10 Great & Gripping Novels by Stephen King

10 Great & Gripping Novels by Stephen King

King’s Great & Gripping Novels Were My Gateway Drug to the Written Word

Stephen King’s books were like a gateway drug for me. Introducing me to a world of reading that I hadn’t explored before I discovered his novels. While his books often get labeled horror or suspense, he has written many that do not fit those categories. King’s great & gripping novels create and explore fascinating worlds, some of which contain horror and suspense, but are imaginative beyond the scare.

This process was actually much more difficult than I could have imagined, but these are, for me, the ten best Stephen King books. King has a substantial body of work (somewhere around 70 books). Getting into his books can be overwhelming, and many readers start by choosing books that got adapted into movies, so they have a sense of if they will like it or not. However, some of his best novels have made poor film adaptations. A lousy film shouldn’t scare a reader away from his novels, which might take a very different turn.

I’ve added one other partial review by an Amazon verified buyer. I don’t trust critics because I believe many get paid to say what the publisher wants them to say. That may not be true, but it’s my opinion. One thing to bear in mind is that a lot of readers now criticize King’s book because his political stance doesn’t align with theirs, so take it with a grain of salt.

#10 Great & Gripping Novels – Carrie:

Starting with King’s first book is as good a place as any. This is a book that touches on religious fervor, teenage acceptance, and handling embarrassment. In Carrie, King takes a hard but intriguing look into the world of a teenage girl who suddenly obtains the power to destroy with her mind.

Nine hundred and seventy-two (972) verified Amazon buyers gave Carrie 4.5 out of 5 stars, 86 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Still stands up well today. I hadn’t read this book in more than twenty-five years, but I’ve seen the movie countless times since, so I had to pick up the novel and read it again after all these years. I had forgotten that King’s Carrie was NOT Sissy Spacek, and his Margaret White was by no means a Piper Laurie.”Trent St. Germain verified Amazon purchaser December 30, 2016

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Buy it in Hardcover $51.00:

#9 Great & Gripping Novels – Elevation:

Another quirky story set in Castle Rock. This one, however, will not give you nightmares and chills or have you seeing clowns in every drainage ditch. It might, however, make you fear to step on the bathroom scale. But, not because of gaining weight but rather from losing it. Scott Carey is losing weight without getting thinner.

One thousand, three hundred, and thirteen (1,313) verified Amazon buyers gave Elevation 3.8 out of 5 stars, 62 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Lately, it seems, Amazon Customer Reviews have been experiencing a spike in reviews that are not, in the traditional sense, reviews at all. Some are Stephen King haters complaining about the price being charged for King, and other writers. Other false reviews are posted to register their umbrage at King due to his left-leaning political views.”Andy Anderson Hall of Fame Top 10 Reviewer verified Amazon purchaser August 27, 2013

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#8 Great & Gripping Novel – Mr. Mercedes:
This is actually a trilogy with Finders Keeper and End of Watch, which is now a TV Series. Bill Hodges a retired police officer, Jerome (Bill’s neighborhood high school handyman/boy), and Holly try to stop Brady Hartsfield (whom they don’t know by that name yet). Mr. Mercedes stole a Mercedes and drove it into a crowd of people waiting for the job fair to open in the early morning hours, killing and maiming some even in sleeping bags. But, Mr. Mercedes has an even more diabolical plan for public notoriety, and this unlikely trio must stop him.

Twenty-six thousand, four hundred, and forty-eight (26,448) verified Amazon buyers gave Mr. Mercedes 4.5 out of 5 stars, 87 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Surprisingly good ‘normal’ book from Stephen King. Well written and a very good read.”Great Grandma Top Contributor verified Amazon purchaser September 2, 2014

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#7 Great & Gripping Novels – The Outsider:

What could be more horrifying than a trusted member of the community, someone very close to your children, a Little League coach and teacher accused of defiling an eleven-year-old boy and leaving his corpse in the park? When detectives and the DA find witnesses, fingerprints, and DNA that point to the teacher and coach who has an ironclad alibi, how can both be right? A compelling yet unsettling story of unbearable suspense unfolds. You will want to keep turning pages until the shocking truth gets revealed.

Three thousand, seven hundred, and thirty-three (3,733) verified Amazon buyers gave The Outsider 4.4 out of 5 stars, 81 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“This is more in the Mr. Mercedes universe than the old Derry/Castle Rock/Things that go bump in the night universe of old. It starts out being a perplexing murder mystery, and it’s not until later in the story that supernatural elements start creeping in. By that time, though, you’re so involved in the story that the supernatural elements seem plausible…”Lisa Ann verified Amazon purchaser May 23, 2018

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Buy the Hardcover $20.75:

#6 Great & Gripping Novels – The Shining:

A haunted hotel (The Overlook) and an alcoholic caretaker are slowly being taken over in a remote Colorado locale. Stephen King reels you into the trap and slams the door. Few novels are as scary as The Shining.

Four thousand, four hundred, and thirty-five (4,435) verified Amazon buyers gave The Shining 4.7 out of 5 stars, 93 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Prepare for the darkest form of horror. I can’t with good conscience recommend anyone to read this book. It gave me nightmares every night that I read it. I woke up thinking about it and couldn’t get it out of my head. I’m reading something else as fast as I can…can’t wait to get back to the basic SK. Nothing else holds a candle to this.” – Matthew Ellis verified Amazon purchaser October 28, 2016

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#5 Great & Gripping Novels – The Stand:

Set in post-apocalyptic America. In a world depopulated by a government-created virus. The Stand explores these survivors’ fight between good and evil. It fleshes out in competing communities with the good residing in Boulder, Colorado and the bad in Las Vegas. A classic and compelling King novel that is long but a great read. You will either love this book or hate it, but you shouldn’t ignore it!

Three thousand, three hundred, and thirty-three (3,533) verified Amazon buyers gave The Stand 4.6 out of 5 stars, 88 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“I have always loved this book and the uncut version is by far the best.”Obsessive Cat Disorder Top Contributor verified Amazon purchaser August 24, 2016

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#4 Great & Gripping Novels – It, A Novel:

Clowns enter into this story with a significant scare factor. Pennywise, the Clown, is an incredibly scary character who haunts the childhood of the children of Derry, Maine and then returns in a 30-year cycle to haunt them as adults. A tale more about the bonding of children and overcoming adversity than a true monster tale. This book does contain both elements and is an incredible read. If you spend the rest of your life a little nervous around clowns – we understand completely!

Four thousand and ninety-six (4,096) verified Amazon buyers gave It 4.5 out of 5 stars, 87 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“There’s an evil lurking in Derry, Maine. It lurks in the storm drains and the sewers. The scary part? The entire town is affected by evil that lives under the city wreaking its havoc upon the town, but only the children can see It.”Danielle verified Amazon purchaser May 1, 2017

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#3 Great & Gripping Novels – The Green Mile

The Complete Serial Novel: A non-horror story set in Cold Mountain Penitentiary in a depression era America, which follows a prison guard as he oversees a prisoner with the ability to heal. Touching and compelling as a book, a great read, and one of the best film adaptations of a Stephen King book ever.

One thousand and two hundred (1,200) verified Amazon buyers gave The Green Mile 4.8 out of 5 stars, 96 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“If you’ve seen the award-winning movie with Tom Hanks, then, by and large, you know exactly what to expect from this book. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read this book for fear it will be redundant. In fact, I would almost advise you to watch the movie first, then read the book.” – AustinTiffany verified Amazon purchaser August 27, 2013

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Buy the Hardcover $21.73:

#2 – 11/22/63

A fantastic story based around a man’s discovery of a portal that can transport him back to the same day in 1958. Everything he does back then affects the future world and changes if he goes back again. “In an Open Letter from Stephen King” he relates, “I’d like to tell a time-travel story where this guy finds a diner that connects to 1958… you always go back to the same day. So, one day he goes back and just stays. Leaves his 2007 life behind. His goal? To get up to November 22, 1963 and stop Lee Harvey Oswald.” Well, that was 2007, he finally published it in 2011. The story is a “real page-turner” to use someone’s cliché, but it is. It’s another of his stories where he pulls you in, and you don’t mind. In fact, you’d be OK just staying there as Jake does. This is not a horror story; it is historical fiction with plenty of real-life facts about those times in the early ‘60s.

Twenty-six thousand, four hundred, and ninety-two (26,492) verified Amazon buyers gave 11/22/63 4.5 out of 5 stars, 87 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Some books I rate with 5 stars just because of my pleasure in the story. These aren’t always well-written or creative, or something someone else would like. Then there are those books that are so well-crafted, not just with character development or storytelling but in the writing itself. This is one of those books.”Tanya Oemig verified Amazon purchaser July 10, 2017

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#1 Great & Gripping Novels – Dark Tower:

Not one novel but a serious of books, the Dark Tower transforms the reader into the worlds of Roland that has “moved on” from civilization. The series starts with Roland chasing Walter, a character from his youth. It then picks up steam as he draws several characters from other dimensions into Mid-World including Jake, Eddie, and Susannah. They set off on a quest for the Dark Tower. A story that connects many of the books in King’s universe, the Dark Tower is King’s opus, his LOTR if you will. Well worth reading even if you are just getting into Stephen King. You will say “Thankee sai” later!

King says about the Dark Tower, “I have written enough novels and short stories to fill a solar system of the imagination, but Roland’s story is my Jupiter—a planet that dwarfs all the others…”

Two thousand, eight hundred, and sixty-eight (2,868) verified Amazon buyers gave The Gunslinger 4.0 out of 5 stars, 73 percent gave it either four or five stars.

“Fascinating book starts King’s Epic Series – The Gunslinger, the first in the series, opens, appropriately enough, with “the gunslinger” chasing an unidentified man across a nameless desert: ‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’”Frank Watson verified Amazon purchaser August 27, 2013

Buy it for Kindle 8 Book Set $90.92:

Buy the Paperback 8 Book Boxed Set $98.04:

Buy The Gunslinger Hardcover $17.46:

Stephen King, The Master Storyteller of Great & Gripping Novels

Stephen King has created some incredibly interesting novels that traverse more than just one genre. If you haven’t read King, choose one of these eight books, and start on a fantastic journey. Get the insight into a profound and influential writer who creates incredible worlds for you to explore.

Read some of my book reviews and other recommendations.

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Review Camino Island by John Grisham

My Review Camino Island

Review Camino Island, a novel about the theft of five original, hand-written F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton’s Firestone Library by five cunning yet nerdy guys, well except the one psychopath, which goes south rather quickly after the heist, when the FBI discovers a small drop of blood left by one of the thieves.
There are rumors that Bruce Cable, a Camino Island bookstore owner bought the manuscripts. Elaine, an investigator for a mysterious and covert company hired by an insurance company that holds a policy on the manuscripts for $25 million, hires Mercer Mann. Mercer is a down-on-her-luck writer, who has just lost her teaching job. Elaine wants her to get close to Bruce and his wife, Noelle Bonnet, an antique dealer, to possibly discover if they have the manuscripts.

Summary of Camino Island a Novel

My review Camino Island. Mercer is the “perfect” woman for the job as she is young and beautiful, newly unemployed and up to her eyeballs in student debt, which Elaine offers to pay off for her, plus $100,000 for a six-month assignment, during which time she can finish the novel she hasn’t even started writing yet and is 3 years overdue. She’ll get half up front and the other half at completion. Another component that makes her ideal for the situation is that she spent nearly every summer with her grandmother, Tessa on Camino Island. Though she hasn’t been back since her grandmother’s passing, the beach cottage is still in the family and available for use.
Mercer fits right in with the crowd of Bruce’s friends on the island, mostly writers with storied pasts and stories about each other, as writers are notorious gossips. At least, they are in this story. Her plan to spend the six months writing her passed due novel does not necessarily go as planned. However, the discussion she has with Bruce about writing turns into a story that draws them closer together. One of Bruce’s past girlfriends was writing a story about a love triangle between F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, and Ernest Hemingway before his ex-girlfriend committed suicide and he begins giving Mercer the details.
While Noelle is in France buying antiques, they have a romantic fling. Despite Bruce and Noelle’s open marriage, Mercer feels a bit guilty about it, but not enough to stop.

Narration (Review Camino Island)

The narrator is the storyteller, the bard, or Mr. Grisham, whichever you please.

Setting (Review Camino Island)

The first set for this novel is the Firestone Library at Princeton, then the cabin in the Poconos where the thieves hide out for a while, but the setting for most of the story is modern day Florida, Camino Island, in the small, sleepy tourist town of Santa Rosa.


To me, the overall theme of this novel is not to let greed rule your life. The thieves wind up dead, in jail, or on the run because of greed. Mercer sells her moral standing to discover if Bruce has the manuscripts, mainly because she has no job, no money, and a ton of student debt. Elaine’s company and the insurance company do not want to pay the $25 million they insured the books for, and Bruce gives up a cushy, comfortable, and prosperous life on a resort island and possibly risks everything for the excitement of dealing in stolen goods.


This is a crime fiction dealing with rare books and manuscripts.


As all Grisham fans know, he is a notable trial defense and courtroom drama writer with very few exceptions. From his very first novel, A Time to Kill to The Rooster Bar, and some very popular titles in between, such as The Frim, Sycamore Row (the sequel to A Time to Kill), and The Pelican Brief most are courtroom dramas. Many of these titles became major motion pictures. Even his Young Adult (YA) series of Theodore Boone books were courtroom drama based. And yes, he did stray from the genre with Playing for Pizza, Calico Joe, The Tumor, and a few others, but crime drama or legal thriller, at least to me, is his forte! After all, he was an attorney.
Well, this is not the usual John Grisham courtroom drama, but you could refer to it as a legal thriller because much of the storyline deals with criminal elements within the underground rare books and art trade.

My Opinion & Recommendation

My favorite character was Bruce Cable. I can’t imagine having a better life than as the owner of a successful bookstore and coffee where you are the barrister. I mean come on, you can wear any outfit you want, even with a bowtie if you’re into such things, and no one thinks you’re weird because, hey you own a bookstore. You go to “work,” make some coffee, grab whatever book you choose from the shelf, and sit down and read until someone comes in. You have a huge collection of first edition books autographed by the authors, most of whom you know personally; and then, you meet and marry a beautiful and beguiling antique dealer, who fills your home with Provençal furnishing. I couldn’t imagine wanting much more, but then there are the nefarious deals with rare books to keep things exciting.
To me, this was a good story, not a great John Grisham page-turner novel like many of his legal thrillers, but it is superb crime fiction. If you’re looking for a compelling story that forces you to turn the page in anticipation, this is not it. Although, I do believe it is a must-read for all Grisham fans, and it didn’t become a New York Times Bestseller and reach number one just because it was Grisham who wrote it; still and all, I’m sure that helped. Plus, his going on tour for the first time in twenty-five years to publicize the book probably helped as well.
I think non-Grisham fans would probably like this book even more than his regulars because it is such a departure from courtroom dramas and legal thrillers. Someone that is not expecting a cutting-edge courtroom battle would perhaps be more in tuned to the book. Nevertheless, I do think anyone would enjoy the story. Well, that’s my review Camino Island!

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