If commercial and critical success had anything to do with which of Stephen King’s stories were his all-time favorites, you might expect to see It, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Carrie, and a whole lot of other familiar tales on that list. However, it turns out the “King of Horror” has some slightly unpredictable takes on which of his stories he thinks are the best. In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert asked King what his favorite Stephen King stories are and his top five are a bit surprising.
The first title King shared was his short story “Survivor Type,” which was first published in the 1982 horror anthology Terrors and was later included in King’s 1985 collection Skeleton Crew. The story, which King once said in an interview “goes a little bit too far, even for me,” follows a surgeon who is marooned on an island and resorts to eating parts of himself to survive until… he doesn’t. It’s an interesting and incredibly grisly choice, even by King standards.
The next short story King mentioned was “The Body” which you might recognize by its more well-known film adaptation Stand By Me. Interestingly enough, “The Body” was also published in 1982, making that year a pretty big one for King, apparently. “The Body” follows a man as recounts the year he and his group of friends found the body of a young boy in hopes of becoming famous for the discovery. It’s a grim coming-of-age story that delves into how just children process death.
As for what novels King likes best, the author shared that The Stand, Misery, and Lisey’s Story are among his favorites. In the year 2021, The Stand is an interesting choice considering the behemoth of a book is all about a virus that all but wipes out mankind and feels a little too close to home. This also might be part of the reason the new CBS miniseries based on the book didn’t fare too well when it premiered in December of 2020. Misery and Lisey’s Story are also curious choices, albeit for different reasons. Both titles revolve around a male author and the mania and madness surrounding them, leading many to believe they might come from a fairly personal place — though perhaps that is what makes them so resonant to King.
All in all, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that such an unconventional person would have some unconventional takes on his own catalog. If anything, it just means now we have a few new titles to go back and check out.