Is Stephen King Worth Reading? 

While some criticisms are leveled at King’s work, including that he skews too far toward the popular while sacrificing quality for quantity, his writing remains enormously popular. Understanding what makes his writing so popular is valuable for writers while simply enjoying the fruits of his labor is valuable for readers! 

Yes, Stephen King is worth reading because of his astonishing plots, his rich characters, and his enormous popularity both with readers and film-goers. His works have entered the collective consciousness to a startling degree, and even his most ardent critics admit to being affected by elements of his work.

Does Stephen King Write Good Plots?

King writes great plots. Plotting is one of the undeniable strengths of Stephen King’s novels. It’s one of the reasons so many of his novels have been turned into highly successful films. Critics of King complain about a lack of care in his prose stylings, but these supposed failings do not show up in screen adaptations of his work. 

Take The Shining for instance: King’s terrifying premise, the way he builds tension, his understanding of complex family dynamics, and his extraordinary ability to tap into the human subconscious to find what terrifies us remain utterly dominant in the realm of storytelling.  

Other novels converted to film include Shawshank Redemption (listed by many as their favorite film) along with It and Stand by Me. These films have entered the global consciousness: King’s plots certainly have the ability to inspire, transfix, and ignite passionate debate and feeling. 

Does Stephen King Write Good Characters?

King writes great characters. Some critics have complained that King’s prose seems underdeveloped: or perhaps a little rushed. Some of the character descriptions have been criticized for a lack of depth. However, King understands people. 

He understands what motivates people, and particularly what makes people feel. He knows how to inspire great passion in his readers, and he portrays characters who undergo emotion in extremis!

Even if the language King uses to depict characters is considered a little thin, what he describes is widely understood to be of very high quality indeed.

Readers also have varying responses to King’s prose. Stanley Kubrick for instance found The Shinning to be a thrilling read, with more depth and care taken than he was accustomed to seeing in the horror genre. 

What Is Good About Stephen King’s Novels?

King has sold over 400 million copies of his novels. They have been adapted into some of the most beloved films of all time. Most people can quote a line or two from his work.

He has written over 64 novels, and won a vast number of awards, both for his individual projects and for his entire body of work.

This is all to say that King is one of the best selling and most popular writers of all time. So he’s doing something right!

Even if we acknowledge that his critics have bemoaned a lack of art in his prose, we must also acknowledge that he is at least enormously popular with readers.

For many writers, the goal is that elusive dream: to be both literary and popular.

Consequently, understanding what makes King’s novels so popular is time well spent for any writer. King’s novels feature compelling and memorable plotlines, and they do not shy away from going big!

He also makes excellent use of symbols: think of the clown in It.

His novels race along at an incredible pace: he doesn’t allow his works to become ‘bogged down’ in lengthy descriptive passages, which is something many readers are grateful for. 

King is the master of symbols, plotting, pacing, and characterization, which is what contributes to making his writing so popular!  

What is Bad About Stephen King’s Novels? 

Critics have identified that King’s prose style at times feels slightly thinly drawn, and several critics have noted a lack of self awareness that presents as pretentiousness.

Among us, The Shining (the novel) is not part of great literature. It is scary, it is effective and it works, without further ado (…). But it is precisely interesting to see how a very bad book can also be very effective. (…) It’s quite pretentious. But it is also true that one has less scruples when destroying it: one is aware that a great work of art is not being destroyed.

Diane Johnson a Denis Barbier. Positif, núm. 238, January 1981.

What are Stephen King’s Best Novels? 

The Shining, partly due to the highly successful film adaptation, is one of King’s highest selling and most celebrated novels.

Carrie was King’s first highly successful novel, and was also adapted successfully for screen.

Many feel King was at his best in his early novels, which is said of multiple successful popular writers like Tom Clancy. 

Under the Dome and The Green Mile have also been enormously successful.

King’s novels which sell well generally go on to successful screen adaptations. This is arguably due to the strength of the plots, and the clearly defined characters. 

While the jury is still out on King’s best novel, the fact that he has written so many will keep King fans happy for years as they have plenty of material to page through. 


King is worth reading for a large number of reasons.

He is such a dominant cultural force, that to ignore his corpus entirely risks being left in the dark regarding a significant popular influence.

The film adaptations of his novels are widely regarded as highly worthy.

In short, pick up a King novel or two, and see if they appeal to you!

At the very least, you will gain a better understanding of what makes one of the most popular writers of all time so … popular!