Stephen King’s 20 Best Audiobooks The Definitive List

Stephen King’s 20 Best Audiobooks: The Definitive List


December 19, 2019
Stephen King is one of the most prolific American authors of all time. He has published 61 novels, more than 200 short stories, and six nonfiction books—and he shows no sign of stopping. His most recent novel, The Institute, was published in September of 2019, and we’ve already pre-ordered his novella anthology If It Bleeds, which is set to be released in March 2020. With such a large portfolio, choosing one audiobook to start with can be daunting. We’ve put together 20 of the best Stephen King audiobooks to make the choice a bit easier.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
    • Series: The Shining, Book 1
    • Length: 15 hrs and 50 mins
    • Release date: 08-07-12
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 25,281 ratings
    • The Shining was originally published in 1977 and centers around Jack, the new off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Jack’s son, Danny, possesses supernatural powers that allow him to access the horrific past of the hotel, and the same terror captures Jack, preying on his faults and crafting him into an unhinged, homicidal villain. While you may have seen Stanley Kubrick’s much-adored film adaptation, King’s original is significantly different than the version adapted for the screen, with new nightmares and a deeper, more tender family drama at its center. The New York Times best seller is narrated by audiobook veteran Campbell Scott, whose credits include Ernest Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain. His talent is especially evident in his switches between characters’ inner and outer voices, which gives even more depth to Jack’s experience as he begins his slow descent into insanity.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
    • Length: 47 hrs and 47 mins
    • Release date: 02-14-12
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 43,417 ratings
    • The Stand by Stephen King is the post-apocalyptic tale of a world deprived of most of its inhabitants after the accidental release of a lethal virus. The survivors panic in the aftermath, widespread violence ensues, and people begin to search for belonging and pick sides. Survivors seeking civility flee to Mother Abagail, a kindly old woman who seems to speak on behalf of God. But in the deserts of Nevada, a man with dark, seemingly demonic supernatural powers named Randall Flagg leads an ironfisted initiative to further weaponize the population. The original version was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979; since then, King has added new material and reintroduced pieces that were cut from the original manuscript. With more than 500 pages of new material, this audiobook clocks in at 48 hours. Narrator Grover Gardner performs them effortlessly, keeping you engaged and on the edge of your seat as the two camps of survivors discover each other...and then prepare to go to war.
    • The Gunslinger
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: George Guidall
    • Series: The Dark Tower, Book 1
    • Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
    • Release date: 01-01-16
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 28,495 ratings
    • The Dark Tower is a series of eight novels penned by Stephen King. It blends together many genres, including horror, fantasy, and western, to tell the story of Roland of Gilead, aka The Last Gunslinger. Roland is on a physical and metaphorical journey towards the dark tower, the exact significance of which is unclear, a chilling grail quest that only heightens the overall sense of looming mystery pervading the story. The narrator of the first audiobook in the series, Hall of Fame Narrator George Guidall, is one of the most prolific of all audiobook performers. Throughout his 20-year career, he has performed more than 1,300 audiobooks, and he has received three Audie Awards for his exceptional work.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Ron McLarty, Stephen King
    • Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
    • Release date: 08-07-12
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 14,949 ratings
    • Stephen King has claimed that Salem’s Lot is his favorite work, and it’s not hard to see why. At its most basic, it’s a story of a band of vampire hunters, but it’s also a commentary on the state of America’s small towns. Protagonist Ben Mears is an author who visits his hometown in Maine to face memories of his childhood. Shortly after he arrives, a strange flu-like malady sweeps over the town, and many inhabitants start to disappear. Mears and a team of other worried community members set out to find the cause of the turmoil. Ron McLarty’s narration makes the story especially gripping and eerie. The warm, friendly quality of his voice makes the small town even more relatable to listeners who live in or have visited such places, allowing the underlying terror of the story to hit very close to home.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Will Patton
    • Length: 18 hrs and 41 mins
    • Release date: 05-22-18
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 49,069 ratings
    • Published in 2018, The Outsider is one of Stephen King’s most recent novels. It was adapted into a 10-part HBO miniseries starring Jared Leto almost immediately after its publication—a testament to its strong story and instant popularity. It’s a whodunit thriller about the assault and murder of an 11-year-old boy in Flint City, Oklahoma. The evidence points to one of Flint City’s model citizens, Terry Maitland, but King’s suspenseful crafting of the story allows the listener to second-guess the town’s suppositions throughout the audiobook. The suspense is highlighted by Obie Award-winning actor Will Patton’s narration of the story. His unique treatment of each individual character makes the entire town of Flint City come to life. AudioFile gave Patton an Earphones Award for his performance, raving that he turns this story into an audio blockbuster.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Michael C. Hall
    • Length: 15 hrs and 41 mins
    • Release date: 03-27-18
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 17,763 ratings
    • Pet Sematary is a gut-wrenching horror classic that pits unbelievable family tragedy against a terrifying, tempting chance at resurrecting the dead. (It also happens to be the work that King claims scared him the most.) It follows Louis Creed, a professor at the University of Maine, who discovers the supernatural powers of a pet burial ground behind his backyard. After a devastating loss, the eerie cemetery lures Creed in, setting into motion a truly disturbing course of events. As if the story weren’t already horrifying enough, the audiobook is narrated by Michael C. Hall, known for his title role in the serial killer drama Dexter. Hall channels the unsettling quality he’s become known for into this recording, adding a creepy layer to the already spooky story.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: John Slattery
    • Length: 21 hrs
    • Release date: 01-22-08
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 13,422 ratings
    • Duma Key follows a sketch artist who moves to a beach town in Florida to escape the trauma of a psyche-altering accident and the pain of his subsequent divorce, only to have things take a turn for the worse when his drawings start to become real. The story is horrifying for the supernatural effects of the sketches, but it’s also a scary look into the life we give to memories and the power we give to the past. The audiobook is narrated by actor John Slattery, best known for his role as Roger Sterling in Madmen and, more recently, as Ben Bradlee Jr. in Spotlight. He switches from character to character with ease, giving each a distinct voice and tone in an exceptional performance that ultimately helped the audiobook win the 2009 Audie Award for Fiction.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Raul Esparza
    • Length: 34 hrs and 24 mins
    • Release date: 10-20-09
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 21,291 ratings
    • Under the Dome, Stephen King’s 48th novel, follows the story of those unlucky enough to be in Chester Mills, a small town in Maine, when a large dome suddenly separates the town from the rest of the world, making all outside contact and communication impossible. The arrival of the impassable dome causes chaos, slicing limbs off those caught at the border as it descends and causing medical equipment to malfunction. But it’s the social shockwave that ripple on both sides of the dome’s walls that cause the truly explosive problems yet to come. The tension is only heightened by the skills of narrator Raul Esparza, a celebrated stage and film actor nominated for multiple Tony Awards.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Jeffrey DeMunn
    • Length: 22 hrs and 47 mins
    • Release date: 02-20-01
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 6,345 ratings
    • Dreamcatcher may be most well-known for the healing, restorative effect it had on the author after he suffered a heart attack. (King claims the novel was both written in cursive and under the heavy influence of oxycontin.) The story follows four lifelong friends who develop supernatural powers after saving the life of a boy with Down syndrome. When the town is attacked by an extraterrestrial parasite threatening to terminate human existence, they must use these newfound abilities to save the world. Jeffrey DeMunn, an actor known for his roles as Dale Horvath in The Walking Dead and as Harry Terwilliger in The Green Mile, does an exemplary job of keeping his narration on pace with the swift-moving plot, crafting impeccable accents and a diverse cast of unique, vivid characters.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Michael Kelly
    • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
    • Release date: 06-04-13
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 7,447 ratings
    • Joyland is the story of Devin Jones, a college student who decides to work as a carny during his summer vacation. Devin becomes obsessed with the history of a murder that took place at the carnival years earlier, and throughout the summer, he attempts to find the murder victim’s ghost. King uses his master storytelling to paint enticing images throughout Joyland with the nostalgia and slight eeriness that only a carnival setting can foster. Dawn of the Dead’s Michael Kelly gives an entrancing voice to these expertly-crafted images as he narrates each twist and turn of a summer vacation gone horribly wrong.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Steven Weber
    • Length: 44 hrs and 55 mins
    • Release date: 01-01-16
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 46,847 ratings
    • It has been a household name since it was turned into a TV miniseries in 1990 and appeared as a smash-hit on the silver screen in 2017, but the titular monster has been haunting us since the story debuted in 1986. The story follows seven adults who return to Derry, Maine, to hunt down It, the ancient shape-shifting creature that haunted them as children. It takes many forms, from the sinister Pennywise the Dancing Clown to the real-life, human nightmares that lurk within each child’s life. The audiobook is made even more compelling by stage and film actor Steven Weber, whose portrayals of Stephen King characters on various television miniseries (including adaptations of The Shining and Desperation) no doubt prepared him for the terrorscape he so aptly brings to life. His performance is at turns harrowing and wholehearted, crafting an experience that’s truly unforgettable.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Mare Winningham
    • Length: 18 hrs and 52 mins
    • Release date: 09-25-06
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 4,484 ratings
    • Soon to be a television miniseries produced by J. J. Abrams and Julianne Moore, Lisey’s Story is one of Stephen King’s most intimate stories. In the wake of her author husband’s recent death, Lisey Landon suddenly learns about the more unsettling elements of his past, including how dangerous and psychologically challenging his fame could be. Academy Award nominated actress Mare Winningham narrates the love story with affection and warmth. (However, for the more horrific parts of the story, it’s clear that she channeled her four-year stint on American Horror Story.) The well-crafted combination of authentic tenderness and sheer terror is what makes Lisey’s Story so special, and Winningham highlights this aspect wonderfully.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Will Patton
    • Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy, Book 1
    • Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
    • Release date: 06-03-14
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 32,081 ratings
    • Mr. Mercedes is a thrilling crime mystery that confronts questions of mental illness, domestic terrorism, and community. It follows retired cop Bill Hodges who, years earlier, responded to the gruesome murder of eight people who were intentionally struck by a Mercedes while waiting in line at an unemployment job fair. When the escaped murderer resurfaces to threaten thousands more, it’s up to Hodges to find him before it is too late. Will Patton (who’s already been highlighted for his work on The Outsider) has been nominated for multiple Audie Awards. His professional pacing and pronunciation complement the brutal realism of the story. Unlike most of King’s stories, Mr. Mercedes features a complete absence of the supernatural, which, in an era of frequent domestic terror attacks, reminds listeners just how suddenly these horrific human tragedies can occur.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King, Owen King
    • Narrated by: Marin Ireland
    • Length: 25 hrs and 22 mins
    • Release date: 09-26-17
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 10,989 ratings
    • Sleeping Beauties is a father-son collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen. Together, they tell the story of a future where women fall asleep for long periods of time and cannot be awakened without horrible effects. One woman is immune from the sleeping condition, and her town must decide if she is the answer to understanding the affliction and women’s true nature...or a dangerous demon. Narrator Marin Ireland, an acclaimed theater actor, adds a softness to the narration while still enlivening the more thrilling elements of the story. As an added bonus, the audiobook also features a recorded conversation between the two Kings.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Stephen King, Matthew Broderick, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, Will Patton, Norbert Leo Butz, Lois Smith, Dylan Baker
    • Length: 22 hrs and 29 mins
    • Release date: 07-05-16
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,087 ratings
    • Skeleton Crew is a collection of 19 short stories, one novella, and two poems written over a 17-year period. Upon its release, it was praised for showing the gradual maturation of Stephen King as a writer, with the earliest story having been composed when King was just 18 years old. One of the most popular stories in the collection is The Mist, a novella which was later made into a major motion picture. This listen showcases a truly star-studded cast, including Matthew Broderick, Paul Giamatti, and Stephen King himself. Every story is read by a different narrator, adding a unique quality to each and making it very easy to transition from one story to the next. The short story collection is great for commutes because each short story can be listened to in one sitting, so on the way home, you’ll always have another great King story waiting for you.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: James Franco
    • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
    • Release date: 04-25-17
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 7,071 ratings
    • The Dead Zone is the story of coma patient Johnny Smith, who wakes up with a new ability to see the pasts and futures of people he touches. This power becomes outright problematic when Smith shakes the hand of politician Greg Stillson and sees his corrupt future. As we can expect from a Stephen King novel, the story is thrilling and suspenseful, but The Dead Zone also explores topics of morality, social vigilance, and ethos. Academy Award nominee James Franco (who portrayed protagonist Jake Epping in the Hulu adaptation of King’s 11/22/63) skillfully portrays Johnny’s inner struggles as well as the other characters throughout the audiobook, setting the perfect tone and pacing for the story.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Santino Fontana
    • Length: 18 hrs and 59 mins
    • Release date: 09-10-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 25,673 ratings
    • The Institute follows a group of supernaturally gifted kids who are rounded up after their parents are killed to be used as lab rats. The main character is 12-year-old Luke Ellis, whose stay at the institute becomes less and less bearable. He attempts to find a way out, even though no one else ever has. Tony Award winner Santino Fontana, who lends his talents to this listen, gives authentic voices to the diverse group of characters and highlights the contrasts between the heroic band of young protagonists and the devilish, corrupted adults. If you’re a Stephen King fan, this audiobook is a must-listen. If you’re a newcomer, it’s a good introduction to King’s ability to mix the supernatural and the everyday powers that we all possess but may not often employ.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Sissy Spacek
    • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
    • Release date: 08-07-12
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,703 ratings
    • Carrie was Stephen King’s first published novel, and it has certainly become one of his most iconic works. The title character, high school student Carrie White, is a victim of bullying at school and religious indoctrination at home. After enduring a disgusting prank at the school’s prom (hint: it involves pig’s blood) and the unintentional murder of her date, Carrie unleashes her telekinetic powers and destroys the school, killing everyone inside. Audiobook listeners have the treat of hearing the star of the 1976 film adaptation, Sissy Spacek, narrate the story. After living in Carrie’s world for the duration of filming, Spacek certainly has a better understanding of the character than anyone. You won’t want to miss this horrific and emotional reading of an iconic story by the actress who made it a household name.
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Lindsay Crouse
    • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
    • Release date: 01-01-16
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 4,693 ratings
    • After a car crash, the prolific author Paul Sheldon finds himself under the care of nurse Annie Wilkes, who happens to be his biggest fan. Unfortunately, that care turns quickly to cruelty as it becomes apparent Wilkes holds a grudge against Sheldon for killing off her favorite character. In an effort to get him to resurrect the deceased character, Wilkes begins torturing him. At times, this novel becomes very meta, especially when Sheldon reads out parts of his new novel, Misery’s Return. Narrator Lindsay Crouse does a fantastic job of making the jump from King’s words to Sheldon’s words easily comprehensible. She also fills the exchanges between Sheldon and Wilkes with tension, anxiety, and discomfort, highlighting each strained, painful moment.
    • A Novel
    • By: Stephen King
    • Narrated by: Craig Wasson
    • Length: 30 hrs and 40 mins
    • Release date: 11-08-11
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 54,988 ratings
    • November 22, 1963, is a date that has gone down in history as the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. In 11/22/1963, King tells the story of a man who may be able to prevent the assassination by traveling back in time through a portal. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of life in the 1960s, King paints an extremely realistic image of the era without sacrificing the dreamy, intangible feel of an alternate timeline. Narrator Craig Wasson steps into the protagonist’s shoes as he weaves through the first-person narration. His delivery matches the pace of the writing, and Wasson’s accents travel around the country along with the characters in the novel.


Inclusion in Audible’s “best audiobooks” series is based on a number of factors, including presence on Audible best seller lists,
listener ratings and reviews, Goodreads ratings, and input from the Audible Editors. All audiobooks featured here have a minimum
of 500 reviews averaging at least 4.5 stars, with some exceptions made for outstanding stories and performances.





Sign Up for Our Monthly Fiction Newsletter

Love Fiction Listens?

Discover characters and voices that transport you not to a fantasy world, but to the heart of what it is to be human in this world.