Morgan Locklear…Wordslinger: The 5 Best Stephen King Books You Never Read.

Stephen King is one of those authors whose name comes before the books, and I bet it bugs him more than anyone else.  In my opinion, he deserves his success and I’m the proud owner of every last book that creepy little fucker ever wrote.

If you’re already a fan and have read the books I single out, I urge you to comment below, (and validate the shit out of me).  If you’ve never popped your scary cherry with Mr. King, I urge you to choose one of the books I describe, get it, read it, and then validate the shit out of me.

Known for his horror writing, King made his bones with the likes of “Salem’s Lot” and “Pet Cemetery”.  But it’s his consistently believable love stories that make us care who the vampire bites.  In “Cujo” for instance, the story is a straight forward mother-protecting-her-cub plot and her maternal fusebox is what powers the tension. (That and a rabid St. Bernard that has them trapped in a car, and a HOOPTY-ASS car at that).

Most of my favorite King books (Except for “It”, “The Green Mile”, and “The Stand”) are not as well-known and haven’t been adapted to the screen yet.  However, the books of his that I like the most happen to expose a side of the author that can be as tender as a whisker.

I would like to discuss 5 books in particular that I believe to be a great place for any new King readers to start, or for old King readers to kick-start.

The first is the largest. “Insomnia” is a thick brute of a book but reads quickly.  It’s about a fellow named Ralph who is certainly Stephen King’s oldest leading man, (not including magical longevity).  Ralph suffers from, you guessed it, insomnia.  It’s actually quite common with senior citizens.  As a result of his sleep deprivation, Ralph begins to see the auras that surround all humans and animals.  He can even tell the difference between healthy auras and diseased auras.  He also notices that they all spike at the top of our heads like Alfalfa’s hair, or, as he describes it, “…a balloon string with no balloon.”

As you can imagine, this is a powerful gift to have, and after Ralph begins to see fourth dimension beings running around and cutting those strings, he decides to investigate.  Along the way, he meets a woman, Lois, and together they fight off all but the devil to save their town.

After the tragic events of September, 11, 2001, I remember the press mentioning “Insomnia” because one character actually attempts to crash an airplane into a small building.  There’d already been dozens of stories where that kind of deed had been written about but , at the time, “Insomnia” was one of the newest.  It was funny because the newscasters spent more time talking about how sweet the love story was between Ralph and Lois.

These books are mentioned in no particular order because if they were, I would have started with “The Eyes of the Dragon”.  This book is a super quick read that has the most exquisite pacing.  It’s about a King who is murdered and one of his two sons is framed for the dastardly deed, which thrusts his younger brother onto the throne.

EoD also serves as the first introduction of a powerful magician (and recurring character in many King books), Flagg.  You may remember that the silver headed bad guy in “The Stand” called himself Randal Flagg.  Well, that’s the same guy.  He’s mean.

I recently discovered that EoD is in development for the Syfy network and I will be very interested to see a cinematic version of a story I’ve enjoyed since high school.  I can give very little of the plot away, but it’s a great Young Adult novel and was, in fact, written as an original fairy tale for Steven King’s own son, Owen.  (Owen King’s books under the pseudonym Joe Hill are now best sellers. “Heart Shaped Box” is one of the creepiest ghost stories I’ve read).

I simply adore “The Eyes of the Dragon”, and I promise, you will gobble it up in a few nights.  If the kids are old enough to get a letter from Hogwarts, read it to them.

Another shorter (and earlier) novel is called “The Long Walk.”  Now, I have mentioned this book before in a Wordslinger post about 1st person vs. 3rd person writing styles.  I pointed out at that time that despite being written from the point of view of a person in a race to the death, I wasn’t certain that he would actually survive.

I admire anyone who can write a story in first person and have the reader actually fear for that person’s life despite the obvious fact that they would have had to survive to tell the story.  “The Long Walk” is about a future sporting event wherein two boys from every state begin walking up the Eastern seaboard and they don’t stop until there is only one boy left.

If their walking pace drops below a certain speed, they’re dropped, as in shot. (And did I mention that this is the biggest sporting event in America in the future?)  This book remains one of my favorite one day reads of all time.    It was originally published under King’s well-known pseudonym, Richard Bachman.  The truth is, he wrote it when he was 19, during his first year of college.

Now, “The Talisman” is more of a fantasy story and another YA novel.  It’s about a boy named Jack who has to travel cross-country to find a talisman to save his dying mother’s life.  The twist is, his journey takes him to a parallel medieval universe called The Territories. (I think it might just be the same universe where “The Dark Tower” sits, in his book series that shares the same name).

“The Talisman” is one of King’s bigger books and has an additional interesting twist.  It’s a book he co-wrote with author Peter Straub.  Later, the two would write a sequel called “Black House” which picks up when Jack is an adult.  I also loved that book and the two men collaborate seamlessly.

The last book I wish to draw attention to is not a work of fiction.  It’s a book on writing fiction.  “On Writing” is filled with great advise including: “Murder your darlings”.  King warns that writers often have to cut their favorite and most precious sections to better serve the story.  He is straightforward and honest, and reading the book makes one feel that anyone with good discipline and a good story can succeed in fiction.

In baseball terms, (which I know King would appreciate), he may have had his occasional strike outs, but when he hits it, he usually hits it out of the park.  In fact, his very latest, “11.22.63” is one of his absolute best books and would have made the list if not for my desire to highlight “On Writing”.  (But I’ll figure out a way to bring it up).

I’m also a big fan of the second book in the Dark Tower series and just heard that Ron Howard is developing a miniseries for CBS.  2013 will see quite a few King adaptations including “Under the Dome” and “Cell” starring John Cusack.  I say, read ’em while you can and tell ’em Morgan sent you.

I will gladly continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Your Pal,

Morgan

10 thoughts on “Morgan Locklear…Wordslinger: The 5 Best Stephen King Books You Never Read.

  1. debradml says:

    Reblogged this on Words from across Oceania and commented:
    # Never read any of Stephen King books but Morgan has spiked my interest greatly!!! Thanks Morgan & Bookish, as always brilliant read! Debs x

    Like

  2. debradml says:

    Hey Morgan, never read any of his stuff but you have spiked my interest!!! As always brilliant post mate, thanks!

    Like

  3. The only one of the 5 that I’ve read is ‘On Writing’ and I loved every word. I also know it’s one that I’ll read again. Not only does it have great advice it also gives you a small glimpse into King and i loved that’s what the book started with. I think readers and writers would both get a lot out of reading it.
    Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

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  4. Morgan says:

    Thank you Deb for the re-blog! C-Deeds, I was hoping someone else knew about his non fiction work. I know what you mean about seeing a glimps of the man behind the myth.
    Don’t forget everyone, Goodreads is a great way to keep track of books you’ve read and books you want to.

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  5. Gail says:

    Thank you so much for this entry. My reads go along with my moods usually BUT at times I am enraptured by a “dark” book or maybe something that is a little “taboo”. I wish you guys would often post in addition to the wonderful romance/humor recs something that maybe a little darker. Love this site and tell tons of people to check you out

    Like

  6. marijee4 says:

    I think Stephen King is a really imaginative writer. He’s prolific and has been able to attract and keep a large reading audience.

    I like his paranormal stories. I have to admit his horror stories scare the crap out of me and I stay away from them! I loved Salem’s Lot, The Stand and Dead Zone. The Shining, Kujo, Christine and The Langoliers freaked me out. Maybe it’s because they are more ‘real’ to me? Though it would be difficult to imagine an attacking car…or lawn mower! His writing really creates some gory images!

    I read the first book in The Tower series and liked it, I just haven’t gotten around to reading the rest. I will definitely pick up the second book and check it out.

    I enjoyed your post and it reminded me there’s a lot of Stephen King I still haven’t read. Though I will definitely check out the synopsis before buying! The Eye of the Dragon sounds like something I would like. (I loved to hate Randall Flagg in The Stand!)

    Thanks for your recommendations!

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  7. Morgan Locklear says:

    Gail, Thank you for your kind words and pimping! Also, I can think of several dark books recently reviewed on this site that might interest you…Start with The Passage by Justin Cronin. (I’m reading it right now thanks to Bookish and it’s Very dark and mysterious while maintaining heart and humor).
    Mari-girl, You might be interested to know that we learn the most about Flagg in the second to last Dark Tower book. The second one: The Drawing of the Three, is one of the most engaging books I own. (Books 3,4,5 and 6 are great too).

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  8. Gail says:

    As I said in previous comment I love dark, I also found Deviant Memoires and Feed the Need by Ruthie Toombs to be ‘dark’ but so humorous in her approach to the ‘I’m not suppose to like this’ she is one to check out.

    While I’m commenting, let me say thank you guys so much for what you do for us on this blog. I appreciate every rec and its usually thanks to you guys!!

    Like

  9. sararrice says:

    I used to read all of Stephen King back in the 80’s. His books were my favorite genre back then. My favorites were the Shining, Christine and the Pet Cemetary. However, Pet Cemetary scared me so much that I had to give th book away.

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