Stephen King Names His Five Favorite Works by Stephen King

Stephen King has no doubt for­got­ten writ­ing more books than most of us will ever pub­lish. But even now, in his pro­lif­ic “late career,” if you ask him to name his own most favored works, he can do it with­out hes­i­ta­tion. Stephen Col­bert tried that out a few years ago on The Late Show, when the writer made an appear­ance to pro­mote his then-lat­est book Bil­ly Sum­mers. The first of Stephen King’s top five by Stephen King is “Sur­vivor Type,” a 1982 short sto­ry about “a physi­cian who gets strand­ed on a lit­tle island, and he’s smug­gling hero­in, and he’s starv­ing, so he eats him­self piece by piece.”

Sur­vivor Type” may be a deep cut — and one that ini­tial­ly strug­gled for pub­li­ca­tion, being so dis­turb­ing that King remem­bers “even men’s mag­a­zines” turn­ing it down — but it’s nev­er­the­less been adapt­ed into five dif­fer­ent films since the twen­ty-tens alone. King may have enjoyed mas­sive book sales through­out almost the entire­ty of his career, but it cer­tain­ly has­n’t hurt his brand that so many of his works have become movies and tele­vi­sion shows, many of them cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na in their own right. Take the case of Mis­ery, anoth­er of King’s selec­tions, the 1990 fea­ture-film ver­sion of which gave us Kathy Bates’ Oscar-win­ning per­for­mance as a crazed fan who kid­naps her favorite nov­el­ist.

Mis­ery was direct­ed by Rob Rein­er, who’d worked with King’s mate­r­i­al before: in 1986, he turned the sto­ry “The Body” into Stand by Me, which is now con­sid­ered a high point in the cat­e­gories of eight­ies teen-star vehi­cles and ear­ly-six­ties nos­tal­gia pic­tures. After see­ing its first screen­ing, King declared it “the best film ever made out of any­thing I’ve writ­ten” — before char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly adding, “which isn’t say­ing much.” (That same year, recall, King not just wrote but direct­ed Max­i­mum Over­drive, a spec­ta­cle of malev­o­lent machines tak­ing over a truck stop that he lat­er described as a “moron movie.”)

King also enthus­es about his 2006 nov­el Lisey’s Sto­ry, as well as its Apple TV+ series adap­ta­tion, which had just come out at the time. Also still-new was the sec­ond tele­vi­su­al ren­di­tion of The Stand, King’s 1978 nov­el set in the after­math of an apoc­a­lyp­tic pan­dem­ic. “Any sim­i­lar­i­ties to what’s going on now are just too close for com­fort,” he says to Col­bert in this COVID-era clip, though it’s ambigu­ous whether the book actu­al­ly makes his top five. Col­bert sug­gests fill­ing out the list with Bil­ly Sum­mers, pre­sum­ably on the prin­ci­ple that every writer favors his most recent work. But where would King rank the three nov­els he’s cranked out since?

Relat­ed con­tent:

Stephen King’s 22 Favorite Movies, Packed with Hor­ror & Sus­pense

Stephen King Cre­ates a List of His 10 Favorite Nov­els

Stephen King Rec­om­mends 96 Books for Aspir­ing Writ­ers to Read

How Stan­ley Kubrick Adapt­ed Stephen King’s The Shin­ing into a Cin­e­mat­ic Mas­ter­piece

Pret­ty Much Pop #18 Dis­cuss­es Stephen King’s Media Empire

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (22)
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  • Nicole Robinson says:

    I Love Stephen King Books and Movies the only thing is it makes you sit on the edge of your sit and you have to fig­ure out what is going on in the Book and movie when he does that it make me have to think about what hap­pened so Stephen King.keep up the good work I love being puz­zle to fig­ure it out I get upset some­times I just love the chal­lenge that comes with it stay Bless and keep writ­ing them good books and Movie
    God Bless you always
    Nicole Robin­son

  • Justin says:

    This is the longest sen­tence I’ve ever read

  • Alan Pangborn says:

    Good grief. Who taught you how to write? You’re mak­ing an arti­cle with a dis­crete list. Make a list. At least make a para­graph for each item. This abor­tion of an arti­cle would be a D+ in 9th grade.

  • Brandt sampson says:

    This arti­cle makes me think I could write pro­fes­sion­al­ly.

  • Katie says:

    Agreed. I went to look for the rest of it….

  • Braunda Crusha says:

    I have loved SK’s books since I was 9 years old. I think his mind is bril­liant and I would love to sit down with him and have a great con­ver­sa­tion, not about his books, I own all of them. I would just like to talk about what­ev­er he is inter­est­ed in talk­ing about at that moment.
    As a per­son, I think he is a won­der­ful hus­band and father, and human being, he is very giv­ing, his dol­lar babies show that. He is my idol, some­one I look up to and high­ly respect. Maybe one day, I will get my wish, and get to talk with him. Send­ing you pos­i­tiv­i­ty, good health and hap­pi­ness.

  • Justin says:

    My favorite king books are it the stand the shin­ing and Chris­tine

  • Connie Allman says:

    His writ­ings are like hor­ri­ble! They do keep me on edge in Movies. Can’t imag­ine what a per­son who can imag­ine such hor­ri­ble things is like! I don’t have any such thoughts about any­thing. In say­ing that, I can’t see why he would dis­like any­one, unless he char­ac­ter­ized them as one of his sub­jects- which is dis­turb­ing in itself!

  • Michelle LaNeve says:

    He, Him­self, THE KING, hat­ed Tom­my Knock­ers. Appar­ent­ly, he was under the influ­ence of some­thing while writ­ing it. (Been there and done that! He shouldn’t beat up on his self). Ps: the tv show SID NOT GIVE THE BOOK JUSTICE!! THEY NEVER SHOWED THE DN SHED!!!) I won’t speak for every oth­er read­er, how­ev­er, this is prob­a­bly my favorite of all time. I’ve read it more than five times (and it’s freak­ing long!) I also have it down­loaded on Audi­ble cur­rent­ly and have lis­ten about the same many times!). I real­ly do love firestarter, but I’m pret­ty sure that is because Drew Bar­ry­more was the main char­ac­ter in the movie! I’d total­ly fan girl over her more than actu­al­ly meet­ing Mr. king! Lol, and Ive actu­al­ly real­ly nev­er read that book, YET But the point of my sto­ry is I love Stephen King and all his sto­ries. I have read quite a few. Most real­ly! I just hope he nev­er stops writ­ing as long as he lives!. So Mr. King, if you actu­al­ly read these things??? I LOVED THE TOMMY KNOCKERS!!! Xoxo 💕

  • Mike says:

    Covid is still out here lit­er­al­ly dis­abling peo­ple. The Covid era is still ongo­ing. Its wild that peo­ple act like Covid just dis­ap­peared. Covid trans­mis­sion is most­ly asymp­to­matic and covid can have a detri­men­tal effect on cog­ni­tive ability.Transmission is asymp­to­matic and air­borne… let that sink in and think about it for a while.

  • RuLLaR says:

    Hon­est­ly we Dc

  • Joe Leggett says:

    1.the stand
    2.under the dome
    4.the green mile
    5.shawshank redemp­tion

  • R Wall says:

    I’m 5 sto­ries in on King’s You Like it Dark­er. It real­ly isn’t good at all. I’m high­ly dis­ap­point­ed but King had a great run.

  • Wanda Russell says:

    The Dark Zone is my favorite SK book. I read it once a year, usu­al­ly in the Fall or Win­ter.

  • Denise Michaud says:

    1. The Eyes of the Drag­on
    2. The Stand (unabridged)
    3. Mis­ery (the book, not the movie)
    4. Rita Hay­worth and the Shaw­shank Redem­tion (sto­ry
    5. Most of the oth­ers, and the books I’ve read by Joe Hill

  • Rosilee Garcia says:

    My favorite movie by Stephen King is” The Stand “. I loved it and hope it gets replayed on tele­vi­sion.

  • Raquelyn says:

    I Love Stephen King books. My Mom was a HUGE fan and gave me my love of read­ing. I think my favorite SK movie is Storm of the Cen­tu­ry or The It (the orig­i­nal). I also love The Shin­ing. I have seen them times. So many, I’ve lost count. Best TV Show based on Stephen King book The Col­orado Kid is Haven. Fave book Stephen King he co-authored with Peter Straub called Black House or The Dark Tow­er.

  • JP says:

    Wow, this is the only actu­al list on this page! Well done, and good choic­es.
    This “arti­cle” was supreme­ly dis­ap­point­ing. First, it is com­plete­ly based on a clip from a talk show two years ago. Sec­ond, it doesn’t even give us a list. Third, it’s just all over the place. Now I have to watch the video just to get the infor­ma­tion. Please try bet­ter, OP.

  • Tom says:

    Did AI write this? Just awful.

  • KC says:

    Seri­ous­ly. Try some punc­tu­a­tion next time.

  • Kevin says:

    Agreed And no men­tion of Shaw­shank for adapt­ed movies

  • Lindalee Marsh-Upton says:

    I have read near­ly every­thing Stephen King has writ­ten. “ Gun­slinger” series real­ly pissed me off! Eight books from 1978 ~ 2012 was the span of this series! 4 decades! I nev­er fin­ished the last 3 books. I had for­got­ten what hap­pened in the five pre­vi­ous books. Those were spread out too. I lost inter­est.

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