16 Top Stephen King Best-Selling Books

Stephen King is a prolific author with millions of books sold, but what are the top Stephen King best-selling books? This guide will explore that question.

Few authors have made an impact on the horror genre in quite the same way as Stephen King. The master of suspense has an estimated 350 million books sold, and he continues to publish best-sellers to add to his list of over 50 titles. 

But among King's books, which are the best? Based on sales figures, which are the top books you should add to your list if you are a fan of this author?

This is a breakdown of Stephen King's best-selling books. If you are looking for one to add to your list, these are worth considering.

How To Determine What Are Stephen King Best-Selling Books

Top Stephen King best-selling books

With almost 75 titles to his name, Stephen King is a prolific modern horror writer. Yet, some of his works truly stand out because of their masterful use of suspense.

In fact, these books have become so popular that some have been made into major motion pictures. When a movie comes out based on a book, the film often drives increased book sales. 

That said, figuring the total number of books sold for any given title is difficult, and exact sales figures are not available. These are some of the top sellers that have become some of his most popular works:

1. The Shining

The Shining launched in 1977, and over its four decades of circulation, it has an estimation of over half a million copies sold. In 1980, it became a motion picture of the same name starring Jack Nicholson. 

The book follows Jack Torrance as he becomes the off-season caretaker of an old hotel, the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. As Torrance starts to fear something sinister happening in the hotel, he must turn to Danny Torrance, his five-year-old son, for help. 

“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”

Stephen King
Sale
The Shining
  • Anchor Books
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 688 Pages - 08/27/2013 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

2. Carrie

Carrie hit the shelves in 1974, making it his first novel. It follows a teenage outcast, Carrie White, who uses telekinesis to extract her revenge on her high school classmates.

This book also became a movie, and it remains one of the most shocking and terrifying books in American literature. Carrie may feel tame compared to many modern novels, but that does not negate its impact on the horror and terror genre.

“People don't get better, they just get smarter. When you get smarter you don't stop pulling the wings off flies, you just think of better reasons for doing it.”

Stephen King
Carrie
  • Anchor
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 08/30/2011 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

3. Salem's Lot

Salem's Lot is King's second novel. In it, the main character Ben Mears heads to Jerusalem's Lot to explore a historic old house in a quaint small town. However, he observes the aftermath of a deadly event involving two young boys.

This launches a harrowing tale of something evil in a New England town. The idyllic setting makes for the perfect background for an American horror tale. 

“The basis of all human fears, he thought. A closed door, slightly ajar.”

Stephen King
Sale
'Salem's Lot
  • Anchor Books
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 672 Pages - 09/24/2013 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

4. Misery

When bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon is in a serious car accident, he meets his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes. Wilkes takes care of him as his nurse.

Yet as Misery unfolds, readers find that she is much more than just a healthcare provider. Wilkes has something far more cryptic in mind for the author she adores.

“I am in trouble here. This woman is not right.”

Stephen King
Sale
Misery: A Novel
  • Scribner
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 01/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

5. Pet Sematary

When the Creed family moves into a home in Maine, their life seems to be perfect. However, there's something sinister lurking in the woods. 

As the family explores their new home, they encounter the graves of the pets of the town's children. Yet are the animals truly gone? This is the underlying question in Pet Sematary, considered one of his most chilling books.

“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”

Stephen King
Sale
Pet Sematary
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 02/01/2002 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

6. The Stand

When a mutant strain of the flu wipes out nearly all humanity, the survivors need a leader. Mother Abagail and Randall Flagg struggle to see who will be that leader. One is peaceful, and the other a violent, dark man.

This leads to an epic clash between good and evil. Though the plot seems different from other Stephen King books, The Stand still embraces the horror and science fiction genre well.

“She couldn't be on his wavelength all the time. That's all. When you could recognize that and deal with it, you were on your way to an adult relationship.”

Stephen King
Sale
The Stand
  • Anchor Books
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1200 Pages - 08/07/2012 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

7. It

A clown living in a sewer and enticing teenagers using a red balloon is the basis of this haunting tale. However, when those teenagers grow up, they are inexplicably drawn to Derry, Maine the town where it all happened, and the evil that has no name.

Like other Stephen King novels, It keeps the reader guessing about what the evil truly is. As the characters return to their hometown, they confront their childhood nightmare and confront Pennywise the clown, a terrifying personification of their childhood nightmares. This book is best read with the lights on.

“Eddie discovered one of his childhood's great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought.”

Stephen King
Sale
It: A Novel
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1184 Pages - 07/30/2019 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

8. The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger is the story of Roland of Gilead, a man who is both a loner, and a hero. In the story, which takes place on a planet that is remarkably like our own, he pursues The Man in Black and meets a colorful cast of characters along the way.

The Gunslinger is the first in the Dark Tower Series. Other Dark Tower books include:

“First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire.-Roland Deschain, of Gilead”

Stephen King
Sale
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (1)
  • Scribner Book Company
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 05/03/2016 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

9. The Green Mile

The Green Mile takes readers to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, where the men of E Block wait for their turn in the electric chair. It tells of Paul Edgecombe, a prison guard, and john Coffey, an inmate who may not actually be guilty of the crime he is charged with. 

This book, like most Stephen King stories, has unexpected twists. However, the goal here is to make you think about the character rather than merely shock you with a horror story. Originally published in serial form, it has since been released as a standalone novel.

“Sometimes there is absolutely no difference at all between salvation and damnation.” 

Stephen King
Sale
The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 04/17/2018 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

10. Under the Dome

Under the Dome gained attention when it became a television series in 2013. The book explores what happens when an invisible force field falls on the town of Chester's Mill, cutting it off from the rest of the world.

This is a work of sci-fi genius. Unlike other King novels, the main evil in Under the Dome is not a person but rather the dome itself. 

“If you don't control your temper, your temper will control you.”

Stephen King
Sale
Under the Dome: A Novel
  • Gallery Books
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1074 Pages - 07/06/2010 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

11. Lisey's Story

When her husband, Scott, dies, Lisey Debusher must venture into his private place. While sorting through the reality of her award-winning novelist spouse, she stumbles upon a type of madness that plagued her former love.

Lisey's Story is not as much of a horror story as it is an exploration of what love and affection looks like, even from beyond the grave.

“There was a lot they didn’t tell you about death, she had discovered, and one of the biggies was how long it took the ones you loved most to die in your heart.” 

Stephen King
Sale
Lisey's Story: A Novel
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 06/01/2021 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

12. The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith is a lucky young man. He survived a skateboarding accident as a child and another as a young adult, only to find himself in a coma in the town of Castle Rock, Maine, after a car crash.

When he awakens, Johnny finds he can see people's futures simply by touching their hands. The Dead Zone explores whether this is a gift or a curse, and what Johnny can do about it. 

“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn't good enough, it has to do.”

Stephen King
Sale
The Dead Zone
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 04/12/2016 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

13. Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes is the first of the Bill Hodges trilogy. In this story, Investigator Hodges finds himself struggling to find the guilty party when a killer plows over some people in a stolen Mercedes. 

Through the story, readers learn the identity o the killer and his burning desire to kill again. Only if Hodges can identify him in time can he avoid another tragedy. The sequels, Finders Keepers 1501100122 and End of Watch 1501134132, are also popular books.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

Stephen King
Sale
Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (1) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • Gallery Books
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 01/06/2015 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

14. Cujo

Once again set in Maine, Cujo is the story of a massive Saint Bernard and Brett Camber, his owner. Sadly in this horror novel, Cujo is the source of violent evil when he gets bitten by a bat and contracts rabies. 

As Cujo turns into a monster, neighbors Vic and Donna Trenton fight to keep their marriage together. Several vicious fights between these characters and the dog unfold as the story reaches a violent climax.

“The world was full of monsters, and they were all allowed to bite the innocent and the unwary”

Stephen King
Sale
Cujo: A Novel
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

15. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is a major motion picture based on King's novella entitled “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” The novella originally appears in one of King's short story collections called Different Seasons.

In the story, Andy Dufresne faces accusations of the double murder of his wife and her lover. The story unfolds his attempts to break free, eventually bringing a friend with him. This story breaks out of the horror book mold and offers something unique from the writer.

“It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Stephen King
Sale
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 09/29/2020 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

16. Firestarter

Finally, Firestarter rounds out the list of books that King fans adore. This book follows Vicky Tomlinson and Andy McGee, two former college students who were test subjects in a secret government test program. When the two get married later, they give birth to a daughter, Charlie, who has an interesting and uncontrollable power.

The story follows Charlie as the government agents who tested her parents' seek to harness the power she has for themselves. It comes to an explosive end that many readers appreciate.

“No one likes to see a government folder with his name on it.”

Stephen King
Sale
Firestarter
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 05/03/2016 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

A Final Word on Stephen King Best Selling Books

So what are the best Stephen King books? The answer depends on where you look. Accurate sales figures are hard to calculate, but the books that sell the best are often the ones adapted into movies or shows.

King's genius as an author remains in his ability to tell intense horror stories that keep the reader guessing from the first page. Though, with short stories like Shawshank Redemption, he also shows he can think outside that box.

If you are looking for an engaging read and want to be kept on your toes throughout the story, pick up a Stephen King book. However, know that you may find yourself a little scared and jumpy after reading it, so consider something different for your before-bed reading.

FAQs About Stephen King Best Selling Books

What is Stephen King's Best Selling Novel?

According to The ManualThe Shining is the best-selling Stephen King book. If you've already read it, consider the sequel, Doctor Sleep, which looks at what happened to Danny.

How many best-selling books does Stephen King have?

Stephen King has had over 30 books that landed on the New York Times best-sellers list.

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