Book Recommendations

Stephen King’s Favorite Books

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As one of the most prolific and influential horror writers of all time, Stephen King’s passion for reading across genres makes his book recommendations authoritative and intriguing. Throughout his career, King has praised numerous books that deeply impacted him as both a reader and writer. 

This list compiles 19 of King’s top book recommendations for fellow readers. Ranging from literary classics like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to contemporary bestsellers like Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, these stories have received King’s stamp of approval. Though not outright horror, the books on this list have the powerful writing and thrilling elements King admires as a reader. If you’ve ever wondered which books captivate, inspire, or even frighten Stephen King, this collection offers insights into the preferences of the renowned horror author.

Stephen King Favorite Books

Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master’s Son

"The Orphan Master's Son" by Adam Johnson tells the story of Pak Jun Do, a young man who grows up in North Korea. Jun Do is the son of a singer who was taken away to Pyongyang and a powerful father who runs a work camp for orphans. As Jun Do proves his loyalty and intelligence, he rises through the ranks of the North Korean state. He becomes a professional kidnapper, navigating the unpredictable and violent world of his superiors. In a desperate attempt to save the woman he loves, Jun Do takes on the dangerous role of rival to Kim Jong Il.

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Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind

"The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is set in Barcelona in 1945, as the city is recovering from the Spanish Civil War. The story follows Daniel, a young boy who is grieving the loss of his mother. He finds comfort in a mysterious book called "The Shadow of the Wind" by Julián Carax. However, as Daniel tries to find more books by Carax, he discovers that someone has been destroying all of his works. It turns out that Daniel may have the last remaining book by Carax. As Daniel delves deeper into his search, he uncovers a dark secret in Barcelona, involving murder, madness, and a tragic love story.

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Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens about a young orphan named Pip. The story follows Pip's personal growth and development as he navigates through life. The novel is set in 19th century Kent and London and features memorable scenes, such as when Pip encounters an escaped convict in a graveyard. The book explores themes of wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the triumph of good over evil. Great Expectations has received praise from both readers and critics and has been translated into many languages.

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Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is a book set in the 1850s on the Texas-Mexico border. It follows the story of a fourteen-year-old boy named the Kid, who finds himself in a terrifying world where Native Americans are being killed and their scalps are being sold.

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Daphne du Maurier


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a captivating novel that starts with a young woman falling in love with a wealthy widower named Maxim de Winter. After their marriage, they move to his grand estate, where the presence of his deceased wife looms large. This haunting presence poses a threat to their relationship, creating a suspenseful tale of love and danger.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a famous novel that was published in 1925. It tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man who is in love with Daisy Buchanan. The book takes place during the Jazz Age and explores themes of wealth, parties, and love. It is considered one of Fitzgerald's best works and provides a glimpse into American society in the 1920s.

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Frank McCourt

Angela’s Ashes

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt is a memoir that tells the story of the author's difficult childhood. Set in Depression-era Brooklyn and the slums of Limerick, Ireland, the book follows Frank as he grows up in poverty and faces hardships. His father, Malachy, is unreliable and often drinks away his wages, leaving the family struggling to survive. Despite the challenging circumstances, Frank finds solace in his father's stories and develops a love for storytelling. The book portrays Frank's resilience and his ability to find beauty and forgiveness in the midst of hardship. With its humor and compassion, Angela's Ashes is a timeless classic.

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George Orwell


In the book "1984" by George Orwell, the story takes place in a bleak city called London, which is ruled by a totalitarian government known as Oceania. The citizens are constantly monitored by Big Brother and the Thought Police, who can almost read their thoughts. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is in great danger because he still has memories and thoughts that go against the Party's beliefs. He becomes involved in a forbidden love affair and joins a secret revolutionary group called The Brotherhood, whose goal is to overthrow the Party. Alongside his love interest, Julia, Winston risks his life in a dangerous battle against the ruling powers. Lionel Trilling described "1984" as a thought-provoking and captivating book that explores the political future through a magnifying lens of the present. Although the year 1984 has passed, Orwell's novel remains a powerful reminder for individuals who dare to challenge authority and speak the truth.

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J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien is a captivating adventure story about Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who leads a simple and peaceful life. However, everything changes when the wise wizard Gandalf and a group of dwarves show up at his door, inviting him on a thrilling quest. Together, they plan to steal the treasure protected by the fearsome dragon, Smaug. Reluctantly, Bilbo agrees to join them, embarking on a journey that leads him to unexpected encounters with a magical ring and a terrifying creature named Gollum.

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Katherine Anne Porter

Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter is a captivating novel set in August 1931. The story takes place on an ocean liner traveling from Veracruz, Mexico to Germany. The passengers on board include an idealistic American painter and her lover, a Spanish dance troupe involved in theft, an elderly German couple with their seasick bulldog, and a lively group of Cuban medical students. As the ship sails across the Atlantic, the book delves into the lives and dramas of the various passengers and crew members. Ship of Fools provides a vivid portrayal of the complexities of human nature and offers a glimpse into a world on the brink of disaster.

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Kurt Vonnegut


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a famous book that speaks out against war. It tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, who goes from being a barber's son to a soldier in World War II. The novel is based on Vonnegut's own experiences as a prisoner of war during the bombing of Dresden. It combines different genres like historical fiction, science fiction, and autobiography. Billy also experiences time travel, which adds an interesting twist to the story. Despite being banned in some places, Slaughterhouse-Five became a bestseller and made Vonnegut a well-known writer. Many other authors have been inspired by his unique writing style and his ability to tackle important issues.

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Philip Roth

American Pastoral

American Pastoral by Philip Roth tells the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov, a successful and well-respected man who experiences the rise and fall of his life in postwar America. As the country becomes engulfed in the social disorder of the 1960s, Swede loses everything he holds dear. This book explores the conflicting emotions of love and hate towards America, as well as the desire to belong or reject the ideals of an American pastoral life. Roth vividly portrays the conflicts and turbulent transitions of the era, contrasting the desire for a peaceful and successful life with the chaotic reality of the time.

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Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is a groundbreaking novel that was first published in 1952. It tells the story of a nameless protagonist who embarks on a journey from the Deep South to Harlem, experiencing the harsh realities of racism along the way. Through his narrative, Ellison sheds light on the effects of bigotry on both victims and perpetrators. The novel offers a unique perspective on American society and challenges traditional notions of what a novel can be. With its suspenseful and sardonic tone, Invisible Man is a remarkable and captivating read.

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Richard Adams

Watership Down

Watership Down by Richard Adams is a beloved and timeless classic. The story takes place in the peaceful English countryside, where a group of special creatures embark on a courageous adventure to escape the threat of humans and the destruction of their home. Led by two brave friends, they face dangerous predators and enemies as they search for a new and better place to live.

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Thomas Williams

The Hair of Harold Roux

The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams is a captivating novel that tells the story of Aaron Benham, a college professor and writer. Aaron is working on a novel called The Hair of Harold Roux, which is based on his own college experiences. The novel follows the protagonist, Allard Benson, as he navigates relationships and rivalries, particularly with Harold Roux, a war veteran with a questionable hairpiece. Through Aaron's reflections and intertwined narratives, the book explores themes of love, friendship, and the complexities of life.

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William Shakespeare


Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a famous tragic drama that tells the story of a brave warrior who is driven to commit murder by supernatural forces, his ambitious wife, and his own desire for power. As Macbeth seeks to gain and keep the crown of Scotland, we witness the devastating emotional and psychological impact on both him and Lady Macbeth.

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Yann Martel

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a captivating adventure story about a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi who finds himself stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean after a shipwreck. His only companions are a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan, and a massive Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi's resourcefulness and bravery enable him to coexist with the tiger for 227 days until they reach the coast of Mexico. However, when Pi shares his incredible tale with Japanese authorities, they doubt its truth and pressure him to tell a more conventional story. This thought-provoking novel explores the power of storytelling and the impact of fiction on our lives. It is a story that will make you question your beliefs and contemplate the existence of a higher power.

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William Golding

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a book about a group of schoolboys who get stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during the beginning of a world war. Initially, they enjoy their newfound freedom and lack of adult supervision. However, as chaos ensues and strange noises fill the night, their sense of adventure quickly turns into fear and desperation for rescue.

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Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a chilling tale that was first published in 1959. The story follows four individuals who visit a notorious and unwelcoming mansion called Hill House. Dr. Montague, an expert in the occult, is searching for concrete evidence of a haunting. He is accompanied by his cheerful assistant Theodora, Eleanor, a lonely and fragile young woman who has experience with poltergeists, and Luke, the future owner of Hill House. Initially, their stay seems like a spooky encounter with unexplainable events. However, Hill House is growing stronger and will soon choose one of them to possess.

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