If you are a listener of the Stephen King Fancast, you already know that I prefer audiobooks over books. I find that, when I’m reading, my mind tends to wander and I end up re-reading a lot of passages and still don’t fully under the story once I have finished the book. When I listen to the audiobook, I am enthralled and allowed to play the mind movie game, which is my favorite part about books, while still grasping the story. That being said, I recently got an email from someone who wanted to get into listening to audiobooks and they were asking what a good place to start would be. That got me thinking about this topic, and I wanted to put up a post about what my favorite Stephen King audiobooks are, and why.
This is a tough topic for me to cover, because there are qualities of the audiobook (reader, tempo, etc.) that have no bearing on the story but add a sense of gravitas that outweighs the story, in a way. As an example, I will say that anyone that has listened to Frank Muller read an audiobook, will probably admit that they would gladly listen to him describing disturbing fetish porn, in great detail, and love every minute of the reading. He is VERY good! I actually had to attempt to exclude some books from this list, simply because they are read by Frank Muller, and I would be biased towards them. This wouldn’t be a very good list if it were just, “The first four Dark Tower’s and Black House” as a Top 5. So I am trying to give a fair assessment in the interest of great story tellers, telling great stories. I am also basing my assessment on the idea that you haven’t really listened to a lot of audiobooks, and would like some variety to try out. One quality that all of the readers listed here share, is just being a great reader. You ever see a movie in which the actors are overdoing the role and ruining it in the process? A great actor makes you believe that they actually are the character they are portraying. The same can be said about a person that isn’t good at reading aloud, if not done well, you can just mess the whole thing up.
As River Song would say, *SPOILERS* My number one is not, actually, a Dark Tower Book. Well… I guess that could be argued.
5) Bag of Bones: When I got my copy of “Bag of Bones” from Amazon, the case for all the CD’s was made to look like (see above pic) a book. This was a neat feature to me, and I loved flipping through to grab new discs while I was at work. The book was read by Stephen King and this made me feel like I was getting the story “straight from the horse’s mouth,” so to speak. He can easily drop in and out of that Maine accent that I love so much, and because of that and the fact that the story was about a writer gave it an autobiographical feel. This is also a story that Stephen does very well, tiny town being tortured by some unrelenting evil. That and it takes place “on the TEE-AHW,” which is Mainese for TR.
4) Cell: This is read by Campbell Scott, whom you may recognize as the character Ethan from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” At the time of its release, I didn’t have a cell phone, and was a part of this tiny little community that was not on the bandwagon, at that point. Now I couldn’t live without my iPhone, but at the time this story had an inclusive quality that made me feel like this story was for me, kind of. The idea that owning a cell phone was, for the purposes of this fake world I was living in for a little while (the story), something akin to being a mindless zombie, was amazing to me! It felt like a blatant calling out of society! I was fighting the man by not being reachable whilst mobile! Texting and all those who do it be damned! Then I got a phone and was like, “Eff all that noise! This is rad!” Yes… I just used rad in a sentence.
3) The Colorado Kid: This is read by my favorite SK regular, Jeffrey DeMunn. You may know him as Town Manager, Robbie Beals in “Storm of the Century,” Dan Miller in “The Mist,” Harry in “The Green Mile” or Dale in “The Walking Dead.” He is another person that can drop in and out of that Maine accent with ease, and it makes for a great story because you can pretty easily differentiate between characters. I know that a lot of people hate this book because of it’s ending, but that is why I like the book so much. I will stop there in case you want to check out the audiobook for yourself.
2) The Dark Tower 3 – The Waste Lands: This is one of the stories that Frank Muller read. *SPOILERS*Frank Muller has the top two spots on this list. I’m not sure I could ask for a better reader than Frank Muller. He knows when to pick up the tempo and give the book a hasty or panicky pace. He can do different voices, but still be very easily recognized as being Frank Muller. Most importantly, he has a quality of reading that makes it seem as though he’s not reading at all. Like he’s making it up, off the cuff as he is recording. This is also my favorite Dark Tower book, at the moment. It kind of switches back and forth between this and The Drawing of the Three.
1) Black House: This is also read by Frank Muller, and is also part of a series. In fact, it could be argued that this is part of two series’, its own series, and the Dark Tower. “Black House” is the sequel to “The Talisman,” and both the books are loosely related to the Dark Tower series. I could also make a pretty decent argument that “The Talisman” and “Black House” are also tied to “Tommyknockers,” but that is getting off topic. I really liked this story, and listened to it without ever having read or listened to its predecessor, “The Talisman.” The story stood alone pretty well. It helps if you are familiar with “The Talisman,” but it still makes sense, even if you aren’t. I also identify with Armand “Beezer” St. Pierre. This guy is a loving husband, that doesn’t mind getting in your face and being a little rough with randoms, should the situation call for it. Anyone that knows him and is in his circle, knows he is a caring person that looks intimidating, which is my definition of a “Teddy Bear.” Sure they’re cuddly and cute, but they can rip your face off, should the mood strike them. He also has a strong sense of self-awareness. He knows people think he’s an asshole. He knows that because that it what he is, an asshole. He couldn’t be a nicer guy to the people who matter to him, but no fucks will be given when the going gets tough. I am quite regularly described as such, and agree with the assessment. That might sound negative to you, but I know who I am and I have no problems with it. I’m sure “Beezer” would say the same, if asked. Plus, he has a beard. Beards are cool.
That is my Top 5 Stephen King audiobooks. I wanted to do a Top 19, but that would be ridiculous. I have included some links to Stephen King’s audiobooks below, if you’re interested in giving it a try.
I will also be posting, in the future, what my favorite non-King audiobooks are and my favorite podiobooks, as well. Don’t know what podiobooks are? Well, I’m sorry, but you will have to wait for that post.
Posted By @alloy_matt