Creating an Appendix N

“Appendix N” is an addendum to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Gamemaster’s Guide; it provides a list of “inspirational reading” according to Gary Gygax. For as long as I’ve heard of it, Appendix N has had a quasi-mystical status, as if manna from heaven. Now, I understand that Gygax is considered the progenitor of roleplaying games as we know them today, and I don’t intend to argue about that. However, I’d say that, “that’s just his opinion, man” to paraphrase The Big Lebowski.

In my humble opinion, everyone—and especially any aspiring writer like myself—ought to have her own Appendix N. There are several reasons: first, one will only rarely run short of book suggestions having prepared such a list; second, one may track one’s own writing influences through the list, using this both to help pitch works to publishers or agents and to find out where you might continue your study of great reads; third, it provides a shorthand to others—if you’re forming a writer’s group with others about whose writing you know little, seeing their Appendix N will probably give you some idea of both what their influences are and where their interests lie.

In that spirit, I’m going to start my own Appendix N here. I don’t have time now to completely fill it out, but I’ll be adding to it as I think of things that should be on here. If you’re so inclined, send me yours and let’s start a conversation!

My Appendix N (In Progress)

In the vein of Gary Gygax’s “Appendix N”, here is my (non-exhaustive) recommended reading list, to be expanded upon both as I remember things to put on it and as I read new works. If you see something missing on here you think I should have read, let me know!



Abercrombie, Joe
The Blade Itself

Butcher, Jim
The Dresden Files Series

Clarke, Susanna
Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Gaiman, Neil
American Gods

Martin, G.R.R.
A Song of Ice and Fire Series

MacDonald, George
 The Princess and the Goblin

Mieville, China
The City and the City
The Kraken (particularly after reading Lovecraft)
Perdido Street Station

Morris, William
The Wood Beyond the World

Pratchett, Terry
Anything and Everything

Rothfuss, Patrick
The Name of the Wind
 The Wise Man’s Fear

Sanderson, Brandon
The Mistborn Series

Sapkowski, Andrzej
The Witcher Series

Tolkien, J.R.R.
The Children of Hurin
The Hobbit
 The Lord of the Rings
 The Silmarillion


Blackwood, Algernon
“The Wendigo”

Brooks, Max
World War Z

Lovecraft, H.P.
The entire corpus, but I particularly prefer “The Dunwich Horror”
and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”

Machen, Arthur
“The Great God Pan”
“The White People”

Simmons, Dan
Summer of Night

Dick, Phillip K.
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
Any of his other short stories and novellas

Herbert, Frank

Morgan, Richard K.
Altered Carbon

Scalzi, John
Old Man’s War

Simmons, Dan
            The Fall of Hyperion

Stephenson, Neal
The Diamond Age
            Snow Crash


Alighieri, Dante
The Divine Comedy

Mallory, Sir Thomas
Le Morte D’Arthur

Milton, John
Paradise Lost
 Samson Agonistes

Sidney, Sir Phillip

Spenser, Edmund
The Faerie Queene
Shepheardes Calender

Shelley, Mary


Behn, Aphra
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Carew, Thomas
Donne, John
Herbert, George
Howard, Henry, Earl of Surrey
Johnson, Ben
Shakespeare, William
Sidney, Sir Phillip
Whitman, Walt
Wordsworth, William
Wyatt, Thomas
Yeats, W.B.


Milton, John


Sidney, Sir Phillip
“The Defense of Poesy”

Tolkien, J.R.R.
“The Monsters and the Critics”

Great Courses (By the Great Course Company)
Buddhism by Prof. Malcolm David Eckel
Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft by Prof. Brooks Landon
The Creative Thinker’s Toolkit by Prof. Gerard Puccio
Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine by Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson
The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History by Prof. Bart D. Ehrman
The History of Christian Theology by Prof. Phillip Cary
The Italian Renaissance by Prof. Kenneth R. Bartlett
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication by Prof. Bart D. Ehrman
The Medieval World by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong
The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations by Prof. Andrew C. Fix
Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques by Prof. James Hynes

Bell, Rob
Love Wins

Barth, Karl
Systematic Theology

Chesterton, G.K.

Hamilton, Adam
Anything and Everything

Lewis, C. S.
Anything and Everything

MacDonald, George
Unspoken Sermons

Tillich, Paul
Systematic Theology

Wright, N.T.