The 10 best not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King. (Plus two you should read even though they are scary.)

Against all odds, several of my regular readers are NOT horror fans. (And I live with another horror avoider too.) I think it’s a shame that these folks have been deprived of the experience of reading Stephen (the) King  just because of his scary reputation for writing only in the horror genre.

For my contribution to this week’s fourth (and final?) King’s March link-up (a Stephen King-themed blog hop) I’ve decided to reach out to such people with a list of 10 great reads for fans of good writing, as long as it’s not considered to be in the horror genre. These books will neither gross anyone out, nor cause nightmares (probably.)

The author here is Stephen King, though, so be prepared for the stories to bring up some strong emotions. The surprise – for non-King readers – will be that those emotions may include wonder, amusement, tenderness, admiration, hope, nostalgia, awe, wistfulness, and joy.

10 not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King

The Green Mile

They call death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary “The Green Mile.” John Coffey, sentenced to die for the rape and murder of two young girls, is the latest addition to the Mile. Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent, discovers that there is more to John Coffey than meets the eye, for this friendly giant has the power to heal.

Dolores Claiborne

Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera’s physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.


After realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”


Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

The Colorado Kid

Vince Teague and Dave Bowie are the sole operators of The Weekly Islander, a small Maine newspaper.  Stephanie McCann has been working for them as an intern.   When Stephanie asks if they’ve ever come across a real unexplained mystery in the fifty years they’d been publishing the paper, they tell her the story of The Colorado Kid.

The Eyes of the Dragon

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Delain, King Roland is murdered and his son and heir, Peter, is framed for the crime. Peter and his loyal friends must battle an evil wizard and Peter’s usurper brother, Thomas, for the throne. Imprisoned in a tower, Peter conceives an escape plan that will take him years to execute before taking on Flagg, the powerful sorcerer who has masterminded this coup.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.


The Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “The Shop”) never anticipated that two participants in their research program would marry and have a child. Charlie McGee inherited pyrokinetic powers from her parents, who had been given a low-grade hallucinogen called “Lot Six” while at college. Now the government is trying to capture young Charlie and harness her powerful firestarting skills as a weapon.

Different Seasons (four novellas in one volume)

IF you read only ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Body’.

I’ll skip the synopses here, because we pretty much all know the basic stories, thanks to the movies Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.

On Writing

On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.




scary horror stephen king it

A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.

scary horror stephen king the stand

One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that – in the ensuing weeks – wipes out most of the world’s population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

NOTE: All the synopses and book jacket images above were obtained directly from



I’ve really learned a lot from participating in this blog hop / linky, and I feel like I understand how such things work MUCH better now.


Click the pic to go to this week’s link up.

Wensend &  Fourth Street Review (the hosts of this linky) have each posted summaries and links to the week-3 posts, and the final linky sign-up gadget.

Just click either of those links you just saw to see what other bloggers have been writing about recently. (Interestingly, some of the participants are not horror fan and do not enjoy a scary read. I did not expect that when I signed up, but it’s been interesting how they handle the Stephen King theme.)

My own previous entries include:

The wisdom of Stephen King: best quotes from Constant Writer.

Stephen King, everywhere I look.

Reading Stephen King in March & figuring out how blog hops / linkies work.


wrimoprog 04/02/2014:  6 + 4 = 10/182


21 Comments on “The 10 best not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King. (Plus two you should read even though they are scary.)”

  1. jokelly65 says:

    what kind of heathens dont read horror? LOL

    All ten of those are good books and worth reading by any one who enjoys a good tale.

  2. I remember reading Misery and having to lay it down for three days because everything in it could actually happen!

  3. I’ve read a good number of Stephen King books, but your list has reminded me how sad it is that I still haven’t read It. Will definitely be rectifying that immediately. Thanks!

    • It is my favorite book, period. I read it almost every summer. Strangely, I don’t much care for large portions of the ending but that doesn’t matter to me because I love everything that leads up to the final scenes so much more than I dislike parts of the end.

  4. Ray Yanek says:

    A great list! i forgot about some of these and _The Stand_ has to be one of my all time favorite novels. Have you ever read “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”? It was a King short story that appeared in the _The New Yorker_ and I used to use in a college course I taught. Very well written and very poignant story, even though it’s about a travelling salesman who collects bathroom graffiti.

  5. Fantastic list! The Girl Who Love Tom Gordon is one of my favorite books (anytime, any author.)

    • You know, when I was making the list, I realized that was the one book that I most want to re-read.

      I suppose you know that I research these lists by seeing what’s already out there online. None of the articles I could find on this topic included Tom Gordon! That’s just a shame. It’s a really under-appreciated book, I think.

  6. One small correction: it’s 11/22/63. You’re off by a day. 😉

    I absolutely LOVE that book and think it’s one of his best ever, hands down. But The Stand also ranks up there. Man…King really IS the king!

    • It seems every time you come here, you improve the place a bit. I fixed my error, so now everyone will think you just imagined it. 🙂

      Yeah. Every time I really look at his body of work, I am amazed. I can’t believe how much depth and range the man has. More and more I think he must have sold his soul … except I know he didn’t, because I see it shining out of many of his works.

  7. Priya says:

    Must read IT – even though it’s scary! Gosh, I couldn’t agree more. Of your non-scary fiction, 11.22.63 is my favourite. But of course, my all-time favourite Stephen King you’ve mentioned that I keep revisiting is On Writing. If there’s anything better than SK’s fiction is him writing about his fiction. Is it silly that I liked the afterword of Full Dark, No Stars almost as much as I liked the stories? In fact the Guardian just posted an excerpt from the book a couple of hours ago ( where he talks about how he wrote Carrie.
    Anyway, thanks for this list. Do you mind if I share it with my friends?! I’m forever forcing them to read SK and it’s exasperating when they say they don’t like horror.

  8. […] Renae from The Paranormalist has made up a list of her ten favorite non-horror books by Stephen King. So if you’ve finally […]

  9. […] Renae from The Paranormalist has made up a list of her ten favorite non-horror books by Stephen King. There are a few of you […]

  10. […] dosed with supernatural stuff. He’s a bestselling writer so this list might be just for me. A quick search turned up these titles and I cherry-picked titles from that […]

  11. Deb Whittam says:

    That was a really interesting read. I used to read a lot of Stephen King but after I had children I couldn’t really fact the horror genre anymore. I might give one of these a try though

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