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Best books by John Grisham

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John Grisham has one of the most extensive back catalogs of any living author. Discover the best books by John Grisham to give you a full taste of his writing.

Best books by John Grisham

If you're looking for a great legal thriller, look no further than the novels of John Grisham, the best-selling author is an American writer who specializes in the legal genre.

But that's not all he does.

Though he's famous for his legal thrillers, Grisham has a wide-ranging bibliography, including short story collection Ford County. Here, we look at some of the best books to come from the mind of this prolific English-speaking author.

John Grisham's biography

John Grisham had an interesting journey to becoming an author. In fact, he never intended to write at all. He went to law school and graduated to become an attorney.

His education gave him the legal grounding for the genre for which he's now famous. However, he didn't write his first novel until 1989, after spending three years as a lawyer. Inspired by a trial he observed in 1984, Grisham began work on A Time to Kill.

The book received critical acclaim but was a poor seller. Still, Grisham felt like he could make a go of being a commercial fiction writer. He released his second novel, The Firm, in 1993. In weeks, the book rocketed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list.

That success led to a reissue of A Time to Kill, selling over three million copies. Since then, Grisham has become a prolific author on the scale of other great writers, such as Stephen King.

Away from his writing, Grisham had an interesting political career. As a 28-year-old democratic candidate, he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1983, where he served until 1990.

Best John Grisham books

With so many titles to choose from, it's difficult to distill John Grisham's back catalog into a list. Even so, this list offers 10 of his best books, alongside some honorable mentions.

Calico Joe

In Calico Joe, Grisham moves away from his typical legal fare to take on the sports genre. His novel follows a young baseball player named Joe Castle. One of the best rookies the game has ever seen, Castle is an Arkansas native who plays for the Chicago Cubs.

However, it's what happens off the field that drives this story. Grisham explores the relationship between Castle and his father in a story that appeals to baseball fans and non-fans alike.

The Boys from Biloxi

Returning to his legal comfort zone, Grisham tackles the story of families on opposite sides of corruption and gang life in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The book climaxes with a trial that divides the two families. It offers the twists and turns readers expect from Grisham's writing alongside a heartrending tale of friends torn apart by circumstance.

A Time for Mercy

The third of Grisham's novels to star Jake Brigance is a sequel to both Sycamore Row and A Time to Kill.

The story focuses on the killing of Deputy Stuart Kofer. An abusive family man, Kofer is killed by his girlfriend's son, Drew, after one of Kofer's drunken rages. Jake Brigance must defend the young man, who seems destined for death row for killing a police officer.

Sycamore Row

In his second novel to feature Jake Brigance, Grisham returns to the Mississippi setting that made him a famous author.

It tells the story of a wealthy man who commits suicide by hanging himself from a sycamore tree. This death drives the plot, as does the man's rewritten will that leaves the majority of his fortune to his housemaid.

Add to that a conflict about a piece of land named Sycamore Row, and you have the setting for a stunning legal thriller.

The Whistler

Again, Grisham is in the legal domain with this tale of a corrupt judge and the lawyer tasked with bringing the judge down.

The main character, Greg Myers, has several skeletons in his closet as well. His attempts to balance his past, including a previous disbarment, with his desire for justice drive this novel forward.

The Firm

It's impossible to have a list of Jack Grisham novels that doesn't feature The Firm. The author's breakthrough work stars a "kid lawyer" named Mitch McDeere.

Fresh out of law school, McDeere gets recruited by a large firm. When he uncovers evidence of corruption, he is torn between his desire for justice and the wonderful life that working for the firm provides. Does he turn over the firm's heads to the FBI or become a rogue lawyer in his own right?

Camino Island

Though Camino Island is a mystery novel, it strays away from Grisham's legal comfort zone. It deals with the story of Mercer Mann and her quest to discover the secrets hidden in a set of stolen F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts.

The Reckoning

The Reckoning has a darker writing style than many of Grisham's other books. The author takes readers on a huge journey that takes in Jim Crow-era southern law and even an insane asylum.

Skipping Christmas

With Skipping Christmas, Grisham tries his hand at comedy as he lets readers enjoy a hilarious Christmas with the Kranks.

The couple plans to skip Christmas by taking a Caribbean cruise. However, they discover that abandoning Christmas celebrations is more challenging than it seems.

The Innocent Man

This book's title tells you everything you need to know about its premise.

It follows the real-life story of a man named Ron Williamson, who was sent to death row for a murder he likely didn't commit. Grisham tears down the evidence used to convict Williamson in this non-fiction account of a serious miscarriage of justice.

Honorable Mentions

Every book on our list is a great read. But if you're looking for more from John Grisham, these honorable mentions are worth checking out:

  • Camino Winds
  • The Racketeer
  • The Guardians
  • The Summons
  • The Chamber
  • The Rainmaker
  • The Pelican Brief
  • A Painted House
  • Gray Mountain
  • The Client
  • The Judge's List
  • Playing for Pizza
  • The Broker
  • The Last Juror
  • The Litigators
  • The Testament
  • The Runaway Jury
  • The entire Theodore Boone series
  • The Street Lawyer
  • Bleachers
  • Sooley
  • Sparring Partners

Most of these books stick to Grisham's legal comfort zone. However, some, such as Playing for Pizza, are short stories or novellas that offer easier reads.

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What is the best John Grisham book to start with?

There are many choices, though The Firm is the book that kickstarted Grisham's career.

Will John Grisham have a new book in 2023?

The Housemaid's Secret is due to release in February 2023.

Is John Grisham still married?

John Grisham has been married to his wife, Renee, since 1981.

Why did John Grisham write a book about a football player?

After visiting Italy, John Grisham learned that Italy has an American football league. Inspired by this discovery, he started work on Playing for Pizza.

What is John Grisham's daughter's name?

John Grisham's daughter is named Shea.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.