Which Stephen King Book Should You Read First?

If you’re new to Stephen King, the prospect of choosing just one book can be daunting. After all, he’s written dozens of bestsellers and is known as one of the most prolific and successful authors of all time. As of March 2022, Stephen King has written 64 novels! An astonishing amount. But don’t worry – we’re here to help.

Most people associate Stephen King with horror, but he’s also written a number of great historical fiction novels, thrillers, and fantasy. 

Because there are so many Stephen King books to choose we are going to suggest starting with the classics.

Here Are 6 Stephen King Books to Read First

1. The Shining

This is the classic Stephen King horror novel, and it’s a good place to start if you want to get a taste of his spooky style. It tells the story of Jack Torrance, who takes a job as the caretaker of a hotel that’s been closed for the winter. But Jack soon realizes that the hotel has a dark secret – and it may be too late to escape.

The Shining
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 688 Pages - 08/27/2013 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

2. Carrie

This is Stephen King’s first published novel, and it’s a classic horror story. Carrie White is a shy girl who has always been bullied by her classmates. But when she discovers that she has telekinetic powers, she decides to take revenge on her tormentors.

  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 08/30/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

3. It

This is one of Stephen King’s most famous books, and it was made into a popular movie. “It” tells the story of a group of kids who are terrorized by an evil creature that takes the form of a clown.

It: A Novel
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1168 Pages - 01/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

4. The Dark Tower

This is Stephen King’s epic seven-book series, and it’s a great introduction to his work if you want something that’s a bit longer. The series tells the story of Roland, an ancient gunslinger who is searching for the Dark Tower – a mythical building that is said to be the nexus of all universes.

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, The)
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/03/2016 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

5. The Dead Zone

This is one of Stephen King’s most suspenseful thrillers, and it was made into a movie starring Christopher Walken. Johnny Smith has a car accident that leaves him in a coma for six years. When he wakes up, he discovers that he has strange psychic powers – and he can see the future.

The Dead Zone
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 04/12/2016 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

6. 11/22/63

The book 11/22/63 by Stephen King is also a great read. It is about a man who goes back in time to try and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Stephen King is a master of suspense, and this book is no exception – it will keep you glued to the pages until the very end.

Many consider 11/22/63 to be one of Stephen King’s best books.

11/22/63: A Novel
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 880 Pages - 07/24/2012 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)


If you’re looking for something shorter, Stephen King also wrote a novella called “The Shining” which was the basis for his famous horror novel. And if you want to read Stephen King’s work in chronological order, start with “Carrie” and then work your way through his other novels and story collections.

No matter which Stephen King book you choose to read first, you’re in for a treat. He’s a master of horror, suspense, and thriller writing, and he’s sure to leave you wanting more. So pick up a copy of Stephen King’s work today, and prepare to be scared!

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