Well, if Steve would just have listed his favorites from #1 to #100 and nothing more I guess that it would have been a kind of dull book. But now The Essential Stephen King is so much more!
In The Essential Stephen King Steve lists all his 101 favorite King work but that is not enough. He also gives a description to every work. In that he tells a bit about what it's about, a bit about it's history and other things that he thinks we, the readers, will be interested in. This part, that he calls Why it made the top 100, can also be used as a refresher if you have trouble with remembering a specific work.
On top of that the book also includes a section (for every work) that is called Did you know? Here Steve tells us some not that well-known info about the work. This is a little treasure for everyone that wants to know every detail about a story.
Other sections that is included for every work is Main characters (here Steve lists all major characters of the story), What I really liked about it (here we get a little more exact explanation on why Steve likes it), Adaptations (here are all the film, TV and stage adaptations listed).
Even if I think that this is a great book and that it's really interesting to read I must say that I think it's a rather bold book to write. I mean, don't every King fan have his/hers own favorites? Hasn't it been debated throughout the King community (for as long as it's existed) which of King's book that is the best one?
That IT got the #1 spot and The Stand the #2 spot wasn't a surprise or something that will be debated, I think… I would personally though have listed The Long Walk (#28), Secret Window, Secret Garden (#38) and Authopsy Room 4 (#50) higher. But then this is some of the thrill of this book as well. It will, no doubt, lead to many and interesting discussions among King fans about the ranking. This I think is a good thing!
Then when Steve is done with his part of the book he lets other King experts speak. Bev Vincent has written the excellent review/essay Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. Mick Garris, James Cole and Jay Holben have all been asked to complete the sentence Stephen King is… This is very interesting reading. Steve has also done something that hasn't been done before. He has managed to get an interview with King super collector Charles Fried. Here we get to know how he started his collection and a lot of other stuff about his impressive collection.
And to end it all. Steve has asked his friend George Beahm to write an essay, which he has. It's called Stephen King: Survivor Type and is, like the rest of the book great!
Lilja's final words about The Essential Stephen King:
The only problem is that when you read it you want to read all the works that Steve writes about, and to do that you need 48 hours/day and that is not possible…
You can read The Essential Stephen King from cover to cover (like I did) or use it to look up specific stories (like I'm sure I will form time to time) to refresh your memory about a story.