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Stephen King’s Reading List Part II

Stephen King's Reading List

Last month we shared Stephen King’s Reading List for Writers, a collection of 96 books recommended by King in his acclaimed guide, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

When a tenth anniversary edition of On Writing was published in 2010, King included a new reading list. It was published in the afterword with the following introductory note:

At the end of the original edition of On Writing, I listed about a hundred books which entertained and taught me.  The publisher’s suggested I update the list for this new edition, so here are eight-plus more – the best things I’ve read between 2001 and 2009.  As I said in the 2000 edition of the book… you could do worse.

  1. Peter Abrahams, End of Story
  2. Peter Abrahams, The Tutor
  3. Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
  4. Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn
  5. Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
  6. Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork
  7. Benjamin Black [pseudo.], Christine Falls
  8. Peter Blauner, The Last Good Day
  9. Roberto Bolaño, 2666
  10. David Carr, The Night of the Gun
  11. John Casey, Spartina
  12. Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
  13. Lee Child, The Jack Reacher novels, starting with Killing Floor
  14. Michael Connelly, The Narrows
  15. Mark Costello, Big If
  16. Michael Cunningham, The Hours
  17. Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
  18. Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  19. Richard Dooling, White Man’s Grave
  20. David Downing, Zoo Station
  21. Andre Dubus, The Garden of Last Days
  22. Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
  23. Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes
  24. Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
  25. Jonathan Franzen, Strong Motion
  26. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
  27. Neil Gaiman, American Gods
  28. Meg Gardiner, Crosscut
  29. Meg Gardiner, The Dirty Secrets Club
  30. William Gay, The Long Home
  31. Robert Goddard, Painting the Darkness
  32. Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
  33. Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts
  34. Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War
  35. Charlie Huston, The Hank Thompson Trilogy
  36. Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
  37. Garrison Keillor (ed), Good Poems
  38. Sue Monk Kid, The Secret Life of Bees
  39. Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City
  40. Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  41. John le Carré, Absolute Friends
  42. Dennis Lehane, The Given Day
  43. Elmore Leonard, Up in Honey’s Room
  44. Jonathan Letham, The Fortress of Solitude
  45. Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
  46. Bentley Little, Dispatch
  47. Bernard Malamud, The Fixer
  48. Yann Martel, Life of Pi
  49. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
  50. Ian McEwan, Atonement
  51. James Meek, The People’s Act of Love
  52. Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
  53. Patrick O’Brian, The Aubrey/Maturin Novels
  54. Stewart O’Nan, The Good Wife
  55. Joyce Carol Oates, We Were the Mulvaneys
  56. George Pelecanos, Hard Revolution
  57. George Pelecanos, The Turnaround
  58. Tom Perrotta, The Abstinence Teacher
  59. Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
  60. DBC Pierre, Vernon Little God
  61. Annie Proulx, Fine Just the Way It Is
  62. Michael Robotham, Shatter
  63. Philip Roth, American Pastoral
  64. Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
  65. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
  66. Richard Russo, Bridge of Sighs
  67. Richard Russo, Empire Falls
  68. Dan Simmons, Drood
  69. Dan Simmons, The Terror
  70. Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife
  71. Tom Rob Smith, Child 44
  72. Scott Snyder, Voodoo Heart
  73. Neil Stephenson, Quicksilver
  74. Donna Tartt, The Little Friend
  75. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 
  76. Joseph Wambaugh, Hollywood Station
  77. Robert Warren Penn, All the King’s Men
  78. Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
  79. Mark Winegardner, Crooked River Burning
  80. Mark Winegardner, The Godfather Review
  81. David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
  82. Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

For more books to add to your reading list, here’s what Ernest Hemingway recommends.



  1. F. Armstrong Green
    11 April 2014 / 12:12 pm

    As in any list there are some great works, some good works, and some so bad I’m shocked that they’re included (not too many of the latter, actually). And some shocking omissions. Maybe he hasn’t yet discovered Jeffrey Lent and Peter Matthiessen, but then, ya cain’t read everthang.

    • RobRob
      8 April 2023 / 10:06 pm

      He said the original list were the books he read 3-4 years before writing On Writing, then this list is the books from 2001-2009. So maybe he had already read what you’re referencing before all that?

  2. Peter Mageean
    29 December 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Certainly Peter Matthiessen is a serious omission and, if Jeffey Lent’s absence from Stephen King’s list is also to be regarded as unfortunate then my own ignorance of that writer’s works is to be lamented. But, thanks to F. Armstrong Green (and Amazion) I now have a penny copy of ‘Lost Nation’ on its way to me.

  3. Oumarou Dia
    13 October 2018 / 7:34 am

    I want to know what Dean Koontz reads!

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