When it comes to horror literature, few authors are quite as influential as Stephen King. The maestro of horror has a staggering 64 books under his belt, and it doesn’t look as if he will be slowing down anytime soon. There are plenty of books to choose from, but it can be daunting for newcomers to find a starting point. Today, we will be looking at the bestselling King novels to date in an attempt to find a jumping-off point for newcomers. While it is difficult to figure out exactly how many copies are sold, this list is comprised of the books that have sold the most consecutive copies.
10. Under The Dome
Chester’s Mill, Maine, is a little town where nothing extraordinary happens until one fall day, a large dome comes down from the sky and cuts the town off from the rest of the world. The dome is seemingly indestructible and will destroy any vehicle that tries to ram its way through it. A small group of townsfolk led by an Iraq vet set out to find the secret of the dome. The novel has an isolated feel to it and even comes off as claustrophobic at times. The novel was adapted into a television series in 2013, and that is where it receives many of its fans. The story is classic Stephen King, and it’s no surprise why it sold so many copies.
9. The Dead Zone
Another title that many fans may recognize as a show is The Dead Zone. The novel was released in 1979 and follows schoolteacher Johnny Smith. A car accident puts Johnny into a five-year coma, and he awakens with a terrifying ability. Johnny can now see someone’s pasts and futures by simply touching them. This leads those around him to ask him to solve their problems, and Johnny’s problems begin to pile up. Things come to a head when he shakes hands with a politician and must make a grave choice. The book is frequently listed among the best King novels, and for good reason. The book was adapted into a Christopher Walken-led film in 1983 and a six-season television series running from 2002 to 2007.
8. The Gunslinger
While many of Stephen King’s novels have details linking them to his other works, they all mostly stand on their own. Of the few sequels he wrote, none were as prolific as his Dark Tower series. The series has eight novels, and it all started with The Gunslinger. The novel combines five short stories King wrote and follows Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger. Roland is on a quest to catch his longtime adversary, The Man in Black. Roland’s ultimate goal is to reach the fabled Dark Tower, and The Man in Black is but the first step. The novel blends science-fiction, horror, and western in a way that only Stephen King can. The book was loosely adapted into a film, but it is far from the best King adaptations.
When it comes to legendary King tales, the behemoth IT is one of the tops. While modern audiences know the story from the recent films (perfect summertime horror movies), it all started here. The novel has an astounding 1,138 pages, a feat that is only surpassed by one. The book follows a group of friends as kids and later as adults. As children, they defeated a deadly creature who takes the shape of a clown and feeds on the fears of children. 27 years later, he has returned and is stronger than ever. This epic novel is a trial to get through, but this is the ideal way to experience the story. The book may be long, but every page captures the mind, and fears, of the reader.
6. The Stand
Stephen King’s apocalyptic masterpiece is frequently praised as one of his best. The novel was originally released in 1978 to rave reviews. Besides how well received it was, it was incomplete. in 1990, the complete edition was finally released. The final version of the novel has an astounding 1,152 pages making it Stephen King’s longest novel. After a man escapes from a bio-weapon lab, a deadly virus plagues the world. The survivors are split between two factions, and they are about to go into war. Epic is the best way to describe this colossal story. The novel was adapted into a miniseries in 1994, and a modern version was released in 2020.
5. Pet Sematary
It is never easy saying goodbye to a loved one. Whether pet or family member, we always wish there was a way to bring them back. In King’s novel Pet Sematary, this is possible. While those buried in the cemetery do return, they are far different and deadlier. When a tragedy befalls the Creed family, a grieving father buries his son in hopes to bring him back. The thing that returns may look like his son, but it is something far more sinister. The novel has a simple philosophy, sometimes dead is better.
Anyone who has any level of fame will likely say that an insane fan is one of their greatest fears. For Paul Sheldon, this nightmare becomes a reality. The story follows Sheldon, a writer, kept in the hostile care of his biggest fan, Anne Wilkes. Wilkes finds Paul after he suffers a near-fatal car accident. Sheldon quickly realizes Anne is insane, and his life is very much at stake. This story is terrifying to its core and is the perfect definition of a page-turner. The film was famously made into a film starring Kathy Bates, a role than won her a well-deserved Oscar.
3. ‘Salem’s Lot
Only the second novel Stephen King published is known as one of his greatest. This is, if nothing else, a true testament to the genius of King. The novel follows Ben Mears, an author who returns to his hometown for his latest story. He soon learns that the town is infested with vampires, and it is up to him to stop them. With the help of a small group of believers, Ben looks to combat the undead and save his hometown. The book is one of the best vampire stories ever told, and it is no surprise given who wrote it. The book has had several adaptations, and a new one is due later this year.
The first published King novel has gone down as one of the best horror novels ever. Carrie follows social outcast, Carrie White. Carrie is a high school girl who suffers relentless bullying from her classmates. Things aren’t much better at home, as her overly religious mother is equally as mentally abusive. What Carrie’s assailant doesn’t know is that something has been growing inside Carrie, and it is getting ready to make itself known. The story is as tragic as it is scary. It usually takes authors a few tries to make a name for themselves, and King did it in one try.
1. The Shining
The Shining has evolved into something much more than another Stephen King book. This is one of the scariest and personal stories King has ever told, and it just gets better with age. Many, including King himself, agree the book is a slow burner. However, once things get going, they grab the reader and suck them into the terrifying Overlook Hotel. The film famously received a feature film adaptation in 1980 and is a movie that can rival even The Exorcist in terms of scariness. While director Stanley Kubrick and the incredible cast are to thank for the film’s success, Stephen King is responsible for the terrors hidden in the story of The Shining.