Choose-Your-Own-Adventure: Stephen King Edition

Reading a Stephen King book is to the horror fandom as listening to Welcome To Nightvale in the 2010s is to the podcast fandom; that is to say, it’s where a lot of us start.

Surprisingly, I was a bit of a scaredy-cat as a kid, and I was 14 before I watched my first horror film: The Shining. I was interested enough that I got my mom to pick me up the book. That was her first mistake. I was hooked.

Actually, it worked out okay, because she ended up turning into a King fan as well (starting with the less ghoulish 11/22/63 but eventually working her way up to my all-time favorite IT.) To this day, while we inhabit different countries, we share our King collections—over the winter, she mailed me The Outsider after she’d finished it.

I’m not as hardcore as some Constant Readers—I haven’t jumped into the deep waters of the Dark Tower series yet, and I’m behind on some new releases, including The Institute, but I’ve made a solid dent in the King canon, from the classics (IT, The Shining, Misery) to the lesser-known works published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman (The Regulators).

King’s work grow as he does, and he’s very open about his life, from his struggles with addiction to his writing process (detailed in his book on the craft On Writing), so it can be very interesting to watch his evolution as a writer alongside the course of his life events (the intro to one of the newer issues of The Shining actually has some great commentary on how he felt the novel was a turning point in his writing career). This also means that he’s got something for everyone,

In Horror College (a university I’d love to start), Stephen King is the subject of a sophomore level class, and his role in making the genre mainstream is examined, along with several main texts. Since we still live in the real world, where I’m a broke writer and not the dean of a college with a werewolf as the mascot, I’ve instead made a by-no-means-inclusive flow chart (strongly slanted toward my own personal favorites, because that’s The Whole Point of running your own column). It’s great for newbie King fans or Constant Readers looking for their next adventure.

Follow the arrows to find your next read…

a flowchart with various stephen king novels