50 Must-Read Books Recommended by Stephen King (Plus a Few Extra Recommendations From Me)

Stephen King is one of the most prolific authors of the modern age whose last name isn’t “Patterson.” He’s written 60+ books in his career, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Dozens of his stories have been adapted for film & TV, and even that number has been increasing over the last couple years. And even with all of these obligations, Stephen King is also an avid reader (he reads about 80 books per year), and as he famously says in his memoir On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Someone who reads this much must have a few reading recommendations floating around, and thankfully, the King of Horror is exceptionally generous with his book suggestions. Here are 50 must-read books recommended by Stephen King over the years, and if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list, I’ve made a few of my own book suggestions for the King as well.

50 must-read books recommended by Stephen King. There's something here for every kind of reader and lots for readers who love horror to enjoy! book lists | book recommendations | books recommended by Stephen King | horror books | what should I read next?

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

“Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village’s wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man’s (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram’s new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of Murder Weekly (“Love — Rape — Revenge!”), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.”

**Included in Stephen King’s updated reading list for On Writing.

The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam

“Jeo and Mikal are foster brothers from a small town in Pakistan. Though they were inseparable as children, their adult lives have diverged: Jeo is a dedicated medical student, married a year; Mikal has been a vagabond since he was fifteen, in love with a woman he can’t have. But when Jeo decides to sneak across the border into Afghanistan—not to fight with the Taliban against the Americans, rather to help care for wounded civilians—Mikal determines to go with him, to protect him. Yet Jeo’s and Mikal’s good intentions cannot keep them out of harm’s way. As the narrative takes us from the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind, we see all of these lives upended by the turmoil of war.”

**Stephen King says: “An eye-opening, heartbreaking novel of the war in Afghanistan. Reminded me of Conrad’s Nostromo.”

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

“Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.”

**Included in Stephen King’s updated reading list for On Writing.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

“Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times. At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth.”

**Stephen King says: “No, not the twins from the Kubrick movie, but the targets of a serial killer who finds a time portal in Chicago during the Depression and jackrabbits his way through recent American history, killing women and taking trophies. Until, that is, he encounters a tuff girl who’s not so easy to do away with. It’s the black-hole version of The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

2666 by Robert BolaÑo

“Composed in the last two years of Bolaño’s life, 2666 has been greeted as his greatest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters include academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student caring for her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the desert sprawl of Santa Teresa–a fictional Juárez–on the US-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.”

**Stephen King says, “This surreal novel can’t be described; it has to be experienced in all its crazed glory.”

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

“The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

“For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end: once again the tides of history threaten to sweep them up and carry them off into the unknown. But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. And in a cheap hotel, someone has just committed a murder—right under Landsman’s nose.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

The Troop by Nick Cutter

“Once a year, scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected…and one another.”

**Stephen King says, “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.”

My SOul to Keep by Tananarive Due

“When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami. Instead, David vows to invoke a forbidden ritual to keep Jessica and his daughter with him forever.”

**Stephen King says, “Ms. Due accomplishes the hardest thing of all with deceptive ease, creating characters we care about on their most human level.”

Sharp Objects byGillian Flynn

“Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.”

**Stephen King says, “I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights.”

The Secret Place by Tana French

“A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined.”

**Stephen King says, “Read The Secret Place, by Tana French, when it comes out. You’ll understand then. Great book.”

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

“Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

Deception on His Mind by Elizabeth George

“Balford-le-Nez is a dying seatown on the coast of Essex. But when a member of the town’s small but growing Asian community, a Pakistani named Haytham Querashi, is found dead near its beach, his neck broken, sleepy Balford-le-Nez ignites. And working solo, without her long-time partner Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, Sergeant Barbara Havers must probe not only the mind of a murderer and a case very close to her own heart, but the terrible price people pay for deceiving others…and themselves.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen

“An experiment on micro-organisms conducted in space goes wrong. The cells begin to infect the crew with deadly results. Emma Watson struggles to contain the deadly microbe while her husband and NASA try to retrieve her from space, before it’s too late.”

**Stephen King says, “She is better than Palmer, better than Cook…yes, even better than Crichton.”

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber

“After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed ‘The Angel of Death’ by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.”

**Stephen King says, “You think Annie Wilkes was bad? Check out this chilling nonfiction account of Charlie Cullen, a friendly nurse who may have killed several hundred patients before he was caught. Now, there’s a real cockadoodie brat.”

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

“When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.”

**Stephen King says, “For pure story, this colorful, headlong tale of a Depression-era circus simply can’t be beat. Heroes, villains, romance, a wild-animal stampede! Big fun from page 1.”

HEX by Thomas Olde HeuveltHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.”

**Stephen King says, “A wicked witch holds an upstate New York town prisoner. This is totally, brilliantly original.”

Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hilburn

“For more than fifty years, Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most beloved artists in American pop music history. Songs like “The Sound of Silence,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Graceland” have moved beyond the sales charts and into our cultural consciousness. But Simon is a deeply private person who has resisted speaking to us outside of his music. He has said he will not write an autobiography or memoir, and he has refused to talk to previous biographers. Finally, Simon has opened up—for more than one hundred hours of interviews—to Robert Hilburn, whose biography of Johnny Cash was named by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times as one of her ten favorite books of 2013. The result is a landmark book that will take its place as the defining biography of one of America’s greatest artists.”

**Stephen King says, “Every now and then—rarely!—a book casts a little light on the creative development of a gifted artist. Paul Simon: The Life is one of those few. Read it if you like Simon; read it if you want to discover how talent unfolds itself.”

The Nix by Nathan Hill

“Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. But then one day there she is, all over the news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints Faye as a militant radical with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother never left her small Iowa town. Which version of his mother is the true one? Determined to solve the puzzle–and finally have something to deliver to his publisher–Samuel decides to capitalize on his mother’s new fame by writing a tell-all biography, a book that will savage her intimately, publicly. But first, he has to locate her.”

**Stephen King says, “I’m reading The Nix by Nathan Hill. Just started, but so far it’s got me laughing hysterically. First 50 pages are worth the price.”

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

“When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job. Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.”

**Stephen King says, “Want to read a great whodunnit? Anthony Horowitz has one for you: Magpie Murders. It’s as good as an Agatha Christie. Better, in some ways. Cleverer.”

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

“Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor is accused of murdering Viola Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father. The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past—into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK crew headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. Now Penn must follow a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to one undeniable fact: no one—black or white, young or old, brave or not—is ever truly safe.”

**Stephen King says, “Grab all 3 volumes of Greg Iles’s Natchez Burning trilogy. Pure suspense, pure backroads Americana.”

The Liars Club by Mary Karr

“When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr’s The Liars Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr’s comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger’s—a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all.”

**Stephen King says, “This is what the memoir is supposed to be.”

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

“Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history.
While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves ‘What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?'”

**Stephen King says, “Deeply, deeply disturbing, hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark.”

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

“Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

The Poisonwood Bible by BARBARA KINGSOLVER

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

THE MARS ROOM by RACHEL KUSHNER

“It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.”

**Stephen King says, “Most literary fiction doesn’t last very long. This is going to be around. It’s the real deal. Jarring, horrible, compassionate, funny. BTW, Kushner reads the audio, and knocks it out of the park.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“One of the most cherished stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

“A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.”

**Stephen King says, “Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greats, has passed. Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon. Godspeed into the galaxy.”

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

“They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal. Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?”

**Stephen King says, “Suspenseful as hell, and [Lippman] writes like a dream…Lippman’s always good, but this is a cut above.”

one hundred years of solitude book cover gabriel garcia marquezOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as magical realism.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

“For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind.”

**Stephen King says, “It appears police have caught the Golden State Killer. Go get Michelle McNamara’s excellent book about the case, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”

Slade House by David Mitchell

“Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late…”

**Stephen King says, “Hard to imagine a more finely wrought and chilling tale of the supernatural. One of the rare great ones.”

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

“Responding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym. When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines”

**Stephen King says, “A brilliant blending of crime, mystery, and American history (Atlanta, just after WWII). Terrific entertainment.”

Her Fearful Symmetryby Audrey Niffenegger

“When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers–with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including–perhaps–their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons

“Steve Mitchell, happily married with a wife and two kids, is in line for a coveted position at Boston’s University Hospital when his world goes awry. His over-reaching ambition causes him to botch a major surgery, and another of his patients mysteriously dies. Steve’s nightmare goes from bad to worse when he learns that the mysterious death was no accident but the act of a sociopath. A sociopath he knows and who has information that could destroy Steve’s career and marriage. A sociopath for whom killing is more than a means to an end: it’s a game. Because he is under a cloud of suspicion and has no evidence, he knows that any accusations he makes won’t be believed. So he must struggle to turn the tables, even as the killer skillfully blocks his every move.”

**Stephen King says, “Doing Harm, by Kelly Parsons: best damn medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years. Terrifying OR scenes, characters with real texture.”

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

“As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.”

**Stephen King says, “State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett: took me awhile to get around to it, but boy, was it worth it. Highest recommendation.”

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

“When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.”

**Stephen King says, “Finished Red Moon, by Benjamin Percy. A werewolf epic. Can’t stop thinking about it.”

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

“Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

“Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone. When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise. And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him? As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.”

**Stephen King says, “Spent most of the day reading the second half of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. What the Brits call ‘a thumping good read.’ Bravo!”

A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell

A Sight for Sore Eyes tells three stories, and for the longest time, the reader has no inkling of how they will come together. The first is a story of a little girl who has been scolded and sent to her room when her mother is brutally murdered; as Francine grows up, she is haunted by the experience, and it is years before she even speaks. Secondly, we become privy to the life of a young man, Teddy, born of unthinking young parents, who grows up almost completely ignored. Free of societal mores, he becomes a sociopath, who eventually discovers that killing can be an effective way to get what he wants. Thirdly, we meet Harriet, who from an early age has learned to use her beauty to make her way in the world. Bored by marriage to a wealthy, much older man, she scans the local newspapers for handymen to perform odd jobs around the house, including services in the bedroom.
When these three plots strands finally converge, the result is harrowing and unforgettable.”

**Included in SK’s reading list for On Writing.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

“Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India’s independence, and found himself mysteriously “handcuffed to history” by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent – and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem’s gifts – inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell – we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century.”

**Stephen King says, “1,001 children are born in India at midnight on Aug. 15, 1947; this epic social comedy follows one of them through a lifetime of adventures worthy of Dickens.”

Final Girls by Riley Sager

“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet. Now, Quincy is doing well. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night…That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.”

**Stephen King says, “The first great thriller of 2017 is almost here: Final Girls by Riley Sager. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.”

A Suitable BoyA Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

“Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find—through love or through exacting maternal appraisal—a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves.”

**Included in SK’s updated reading list for On Writing.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

“The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.When the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape.”

**Stephen King says, “A brilliant, massive combination of history and supernatural horror.”

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

“Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan – where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller – Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.”

**Stephen King says, “An insanely entertaining pulp riff that combines Survivor with World Wrestling Entertainment. Or maybe Royale is just insane.”

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.”

**Stephen King says, “Tartt proves that the Dickensian novel—expansive and bursting with incident—is alive and well.”

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

“Area X—a remote and lush terrain—has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition.”

**Stephen King says, “I’m loving The Southern Reach Trilogy, by Jeff Vandermeer. Recommended by an indie bookseller. Creepy and fascinating.”

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

“When the world ends and you find yourself forsaken, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. Stranded on the other side of the country from his wife and children, Ed must push himself across a devastated wasteland to get back to them. With the clock ticking and hundreds of miles between them, his best hope is to run — or risk losing what he loves forever.”

**Stephen King says, “This one’s a real find.”

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

“One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.”

**Stephen King says, “This is a terrifying, engrossing ghost story set in the English countryside not long after World War II, but it’s so much more…Although told in straightforward prose, this is a deeply textured and thoughtful piece of work. Several sleepless nights are guaranteed.”

The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven—but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.”

**Stephen King says, “Terrific novel of escape, sacrifice, and redemption.”

 

Now, when I was putting this list together, I had a harder time finding authors of color than I expected. Stephen King is a big fan of “good stories,” so naturally I had to wonder a little about what constitutes a “good story,” for him, and what types of stories most frequently end up on his bookshelf. Since reading books written by authors from different races, ethnicities, and cultures is one of the best ways to enhance your reading experience, I wanted to pass along a few suggestions of my own that I thought the King might appreciate, so Stephen, if you happen to have your eyeballs on this post, here are a few titles you might enjoy, from one Constant Reader to another!

my sister the serial killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite book coverMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…”

**Katie says, “A blistering, multi-layered satirical gut punch of a novel that is both darkly humorous and deeply disturbing.”

IQ by Joe Ide

“East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch. They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay. This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.”

**Katie says, “A gritty crime series that’s like if Sherlock Holmes grew up in the projects.”

bluebird bluebird by attica locke cover imageBluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

“When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes–and save himself in the process–before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. ”

**Katie says, “Attica Locke’s writing completely transports you to this tiny, dusty Texas town, where racial relations have been simmering menacingly for decades. It’s a complicated mystery, with an even more complicated story behind, and it’s absolutely brilliant.”

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.”

**Katie says, “This book is a beautiful look at family, cultural expectations, fitting in, and what happens when the family dynamic is shattered forever. The writing is lyrical, yet razor sharp, and it’s incredible on audio.”

there-there-tommy-orangeThere There by Tommy Orange

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.”

**Katie says, “An unflinching look at urban Native American life and the way that heritage and memory get passed down through the generations. It’s a book that deserves to be read multiple times.”

____________________

Want more Stephen King? Check out some of these other books he’s recommended over the years, or bask in the wisdom he’s shared with 70 Stephen King quotes to commemorate his 70th birthday.

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