James Bond has become one of the most recognisable and enduring characters both on screen and on the page. Created by Ian Fleming, the British spy is deployed around the world on daring missions to protect Her Majesty’s government.
Thanks to a string of incarnations in various films from 1962 to today, the 007 agent’s reputation has become known worldwide and has made household names out of the actors cast as the spy, from Roger Moore to Daniel Craig.
Bond’s trademarks include his preferences for martinis (shaken, not stirred), fast cars, womanising behaviour and famous line, “The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
The man behind the infamous spy, Ian Fleming, wrote 14 Bond novels before his death in 1964, beginning with Casino Royale in 1953.
Fleming began his working life as a journalist before a career in Naval Intelligence during WWII, with a stint as a stockbroker in between. With his background, it’s no surprise that he was able to concoct so many inventive plots for the British super-spy.
Such was the popularity of Fleming’s character, that many more books starring James Bond were written by other authors in the years following the original author’s death. There have also been a number of short stories, graphic novels and spin-offs series.
Most consider Fleming’s original novels to be the best of the bunch, making fans even at the very top – then US President Kennedy once declared From Russia with Love one of his favourite novels.
If you’re looking to explore more of Fleming’s novels or perhaps discovering it for the first time, here’s our pick of some of his best James Bond novels, as well as where you can get your hands on the full 007 collection.
10 of the best James Bond novels by Ian Fleming
In the third of Fleming’s novels, a popular rocket programme called Moonraker comes under Bond’s investigation when the project’s millionaire, ex-Nazi leader is found cheating at cards. Expect appearances from an accomplished female agent, tense scenes of high-stakes gambling and undercurrents of the Cold War.
2. Diamonds are Forever
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the plot for this novel centres around diamond smuggling. The jewels are taken from the mines of Sierra Leone to the jewellers of the western world but things become complicated when Bond becomes involved with one of the gang members, Tiffany Case.
3. Dr No
The first of Fleming’s novels to be adapted for the big screen, Dr No stars an archetypal villain with mechanical hands. No baddie would be complete without an evil lair and Bond must confront Dr No at the villain’s own on Crab Key island, as he investigates the disappearance of two MI6 agents.
4. Casino Royale
The first of Fleming’s Bond novels, Casino Royale introduces James Bond to the world. With little more than his card skills to rely on, Bond must use his best poker face to bring down Le Chiffre, a member of the Russian Secret Service.
Thunderball is unusual in that it was originally a screenplay which was never filmed. Instead, the text was collaboratively adapted into a book by Fleming and four others. A crime group known as SPECTRE has stolen two atomic bombs and is blackmailing Western nations for their return.
6. The Man with the Golden Gun
Bond returns to the UK having been brainwashed into an assassination attempt against M. Luckily, MI6 turn him around and he is sent to find Francisco Scaramanga. Only this “Man with the Golden Gun” is terrifyingly competent and perhaps even better than Bond himself.
7. You Only Live Twice
Fleming’s final (complete) novel before he died, You Only Live Twice is set in the aftermath of the murder of Tracy Bond (James Bond’s wife from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Having turned to drinking and gambling, Bond is sent to Japan to save his career and assassinate the enigmatic Dr. Guntram Shatterhand.
8. From Russia, with Love
There is a Soviet plot to undermine MI6 by framing 007 in this Cold War adventure. Set mainly on the Orient Express train and in Istanbul, Turkey, the plot also features an advanced Soviet coding machine and an assassin named Grant.
9. The Spy Who Loved Me
A rather different book to the nine before it, The Spy Who Loved Me is told from the perspective of Vivienne Michel, who stumbles into a dangerous plot and discovers Bond. In this novel, we see the spy through her eyes. Fleming was reportedly unhappy with the book and the film of the same name starring Roger Moore doesn’t follow the plot of the novel.
10. Live and Let Die
Fleming’s Live and Let Die sees Bond tracking down a baddie known as Mr Big. The criminal has been smuggling valuable gold coins and shipwrecked treasure from the Caribbean and has links to arms of the Soviet secret service.
James Bond books by other authors
The Moneypenny Diaries
James Bond’s right-hand MI6 woman, Jane Moneypenny features as lead in her own mini series of novels by Kate Westbrook. There are three novels, set in the 1960s and starring Moneypenny as she uncovers mysteries and embarks on missions of her own.
The Young Bond novels are written by Charlie Higson and Steve Cole who adapted James Bond and his adventures for a young adult audience.
Non-Fleming Bond novels
There have been six authors who have taken James Bond on new adventures in their own books, including respected novelists like Sebastian Faulks and Anthony Horowitz. The first was Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis, written under the name of Robert Markham. The number of Bond novels written by other authors now far outnumbers those by Fleming himself and continues the spy’s legacy on the page.
Full list of James Bond books
James Bond books by Ian Fleming
- Casino Royale – buy now
- Live and Let Die – buy now
- Moonraker – buy now
- Diamonds Are Forever – buy now
- From Russia, with Love – buy now
- Dr. No – buy now
- Goldfinger – buy now
- For Your Eyes Only – buy now
- Thunderball – buy now
- The Spy Who Loved Me – buy now
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – buy now
- You Only Live Twice – buy now
- The Man with the Golden Gun – buy now
- Octopussy and The Living Daylights – buy now
James Bond books by John Gardner
- Licence Renewed by John Gardner – buy now
- For Special Services by John Gardner – buy now
- Icebreaker by John Gardner – buy now
- Role of Honour by John Gardner – buy now
- Nobody Lives for Ever by John Gardner – buy now
- No Deals, Mr. Bond by John Gardner – buy now
- Scorpius by John Gardner – buy now
- Win, Lose or Die by John Gardner – buy now
- Licence to Kill by John Gardner – buy now
- Brokenclaw by John Gardner – buy now
- The Man from Barbarossa by John Gardner – buy now
- Death is Forever by John Gardner – buy now
- Never Send Flowers by John Gardner – buy now
- SeaFire John Gardner by John Gardner – buy now
- GoldenEye by John Gardner – buy now
- Cold by John Gardner – buy now
James Bond books by Raymond Benson
- Zero Minus Ten by Raymond Benson – buy now
- Tomorrow Never Dies by Raymond Benson – buy now
- The Facts of Death by Raymond Benson – buy now
- High Time to Kill by Raymond Benson – buy now
- The World Is Not Enough by Raymond Benson – buy now
- DoubleShot by Raymond Benson – buy now
- Never Dream of Dying by Raymond Benson – buy now
- The Man with the Red Tattoo by Raymond Benson – buy now
- Die Another Day by Raymond Benson – buy now