The first “grown-up” book I can remember reading was Stephen King’s The Stand. It was the extended edition, but, even so, I managed to read the whole thing over a weekend. I was captivated and drawn into the world of Stephen King. Over the next few years I read pretty much everything he had written in a haphazard manner based on which stories appealed to me at the time, culminating, eventually, in my first reading of The Dark Tower series.
Since then I’ve been keeping up with his new releases and occasionally dipping into the back catalogue. I attempted another reading of The Dark Tower a few years ago, but found it hard going, despite having enjoyed it the first time around. My assumption is that it’s because I’d grown unfamiliar with the world of Stephen King and because the more recent releases have very little connection with the Tower.
So I’ve decided to do an extended reading of the Tower books, as well as those most closely related to it. I’ve tried to find good recomendations for which books to include and the order to read them in, but nothing has really satisfied me. In the end, I decided to come up with my own order (which I will add below) based on the books recomended by the official Stephen King website, and a few others which I will elaborate on in a moment. The order is simply the chronological order they were released in, with two exceptions: the short story The Little Sisters of Eluria, which is set before the first Dark Tower book and is easy enough to extract and read before the rest of the books, and the eighth main Tower book, which is set between the fourth and fifth books in the series.
One benefit of having read through the series once already is that I know certain things are going to be relevant. That is why you will see a few books below which weren’t even written by King. The first is Shardik (by Richard Adams) which is relevant to The Wastelands. The other is the Harry Potter series which is relevant to Wolves of the Calla. I know there are a lot of other non-King books which are important to the series, and I may add some of those later on, but I needed somewhere to start.
It’s probably worth asking WHY I’m doing this. It’s a total of 35 books and will take me a year plus to get through (because I’m going to read other things as well, I couldn’t manage to read nothing but Stephen King for the next twelve months). Partly I’m doing it because I love the books that are in the reading list and I want to read them again anyway, and partly because I want to be able to enjoy the Tower books again. And partly it’s because I like a challenge and this is a good one to get my teeth into.
My plan is to write something about each of the books as I finish reading them, maybe something about how they relate to the Tower, maybe other things that I’ve noticed. I have already finished ‘Salem’s Lot, so I should have a post up about that soon, and I’m about halfway through The Shining. I’m looking forward to getting back into the world of the Tower.
The Reading Order:
1. ‘salem’s Lot
2. The Shining
3. The Stand
4. The Little Sisters of Eluria
5. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
6. Pet Sematary
7. The Talisman
8. The Mist
10. The Eyes of the Dragon
11. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
13. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
14. Needful Things
16. Rose Madder
18. The Regulators
19. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
20. The Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Keyhole
21. Bag of Bones
22. Hearts in Atlantis
24. Black House
25. From a Buick 8
26. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
27. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
28. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
29. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
30. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
31. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
32. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
33. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
34. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
35. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower