplative, then this is what you should read next.

The Dark Tower is also an important series for Constant Readers, as it will take you through some of the lore that goes on in the background of his other novels; introducing you to his shared universe concept. 

4. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

Looking to learn some writing tips from the master himself? Perhaps you’re interested in his life and want to know how his experiences forged him into an iconic writer.

Either way, On Writing, is a great next step. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft is Stephen King’s writing guide.

It explains everything you’ll want to know about his process, some of his early life, and how he went from a boy writing stories in his bedroom, to an internationally revered author. 

You can skip this one if you’re only interested in his stories, but it’s very well-written and offers some great life lessons you won’t find elsewhere. The audiobook is also great, as it’s read by Stephen King! 

The Bachman Books

Horror Bat on the Gates of Stephen King's House

As Stephen King began his career, he found himself writing novels faster than his publishing house could put them out. This meant that he had a lot of random books that he wanted to publish, but could not.

The solution was to create a pen name that would allow him to explore different topics and publish twice in the same period.

And so Richard Bachman was born. Although the writing style is very similar, you’ll find slightly different themes within these books, and many fans consider them to be slightly darker in nature than even his horror stories.

You should absolutely not skip these, as they are some of his most iconic works. 

  1. Rage: Rage is the first Richard Bachman book, but it is currently out of print. This is because of wild controversies that spawned due to the book’s controversial topic. Stephen King pulled it himself from shelves as he was worried that it was inspiring mass shootings across the United States. It’s still a good novel, but you can always skip it. 
  2. The Long Walk: Stephen King’s first foray into dystopian fiction. It undoubtedly inspired other modern classics such as Battle Royal and The Hunger Games. 
  3. Roadwork: a thriller novel that follows a man driven to insanity after a series of external circumstances cause his family and home to be taken over to build a highway. 
  4. The Running Man: Another dystopian novel about a reality TV show where contestants hunt a man across the world in order for cash prizes. 
  5. Thinner: this is a dark horror story about a man who is cursed by a Romani woman who he killed in a road accident. It’s one of the darkest stories King has to offer.
  6. The Regulators: This story marks the resurrection of Richard Bachman in 1996, and is a story about parallel universes. 
  7. Blaze: Blaze is the final novel published under the name of Richard Bachman, and follows the story of a con artist who kidnaps a rich man’s baby. 

If you want to get started with the Bachman books, we’d recommend reading them in order.

The Long Walk is widely considered the best of them, and you can read it right away if you skip Rage—which may be difficult to find these days. 

Short Story Picks

Stephen King is a prolific short story writer, with around 130 stories to his name.

We’re going to give you a short overview of the most important short stories he’s written, with reference to the collections they are contained in. 

1. The Body (Contained Within Different Seasons)

The Body is the short story that inspired the 1986 sleeper hit movie ‘Stand By Me.’

It’s a story about four boys who go into the wilderness outside their town of Castle Rock (remember this from Cujo?) in search of a dead body.

It’s a wholesome, often hilarious novel with some deep themes at its heart.

Although Stand By Me is widely considered one of the most authentic adaptations of his work, the short has some key differences and is very worth checking out. 

2. Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption (Contained Within Different Seasons)

You’ve probably seen the movie, but did you know it was based on a Stephen King Novella?

This is a great choice if you’re looking for a prison story about redemption and innocence. It’s a gripping read that offers some additional depth you don’t get in the movie. 

3. 1922 (Contained Within Full Dark, No Stars)

If you want a particularly nasty set of stories, then you should pick up the short story collection Full Dark, No Stars.

1922 might be one of Stephen King’s darkest stories and follows a man who coerces his son into murdering their wife and mother to stop her from selling off their family farm.

What happens after is dark, and disturbing, and offers a chilling look into the darkest parts of the human psyche. 

4. The Jaunt (Contained Within Skeleton Crew)

Want to see what a Stephen King sci-fi novel looks like? We’re not even going to explain the plot of The Jaunt, for fear of spoilers, but just know that you probably won’t have ever read a sci-fi (If you like sci-fi themed books, check out The Dune Books and how to read them) story so terrifying. 

Conclusion

We regret to say that we have only just scratched the surface of Stephen King’s vast bibliography. However, we hope that these lists and reading orders we’ve suggested will give you a good foothold.

Feel free to pick and choose the books/stories that seem interesting to you. In truth, there’s no real reading order that is required, and many Constant Readers find an entry into his world with different books.

If you still have some questions, make sure to keep reading for our short Frequently Asked Questions section.

We wish you many happy hours reading the works of Stephen King, and hope that you love his stories as much as we do! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Stephen King So Popular?

Stephen King is so popular for two main reasons—the quantity and quality of his writing. Stephen King has a simple but effective prose style that focuses on telling the story and exploring the characters above all else.

This means that his writing is very accessible. He also loves to tell stories about regular people placed into dangerous or paranormal scenarios.

He’s also published books almost every year of his career, which means there is always something new for fans to sink their teeth into.

Is Stephen King Crazy?

Often, people can take a look at the horror stories Stephen King has written and wonder how he has been able to write such dark material.

However, this is just the kind of thing he enjoys writing!

Stephen King had a fairly regular childhood and life ever since, and he states that his love for all things scary and violent is just because that’s what he enjoyed reading and watching as a child! 

How Many Books Has Stephen King Sold? 

Stephen King is one of the most renowned authors in history. He’s sold more than 400 million books worldwide over the course of his career.

When it comes to horror authors, he is the absolute King (pardon the pun), selling far more than any other in history.

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