List of Fictional Books
March 8, 2017 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for names of fictional books. That is, books that do not actually exist but are referenced by a book, tv show, or movie.

For example, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the Celestial Homecare Omnibus from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Enchiridion form Adventure Time, or the Fillory and Further series from The Magicians.

Wikipedia has a very comprehensive list of fictional books, but it is a little too comprehensive for my purposes. I'm trying to get a sense for examples that the average mefite would know or recognize. Thanks for the help!
posted by Garm to Society & Culture (71 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure (The "Good Parts" Version)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:52 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]

The Necronomicon.
posted by o0dano0o at 2:55 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

Edward Casaubon's The Key to All Mythologies. (Middlemarch).
posted by LizardBreath at 2:56 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

This previous AskMe has some good answers, although limited specifically to books.

I will re-up my recommendation for "If on a winter's night a traveler," which is entirely about fictional books.
posted by eponym at 2:59 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

To Serve Man! From the Twilight Zone episode where, spoiler, it's a cookbook.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:00 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

There and Back Again by Bilbo Baggins.

Oh, how could I have forgotten Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie from Calvin and Hobbes?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:02 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]

Hogwarts: A History
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:06 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]

Handbook for the Recently Deceased from the movie Beetlejuice.
posted by hydra77 at 3:07 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]

From The X-Files: From Outer Space by Jose Chung
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:10 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Kurt Vonnegut mentions fictional writer Kilgore Trout in lots of his books. Here's a list of Trout's imaginary writings.
posted by tacodave at 3:11 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

Cassandra & Her Cat Gustavus From the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Also Up on the Rooftops from the Jenny Colgan novel, "The Bookshop on the Corner. "
posted by elphaba at 3:11 PM on March 8

The Philosophy of Time Travel from Donnie Darko.
posted by eisforcool at 3:21 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Detective Ron Harris' Blood on the Badge from Barney Miller.
posted by mygoditsbob at 3:22 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

The Pepperwood Chronicles, written by character Nick Miller on New Girl
posted by cessair at 3:37 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]

The Darkhold from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show
posted by eeek at 3:43 PM on March 8

Encyclopedia Galactica from Hitchhiker's Guide, though I understand it's really from Asimov.

The Faery Queen (Spencer) and Loves Labors Won (Shakespeare) are both historical but were either never written or are lost, but Jasper Fforde refers to both as real in his Thursday Next series. He also has a ton of other fictional books in his books, like Jurisfiction manuals and various biographies of characters. I think I'd recognize most of them (esp if you include the author names, which are things like Millon de Floss).

The Nice and Accurate Propheses of Agnes Nutter, from Good Omens

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, from 1984

The Neverending Story, from the movie of the same name
posted by alligatorpear at 3:55 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

The Book of Om
The Red Book of Westmarch (Tolkein)
posted by runincircles at 3:58 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Would the unabridged version of The Princess Bride count? Also The Horn of Joy from Madeline L'Engle's Swiftly Tilting Planet. I spent a good chunk of my childhood trying to find copies of both of them.

Along with the Necronomicon, the greater Cthulhu mythos also contains such works as The Book of Eibon, De Vermis Mysteriis, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and The King in Yellow (the play, not the book of short stories that actually exists) as well as some others.
posted by darchildre at 4:02 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Deleuze and Guattari’s Italian Wedding Fake Book, from Pynchon's Vineland
First Encyclopedia of Tlön, Borges
posted by thelonius at 4:03 PM on March 8

Charlie the Choo-Choo and Riddle-Dee-Dum (Stephen King's The Dark Tower)
posted by mannequito at 4:04 PM on March 8

Air Chrysalis from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84
posted by Ferreous at 4:10 PM on March 8

My favorite is "A Perfect Vacuum" by (late 20th-century Polish SF writer, one of the great non-English writers, if such a category can be defended) Stanislaw Lem. "Vacuum" is a collection of Lem's reviews of fictional books, as well as one real book: "A Perfect Vacuum" by Stanislaw Lem. The reviews are excellent descriptions of fictional books, one or more of which can't possibly exist.

The other one that comes to mind is Aristotle's "Comedies," a lost book (that is, pure fiction) which is sought by the 14th Century Monk-Detectives of Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose."

Probably covered best in previous threads, but the Dune series by Frank Herbert is set some 18000 years in our future, and refers to and quotes a number of future-historical works such as the Orange Catholic Bible (which is the major theological text of its day, at least until the interplanetary Fremen Jihad that follows the events of the early books).
posted by Sunburnt at 4:17 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]

Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. It's a Chinese encyclopaedia.
posted by Leon at 4:20 PM on March 8

The TV show "Castle" is about an action/mystery novelist Richard Castle who fames his way into a ridealong with a NYPD Homicide Squad, and stays there for 6 years or however long that show ran. Though he has a number of works prior to the beginning of the show's timeline, he publishes several books with a new protagonist, Detective Nikki Heat, based on his new 'partner' and long-time will-they-won't-they foil. But the showrunners did make them into real books essentially novelizations of the show's characters, written by an apparently credentialed novelist but credited to the fictional Richard Castle.

Looks like they also published some works featuring his previous detective protagonist, Derrick Storm. See that wiki link, though, for a comprehensive list of the fictional Derrick Storm novels.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:24 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

On NCIS, the character Timothy McGee wrote a book called Deep Six. Later expanded to the Deep Six series.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:30 PM on March 8

The World's Angriest Boy in the World, from Legion.
posted by Lucinda at 4:32 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]

Alison Bechdel put tons of them into Dykes to Watch Out For.
posted by brujita at 4:51 PM on March 8

Zampanò's book/manuscript/report in House of Leaves?
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:25 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]

TV Tropes link to "Fictional Document". Not all are books, but many are.
posted by cruelfood at 5:29 PM on March 8

The End of Mr. Y, in the novel with the same name by Scarlett Thomas.
posted by centrifugal at 5:42 PM on March 8

The Book of Love as mentioned in the song American Pie isn't a real book, is it? Though maybe it's more precisely a metaphor rather than a fictional book.

I don't think they have a name but in the world of the Dragonlance series of novels Astinus, the Librarian of Palanthas, who is an immortal being and possibly a god, records the history of the world in a set of books as it happens, moment by moment.
posted by XMLicious at 5:53 PM on March 8

The Cosmo Kramer Anthology:

Astonishing Tales of the Sea
The Coffee Table Book of Coffee Tables
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 6:10 PM on March 8

The Cryptonomicon and the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, both courtesy of Neal Stephenson.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:19 PM on March 8

Stephen Colbert's Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure from The Colbert Report.
posted by mhum at 6:25 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]

Matt Wagner's Grendel comics feature a character named Hunter Rose who is a novelist/assassin/crimelord who wrote probably dozens of novels, not sure how many were mentioned. One that was was titled My Little Chickadee.
posted by vrakatar at 6:30 PM on March 8

The Book of Love as mentioned in the song 'American Pie' isn't a real book, is it?

No, that is actually another, older song.
posted by Rash at 6:32 PM on March 8

But is American Pie asking the listener if they wrote that song, or the same fictional Book of Love that song asks about?

(I mean, the disambiguation page also lists a 1934 novel of that name, but I don't think that's what the songs are referring to.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:38 PM on March 8

Also if you're looking for recognizable fictional books, here is a shorter list of notable? epigraphs taken from fictional books.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:59 PM on March 8

Mister Babadook, although I think there was a limited edition printed of a "real" book.
posted by nicwolff at 7:06 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

I think Three Little Kittens in Despicable Me is fictional.

There are many in the Harry Potter series, but the ones I remember best are Hogwarts: a History, History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot, and The Monster Book of Monsters.

In Jacqueline Carey's D'Angeline books, the Trois Milles Joies, a sacred erotic text, is often referred to.
posted by epj at 7:17 PM on March 8

Ah, here's one. In 1972 Norman Spinrad wrote a book called The Iron Dream which purported to be in actuality a novel called Lord of the Swastika by an Adolf Hitler from an alternate timeline, where he became instead a successful SF writer and illustrator. One of the first pages lists
'Other Science-Fiction Novels by Adolf Hitler':
  • Emperor of the Asteroids
  • The Builders Of Mars
  • Fight For The Stars
  • The Twilight Of Terra
  • Savior From Space
  • The Master Race
  • The Thousand Year Rule
  • The Triumph Of The Will
  • Tomorrow The World

posted by Rash at 7:26 PM on March 8

"The Grasshopper Lies Heavy"
from Phillip Dick's "The Man in the High Castle"
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:40 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]

How to Cook Humans
that is to say
How to Cook For Humans
but what it's actually called is
How to Cook Forty Humans
and here is the real title
How to Cook For Forty Humans

You know, that one.
posted by the_blizz at 8:03 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

The Navidson Record is the fake book within the real book House of Leaves, mentioned above. (Also, holy crap, the wiki article says there's dozens of made-up books in House of Leaves.)

Another one from The Simpsons: The Joy of Cooking Milhouse.
posted by pableaux at 8:31 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

The introduction to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is almost entirely a list of fictional books!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:09 PM on March 8

Tobin's Spirit Guide!
posted by limeonaire at 9:14 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]

An Imperial Affliction, and its fictional author, feature prominently in The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
posted by Threeve at 9:59 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]

The Book of Sand, also by Borges.
posted by ipsative at 11:13 PM on March 8

The Book of Grammarye from The Dark is Rising.
posted by colfax at 1:31 AM on March 9

I know of two (real) children's series about people who can jump into books: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Story Thieves by James Riley. In both of them, the authors come up with a bunch of fictional books for their characters to jump into.

I'm blanking on the books in Inkheart because it's been a while since I read it, but a focus of Story Thieves is the fictional Kiel Gnomenfoot series, which climaxes in Kiel Gnomenfoot & The End Of Everything. Later on in the (real) Story Thieves series, the characters also jump into the fictional comic books "Dr. Twilight" and "Earth Girl."
posted by yankeefog at 1:46 AM on March 9

From Star Trek: TOS we have Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. John M. Ford's influential Star Trek novel The Final Reflection is mostly the text of a fictional book of that name. Star Wars gave us The Journal of the Whills.
posted by bryon at 2:13 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

My favorite joke of all time on 30 rock is "fresh ass, based on the novel tush by assphire"
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:43 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

I realize it's A parody of a real book.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:44 AM on March 9

I'm not sure whether all the books you can encounter as items in Skyrim count, since the books all have contents that you can read in-game; I think the (real) contents you can read are abridgements of the (fictional) books that you can't actually read...
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 5:10 AM on March 9

The Ariadne Oliver novels from Agatha Christie books!

The Dying Goldfish
The Affair of the Second Goldfish
Death of a Debutante
The Cat it Was Who Died
The Death in the Drain Pipe
The Woman in the Wood

posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:14 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Rex Stout wrote "Murder by the Book" in which the plot involves a book titled "Put Not Your Trust".

P.D. James' detective Adam Dalgliesh is a published poet. I'm not sure if its a book title or a poem title, but I remember "No Case To Answer."

Lord Peter Wimsey is supposed to have written a couple of books, notably Notes on the Collecting of Incunabula and The Murderer's Vade-Mecum.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:47 AM on March 9

Oh! The Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, by one Sherlock Holmes.
posted by praemunire at 7:56 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Ooh, Rory is wrote a book called Gilmore Girls on the latest Gilmore Girls installment on Netflix.
posted by hydra77 at 9:05 AM on March 9

In the Discworld novels we have frequent references to The Necrotelecomnicon.
posted by suelac at 9:13 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

The book that the narrator of In Search of Lost Time sets out to write at the end of Time Regained.
posted by Beardman at 11:57 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Oh! This is a classic one. In 1984 by Orwell, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Goldstein.
posted by Beardman at 12:01 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Oh, almost forgot: in The Silkworm by "Robert Galbraith" (AKA JK Rowling), a fictional book named Bombyx Mori is crucial to the plot.
posted by yankeefog at 12:06 PM on March 9

In the original run of Gilmore Girls, Jess wrote a book called The Subsect.
posted by slenderloris at 12:28 PM on March 9

The TV show Supernatural has a plot arc where the show has been written as novels - and the protagonists find them on a shelf and try to figure out who wrote them.
posted by porpoise at 2:50 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Moonrise Kingdom has a bunch of books that I was simultaneously not surprised and very disappointed to find out were fictional.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:05 AM on March 10

Travelers, from Cougar Town (S05E08): "Twins, separated at birth, learn they have the power to travel through time and use it to solve the mystery of their past!"

Jessica Fletcher's impressive oeuvre in Murder, She Wrote. The show also features many more fictional works by fellow authors that Jessica knows, though I can't find a list of them handy.
posted by thetarium at 4:33 PM on March 10

The Neverending Story is a fictional book within the real book/movie of that title.
posted by metasarah at 5:57 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

The Neverending Story! How could I have not thought of that!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade revolves around Henry Jones, Sr. / Sean Connery's "grail diary" of notes concerning the location of the Holy Grail.

Incidentally an FPP open at the moment concerns current and historical English accents in the United Kingdom and if you want you can hear at least one man with Sean Connery's exact accent, near the end of the video, listening to a recently-recovered recording of his father singing Scottish songs in a WWI German prison. One ping, Vasily. One ping only.
posted by XMLicious at 10:55 AM on March 13

The Junior Woodchucks Guidebook and Reservoir of Inexhaustible Knowledge, which seems to contain the sum of human knowledge and all of human history. Basis for Guardians of the Lost Library, which is possibly the greatest comic book story of all time. (That's according to the Comic Buyer's Guide, but I 100% agree.)
posted by curiousgene at 11:32 AM on March 15

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith has the fictitious book Jacob Wrestling.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:16 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]

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