Stephen King’s 3 Most Influential Novels

Stephen King’s 3 Most Influential Novels

It’s difficult to put together a list of the best writers of all time. But you’d have to make a heck of an argument for leaving Stephen King off this list. Stephen King is undoubtedly one of the best writers and novelists this world has seen. 


He’s contributed many exceptional short stories and novels, keeping readers on their toes from the first word until the last. Luckily, we aren’t attempting a list of Stephen King’s top three stories of all time, period, because we probably couldn’t choose just three. He’s that good. 


Although it’s still a massive challenge, this article will focus on novels and explore Stephen King’s three most influential. 

The Shining 

Let’s start with one of King’s most deeply disturbing yet thought-provoking novels, The Shining. The Shining centers on the Torrance Family. Jack is the main character, who’s married to his wife Wendy, and they have a son named Danny. 


Jack takes a position as winter caretaker at the eerie Overlook Hotel as he recovers from a drinking problem. His experience with a drinking problem is much like the one Stephen King lived. It gives an honest account of what abusing alcohol can look and feel like, giving readers a segue into discovering their own issues with alcohol if they’re present. 


As the book moves on, Jack and his family find out about the horrors of the hotel, resulting in his mental unraveling, and Danny being tormented by his unusual ability to see things and read people’s minds. 


A notable theme in The Shining is parental influence. Danny eventually becomes his dad in the sequel Doctor Sleep, struggling with alcohol and being mentally and emotionally disturbed by the events at the Overlook hotel. We also know that Jack’s dad struggled with anger and alcohol just as he did. 


Ultimately, you learn a lot about how not dealing with things before you have kids can seep into your parenting and eventually make a home for your children.  

The Green Mile 

Although it still aligns with King’s horror roots, The Green Mile isn’t as scary of a novel. The story follows Paul Edgecomb as he narrates his time as a death-row supervisor at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. He oversees E Block, commonly known as death row but better known as The Green Mile. 


Various inmates arrived on E Block during his time, but none more impactful than John Coffey. Throughout the novel, Paul recounts his encounters with Coffey’s inexplicable healing powers and empathic abilities. And it’s those abilities and powers that prove Coffey’s innocence. 


But because Paul can’t prove Coffey’s innocence without revealing his powers and abilities, he must prepare for and witness Coffey’s unjustified execution. As a result, it was the last execution he’d ever be a part of. 


A couple of big themes in The Green Mile were morality and justice. As mentioned above, Paul eventually figured out that Coffey was innocent. But he couldn’t do the right thing and prove it because he couldn’t say anything about Coffey’s abilities, leaving him in a real tussle with morality. 


Regarding justice, a man was executed for a crime he didn’t commit. We realize in this novel that justice isn’t always served. In fact, many injustices come from a system that’s supposed to be the fairest and most just of them all. 


Carrie should make everyone’s list of King’s most influential novels. The book is about Carrie White, a misfit teenage girl trying to survive being bullied and brought up in an ultra-religious and abusive household. At some point, she discovers she has telekinetic powers. 


When she goes to prom, she endures one of her life’s most embarrassing, traumatizing experiences at the hands of her bullies. And that catapults her into using her telekinetic powers for revenge, violence, and terror. 


A prominent theme in Carrie is bullying and how that can impact a person. What you do with a traumatic experience like bullying is entirely up to you, whether it’s channeled into something positive or destructive.  


Another significant theme is revenge. There’s only so much a person can take. When given the opportunity, many people will seek revenge on the person or people who caused them pain and suffering. As much as we hope that revenge doesn’t turn into something deadly, it often does, as it did with Carrie. 


Even if these aren’t your top three, there’s doubt these three novels are a few of Stephen King’s most influential. 


You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Naja B. says:

    This list was impressive. For me, I would include The Langoliers. It affected me so much that in the middle of reading it, I had to go outside to make sure the world was still here!!!

  2. James Kuberski says:

    So true….. The movie version was also good

  3. Dawn says:

    Yes, Langoliers had me 😱…

  4. Dawn says:

    The Talisman with Peter Straub..was totally scary. The Ghost story…so many.
    It got to the point that I had to stop reading for awhile. I continue to purchase his books I have to wait until I muster up enough courage to read Kings books, he also recommends other great stories from other horror authors new to the genre as well…

  5. JGriff says:

    I feel the The Stand is by far his most influential work, nearly every book, film, and video game depicting a bleak, dystopian, apocalyptic future America borrows something from it.

  6. Steve Reeves says: