There are no two ways about the fact that Stephen King is one of the greatest storytellers alive right now. His storytelling spans genres, with an imagination that never ceases to amaze us. With over 80 books to his name in more than half a century of writing books, it can get confusing and daunting to get acquainted with his works. But worry not, for that’s where this article comes into play. We are going to talk about some of the best Stephen King audiobook renditions that ensure you not only read the books but hear them too.
Best Stephen King Audiobooks
You can listen while commuting to your office, finishing some household chores, or while you wait for sleep to arrive. These audiobooks enhance your experience of the original text by adding another sensory layer to the story, creating a more atmospheric and immersive environment. Almost all the audiobooks are available on Audible; you can get the free trial here and get up to two premium audiobooks for free. Without waiting any further, let’s jump right in.
1. Fairy Tale
You’d think it would eventually exhaust itself after churning out as many tales as King has. As far as his latest novel goes, it is anything but that, for this is a wild flight of imagination with King at his finest and craftiest. When Charlie, a 17-year-old without a mother and a drinking father, is given the key to a parallel universe, everything’s going to change. And not just for him, but for both the two worlds.
The stakes have never been higher, and the combination of fantasy and suspense keeps you at the edge of your seats throughout. Seth Numrich is a master narrator who shifts between the different characters effortlessly. His different accents and quirks for different characters keep you engrossed in the audiobook throughout its length. This take on a fairy tale trope is bound to delight his fans and newbies to his works alike. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
Not a fan of the horror genre? Does a sci-fi thriller that’s also historical fiction and dabbles in the philosophical ramifications of trying to change history sound like something you will enjoy? Then pick this one up without any hesitation. This is the story of a man who tries to go back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But to tamper with time and history is always challenging, as would soon be obvious. The book was also adapted into a mini-series by the same title.
Not your typical King, the story has some wonderful character development (as King always does), with interesting philosophical commentary forming this taut thriller’s backbone. Narrated by Craig Wasson, the audiobook adaptation takes the book to another level, with him impersonating the protagonist, Jake, effortlessly. While King’s story will keep you on your toes throughout, Craig’s narration will make it even more rooted and believable, creating a perfect listen for you. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
3. The Stand
This novel saw a resurgence in popularity during the 2020 pandemic with global lockdowns, chaos, uncertainty among the masses, and societal upheaval of sorts, all described in extreme detail in this masterpiece of a book. My favorite King, and a grand fantasy, sci-fi epic with a large cast of characters, The Stand still manages to stay relevant with its well-developed characters and overlapping themes that seem to play with each other. King wanted this book to be his “Lord of the Rings” and it shows.
It’s not just a novel about a virus outbreak, though that forms the first quarter of it. Instead, it’s a story about a new world, biblical power dynamics, and supernatural forces, making a novel almost breathtaking in its scope. This complete and uncut edition of the novel adds much to the originally published book, inserting more nuances and character development that add to the layers of the saga. Even though the 48 hours of listening time that the audiobook demands of you might seem too much, Grover Gardner’s narration ensures you breeze through the whole thing in no time. Make sure you start with lots of time on your hands, at least a day or two! You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
4. Billy Summers
If you’ve read Stephen King even a bit, you’ll know how effortlessly and perfectly he describes the America of small towns and villages. With immaculate characterization and some vivid flights of imagination, he’s kept entertaining his constant readers for years. And Billy Summers is somewhat of a love story to all that. To the people who live in those towns, so far from the rush of urban America, to the little secrets that are hidden in the pockets of its inhabitants.
Billy Summers is the best hitman for hire out there, though he’ll take an assignment only if the target is a bad guy. But one last hit remains, and things are going to take a turn for the worst. With characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished the tale, this is a trainwreck of a novel. Paul Sparks makes his debut as a narrator through this novel, but not to worry, for he creates a thrilling production that elevates the suspense of the original novel. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
5. The Institute
King has written numerous novels that feature a child or children as central characters, and so it is here. One day, all of a sudden, Luke is kidnapped, with his parents murdered. On waking up, he finds himself in The Institute, where there’s only a way in but no way out. There are other kids, too, all of them brought there to extract their supernatural abilities. As kids begin disappearing from that place, Luke knows that he’ll have to escape. But how do you escape from an inescapable place?
Reminiscent of his Firestarter and It, The Institute has King doing what he does best: creating compelling characters and putting them in extreme situations to show humanity in its barest and most primitive form. The audiobook format does wonders for the story as the cast of young characters comes alive here and how! Santino Fontana injects life into the story with her varied and vivacious narration, creating a riveting listening experience. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
The first in his Dark Tower series, comprising eight novels in total, The Gunslinger introduces us to one of his most famous characters to date: Roland Deschain. It’s a lonely world out there, and he has to find the dark tower to stop the evil forces from winning. If you are, like me, a fan of King’s descriptions and the way he plays with themes and characters, then give this a try without hesitation. There’s a long journey to take, and King takes his own sweet time to take you to the eventual destination.
There are many things going around here, from elements of science fiction to fantasy to western fiction to philosophy and mythology, and all of it serves to produce a rich concoction of lore and depth for the next books in the series. Try out this series if you have a long vacation in front of you or perhaps a long drive where you’ve got some time on your hands. George Guidall complements the book gorgeously with his narration and keeps you listening to that one more chapter. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
7. The Shining
Probably King’s most popular story, thanks to the movie by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining, is easily one of the classics of the horror genre. And deservedly so. A family moves to a hotel for the winter without any contact with the outside world. But as time proceeds, the hotel takes a life of its own, affecting the family in different ways. With a cast of memorable characters, the book creates a beautiful and crafty balance between the supernatural and the psychological, creating compelling subplots and thematic arcs.
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Campbell Scott voices this spooky tale and manages to somehow make it spookier. The book invokes a sense of claustrophobia (isolated hotel, nowhere to run away to), and this is one aspect that the audiobook captures perfectly, causing it to feel even more cramped and oppressive. Scott keeps you immersed in the chilling atmosphere of the novel and brings out its different nuances brilliantly. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
8. The Green Mile
Easily one of his most beloved works, you just can’t go wrong with The Green Mile. There’s magical realism, there’s suspense, there’s social commentary, and there’s some flawless characterization that stays with you long after you stop listening to the audiobook. In fact, the book was so big a deal during its release that all six parts (the book was released in six installments) of the novel were NYT bestsellers at the same time.
The story takes place in Cold Mountain Penitentiary, where convicted killers wait for their turn to be electrocuted. But when prison guard Paul Edgecombe comes across John Coffey, it’ll change everything he knew and believed in. Frank Muller is a seasoned narrator of King’s stories, and not without reason. He gives each character a distinct voice and personality that brings the story alive in more ways than one and makes for an enthralling listen. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
9. The Outsider
An eleven-year-old boy is found in a park, raped, and murdered. Flint City is shocked and bewildered by the incident, and the police immediately arrest Terry Maitland, one of the most recognizable individuals in the town. A teacher, coach, and the father of two, DNA evidence shows it was him too, and it’s a quick wrapping-up, despite Maitland having an alibi showing he was somewhere else that day. As the case proceeds, mystifying and horrific revelations would emerge that would shake the entire town and the police force.
The story shares plenty of themes with his earlier works, in particular the Mr. Mercedes trilogy (watch out for a character from the series, too!). But more than the book, the audiobook rendition is a treat to listen to. Will Patton does the story more than justice; he makes it so much more thrilling and suspenseful. This is one of those cases where you must pick up the audiobook over the physical book simply because of how brilliantly it’s been produced. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
A book that’s not horror but probably one of his creepiest tales because of how realistically it’s written (and later adapted into the successful movie), Misery is terrifying in all its glory. When a bestselling author is kidnapped by his “number one fan” and forced to write a new novel, all for her. All because she was upset over him killing Misery, the protagonist of his bestselling romance series. Now he’s at her mercy, and she has her ways of persuasion.
Somewhat inspired by the reaction his book The Eyes of the Dragon got (a fantasy novel, a departure from his usual foray into horror fiction), Misery gave life to Annie Wilkes, one of the most popular characters in horror and psychological thriller fiction. Lindsay Crouse does a stellar job of adapting Annie Wilkes to the audio format, deftly bringing her menace and coldness. The background music in the production adds to the horror aspect of the book, ensuring you stay awake for nights to come. You can get the audiobook here! 🎧
You can try the Audible free trial here and enjoy the audiobook experience. There are plenty of more books to come, and we’ll update this list with more great Stephen King audiobooks. Do let us know which one is your favorite audiobook in the comments. Happy listening!
Part-time freelance writer, full-time chemistry graduate student, Amritesh loves everything books. Gift him a book if you chance upon him, and he’ll love you forever.