The 20+ Books J.K. Rowling Recommends Reading

Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen names J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film producer, television producer and screenwriter, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series–which have sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history.

Rowling is also known for her “rags to riches” life story, where she went from living on state benefits to becoming the world’s first billionaire author.

Interestingly, she lost her billionaire status because she gave away much of her earnings to charity (that’s incredible of her to do that).

Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith.

Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith.

Similar to other famous authors including Stephen King and Ernest Hemingway, Rowling loves to read books.

I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.

— J.K. Rowling

I was curious to learn which books Rowling loved or inspired her, so I did some research to find out which books the former billionaire author recommends, here is the list of the 20+ books she recommends:

  • “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

    • Rowling is a big fan of Little Women, saying that her “favorite literary heroine is Jo March. It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a hot temper and a burning ambition to be a writer.”

  • "The Woman Who Walked Into Doors" by Roddy Doyle

    • "My favorite living writer is Roddy Doyle," Rowling told Amazon. This novel in particular — about a woman's relationship with a violent man — was one of the most important books in her life. "I don't think I've ever encountered such a believable, fully rounded female character from any other heterosexual male writer in any age," she told O, The Oprah Magazine.

  • Grimble At Christmas” by Clement Freud

    • "Grimble is one of funniest books I've ever read," Rowling told Amazon. "Grimble himself, who is a small boy, is a fabulous character. I'd love to see a Grimble film. As far as I know, these last two fine pieces of literature are out of print, so if any publishers ever read this, could you please dust them off and put them back in print so other people can read them?"

  • “The Story of the Treasure Seekers” by Edith Nesbitt

    • “She’s the children’s writer with whom I most identify,” Rowling says of Nesbitt. Rowling calls The Story of the Treasure Seekers a “breakthrough children’s book” because it wasn’t a morality tale like the other children’s books of the time.

  • "Emma" by Jane Austen

    • Jane Austen is J.K. Rowling's favorite author of all time, and "Emma" is her favorite of her books. "I've read all her books so many times I've lost count," she told Amazon. Of those many book-reading sessions, she said she read "Emma" at least 20 times.

  • "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    • In 2012, Rowling described Team of Rivals as the last truly great book she read. “I lived in it the way that you do with truly great books,” she says, describing the experience as “putting it down with glazed eyes and feeling disconcerted to find yourself in the 21st century.”

  • “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge

    • On a deeper level, Rowling was attracted to how cleverly the book was constructed, even though it seemed simple on the surface. "Perhaps more than any other book, it has a direct influence on the Harry Potter books," she told The Scotsman.

  • "The Diaries of Auberon Waugh" by Auberon Waugh

    • Auberon Waugh, son of Evelyn kept a diary between 1972 and 1985 in which he mocked the trends of the day. You may not know this, but J. K Rowling says she keeps a copy in her bathroom and “It’s always good for a giggle.”

  • "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell

    • When asked to name her favorite books as a child, Rowling said she loved "anything with a horse on it." Among those, "Black Beauty" is one of her favorite.

  • "Chéri" by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette 

    • Of all of Colette's books, Rowling loves "Chéri" the most. It's about a romance between a young man and her mistress. "I absolutely bow to Colette," Rowling said. "But I think if she could hear me, she would probably tell me where to get lost, because she was that kind of woman."

  • "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare

    • Like any British author — and any author working in the English language — Rowling loves Shakespeare. Her favorite is about a fellow Scot, "Macbeth." Its prophecy and fate-driven plot is an influence on the plot of "Harry Potter."

  • "The Iliad" by Homer

    • Rowling referenced the Greek epic at the end of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," when Harry saved Cedric's body. "That's where it came from," Rowling told Entertainment Weekly. "That really, really, REALLY moved me when I read that when I was 19. The idea of the desecration of a body, a very ancient idea… I was thinking of that when Harry saved Cedric's body."

  • "Lolita"by Vladimir Nabokov

    • "There are two books whose final lines make me cry without fail, irrespective of how many times I read them," Rowling told BBC Radio 4. "One is 'Lolita.'"

    • Like many other admirer's of Nabokov's novel of a pedophile who pursues a 12-year-old girl, Rowling loves it for the writing style.

    • "There just isn't enough time to discuss how a plot that could have been the most worthless pornography becomes, in Nabakov's hands, a great and tragic love story, and I could exhaust my reservoir of superlatives trying to describe the quality of the writing," she said.

  • The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

    • That's right, even J.K. Rowling loves J.K. Rowling, or at least she makes herself cry, too. She admitted to bawling her eyes out while writing, editing, and rereading The Casual Vacancy . That's some kind of endorsement, right?

If you don’t see any books on this list that you may want to read, here’s a piece of advice from Rowling.

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.
— J.K. Rowling

You may also want to check out the books Stephen King recommends reading or Ernest Hemingway’s list.

If you still can’t find the right book, here’s my personal list of great books (split up by genre): Recommended Books

And remember, books turn muggles into wizards, so go and read as much as possible!

If there’s a book on this list that you think is a must-read, let me know in the comments below. Thank you everyone! -Alex W.

This article was based on several articles. The sources can be found here, here, here, here and here.

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