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Stephen King names his 10 favourite novels of all time

“Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off of the binding.” – Stephen King

Stephen King, the undisputed master of the horror genre, an award-winning novelist who has enjoyed unprecedented success when transitioning his work into cinema, has named his ten favourite novels which range from the likes of George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Katherine Anne Porter and more.

From the moment Brian De Palma adapted King’s book, Carrie, into a feature film back in 1976, the novelist has seen no fewer than 50 feature films birthed off the back of his writing with more scheduled to arrive in the next 12 months. Alongside Brian De Palma, King has worked with some of the best in the world of cinema with the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and, recently, Mike Flanagan, all taking King’s stories to the big screen. Still active both on paper and behind the camera, King oversaw the release of Doctor Sleep, the highly praised sequel to his 1977 novel The Shining which was adapted by Flanagan himself. With that, we decided to look back at some novels that have had a lasting impact on the man himself.

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent,” King once said. “What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

When reflecting on what it takes to become a writer, the iconic novelist laid it out simply: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Following that advice, King suggested his ten favourite novels for essential reading. “Any list like this is slightly ridiculous,” King admitted as a precursor to his suggestions for Goodreads. “On another day, ten different titles might come to mind, like The Exorcist, or All the Pretty Horses in place of Blood Meridian. On another day I’d be sure to include Light in August or Scott Smith’s superb A Simple PlanThe Sea, the Sea, by Iris Murdoch. But what the hell, I stand by these.”

He added: “Although Anthony Powell’s novels should probably be here, especially the sublimely titled Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant and Books Do Furnish a Room. And Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet. And at least six novels by Patricia Highsmith. What about Patrick O’Brian? See how hard this is to let go?”

With the likes of George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Thomas Williams, Adam Johnson and more, see the full list below.

Stephen King’s 10 favourite novels:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
  • The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

One of the major activities that King always advocates is reading. He once said: “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

 “It’s not enough to have imagination. You have to be able to tap into it,” he said. “I taught school and you could see the kids losing their imagination right in front of your eyes. I don’t know whether it’s peer pressure or some sort of governor they have. But imagination shrinks and shrinks and shrinks. I’ve never met anyone without a sense of humour, but I’ve sure met people without any imagination at all. My books are successful because I’ve never assumed the job is half-done for me because the reader had a great imagination. I try to be logical when I’m telling a story.”

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