See previous post covering the Sarah Jane books, also Class, the three Companions novels, Missing Adventures, Past Doctor Adventures, and the Sixth, Thirteenth, Fifth, Eighth and Twelfth Doctor books.
Seventh Doctor novelisations and New Adventures
The top Seventh Doctor book on Goodreads is the second in the series of 74 New Adventures published by Virgin during the Wilderness Years, starting with Seven and Ace and expanding to include other companions, notably Bernice Summerfield. Timewyrm: Exodus shows veteran Terrance Dicks on especially good form, taking the Doctor and Ace to a Hitler Won timeline in the early 1950s. You can get it here.
The top New Adventure on Goodreads is Paul Cornell’s Human Nature, still the only novel on which a TV adventure for a later Doctor was based. You can get it here.
My own favourite of the New Adventures is the Sherlock Holmes / Cthulhu mashup All-Consuming Fire by Andy Lane. You can get it here.
The top Seventh Doctor novelisation on both LibraryThing and Goodreads is Ben Aaronovitch’s adaptation of his TV story Remembrance of the Daleks. You can get it here. My own favourite is Doctor Who: Dragonfire, by Ian Briggs, which you can get here.
The top Third Doctor book on LibraryThing is Terrance Dicks’ novelisation of Day of the Daleks, definitely one of his better books, in which freedom fighters from the future attempt to infiltrate the present day to cause a strategic assassination. The book was one that I pored over as a kid, and inevitably when I watched the original TV story I was disappointed. You can get it here.
My favourite Third Doctor novelisation is Malcolm Hulke’s treatment of his own script for Jo Grant’s last story, The Green Death, which you can get here.
The top Third Doctor novel on Goodreads is from the BBC’s Past Doctor Adventures, Last of the Gadarene by Mark Gatiss (one of the few people who has both appeared in the show and written for it). It’s a story set in the UNIT era with aliens infiltrating a village fete. You can get it here.
The top Second Doctor novel on Goodreads is a 2012 book by renowned hard sf author Stephen Baxter, probably the most prominent writer to top any of these individual categories for sole authorship of a novel (but see below for short fiction and joint authorship). The Wheel of Ice takes the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to a human colony in the outer solar system, a classic Troughton-era base under siege, with added marital discord and stroppy teenagers. There are ancient, weird aliens, and a mystery stretching across millions of years, which entirely convince the reader that this is a Stephen Baxter novel. There are also various pleasing references both to Who continuity and to Baxter’s other work, none of them crucial to enjoying the book, which is also probably my favourite Second Doctor book. You can get it here.
(Though I must point out that “The Wearing of the Green” is not a Jacobite tune. Wrong island, and more than half a century out.)
The top Second Doctor book on LibraryThing is the first Troughton-era novelisation published, Doctor Who and the Cybermen, adapting the TV story The Moonbase. I don’t rate it as highly as The Wheel of Ice, but you can get it here.
50th anniversary e-shorts
I have been tweaking these individual categories for each Doctor to look at novels only, because in most cases the numbers are hugely distorted by the short stories published individually and electronically by Puffin in 2013 for the 50th anniversary, many of which are more popular than any of the novels featuring those Doctors. At the top of that list, on both Goodreads and LibraryThing, is the one that came out the week of the anniversary itself, ten years ago this month – Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman, which takes the Eleventh Doctor and Amy to a creepy house with shades of Coraline and Sandman. I like it a lot too, and you can get it here.
The other one I particularly liked in this sequence was Michael Scott’s Second Doctor story The Nameless City, which nicely salutes the Cthulhu mythos. You can get it here, and you can get a collection of all of the stories (now increased to 13) here.
There is one novel featuring the War Doctor, as played by John Hurt; it is Engines of War by George Mann. I didn’t find it much to my own taste, but you can get it here. The Big Finish War Doctor series is much better.
The first and (IMHO) the best of all the old Target novelisations is also top of both the LibraryThing and Goodreads charts: originally published in 1964 as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, now generally just known as Doctor Who and the Daleks, the novelisation of the second broadcast Doctor Who TV story, and the one which made the show such a success; later also made into a cinema film starring Peter Cushing.
David Whitaker, who adapted the book from Terry Nation’s script, rewrote it as if it was the very first of the Doctor’s adventures, told entirely from the point of view of Ian Chesterton, a teacher who becomes the Doctor’s companion along with granddaughter Susan and her tutor Barbara. There’s lots of lovely extra detail given to the story of the Daleks and Thals on Skaro, and the Daleks themselves are more interesting than they have often been since. It’s a firm favourite of mine, and you can get it here.
There are 19 original Torchwood novels, and most of them are pretty good. Top of the charts for both LibraryThing and Goodreads is the first in the sequence, Another Life by Peter Anghelides. There is lots of good Torchwood stuff, a body-hopping alien, a spaceship which endangers Cardiff, a former lover of one of the team (Owen in this case), all against a gloomy backdrop of awful weather littered with variously dead bodies. I like it too and you can get it here.
Having said that, my personal favourite of the Torchwood books is the much later First Born by James Goss, who I find one of the best Whoniverse writers currently working. It’s a kind of prequel to Miracle Day, with Gwen and Rhys in hiding, and weird children being weird. You can get it here.
The top Eleventh Doctor novel on Goodreads is Touched by an Angel, by Jonathan Morris. It is a story of car crashes and mixed-up timelines with the addition of the Weeping Angels, who both create the possibility of temporal paradox and hope to feed off it. Morris does a beautiful job of conveying the history of the relationship between the car crash victim and her husband which is central to the narrative, and the Angels also come across superbly. It also has the Doctor, Rory and Amy. You can get it here.
The top Eleventh Doctor book on LibraryThing is The Silent Stars Go By, by Dan Abnett, which is also my favourite of the original novels, a Christmassy story of a generations-long terraforming plan. You can get it here. But I like Steven Moffat’s novelisation of the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, even more; you can get it here.
The third highest rated Doctor Who book on LibraryThing, and fourth highest on Goodreads, and top Ninth Doctor book on both systems, is Gareth Roberts’ Only Human, which I think benefited from being one of three released in September 2005, when people were starting to get thirsty for new Who material.
It is largely set in Bromley, where the Doctor and Rose get involved with Neanderthals, local homo sapiens, and humans who have travelled there from the far future, all under threat from ambitious monsters and monstrous ambition. Meanwhile, in the early 21st century, Jack Harkness is helping a displaced Neanderthal settle into contemporary Bromley. There is a certain amount of playing the situation for laughs, but also a bit of exploration of what it is that makes us human. You can get it here.
It’s my own favourite Ninth Doctor novel too, and it’s a shame that the author himself has turned out to be an intolerant bigot.
The top Fourth Doctor book by ownership, and second highest of all Doctor Who books, on both Goodreads and LibraryThing, is another by Gareth Roberts, his 2012 novelisation of the unshown Fourth Doctor TV story Shada from Douglas’ Adams script featuroing the Doctor, Romana, K9 and Cambridge and an ancient Time Lord secret.
I enjoyed it; I wrote at the time that Roberts had teased out threads of narrative left him by Adams, thickened them up and knitted them into a warm colourful and much longer scarf of story. The means and motivation of Skagra and Salyavin are fully explained. In addition, we have the extra romantic depth we had always hoped must be there between Clare and Chris, nicely contrasted with the relationship between the Doctor and Romana. You can get it here.
I must add that I enjoyed even more the novelisation of another Douglas Adams script, The Pirate Planet, this time by James Goss (who is one of my favourite Who writers anyway) which you can get here; and I retain affection for Terrance Dicks’ original novelisation of Genesis of the Daleks, which you can get here, and which is the top traditional novelisation on Goodreads; and his Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster, the top traditional novelisation on LibraryThing, which you can get here.
Tenth Doctor: The Winner
The top Doctor Who book by ownership, on both Goodreads and LibraryThing, is Jacqueline Rayner’s The Stone Rose. It was the very first Tenth Doctor novel to be published, in April 2006 just before the start of Series 2, and was then republished in 2015 which will have given it an extra boost.
It features the Tenth Doctor and Rose with Micky and Jackie, sorting out the mystery of a statue of Rose dating from Roman times in the British Museum. Solving the mystery takes a certain amount of timewarping, mostly during the reign of Hadrian, and dealing with an advanced technology indistinguishable from magic. You can get it here.
My own favourite Tenth Doctor novel is Beautiful Chaos, by Gary Russell, with the Doctor, Donna, Wilf and an old enemy in contemporary London. You can get it here.
I hope that this has been interesting, and will encourage you to look out for more Doctor Who books by more writers. The late great Terrance Dicks has the most books by far on my lists, but I’ll always look out for more by James Goss, Steve Cole, Paul Cornell, Justin Richards and Jacqueline Rayner; and indeed most of the others. The core of Doctor Who will always be TV dramas, but books, audios, games and especially comics (not mentioned here) have a venerable history with the franchise as well. Go, and enjoy them.