Stephen King is the author of over 50 books, all of which have become bestsellers around the world and part of the cultural lexicon here in the U.S.. And of course, the same is true of the many movies adapted from his novels. His most recent release, If it Bleeds, a collection of four novellas, was a Best Book of the Month as well as a critical and commercial success.
We editors are huge fans of his colorful, humorous, and insightful book reviews (reviews that were, for years, the reason for my EW subscription). So of course, we were interested to hear what King has read and enjoyed recently. Here are his picks, along with his thoughts on the value of reading and leaving our troubles behind right now:
"This has been a damned rotten year in so many ways, but it’s been a good one for those who happen to be of a bookish persuasion. That would include me. All the streaming services—I currently have half a dozen, including Amazon Prime—offer wonderful entertainment for folks whose lives outside the home have been severely curtailed, but speaking for myself, nothing can compare with complete immersion in a story. Here are four that I slipped into, leaving my troubles behind like discarded clothes on the bank of a swimming hole:"
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
Set during the years just following the British Invasion by groups like the Beatles, the Dave Clark 5, and the Animals, Utopia Avenue tells the story of a fictional band: the ups, downs, and their final head-on collision with fame. I fell in love with these guys, and even more in love with Elf, the girl in the band.
Papi: My Story by David Ortiz and Michael Holley
Co-author Holley undoubtedly worked hard with legendary slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz; you can tell by how completely he stays out of the way. Ortiz’s rise from Haina in the Dominican Republic, where battery acid from the recycling plant poisoned the ground, to stardom with the Boston Red Sox, is told in Ortiz’s voice alone—sometimes jolly, sometimes angry, sometimes playful, always decent. I was especially moved by the background of his on-field speech after the Boston Marathon bombings, when he spoke for all New Englanders, saying “This is our f*ckin’ city.”
The End of October by Lawrence Wright
This eerily prescient book, written before the COVID-19 outbreak, tells the story of one CDC scientist’s odyssey during a global pandemic. In also telling the story of scientist Henry Parson’s family, Wright rises way above Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg to tell a tale of guts and courage in the face of disaster. And watch out for that last line, friends; it’s a killer.
The Strangler by William Landay
I loved Landay’s novel Defending Jacob, and the limited TV series is every bit as good. Watching it took me to Landay’s previous novels, which I had overlooked. Mission Flats is good, but The Strangler is a superb combination of suspense and realistic family drama. It’s also a brilliantly drawn picture of Boston in the 1960s, when the Strangler (maybe Albert DeSalvo; maybe not) terrified everyone from Roxbury to Revere. This is crime fiction that, as they say, transcends the genre.
Photo credit by Shane Leonard
Readers have been escaping into Stephen King novels for years. What 4 novels offered him "complete immersion" in 2020?