Doctor Who reads: books for every incarnation of the Doctor

Timeless recommendations for Time Lords.

To celebrate the return of David Tennant in the 2023 specials and in anticipation of Ncuti Gatwa's arrival as the Fifteenth Doctor, we recommend some books for the TARDIS's shelves.

Looking for further inspiration? Here's our pick of the best science fiction books of all time.

The First Doctor: William Hartnell

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

Initially somewhat cutting to those he deemed below him, but softening through time spent with TARDIS companions, the First Doctor's trajectory is not a million light years away from that of Scrooge. Miserly, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge loathes Christmas, but through a series of ghostly visits (and indeed, a bit of time travel) he begins to see the error of his ways.

The Second Doctor: Patrick Troughton


by Hernan Diaz

The Second Doctor is a master of disguise, hiding his darker, devious side beneath a friendly, bumbling exterior. Equally layered is Hernan Diaz's Pulitzer winning Trust. An examination of truth, fiction, money and the manipulation of all three set in 1920s New York City, Trust’s four narratives, although presented consecutively, are in constant conversation, increasing our understanding of characters as they knock it askew. 

The Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee

A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth

by Henry Gee

Being exiled by the Time Lords and forced to spend most of his incarnation on Earth, with rather inferior technology, was a source of some frustration for the Third Doctor. Perhaps he'd have had a better time if he'd got to know us better. For billions of years, Earth was an inhospitably alien place – covered with churning seas, slowly crafting its landscape through volcanic eruptions, the atmosphere in a constant state of chemical flux. And yet, despite facing literally every conceivable setback that living organisms could encounter, life has been extinguished and picked itself up to evolve again. Henry Gee tells us how.

The Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker

Went to London, Took the Dog

by Nina Stibbe

For the Doctor, it was more a case of 'went to the Bi-Al Foundation, defeated the Swarm, took the robot dog', but these are mere details. In place of K9, in Nina Stibbe's new diaries we have Peggy, joining her owner for a 'year-long sabbatical' in London. Between scrutinising her son’s online dating developments, navigating the politics of the local pool, and taking detergent advice at the laundrette, this diary of a sixty-year-old runaway reunites us with the inimitable voice of Love, Nina, as the writer becomes, as she puts it, 'a proper adult' at last.

The Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison

Life, the Universe and Everything

by Douglas Adams

It would be easy to argue in favour of a Douglas Adams book for any of the Doctors, but, dressed like he is never more than five minutes away from his next game of cricket, the Fifth Doctor has big Life, the Universe and Everything energy. The third title in the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series finds Arthur Dent, his friend Ford, and their flying sofa slap bang in the middle of the cricket ground at Lord's, just two days before the world is due to be destroyed by the Vogons. You thought there was only one time-travelling science fiction and cricket combining romp in the universe?! Think again. 

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The Sixth Doctor: Colin Baker

The Cat Who Solved Three Murders

by L T Shearer

We see your cat badge, Colin. Here's some cat-based cosy crime. Retired police detective Lulu Lewis’s life changed forever when she met a street cat named Conrad, who, it turns out, is also a detective. When Lulu takes her narrowboat to Oxford, she is planning nothing more stressful than attending a friend’s birthday party. And drinking a few glasses of Chardonnay. But a brutal murder and a daring art theft means her plans are shattered – instead, she and Conrad find themselves on the trail of a killer.

The Seventh Doctor: Sylvester McCoy

Circus of Wonders

by Elizabeth Macneal

Beguiling humour and entertainment hiding a dark underbelly – we could be describing both the Seventh Doctor and the Victorian circus at the heart of Elizabeth Macneal's bestseller. England. 1866. Nell finds herself the star of Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders. Suddenly famous, even Queen Victoria wants to see her perform. But is Nell free to live and love as she chooses? And when her fame begins to eclipse Jasper’s own, could she be in danger? 

The Eighth Doctor: Paul McGann

Sea of Tranquility

by Emily St. John Mandel

There are even more time paradoxes and multiverses going on than usual for the Eighth Doctor, making Emily St. John Mandel – master of the time-slip narrative and explorer of parallel existences – his perfect match. Sea of Tranquility is the most overtly science-fiction of her novels, as an exiled Englishman in the early twentieth century, a writer trapped far from home in the future and a girl destined to die too young in the present day, each glimpse a world that is not their own, and a time-traveler is sent back from the 2400s to investigate.

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The War Doctor: John Hurt

War Doctor

by David Nott

I mean, it had to be. For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones, from Afghanistan to Gaza. His commitment and dedication has changed lives as well as the medical community, and now he is using his experience to train more doctors to follow in his footsteps. This is his story. 

The Ninth Doctor: Christopher Eccleston

I Wanna Be Yours

by John Cooper Clarke

Lots of planets have a north. Here we offer the Doctor of Salford, the bard of Salford. John Cooper Clarke's memoir, named after his most famous poem, covers an extraordinary life. Interspersed with stories of his rock and roll and performing career, John also reveals his boggling encyclopaedic take on popular culture over the centuries: from Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe to Pop Art, pop music, the movies, fashion, football and showbusiness.

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The Tenth (/Fourteenth) Doctor: David Tennant

The Christie Affair

by Nina de Gramont

Series four's The Unicorn and the Wasp sees the Tenth Doctor and Donna travel back to the day in 1926 when famous crime writer Agatha Christie vanished from her home in Berkshire, reappearing eleven days later in a hotel in Harrogate. (Why, and what happened in between, remains unexplained to this day.) The Christie Affair also reimagines her disappearance, but with fewer giant shapeshifting wasps. Told from the point of view of Nan, Christie’s husband's mistress, it is, like much of the writing of Christie herself, a tale of hidden tragedies, unlikely allies, and a dark secret.

The Eleventh Doctor: Matt Smith

American Psycho

by Bret Easton Ellis

What could be more different than playing the Doctor? Playing the psychopathic protagonist in the musical adaptation of one of the most controversial novels of all time, of course! In 2013 Matt Smith stepped out of the TARDIS and straight on to the stage to play Patrick Bateman from Bret Easton Ellis's modern classic. On the surface, Patrick is living the dream, but behind his pristine stockbroker façade lurks darkness. It's hard to know which element of Patrick's increasingly sadistic murderous rampage around New York is the most horrifying. The explicit violence. The unsettling feeling of not being entirely sure what's real and what's imagined. The void at the heart of our nightmarish protagonist. Or the implication that the same void sits at the heart of us, too. A true curveball from the Eleventh Doctor. 

The Twelfth Doctor: Peter Capaldi

The War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells

Described by Capaldi himself as "more alien than he's been in a while", we've matched the Twelfth Doctor with one of the earliest examples of humans versus extra-terrestrials in science fiction. Written in semi-documentary style, it follows the arrival of a gigantic artificial cylinder from Mars, which lands near London. Inquisitive locals gather round, only to be struck down by a murderous heat ray. Can humanity survive this Martian onslaught?

The Thirteenth Doctor: Jodie Whittaker

She Who Became the Sun

by Shelley Parker-Chan

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing. When a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. A girl taking a role previously dominated by men and finding greatness? Here's our match for the Thirteenth Doctor.

For those who cannot regenerate. . .

How Not to Age

by Michael Greger MD

Brimming with expertise, How Not to Age lays out practical strategies for living your longest, healthiest life – and for enjoying every moment of it. We all want to stay healthy as we age but, with so many different claims out there, it can be hard to know the best advice to follow. In How Not to Age, Dr Michael Greger digs into the top peer-reviewed anti-aging research to deliver a complete and optimal guide with simple steps to extend your lifespan and slow the adverse effects of aging.