Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tommy's Top 10 Stephen King Books....

I'm procrastinating.

I should be writing on my NaNoWriMo.  I'm about 5500 words in right now, which puts me about 2500 words behind!  There was a turn and burn shift in there, and an off today tomorrow, so I think I'll be back on track by tomorrow morning.

Anyway, I'm giving my brain a break, after seeing this:  Rolling Stone's readers poll Top 10 Stephen King books.  Not a bad list, though the books that deal with other worlds than these seem to get a short end of the stick.

A couple quick thoughts.  There have been turds.  Highest among them?  Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, Cell and From a Buick 8.

Just missing my top ten?  Eyes of the Dragon, Drawing of the Three, Full Dark, No Stars, Different Seasons and Pet Sematary.  I will also note that I enjoyed Mr. Mercedes very much earlier this year, but want a little space before I include it this high on the list.

I also didn't include Danse Macabre (which is fun, and worth a read for the movie buff aspect of it), On Writing (a good project) and Faithful (which is a great love letter to his baseball fandom....).  I enjoyed each, but they don't resonate with me the same way his fiction does.

Here are mine:

10.    Black House  (with Peter Straub)

The Talisman would be a hard one to follow up, but this one was a tremendously fun read.  I wonder why neither this nor the Talisman is on the list, and I wonder if it being part of a collaborative effort with Straub is why it's not featured on the list.  I was introduce to Straub's work (which I enjoy) through The Talisman.  I still feel more King in both books than I do Straub, though there's a bit more Straub in this one than Talisman.  I'll also say that part of why I think Doctor Sleep didn't sit all the way right with me is that we'd traveled something of a similar path with Jack Sawyer as we were with Danny Torrance...

9.  11/22/63

Huge.  Just fun, especially for the Time Travel nerd in me.  Especially dark, and a little sad.  I like that.

8.  Dark Tower III: the Waste Lands

This is the one, for me, where the Dark Tower series hits high gear.  Gunslinger and Drawing of the Three are both good, but this one I read in a couple of sittings....

7.  Under the Dome

I hated this book the first time I tried to read it.  Listened to the audio version as a commute listen early last year, and was amazed by its scope, and its willingness to spread the heroism among the characters more than any of his book, perhaps since the Stand, maybe since It.  I like that this one manages to be huge, yet feel claustrophobic.

6.  The Long Walk

Just a horrific book.  Hopeless.  Great downer ending.  And all that fucking exercise?  Fuck that noise!  No Bachman Books on the top 10?  Blasphemy!

5.  The Shining

The first Stephen King book I read, and one of the best.  I read this one in eighth grade, after an English teacher told another kid that it was going to be over his head--something, though probably true, still seems like an unnecessarily cruel thing to say to a kid.  He let me borrow it.  I borrowed it on a Friday, and returned it to him Monday.  He didn't believe that I'd read it.  It's one where I've disagreed with King's assessment of Jack Torrance as a man devoured by his own demons.  While I don't subscribe to the manic Jack Nicholson version from the Kubrick flick, I still think Jack Torrance is a douche who ends up bringing the world down on himself.  (I will say that one of the successes of Doctor Sleep is I have softened my stance on Jack...there's story there that has me accepting the man a bit more).

4.  It.

I don't want to de-value this one.  It's absolutely a great book.  And in many ways, the few times King has written about kids, it feels very much like he's trying to channel the energy from It.  (And coming short, generally).

3.  The Talisman

Jack Sawyer and Wolf.  Great, great buddy story.  I've been meaning to go back and re-read this one.  It's been 10 years.

2.  Wizard and Glass

Shyam doesn't care for the Dark Tower books, in part because she had such a hard time relating to Roland. Some day, I hope to have her read this one.  Roland is a tragic character, much of it through his own making.  And most of his own making is in the interest of keeping tragedies like the death of Susan Delgado at bay.

1.  The Stand

Huge.  It might be the one book I've read the most times in my life.  Read it earlier this year.  It brings me out of a funk.  Maybe there's a dark joy in everybody dying.  I like to think that it's King finding optimism in his absolute bleakest story.

(Afterthought....I initially included Full Dark, No Stars in this list, because it's King at his Twilight Zoney best.  I enjoyed the shit out of the experience, but have to admit that while many enjoyed A Good Marriage, I thought it a stinker, enough to bring down the other 3 superlative books...much the same way Sun Dog kills Four Past Midnight, and Apt Pupil hurts Different Seasons.....)


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