A look at the best books on James Bond published from the 1960s right up to the modern day.
Over the years many books covering a variety of aspects of the James Bond phenomenon have been published. Over the years I’ve gradually added many of these to my library, some paid for with my own hard-earned cash and others review copies sent by publishers.
Books on James Bond in my collection
Recently I went through all the books on James Bond in my collection with the view to listing them here by publication date. And that doesn’t include any of the books about Ian Fleming in my collection.
So here are those books listed by initial publication date as well as major updates. I’ve also made a note of any differences that exist between editions where significant.
Double O Seven James Bond: A Report (1964)
OF Snelling was the first author to write a book on the James Bond phenomenon. It was first published in 1964 shortly after the death of Ian Fleming. His book looks at where Bond came from, delving into the clubland heroes that inspired Ian Fleming. Subsequent chapters then examine his image, the Bond girls, the villains and his future.
I first came across a copy of this book while on a family holiday in Spain. Staying with friends in the mountains, I grabbed anything Bond related and devoured it intently. Many years later I was reminded of this book and bought a used copy online.
If you’re at all interested in the literary side of 007 and want to get an idea of contemporaneous thought regarding Bond in 1964 then you should definitely add this to your collection.
The James Bond Dossier (1965)
This website takes its name from Kingsley Amis’s 1965 book. Amis was a huge fan of 007 and decided to take a critical look at Fleming’s writing in what was initially planned to be a 5,000 word essay. However, it expanded beyond that initial idea into a full examination of the character meriting its own book.
Amis was beaten to the publishing stakes by Snelling’s book. And initially due to be published in 1964, publisher Jonathan Cape delayed the book until the following year after Ian Fleming died and requested Amis include a look at Fleming’s last full length novel, The Man With The Golden Gun.
While a fan of Fleming’s books, in places Amis is sometimes more critical of his writing that Snelling. Again it is a must have for anyone serious about literary 007.
The Book of Bond (1965)
Also by Amis but published under the pseudonym Bill Tanner, The Book of Bond (subtitled Every Man his own 007) is probably derived from the same research as The James Bond Dossier published the same year. It takes a look at various aspects of Bond, divided into chapters such as drink, food, smokes, looks, exercise, clothes.
The book is just over 100 pages and each chapter short and too the point. In fact, the information is too basic and so the idea behind this website was to use some of the chapters as a starting point and provide more comprehensive information.
I first encountered The Book of Bond when I was at primary school, perhaps when I was nine or ten. A friend took his dad’s paperback copy to school and we flipped through it during the break. I distinctly remember reading about Bond’s facial scar and how it would be going too far to get one!
I was later reminded of the book and bought a US hardcover edition online. I then bought a second US hardcover edition and finally a British hardcover with reversible dustjacket. If you turn it inside out it disguises the book as “The Bible: Revised to be Read as Literature”, a nod to Bond’s use in Goldfinger of a hollowed out copy of the same title in which he conceals his Walther PPK.
The James Bond Bedside Companion (1984, 1988)
Raymond Benson’s comprehensive book on the James Bond phenomenon was first published in 1984 and updated four years later. The book covers Ian Fleming’s life, his books, the films that they spawned (originally up to Octopussy/Never Say Never Again but later adding A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights) and John Gardner’s first three continuation novels (four more were added to the 1988 edition).
Benson later claimed he was too harsh on Gardner, although I don’t agree. And of course Benson went on to become the Bond continuation author after Gardner retired from the gig in 1996.
The James Bond Bedside Companion is a must have for any serious fan of Bond, although it should be remembered that Benson lacked the ability to repeatedly watch the films. In the days before video was commonplace he had to rely on his memory of theatre screenings and TV.
The book was republished in 2001 with a new forward by Benson and has been available on Kindle for a couple of years. I picked it up online and was delighted when it turned out I’d bought it direct from the author and had a signed copy.
How to Live the James Bond Lifestyle (1998, 2012, 2015)
Paul Kyriazi has produced numerous versions of this in audio, paperback and now for Kindle. While not about James Bond directly, the book and audio seminar use James Bond as a template for improving various aspects of your life.
It’s fairly light hearted and includes some good anecdotes by Kyriazi from his own life but whether this book is your type of thing or not may depend on how much you like self-help books and where you are in life.
However if you do want to use 007 as inspiration to change your life positively then you’re sure to be able to find something of value in here. While sites like James Bond Lifestyle are great resources for identifying and sourcing brands used by Bond, Kyriazi provides the tools to tackle the inner game.
James Bond’s London (2001)
Gary Giblin’s book is crammed full of information related to Ian Fleming, James Bond and London. Published in 2001 it is now a little out of date, but that doesn’t stop its appeal. Early in the book Giblin presents a list of “30 shaken and stirred locations” in London he recommends you to visit, selected from the numerous locations throughout.
Where it fails as a guidebook is the lack of a map and that it is organised by location so that if you are looking for something specific, without knowing where it is in London, it can become difficult. Perhaps a more comprehensive index would have done it.
It’s still a good book and used in conjunction with Google Maps you can easily plan a trip to London. Difficult to find these days, it is crying out to be updated with locations from Die Another Day and the Daniel Craig movies.
Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories (2005, 2006)
The late John Griswold researched James Bond’s world in depth to produce a work that is a useful companion to Ian Fleming’s books. As well as provide background to a now long gone era Griswold looked into the dates provided by Ian Fleming. Here he sometimes alters the chronology of of the books slightly. For instance, he notes when a day of the week for a given date is incorrect for the year given.
If you are as obsessed by the James Bond novels as me then the book is essential in further fleshing out Fleming’s era. It also usefully translates some of the foreign phrases sprinkled throughout the books for anyone not up to date on their schoolboy French (or Spanish).
The second edition of the book includes some illustrations as well as some improved translations. In this I provided the author with some assistance.
James Bond: The Man and His World (2005)
Subtitled The Official Companion to Ian Fleming’s Creation, this book is an absolute must have for any fan of Fleming’s writing. Henry Chancellor’s book is comprehensively researched from Fleming’s files, which included access to his letters, research notes and other documents.
The book itself is beautifully designed, with colour photography of all kinds of brochures, letters, and objects related to 007 used throughout. As well as looking at Ian Fleming’s life, it takes a look at each of books while tackling a different aspect of 007’s world. Chapters are titled “A Man in his Time”, “The Right Way to Eat…”, “Fairly Tales for Grown-ups” and “Boy’s Toys”.
I read the book cover to cover when first released and dip into it every now and then. But looking at it now on my desk I know the book deserves a full re-read. It’s utterly fascinating and if I were to rank the books on James Bond list here I’m pretty sure this would occupy the number one spot.
The Battle for Bond (2007, 2008)
Thunderball has always been one of my favourite Bond stories, both the book and the film. In The Battle for Bond, Robert Sellers tells the story of how Thunderball came into being and the legal problems that ensued. As well as Thunderball, it goes on to look at Kevin McClory’s non-Eon remake, Never Say Never Again (1983), and his attempts to create a competing James Bond series in the subsequent decades that followed.
If you can get hold of the 2007 edition it has additional content that the publisher was forced to remove after legal action from Ian Fleming Publications. The cover of the 2008 edition is marked “the book they tried to ban” in the top right hand corner. It’s a fascinating book to read and realise how all those legal complications could have been avoided so easily.
James Bond Encyclopedia (2007, 2009, 2014)
It covers a lot of information, such as dealing with each villain and each Bond girl in turn, but ultimately many of the entries add nothing and may have been better served simply by a photo. The approach is to go wide rather than deep. While the photography is good, I don’t really find this type of book has enduring appeal.There are some interesting sections, such as the section on Ian Fleming, if you don’t already know about him. There are also sections titled “The Bond Style”, which covers his background, skills, wardrobe and lifestyle gleaned both from the books and for the films.
The villains, girls and supporting cast are less interesting, but some of the more detailed entries in sections that cover vehicles, such as the DB5, work well. But there is a lack of detail in weapons and equipment eve for such icons as the Walther PPK. The section dealing with each film in turn is good though and provides enough “making of” detail to make it interesting.
On the Tracks of 007 (2008)
If you’ve like to visit locations from the James Bond films then this book will make your future travels much easier.
Written by Martijn Mulder and the late Dirk Kloosterboer, it contains details of what you can see in locations used in the films from Dr No to Quantum of Solace. The book is organised by location rather than by film, which makes finding the information you’re after pretty straightforward. Locations can be wide ranging, such as England, Jamaica, The Bahamas or Japan, or much more tightly focused. London has its own chapter, as do Pinewood, RAF Northholt, New Orleans and New York among others.Each chapter includes local intel, photos, instructions of how to get there, tips and anecdotes. It doesn’t include locations from the books though, but for that you can check out my 2004/2005 series James Bond’s World on MI6.
One slight quibble. It’s a pretty large book, A4 in size and perhaps 12 mm thick, yet subtitled A Field Guide to the Exotic James Bond Filming Locations Around the World. It’s simply way too big to use in the field. That doesn’t detract from its usefulness in planning your trip. Just make sure you leave it back in your hotel.
Being James Bond: Volume 1 (2010)
Joe Darlington originally started his Being James Bond podcast back in 2006. In each of the episodes he looked at a different skill of James Bond as a primer for the listener and he set up a forum to discuss each episode as well as other aspects of 007.
The book appears to be a transcription of a number of those podcasts, so if you’ve listened to the podcast you won’t learn anything new. However, it is good to have in down in print and it’s far easier to flip through the book for a nugget of information you’re looking for than to find it among hours of audio.
Licence to Cook (2010)
You just need to look at the TV listings to realise how many people are interested in learning more about cooking. I’d actually planned on writing a book of 007 related recipes until I found this book. Instead I immediately bought a copy. Luckily I’d only got as far as compiling a list of every meal eaten by Bond in Ian Fleming’s books.
Licence to Cook is a guide to James Bond’s food and includes a number of recipes mentioned in the books. It also has some great photos and the cover design is a nod to the first edition cover of The Spy Who Loved Me.
The book is divided into chapters on breakfast, lunch, evening meal and finally snacks and supper, with the evening meal divided into three separate chapters covering starters, main courses and dessert. The author, Edward Biddulph, writes regularly about James Bond, originally on his Bond Memes blog and now on James Bond Food. He knows both the literary and cinematic incarnations of the character inside out, so it’s no surprise to find more of the same here. His second James Bond cookbook, Double O Dining, was published in 2021 (below).
The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond (2010, 2012)
Time for some self promotion! I wrote the original version of this book in 2010 and updated it in 2012 following the release of Skyfall. Not only did I add the drinks from the new film, but also many new pages.
Obviously I’m biased, but this is one you should definitely have in your library. The more recent edition was named the best UK cocktail book by the judges of the 2014 World Gourmand Awards.
All About Bond (2012)
This book features behind the scenes and publicity photos by Terry O’Neill featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore in particular, their assorted leading ladies, villains, cars and everything in between. Nice to look at, but doesn’t add much to my knowledge of 007. Really I’d rather have some of the photos framed and on the wall.
Catching Bullets (2012)
Mark O’Connell’s book is a memoir about growing up as a Bond fan and all that that entails. Starting with Octopussy, the book captures the magic of seeing each Bond film for the first time. Rather than dealing with each film chronologically, they are covered in the order that O’Connell first saw them on television, VHS or the big screen.
At times funny, at times poignant, Catching Bullets is about what it’s like to be a fan and if you’re into James Bond (and you must be since you’re reading this) you’ll definitely be able to relate to the sometimes obsessive behaviour that fandom brings with it, including using his obsession with Maud Adams as a cover for being gay.
But imagine how it must have felt to O’Connell as a boy when he learnt his granddad was Cubby Broccoli’s chauffeur. His fandom became fuelled even further by various bits and pieces from the offices of Eon Productions. And when Jimmy O’Connell died it says something about Barbara Broccoli that she attended the funeral and went to the pub with the family afterwards. People talk about Eon being like family and in this case that certainly seems to be the case.
James Bond: My Long and Eventful Search for His Father (2012)
Len Deighton is best known as the author of The Ipcress File, which was adapted into a film featuring Michael Caine. However, being acquainted with Ian Fleming and closely connected to Kevin McClory, he had a unique perspective on the development of James Bond.
Here Deighton offers a firsthand account of a saga filled with inflated egos and bitter rivalries, leading to an intense legal battle.
Taschen James Bond Archives (2012, 2023)
The quality of this book is amazing and it is extremely comprehensive. It has loads of information and lots and lots of great photos. But I’ve only really looked at it a couple of times and think it’s a pretty pointless book to own.
The problem stems from the sheer size and weight of the book, which make it impossible to read. It’s a coffee table book that weighs in at more than 7kg. You need a really sturdy table to support it.
Rogue Royale: The Lost Bond Film by the ‘Shakespeare of Hollywood’ (2014)
Author and journalist Jeremy Duns is a massive Bond fan and has written fairly extensively on the topic.
In this 8,000 word Kindle book he delves into the story of Casino Royale was almost brought to the big screen in the 1950s. Well worth reading but sadly the book no longer appears to be available.
The Bluffer’s Guide to Bond (2013)
This small book is crammed full of bits and pieces you may or may not know about the James Bond films. Bond fans will already be familiar with much of what is in the book, but if you’re new to Bond or just want to browse through various facts then you may find it interesting anyway.
A Close Look at A View to a Kill (2015)
Roger Moore’s farewell as 007 is a long way from being my favourite Bond film, but one of the great things about Bond fandom is that there are so many views.
When it comes to A View To A Kill, Andrew McNess and I certainly don’t see eye to eye. But perhaps much in the same way there is something special to me about The Man With The Golden Gun – it was my first ever Bond – McNess regards A View To A Kill as an underrated masterpiece.
This book is dedicated to highlighting its strengths and while I don’t agree with everything in the book I did make a point of re-watching the film afterwards to view it through a different lens.
The World According to Blofeld’s Cat (2015)
OK, this isn’t really about 007 at all, it’s a humorous set of musings from the point of view of Blofeld’s cat.
It’s funny enough at times and would make a great stocking filler for a Bond fan well versed in the original cinematic incarnation(s) of Blofeld. For younger Bond fans introduced to 007 through Daniel Craig, or even Pierce Brosnan, it probably won’t mean much.
Some Kind of Hero (2015)
This a big thick book and really comprehensive but unlike one of the books I discarded from the list, this book isn’t so large it is unusable. It covers the genesis of the James Bond films and goes into detail on the background to each movie from archived material and interviews by the authors, Mathew Field and Ajay Chowdhury, with the people involved.
It’s got plenty of great anecdotes throughout, although bear in mind some of them might have become a little embellished over the years. My favourite is when Terence Young met Count de Vogue, owner of Moët et Chandon, while in the Bahamas shooting Thunderball. The book is packed with great information, photos and just about comfortable enough to read in bed.
Blood Sweat and Bond (2015)
Essentially a selection of photos from SPECTRE, including behind the scenes shots, I spent a happy evening browsing Blood, Sweat And Bond when it was first sent to me. It’s a nice looking book published by DK.
It’s light on text, letting photos speak for themselves. Apart from the introduction and a few paragraphs at the start of each chapter, each dealing with a different location from the film, there are quotes from cast and crew to accompany the photography. Most photos are colour but there is a black and white section dedicated to Daniel Craig. Most spreads have four to six photographs, but there are some double page spreads as well as sections with many more. The double pages showing makeup variations for the extras in the Day of the Daed parade is a good example.
But when it comes down to it I’m not going to return to this book very often. It looks nice, but the photographs would be better off framed and hanging on the wall.
Double O Dining: A James Bond Cookbook (2022)
Edward Biddulph’s second James Bond cookbook is much more comprehensive than the first, and while it can be used simply as a cook book, it is so much more. The book contains more than 100 recipes drawing from a variety of historical sources such as vintage cookbooks and old newspaper food columns and is packed with info about the food enjoyed by 007 in the books and films.
Biddulph has applied his professional skills as an archaeologist to Bond’s food. If you’re familiar with his old Bond Memes blog or his more recent James Bond Food blog you’ll know what to expect. This is my favourite Bond related book for many years as it provides plenty of the kind of detail I enjoy.
This article has been updated with additional books since first publication on 17th February 2017 as Books on James Bond: 7 must-haves for your collection.
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