31 Books Mentioned by Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds

Published by Slanted Bookshelf Team on

If you have seen a few episodes of the hit CBS drama, Criminal Minds (or binged all 15 seasons) you are familiar with Spencer Reid. The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit wouldn’t be complete without him. The young and handsome whizz kid from Caltech is a genius with an IQ of 187 who can read 20,000 words per minute. Spencer Reid, who is a reading machine,  constantly mentions the books that he is reading, or has had his mom read to him. These are the books mentioned by Spencer Reid.

Really, any  book that’s a literary classic would qualify as a Reid-esque book. This FBI agent especially likes famous science fiction, fantasy, and mystery novels. 

So here is the definitive list of all 32 books mentioned by Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds.

LOS ANGELES – AUGUST 9: “Taboo” — The BAU team is called upon to investigate when the bodies of three women are discovered encased in concrete in 55-gallon drums, on CRIMINAL MINDS, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid) (Photo by Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images)

The Full List of Books Mentioned by Spencer Reid

  1. The Narrative of John Smith by Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle (Tristan and Isolde, #1) by Rosalind Miles
  5. The Maid of the White Hands (Tristan and Isolde, #2) by Rosalind Miles
  6. The Lady of the Sea (Tristan and Isolde, #3) by Rosalind Miles
  7. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton
  8. Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton
  9. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
  10. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  11. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  12. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  13. Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker
  14. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  15. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  16. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  17. Synchronicity by Jung
  18. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  19. The Collector by John Fowles 
  20. One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh
  21. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 
  22. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  23. Swann’s Way : In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  24. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  25. The Parliament of Fowls by Geoffrey Chaucer
  26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  27. The Arthurian Legends by Richard Barber
  28. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  29. The Fisher King by Leonore Fleischer
  30. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  31. Solaris by Stanisław Lem

Some Of Our Spencer Reid Books Highlights Are…


Sherlock Holmes Books by Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle was a prolific writer who was most famous for Sherlock Holmes. Interestingly, his works also included science fiction stories, historical novels, plays, romances, poetry, and nonfiction. Doyle’s characters feel real. They are a treat to read. Perhaps the most famous book mentioned by Spencer Reid is The Narrative of John Smith, which was Doyle’s unpublished first novel, before he created Sherlock Holmes. This story is a complex and interesting tale involving true love and revenge. The other books mentioned are also classic sleuth tales.

The Narrative of John Smith
by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of Four
by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet
by Arthur Conan Doyle


Tristan and Isolde Series by Rosalind Miles

Spencer Reid goes through this 3 part Saga in the show. The Tristan and Isolde series explores the romance of Isolde, the only daughter and heiress of Ireland’s great ruling queen. It is written in the style of rich prose. These books are fascinating because the reader gets the opportunity to see the demise of so many characters. These books will make your hearts ache for the star-crossed lovers.

Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle (Tristan and Isolde, #1)
by Rosalind Miles

The Maid of the White Hands (Tristan and Isolde, #2)
by Rosalind Miles

The Lady of the Sea (Tristan and Isolde, #3)
by Rosalind Miles


Thomas Merton Books

Thomas Merton was a Catholic priest and prolific writer that was known for his study and incorporation of eastern thought into his spirituality. Spencer at one point in Criminal Minds reads Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander – Merton’s collection of reflections on the world in the 1960s. In it, Merton discusses JFK, LBJ, Pope John XXIII, Gandhi, truth and violence. Merton’s reads are an inspiring window into his prayer, work, and meditation.


Kurt Vonnegut Books

Spencer Reid mentions two Kurt Vonnegut Books throughout the series. Both books tell stories of World War 2 through interesting lenses – one through time travel and the other through the Nazi perspective. In Mother Night, Vonnegut tells the after war story of a Nazi propaganda radio star who is going to trial in Israel for war crimes. Slaughterhouse-Five is a classic (yet weird) book with a nonlinear timeline that is often read in American universities.

Mother Night
by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut


Isaac Asimov Books
Our friend from Criminal Minds is into Science fiction. Specifically, Sci-Fi from the 1950s. You may recognize Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, which was made into a movie starring Will Smith. The Caves of steel is another one of his classics. Asimov was very influential in the way people thought about the future

I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov

The Caves of Steel
by Isaac Asimov


We won’t give descriptions for all the rest of the books that Spencer Reid reads on Criminal Minds. These are more a hodge-podge of adventure, sci-fi, classic literature, and drama. We’ll just give you the list. Here you Go!


And Then There’s the Rest – Other Books Mentioned by Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds

Empty Planet
by Darrell Bricker

War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

The Collector
by John Fowles 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J.K. Rowling

The Parliament of Fowls
by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Once and Future King
by T.H. White

In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho

Synchronicity
by Carl Jung

One Thousand and One Nights
by Hanan Al-Shaykh

Swann’s Way : In Search of Lost Time
by Marcel Proust

East of Eden
by John Steinbeck

Strangers on a Train
by Patricia Highsmith

Solaris
by Stanislaw Lem

Strangers on a Train
by Patricia Highsmith

The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury

Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens 

Inferno
by Dante Alighieri

The Arthurian Legends
by Richard Barber

The Fisher King
by Leonore Fleischer


In Conclusion

While you may not be reading 5 books a week, you can still take a recommendation from Spencer for  next read. If we missed any, feel free to comment on the name of the book below.


Also check out : 

These aren’t books mentioned by Spencer Reid, but just fun journals for the hardcore fans. They make fun gifts. And lastly – a book by Spencer Reid himself.

Mrs. Spencer Reid Notebook

Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself
by Matthew Gray Gubler


1 Comment

Kewdee · April 7, 2021 at 3:39 am

Did Reid mention that specific “Empty Planet” book? The one that the plot centered around in the episode “The Loop” is a famously fictious book created just for the episode. Just wanted to confirm if he also mentioned the actual book The Empty Planet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *