12. Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King (2006)

The iconic Stephen King pumps out so many novels and short stories that it’s nearly impossible to read everything he’s ever written. So, if you ask us, the best way to sample the fiction legend’s greatest works is to rely upon critics’ and like-minded fans’ recommendations—such as this urging to pick up King’s Lisey’s Story, which showcases the author’s gift for balancing tenderness and grotesqueries.

Shamelessly a love saga, Lisey’s Story takes its title character’s grief over her husband’s death and uses the internal pain to fuel an investigation into murder and her late spouse’s never-exposed childhood demons. And, in typical King fashion, it’s a harrowing journey.