Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Stephen King Books Meme

To write a novel is a desire common among pretentious pseudo-intellectual 30-somethings. And I'm no different. I have an idea, a vague notion of a plot, and a yearning to get trashed by Natalie Haynes on the Review Show. But writing fiction's a different kettle of fish to this blogging lark and academic writing, innit? This in mind I've recently read Stephen King's On Writing (2000), a book that deftly combines memoir and writing tips into one seamless whole. King doesn't draw character profiles or sketch out plot road maps. He has a couple of ideas and throws some characters into the situation. I have a similarish approach to blogging and found his advice very useful and suited to my way of doing things (especially on the evil that is passive voice, a monster I didn't eradicate entirely from the old PhD thesis). In short, I was very impressed so On Writing comes with a great huge AVPS recommendation.

At the back of the book, King provides a bibliography of best books he read during the composition of
On Writing, From a Buick Eight, Hearts in Atlantis and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. This sounds like ideal meme fodder to me.

Of his list of 93 books how many have you read? Those in bold are books I've read. Those in italics are books I own. And if they're bold and italicised, well. I think you can work it out.

A Perfect Crime by Peter Abrahams
Lights Out by Peter Abrahams
Pressure Drop by Peter Abrahams
Revolution #9 by Peter Abrahams
A Death in the Family by James Agee
Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis
Regeneration by Pat Barker
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
In the Night Season by Richard Bausch
The Intruder by Peter Blauner
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
Werewolves in Their Youth by Michael Chabon
Latitude Zero by Windsor Chorlton
The Poet by Michael Connelly
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Family Values by KC Constatine
Underworld by Don DeLillo
Cathedral by Nelson DeMille
The Gold Coast by Nelson Demille
Oliver Twist by Charles Dicken
Common Carnage by Stephen Dobyns
The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns
The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
The Dick Gibson Show by Stanley Elkin
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Beach by Alex Garland
Deception on His Mind by Elizabeth George
Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
The Fifties by David Halberstam
Why Sinatra Matters by Pete Hamill
Hannibal by Thomas Harris
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter
A Firing Offence by David Ignatius
A Widow for One Year by John Irving
The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
The Devil's Own Work by Alan Judd
Good Enough to Dream by Roger Kahn
The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
Survivor by Tabitha King
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Into Thin Air by Jon Kraukauer
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz
The Ignored by Bentley Little
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
Zeke and Ned by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
The Speed Queen by Stewart O'Nan
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
No Safe Place by Richard North Patterson
Freedomland by Richard Price
Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendall
Waiting by Frank M Robinson
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Mohawk by Richard Russo
Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
The Crater by Richard Slotkin
The Illusionist by Dinitia Smith
Men in Black by Scott Spencer
Joe Hill by Wallace Stegner
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Ax by Donald E Westlake

I say, only 13 books read and 16 owned is a jolly poor show, what? And I consider myself to be quite well-read! What's your tally?

Can you put my acquaintance with literature to shame? Seeing as it's a Sunday and perhaps some comrades will be looking for blog filler I hereby tag
HarpyMarx, Jim Jepps, Splinty, Dolphin Maria, Carl Raincoat, James Bloodworth, Madam Miaow, Alex, and The Third Estate.

Readers with a penchant for bigger lists might want to take a gander at
The Graun's 1,000 books you must read.


northernheckler said...

I own 10 and have read 4 - but have read and own virtually all of King's work

skidmarx said...

In the race to the bottom, I'm well ahead of you.Three, including To Kill A Mockingbird,which I had to read for 'O' Level.

Phil said...

I haven't read much Stephen King - it was bugger all before the end of the summer. But I surprised myself. I think I've become too much of a book snob.

andy newman said...

odd list, I have read 15 of them, and I don't think i own any of them.

Darren said...


am I write in thinking you're on Urban 75?

You should contribute to this book thread:

I'd be fascinated to see what books you read over the course of a year.

Darren said...



I meant to write that, of course.

Phil said...

I haven't been on Urban for ages. I occasionally pop by to catch any sect gossip I might have missed.

As you know I practically only use Facebook to keep track of what I've read. And FYI I think I got through 110 books last year.

Darren said...

I didn't know you did that on Facebook. I'll have to pop over and leave some catty comments. ;-)