john-grisham

The Best Reading Order For John Grisham Books

There are more than a handful of John Grisham books, so it’s not easy to select the right order to read them in.

John Grisham is best known for his legal-themed thriller novels, but there are plenty of other options to pick from. It’s no wonder his preferred genre is related to the law, and legal procedures, as Grisham is not only a renowned author: He is also a lawyer and activist. His success worldwide is uncontended. This is made clear by the fact that his books have been translated into an amazing 42 languages.

We propose two reading orders. The first one is a linear order that mixes genre, publishing dates, and series. The second one begins with his series and then jumps onto the standalone novels.

First reading order

John Grisham’s books can be divided into two main categories: Series and standalone. The former has two titular characters; Jake Brigance and Theodore Boone. The standalone novels can, in turn, be divided into two subcategories: Legal and non-legal thrillers. 

For this first reading order, we’ll begin with his most popular standalone books, the ones framed within the legal subgenre. To keep things neat, we’ll list them by publishing date. Then we’ll jump to his standalone non-legal thrillers. And finally, once you are familiar with Grisham’s style and prose, we’ll take a deep dive into his fascinating sagas.

  1. The Firm (1991)
  2. The Pelican Brief (1992)
  3. The Client (1993)
  4. The Chamber (1994)
  5. The Rainmaker (1995)
  6. The Runaway Jury (1996)
  7. The Partner (1997)
  8. The Street Lawyer (1998)
  9. The Testament (1999)
  10. The Brethren (2000)
  11. The Summons (2002)
  12. The King of Torts (2003)
  13. The Last Juror (2004)
  14. The Broker (2005)
  15. The Innocent Man (2006)
  16. The Appeal (2008)
  17. The Associate (2009)
  18. Ford County (2009)
  19. The Confession (2010)
  20. The Litigators (2011)
  21. The Racketeer (2012)
  22. Gray Mountain (2014)
  23. Rogue Lawyer (2015)
  24. The Whistler (2016)
  25. The Rooster Bar (2018)
  26. The Reckoning (2019)
  27. The Guardians (2019)

Non-legal novels 

  1. A Painted House (2001)
  2. Skipping Christmas (2001)
  3. Bleachers (2003)
  4. Playing for Pizza (2007)
  5. Calico Joe (2012) 
  6. The Tumor: A Non-Legal Thriller (2016) 
  7. Camino Island (2017) 

Series

Jake Brigance

  1. A Time To Kill (1989)
  2. Sycamore Row (2013)

Theodore Boone

  1. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (2010)
  2. Theodore Boone: The Abduction (2011)
  3. Theodore Boone: The Accused (2012)
  4. Theodore Boone: The Activist (2013)
  5. Theodore Boone: The Fugitive (2015)

Second reading order

In this case, we’ll be jumping directly into the deep end of the pool! For your first Grisham experience, we recommend beginning with his series. This will allow you to relate to a single main character for a few books before sinking your teeth into the standalone novels. 

When it comes to this order, standalone novels will be arranged by publishing date, without consideration of their genre.

Jake Brigance

  1. A Time To Kill (1989)
  2. Sycamore Row (2013)

Theodore Boone

  1. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (2010)
  2. Theodore Boone: The Abduction (2011)
  3. Theodore Boone: The Accused (2012)
  4. Theodore Boone: The Activist (2013)
  5. Theodore Boone: The Fugitive (2015)

Standalone novels

  1. The Firm (1991)
  2. The Pelican Brief (1992)
  3. The Client (1993)
  4. The Chamber (1994)
  5. The Rainmaker (1995)
  6. The Runaway Jury (1996)
  7. The Partner (1997)
  8. The Street Lawyer (1998)
  9. The Testament (1999)
  10. The Brethren (2000)
  11. A Painted House (2001)
  12. Skipping Christmas (2001)
  13. The Summons (2002)
  14. The King of Torts (2003)
  15. Bleachers (2003)
  16. The Last Juror (2004)
  17. The Broker (2005)
  18. The Innocent Man (2006)
  19. Playing for Pizza (2007)
  20. The Appeal (2008)
  21. The Associate (2009)
  22. Ford County (2009)
  23. The Confession (2010)
  24. The Litigators (2011)
  25. The Racketeer (2012)
  26. Calico Joe (2012) 
  27. Gray Mountain (2014)
  28. Rogue Lawyer (2015)
  29. The Whistler (2016)
  30. The Tumor: A Non-Legal Thriller (2016) 
  31. Camino Island (2017) 
  32. The Rooster Bar (2018)
  33. The Reckoning (2019)
  34. The Guardians (2019)

There is no doubt that Grisham is one of the most popular modern authors still active today. His first steps into the world of writing weren’t smooth, however. He struggled to get a publisher interested in his first book, A time to kill. He actually went through 28 rejections before a small publisher agreed to print 5000 copies.

Following this perceived fail, Grisham embarked on his first law thriller outside the Jake Brigance saga, and the reaction was starkly different this time. The firm actually became a bestseller and remained in the New York Time’s list for over 47 weeks! It ended up becoming the bestselling book of 1991!

People were finally noticing his potential, and he hasn’t stopped writing since. Plenty of his novels ended up being adapted into incredibly popular films as well.

The Firm starred Tom Cruise when it was released in 1993, and that’s just the beginning. The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill have also made the transition into the big screen.

To learn more about John Grisham, you can take a look at his personal webpage, as well as his Wikipedia entry.

Recommended Reading:

Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!

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