Stephen King books are among my very favorites. I've been a fan since reading It when I was 11 – and yes, it scared the crap out of me enough that I paid much closer attention to the sinks and toilets in my house. While there have been books I haven't liked as much, they've been few and far between; King is actually responsible for many of my favorite novels. In recent years, he's gone into retirement more times than I can count – and funnily enough, he's written some of his best books during those periods, at least in my not so humble opinion. Don't believe it? Check out these newer Stephen King books and stick them on your reading list right now!
1. Under the Dome
Forget about the show, which I myself can't really get into; Under the Dome is one of the best newer Stephen King books I've ever read. I've already reread it approximately five times, and it never gets old. The book is so much better than the show. It's urgent, gritty, and scary, plus real enough that I always take a look at the sky whenever I take a break from reading it and step outside. Barbie is a marvelous character, the humor is true to life, and the villains are exceptionally well rounded.
Cell scares the hell out of me. I'll be honest, I didn't get into it the first time I read it, but I think that's down more to me. I picked it up again a few months later and am currently on my third rereading of it. If you like zombies but you're kind of tired of the traditional zombie story, try this. If you spend a lot of time on your phone, don't read it in the dark. You might end up a little paranoid, especially after you see what Clayton sees.
3. Duma Key
Duma Key is beautifully written and so haunting. If you enjoyed Bag of Bones and the rather romantic tone therein, you'll love this one – especially if you like King's dreamier depictions of horror. Edgar is a wonderful, wonderful character, and his fearful interactions with his family are so well done. However, if dolls creep you out at all, watch it. I think it would be amazing if King was somehow able to commission the paintings Edgar creates.
4. Doctor Sleep
This is the book that inspired this post in the first place, and I admit that I was initially skeptical about it. The Shining was an excellent, excellent story, with many layers and the ability to inspire terror. I wasn't sure little Danny could carry a book all his own, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and further admit that I liked Doctor Sleep as much as The Shining, if not a little bit better. Dan's gift is just beautiful – and I don't mean the one he uses with Abra. This makes me wonder if King could successfully follow up with Pet Sematary's Eileen “Ellie” Creed – or do a prequel, which I think would be even better.
5. Lisey's Story
There's not much I can say about Lisey's Story that can do it justice. This is a haunting, gorgeous story that brings to mind Bag of Bones, but it veers off in another direction. It creates its own secret language, and speaks to the nightmares we all live through, both sleeping and waking. I think the love between Lisey and Scott is one for the ages. SOWISA, stalkers, every time.
I didn't get into Dreamcatcher my first read either, and stopped midway through – it's hard to get past something so vividly described as a shit-weasel, you know? But once I picked it up again and passed the halfway point, I fell in love. All of the characters touched me in some way, and of course bad or painful ends came to the ones I adored the most. Without question, however, I think Duddits is one of the most brilliant characters I've ever seen on the printed page. Plus, this is another book that creates its own secret language – SSDD, y'all.
Full disclosure: I only just started this. I'm several chapters in but already in love, which is why 11/22/63 makes the list. I've always been intrigued with that point in history anyway, not in the least because both of my parents were born in 1962. The premise is thrilling and I can't wait to see what happens next. Don't tell me!
Although Pet Sematary is my very favorite Stephen King book, many of these rank right up there. I wanted very much to include Bag of Bones, which is absolutely stunning, but 1998 isn't quite recent enough to qualify as “newer,” I don't think. Doctor Sleep was just tremendous though, and I'm so glad I have it a chance. Who are your favorite contemporary authors? Do you like their older works best, or their more recent books?