Favorite Stephen King Stories, Ranked

Inspired by @bjnovak's and @dubstep's recent lists. Since I was five years old, my life goal was to be a novelist. At the age of eleven I read my first Stephen King book, and I have been hooked ever since. He's without a doubt my favorite author, and a true inspiration for me.
  1. 22.
    The Eyes of the Dragon
    A fantasy with the infamous Randall Flagg as the villain? This book is worth not just one but several reads. The struggle of good versus evil is done better here than in most of King's stories, and it's so easily accessible, too.
  2. 21.
    The Ten O'Clock People
    (Collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes) "The Ten O'Clock People" is about a group of monsters living among us. The twist? Only those who smoke cigarettes can see them. My parents are chain smokers so this story always scared me. Plus, I've always thought it was incredibly original. Casting smokers as the possible saviors of humanity struck me as ironic in the best kind of way.
  3. 20.
    You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
    (Collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes) This short story is just a blast, a nightmare trip into rock 'n roll hell. Amusingly, it works as a dark companion piece to @bjnovak's "No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg," which is just super fun.
  4. 19.
    Duma Key
    Duma Key is King's first Florida novel, and it sticks the landing in every way. The setting is used to full effect, and King finds a lot of inventive ways to mine horror out of the Keys. As a Florida boy myself, I loved the book.
  5. 18.
    Strawberry Spring
    (Collected in Night Shift) One of those quick reads with a powerful ending. Admittedly, most will see the ending coming a mile away, but I read it for the first time when I was in middle school and it blew my mind. It's stuck with me ever since.
  6. 17.
    I Know What You Need
    (Collected in Night Shift) Looking for a quick, creepy read? I know what you need, friends, and it's this story. The story concerns an outcast named Ed and his obsession with his childhood crush, Elizabeth. Really, there's a lot more going on here, but I don't want to be too spoilery.
  7. 16.
    The Library Policeman
    (Collected in Four Past Midnight) Okay so this story has the silliest premise, but the story itself transcends its absurd idea and evolves into something legitimately terrifying. The titular Library Policeman is scary, but its master is the true horror of the novella, and one of King's most frightening villains.
  8. 15.
    Mute
    (Collected in Just Past Sunset) This is a wicked little short story that packs a helluva punch. I absolutely loved the ending, and the whole set up as well. Framing the narrative around the narrator confessing his sins is brilliant.
  9. 14.
    11/22/63
    A long novel concerning time travel and its effects, 11/22/63 is a straight up masterpiece. Jake Epping goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, and along the way finds love and a genuinely happy life in the past. As you can imagine, that doesn't all work out for him. A stellar book.
  10. 13.
    Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
    (Collected in Different Seasons) What can I say? Hope springs eternal.
  11. 12.
    All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
    (Collected in Everything's Eventual) Perhaps King's most melancholy story, this short piece is about a man deciding whether or not to commute suicide. I've always considered it a gem amongst King's lengthy bibliography of short fiction.
  12. 11.
    Revival
    Wow, what can I say about Revival? An intense character study and a brilliant treatise on entwined fates, there's just so much to love here. I read it in about two days, and as soon as I finished it I flipped back to the front to read it again. Revival gave me some wicked nightmares--which is perhaps the greatest compliment I could give it.
  13. 10.
    Sometimes They Come Back
    (Collected in Night Shift) A delightfully creepy tale about a high school teacher and three dead teenage greasers. To say more than that would spoil a lot of the fun of the story.
  14. 9.
    The Green Mile
    The Green Mile was formative King for me. This was the first non-horror book I'd read by him, and it floored me. I was crying like a kid (which I suppose I kinda was) when I finished. I've read it a few more times since, and the waterworks always come. The Green Mile is all the proof you need that King is just a master storyteller, regardless of genre.
  15. 8.
    The Stand (Complete & Uncut)
    When I was in middle school, I had a library teacher named Ms. Dorothy. Ms. Dorothy was about 60, and she was the sweetest lady. I loved her dearly. She was a very religious woman, so it was with some reluctance that I shared with her one day that I had begun reading King. Her response shocked me. "Good. King made me a Christian. After I read The Stand and saw what one man could imagine as the end of the world, I worried about what God could actually have planned. And I converted immediately."
  16. 7.
    Cell
    A lot of folks will balk at how highly this novel ranks on this list, and that's fair. Let me explain. As I said in the introduction, I read my first King novel at the age of eleven. That book was Cell. As they say, you never forget your first. Cell has something of a sentimental hold on me. I realize the book is a somewhat silly, ultra violent tale of zombies a la cell phones, but I can't help but love it anyway. It brought me to my favorite author.
  17. 6.
    Joyland
    There's an emotion to Joyland that is at once captivating. The book is almost lyrical, a description not often paired with King's prose. I was hypnotized by it from its first page. The story of Devin Jones, his heartbreak at the hands of Wendy Keegan, and his summer job at Joyland is a brilliant, gorgeous read. I recommend the illustrated edition that was recently released.
  18. 5.
    The Boogeyman
    (Collected in Night Shift) This short story is classic King for me. It's short, but it makes good use of its brevity. This damn story is terrifying. In it, a man explains to his therapist that the Boogeyman murdered his children, one by one. I recently read this one aloud to @gloriaarose and she hated me for it; it scared the hell out of her. Of all the stories on this list, I've probably read this one the most often, because of its accessibility.
  19. 4.
    The Man in the Black Suit
    (Collected in Everything's Eventual) This is King's absolute scariest short story. It details the encounter between a young boy and the Devil. The story is so good, in fact, that it won both the World Fantasy Award and the O. Henry Award for Best Short Fiction in 1995.
  20. 3.
    The Dark Tower IV: Wizard & Glass
    This third place spot really belongs to The Dark Tower saga as a whole, but as Wizard & Glass is my favorite of the series, I used it as the stand in. Wizard & Glass details Roland's tragic backstory. There's no better character in all of literature than Roland Deschain in my opinion. Shedding some light on his history was very appreciated.
  21. 2.
    'Salem's Lot
    King's ode to Dracula, 'Salem's Lot is his sophomore novel. Confident, engrossing, and genuinely scary, this tale of vampires in a small Maine town is one of King's absolute finest.
  22. 1.
    It
    Not only my favorite King book, but my favorite book of all time. I come back to it once a year. I read it for the first time at the age of 12 and the book scared the absolute shit out of me. As the years have gone on, the book has maintained its ability to frighten me, but it's gained another power: the ability to break my heart. The horror of Pennywise is great but the book's true power lies in the believable friendship of those seven kids and their struggle together against darkness.