Ten Books To Read If You Watch “Doctor Who”

Books! People never really stop loving books. Fifty-first century – by now you’ve got holovids, direct-to-brain downloads, fiction mist. But you need the smell. The smell of books, Donna!

– Tenth Doctor, “Silence in the Library”

Time for another Top Ten Tuesday link-up with The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s prompt is “top ten books to read if you like such-and-such TV show / movie / comic / play.” Basically, books to read if you like a certain thing in other forms of entertainment.

Be glad I chose neither Game of Thrones nor Sherlock because if I had this post would be very short and sarcastic: “They’re adaptations! So read the freaking original books already!” Anyway.

I picked Doctor Who because it is currently my favorite show. There are actually Doctor Who books – original stories, not novelizations of past episodes – and if you’re really really really into the show you should probably try them. However, I haven’t read any, so this post is about books that remind me of the show and not the tie-in stories.

1. The Power of Un by Nancy Etchemendy. In this very short book, a middle-school student finds a device called the Unner, which can erase any mistakes. At the press of a button, he can change any event in time. But should he? Also, there are scenes in which people meet their past/future selves and I loved that.

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This book is bizarre in a way that makes my brain hurt, which basically describes my feelings about Doctor Who‘s sixth series. With things like tesseracts, traveling through multiple dimensions, a giant disembodied brain, and characters with names like Mrs. Whatsit, I think this is perfect for fans of the show.

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The factory is certainly reminiscent of places the Doctor visits, but I’m actually including this book because Willy Wonka reminds me of the Doctor. Probably the Eleventh. He’s clever and mad and honestly, I don’t like him very much. (Are you supposed to like Willy Wonka?) I would also recommend its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which is less like fantasy and more like science fiction (because the characters travel into space).

4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. The rest of the series… is not so much like Doctor Who. But again, Uncle Andrew reminds me of Eleven – discovering new worlds and experimenting with the rings and just generally being arrogant.

5. The Johnny Maxwell trilogy by Terry Pratchett. What a shame that Pratchett doesn’t write for Doctor Who, because this is essentially the show in book format. Although a quick Internet search seems to show that Pratchett doesn’t like the show, so… sigh. Anyway. Aliens come to life in a British boy’s computer game and there is time-traveling (and its resulting paradoxes) galore. If you read only one book from this list, let it be this one. Or rather, these three.

6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. All right, all right, so I’ve only read the graphic novel adaptation. But it was excellent! And Gaiman has written for Doctor Who! Fans of the earlier series of New Who would especially like this, as it deals with parallel universes.

7. Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel. In this graphic novel, a terminally ill boy suddenly finds himself in a parallel world filled with ghosts. And science. And his future descendants. It’s just your basic good versus evil story but all the same, it is a quick, enjoyable read.

8. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. A futuristic, cyborg-filled retelling of fairy tales, this series is a perfectly Doctor Who-ish combination of fantasy and science fiction. Thorne and Iko would be completely at home in the show.

9. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Fairies? Using technology? To defeat a teenaged evil genius? Bring it on. I wish Colfer wrote for Doctor Who as well.

10. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen. For the fans of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax! This recommendation will fall flat if you don’t care for the show’s occasional Victorian episodes but if you do, it is completely engrossing. Set in steampunk London, the story features a school filled with mad scientists, queer characters, and automatons similar to the Cybermen. Alas, alas, there are no warlike potato nurses. Deal with it.

But wait – that’s not all! There were many books I simply couldn’t fit on the list. With the exception of number ten all the main recommendations were children’s or YA books because after all, Doctor Who is a children’s show. BUT some classics remind me of the show so I’ll list them here: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

And finally, I want to mention The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I have not read either but A) I’ve seen the movie version of the former book and it was similar in spirit to Doctor Who and B) Steven Moffat apparently based the relationship between River Song and the Doctor on the latter book. So they might be worth checking out if you like the show. I know I’m definitely going to try both.

I’ve suggested plenty of books to get you started – now it’s your turn, fans! What Doctor Who-like books would you recommend to me?

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19 Responses to Ten Books To Read If You Watch “Doctor Who”

  1. Charley R says:

    Awesome list! “Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy” totally deserves a mention – it’s nonsensical and full of fun and world-saving and genuine hilarity. I’ve never read “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, but romance isn’t my thing … and I don’t really like the Doctor/River relationship either, but meh.

    Fab stuff!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you very much! 🙂

      I promise I’ll read it after I finish what I currently have from the library. Which is… thirty-ish books. xD

      I loved River/Ten, but sadly that didn’t last very long. With River and Eleven, there are only about two episodes in which I think they’re actually good together.

  2. Miss Alexandrina says:

    Great recs!
    Well, Willy Wonka is pretty much an unsympathetic jerk. I never liked him when I was young. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator used to be one of my favourite books, though, when I was little.
    I’ve actually got All Men of Genius on my tbr list, but I’ve been looking for a print copy in England and it’s not so popular over here 😦
    Hitchiker’s is hilarious; The Time-Traveler’s Wife is a bit heavy-handed at times. I didn’t realise Moffat based River and The Doctor’s relationship on that, but I can see the resemblance. Except less literary.
    Oddly, after reading The Magician’s Nephew, I said I’d read CS Lewis books, but I never got into Lion, Witch, Wardrobe or Prince Caspian.
    Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass *drools*

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! I enjoyed writing this list. ^-^

      OK, that’s good to know. I wasn’t sure if I had weird expectations for Wonka or if he really was just a jerk.

      Aw, that’s too bad. 😦 I hope you can find a copy soon!

      Well, Time Traveler’s Wife definitely looks long, at least. O_o Maybe I’ll save it for a time when I have nothing much else to read.

      Have you read any of Lewis’ books for adults? About Christianity?
      …wait weren’t all his books about that OK wait never mind.

      • Miss Alexandrina says:

        Haha, yeah, I’ve read bits of the adult books for Philosophy, actually. Interesting but not exactly wow.

    • nevillegirl says:

      OK. I’ll keep that in mind.

  3. Miriam Joy says:

    Anything by Douglas Adams should be right at the top of this list. One of the Hitchhiker’s books was actually based on a script he wrote for Doctor Who that wasn’t used.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Meh, I didn’t feel OK including it anywhere in the main list because I haven’t actually read it yet. So I just mentioned it at the end.

      I didn’t know that, that’s cool! I do know that he wrote “The Pirate Planet,” one of Four’s serials that my brother has repeatedly tried to convince me to watch. But the plot was hard to follow… maybe my expectations were too high? I mean, the Hitchhiker’s movie jumped around from event to event randomly.

      • Miriam Joy says:

        It was going to be called Doctor Who and the Krikketmen or something like that; it became Life, The Universe and Everything if I’m not getting them all muddled in my head. It’s very British in that the whole thing is kind of an extended joke about cricket. But I never understood cricket myself.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Me neither. I do know that the Fifth Doctor played cricket. (And carried celery??)

  4. themagicviolinist says:

    I’ve read half of this list! 🙂 And YES, Willy Wonka reminds me so much of the eleventh Doctor. But I liked the eleventh Doctor, so . . .

  5. matttblack42 says:

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide is very similar to Doctor Who, and it’s painfully funny. There were a few jokes that had me cracking up days after I read it.

  6. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Spring 2014 – Much Ado About “Game Of Thrones,” College, And Being Queer | Musings From Neville's Navel

  7. I stumbled upon this list and it is quite good. Not only do I second the recommendations of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman, but they even remind me of people who could’ve played Doctor Who (trust me, look for interviews of them on Youtube and you’ll think they are about to give you a jelly baby!). I’d only add Jasper Fforde for British quick-witted hilarity and Connie Willis’s Blackout and All Clear which are fascinating books about futuristic British time-travelers who get stuck in London during the Blitz.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing this list.

      I’ve never heard of Connie Willis, but I’ll have to try her books. And Jasper Fforde’s books are on my to-read list! 🙂

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