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Every Stephen King fan has their own personal list of favorites from the horror legend's massive bibliography, but what about Stephen King himself? Stephen Colbert had the author on his show Monday night, and asked King for his personal Best Of list.
King was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his new thriller Billy Summers, and while talking about the new book -- about a killer for hire who also happens to be an aspiring writer -- Colbert used a key quote from it to ask King about his own writing struggles. King recounted a now-famous story from his memoir, On Writing, about working on The Stand and realizing he'd given himself too many characters to deal with. So, he eventually concocted a scheme, inspired by Raymond Chandler's own writing philosophy, to simply get rid of a few of them.
"I thought, 'Well what if somebody blows up about half of these troublesome people? I can deal with the ones that are left, and that's what I did," King recalled.
At the mention of The Stand, widely regarded among fans as one of King's best works, Colbert pivoted the conversation to the books King himself considers among his best, and decided to go for broke by asking the legendary genre writer for his personal top five among his own stories. King began the answer with a perhaps unexpected choice: The short story "Survivor Type," about a corrupt doctor and heroin smuggler who's left stranded on a rocky island and forced to carve off pieces of his own body to eat in order to stay alive.
"That is family friendly," King joked as he discussed the plot. "That could be a Disney cartoon."
In terms of novels, King named three of his all-time classics among his favorites: Misery, Lisey's Story (which he recently adapted himself at Apple TV due to its deeply personal nature), and of course, The Stand. Rounding out the list, King chose the novella "The Body," which was adapted into the classic film Stand By Me in 1986.
So, if you're a Stephen King newbie and you're looking for a place to start, you can pick any one of those stories as a launching pad. If you're a longtime Constant Reader and you've already read each of those books, there's always re-reading.
Billy Summers is in stores now.