Top 10 Books Within Books We Want to Read

Sometimes we read books. And sometimes, within those books, the characters read, write and discuss books. Books that don’t exist in our world. But maybe we would like to read them. These are ten that we want to read. And my gawd, there were lots to choose from.

10. There and Back Again

As seen in Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

there and back again

When the hobbit Bilbo Baggins was a young man he was whisked away on an adventure involving dragons, magic rings and mountains. Returning to the shire a changed (and wealthy) hobbit he committed his story to the page, finishing it during the events of Lord of the Rings when aged eleventy-one. It may be a story we’re already familiar with but having it told from Bilbo’s own point of view would add a fresh perspective, and possibly some humour, into the tale.

9. The Navidson Record (and associated materials)

As seen in House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)

navidson record

Have you got claustrophobia? You will after reading House of Leaves. Although parts of The Navidson Record appear in the former it’s the complete and unedited version written by the blind Zampanó that interests us the most. The bigger-on-the-inside house is the focus of the story, retelling the accounts of the family who discovered the mystery and the fathomless depths inside is worth further exploration.

8. Bombyx Mori

As seen in The Silkworm (Robert Galbraith)


The second of Galbraith’s (J.K. Rowling to you muggles) crime fiction series starring the hardened detective Cormoran Strike features a murdered author, who is found bound and disembowelled in a sickening recreation of his own work. The biggest clue in solving the murder is the authors latest and unpublished work, Bombyx Mori (translates as ‘silkworm’), in which he reveals dark secrets about the well known authors, publishers and editors who he feels wronged him. The twisted, sadistic journey of the author insert character is a grotesque and perverted…but one can’t help but be curious.

7. Where’s My Cow?

As seen in The Discworld Series (Terry Pratchett)


When His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes finishes his day walking the mean streets of Ankh-Morpork, chasing criminals and maintaining the status quo, he has to get home in time to read Sam, Jr. his favourite story. Because it’s important. There can’t be much to it, being a kids book about farm animals, but there’s no discounting a story that the little ones will love. Technically there is a version of Where’s My Cow? available, but it’s actually about Vimes reading it to Sam.

6. The Misery Series

As seen in Misery (Stephen King)


Nothing gets me interested in a book series like a fanatical cult following. Is it really all that good? Will I get caught up in the fad? The more dedicated the fans, the more it intrigues me. And there’s no fan more dedicated than Annie Wilkes. I’d want to read the Misery series just to find out if it’s actually that good.

5. Is Man a Myth?

As seen in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)

is man a myth

When Lucy travels to the magical land of Narnia through the enchanted wardrobe her first encounter with a local is the faun Mr. Tumnus. Initially shocked to find a human child wandering the winter forest, Mr. Tumnus takes Lucy back to his cosy home under a tree. While browsing the bookcase collection of volumes on myths and legends she spies the title Is Man a Myth? I’m downright curious to find out what they’d say about humans, and what kind of crazy conspiracies have been formed around them.

4. The Theory and Practise of Oligarchical Collectivism

As seen in Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)


Everyone knows Nineteen Eighty-Four, if only as a go-to argument against any political or technological system that they disagree with. Or a book they were forced to read in high school. During the course of the story protagonist Winston Smith learns of a book detailing every misdeed by the omnipotent Big Brother.

3. Giant Rat of Sumatra

As seen in the Sherlock Holmes series (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Giant Rat of Sumatra

Anyone familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories will be aware that each is a recount of the adventure written by John Watson. In ‘The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire’ Holmes makes mention of the ‘giant rat of Sumatra’, a story that the world is not yet ready for. This tale features a boat and presumably a giant rat (from Sumatra). The legend of the rat has become a recurring source of fascination for Sherlockians and the basis for much fan fiction, but what about Watson’s own telling of the story? That’s what we want!

2. Necronomicon

Originally appeared in The Hound (H.P. Lovecraft)


Initially appearing in the works by H.P. Lovecraft the Necronomicon has spread and is frequently referenced in horror stories and films, most notably the Evil Dead movie trilogy. Reputed to be compiled by a ‘mad Arab’ who worshipped the great old ones Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu, it documents the laws and rituals involving the black arts, magic and worship of demons. Mostly seen written in Arabic and Greek, with only fragments translated into English. No physical copy appears in Lovecraft’s stories but it is frequently referenced and plays a role in the dark happenings of Lovecraft’s interconnected stories. Who wouldn’t want to delve into this printed madness?

1. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

As seen in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (Douglas Adams)


Like anything else could have topped this list. This compendium of knowledge comes in the form of an electronic book featuring a holographic screen and a little keyboard to pull up entries, all encased in a plastic cover with ‘DON’T PANIC’ written in big helpful letters on the front. The researchers of the greatest selling book in the history of the galaxy roam the universe and send back information wirelessly. There is no volume in existence that contains such important information regarding getting a lift from the Vogons, avoiding the Ravenous bugblatter beasts of Trall and where to buy a really good Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. Personally we want the edition voiced by Stephen Fry.