1. The Dark Tower (Series Of Seven Novels)

Original publication date: 1982 - 2004

Stephen King himself calls The Dark Tower his “magnum opus,” and Uncle Stevie isn’t kidding. A compendium of many unique influences, the seven-novel epic takes cues from the works of both J.R.R. Tolkien and Sergio Leone, inspirations that combine to deliver one of literature’s most ambitious and grandiose odysseys ever conceived—screw your boy Homer.

Throughout the series, King’s silently imposing hero, “gunslinger” Roland Deschain (whom he modeled after Clint Eastwood’s iconic “Man with No Name”), encounters a colorful array of characters, both good and fiendishly evil, all on his way to an enigmatic tower that’s home to…yeah, like we’d spoil the entirety of seven books here.

Put it this way: The Dark Tower’s payoff is so insane that King actually warns the reader to stop reading at near the end of the seventh book to ensure a “happy” conclusion. Because the real end-game is one hell of a mind-fuck. And also the capper for King’s greatest fictional creation to date, one that will progress with an eighth installment, scheduled for release in early 2012. If you start reading the series now, you should be able to get to it by next summer.