Lee Child Books: What Reading Order Is Best?

Looking for a list of Jack Reacher books in order?

Good news. You’re in the right place.

You have 3 choices when choosing the reading order for Lee Child’s series of Jack Reacher books:

  1. By Publishing Date
  2. In Chronological Order
  3. No Order At All: Complete Chaos

Want To Read Lee Child’s Books In Order Of Publishing Date?

I recommend reading Jack Reacher books in this order myself.

  1. Killing Floor (1997) [Amazon]
  2. Die Trying (1998) [Amazon]
  3. Tripwire (1999) [Amazon]
  4. Running Blind (2000) [Amazon]
    • UK Title “The Visitor”
  5. Echo Burning (2001) [Amazon]
  6. Without Fail (2002) [Amazon]
  7. Persuader (2003) [Amazon]
  8. The Enemy (2004) [Amazon]
    • Prequel set eight years before Killing Floor
  9. One Shot (2005) [Amazon]
  10. The Hard Way (2006) [Amazon]
  11. Bad Luck and Trouble (2007) [Amazon]
  12. Nothing to Lose (2008) [Amazon]
  13. Gone Tomorrow (2009) [Amazon]
  14. 61 Hours (Spring 2010) [Amazon]
  15. Worth Dying For (Fall 2010) [Amazon]
  16. The Affair (2011) [Amazon]
    • This is another prequel set just before Killing Floor
  17. A Wanted Man (2012) [Amazon]
  18. Never Go Back (2013) [Amazon]
  19. Personal (2014) [Amazon]
  20. Make Me (2015) [Amazon]
  21. Night School (2016) [Amazon]
    • Prequel set when Reacher is 35
  22. No Middle Name (2017 [Amazon]
    • Collection of 12 short stories
  23. The Midnight Line (2017) [Amazon]
  24. Past Tense (2018) [Amazon]
  25. Blue Moon (2019) [Amazon]
  26. The Sentinel (2020) [Amazon]
  27. Better Off Dead (2021) [Amazon]
  28. No Plan B (October 2022) [Amazon]

Want To Read Lee Child’s Books In Chronological Order?

  1. The Enemy (2004) [Amazon]
    • Prequel set eight years before Killing Floor
  2. Night School (2016) [Amazon]
    • Prequel set when Reacher is 35
  3. The Affair (2011) [Amazon]
    • This is another prequel set just before Killing Floor
  4. Killing Floor (1997) [Amazon]
  5. Die Trying (1998) [Amazon]
  6. Tripwire (1999) [Amazon]
  7. Running Blind (2000) [Amazon]
    • UK Title “The Visitor”
  8. Echo Burning (2001) [Amazon]
  9. Without Fail (2002) [Amazon]
  10. Persuader (2003) [Amazon]
  11. One Shot (2005) [Amazon]
  12. The Hard Way (2006) [Amazon]
  13. Bad Luck and Trouble (2007) [Amazon]
  14. Nothing to Lose (2008) [Amazon]
  15. Gone Tomorrow (2009) [Amazon]
  16. 61 Hours (Spring 2010) [Amazon]
  17. Worth Dying For (Fall 2010) [Amazon]
  18. A Wanted Man (2012) [Amazon]
  19. Never Go Back (2013) [Amazon]
  20. Personal (2014) [Amazon]
  21. Make Me (2015) [Amazon]
  22. No Middle Name (2017 [Amazon]
    • Collection of 12 short stories
  23. The Midnight Line (2017) [Amazon]
  24. Past Tense (2018) [Amazon]
  25. Blue Moon (2019) [Amazon]
  26. The Sentinel (2020) [Amazon]
  27. Better Off Dead (2021) [Amazon]
  28. No Plan B (October 2022) [Amazon]

Don’t Care About The Reading Order For Lee Child’s Books?

That’s ok!

It makes it a bit tricky for keeping track of which ones you’ve read, but Lee Child wrote them in such a way that each stories exists on it’s own.

There are only a handful of references to previous stories and some books have no references at all. So if your reading style is chaos, then go for it. As for me I like publishing order or chronological order.

What about you? Have you read all Lee Child’s books? In what order did you read them?

Have you only recently got addicted to the Lee Child’s novels? What’s your plan for reading order?

Have your say in the comments below.

64 thoughts on “Lee Child Books: What Reading Order Is Best?”

  1. Hi, this is great to see the order of the books in two ways. I usually follow the publishing order because it shows the progression of the writer.
    Why do you prefer publishing if the series is out of chronological? Thank you.

    1. Publishing order is also my preference because it’s from the perspective of the author. Chronological is interesting though, because it’s from the perspective of the character. Interesting choice to make there 🙂

    2. Absolutely addicted to lee child and jack reacher. Difficult to read any other author because of addiction.

  2. I’ve just finished the 1st book killing floor and decided I wanted the next book Lee Child published so looks like I’m going in that direction. Killing floor definitely had me hooked I’ve not read a book I can not put down In ages so hoping the next 6 I’ve just bought are the same 🙂

  3. 61 hours was supposed to be continued, Pardon my ignorance but which title is the continuation??

      1. Hi Sheldon, I just read both 61 hours and Worth Dying For; and 61 hours ends with unanswered questions that worth dying for doesn’t answer. I believe that was the question. Like how does Reacher survive the explosion? Why didn’t he call her to say he was ok? Exactly how did he receive his injuries that were mentioned throughout Worth Dying For? I feel like the author normal wraps things up better than that.

          1. The author states that each book is a stand alone story. I have tried to find a follow on story to 61 Hours, but have not been sucessful. I believe that because the ending is so vague, the book is therefore incomplete. I would like my money back!

          2. The very next book (released in the same year – 2010) “Worth Dying For” does make a reference to the ending of “61 Hours” which does answer a few questions, but I understand what you mean. 61 Hours was meant to be the end of the character and series but Lee Child was overwhelmed with demand for a continuation and so continued to write. It is also the very first Jack Reacher book I read. I was instantly hooked and went to the very first book and read forward from there.

        1. It does tell you. He was clinging to an air shaft, which by chance acted as an “intake” for the air that fueled the explosion. He had to hang on so tight, he strained all dorts of muscles. That’s why he was soooo sore on the beginning of the book.

        2. The questions that you asked were/are answered. Return to where he is talking to the Doctor and he explains his injuries. Read the next in the chronological order and you’ll understand why he didn’t call her. I just don’t want to spoil the surprises.
          By the end of “Never Go Back” you’ll know everything.

  4. Do you know which Jack Reacher book/s also include the character Evan Smoak? I see another author is incorporating the character in a new series. I want to read the book where he appears with Reacher.
    Thanks for any assistance

    1. Wrong…Evan Smoak does not appear in ANY Jack Reacher novels. He is the creation of Gregg Hurwitz and appears in ORPHAN X and THE NOWHERE MAN. But similar genres: like Reacher, you’ll also like Smoak.

  5. Excellent series. I started reading them in publishing date order, but switched to chronological order to get a better feel for the back story. Any way one chooses, you won’t be disappointed!

  6. There’s also the short stories, and, 1 or 2 of them are missing chapters in some of the books, I can’t remember which ones go with each other but I did read it somewhere

  7. I have read all the Jack Reacher novels with exception of the .5 novels. I see where the new Night School is set prior to Killing Floor. Should it be before the Affiar or between the Affair and The Enemy. Planning to read ALL the series again. Thanks. Maria

  8. I prefer chronological and I really appreciate this site helping me to feed my Reacher craving in a way that does not affect my slight OCD.

    I am almost finished with the series. Any recommendations for similar writers and characters. The Mitch Rapp series is good but I finished that also.

    1. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels… Different read that Flynn’s (did same as you Flynn first) Very good reads…. and more of them!!

  9. I have gone reading crazy for the last year… I read through Vince Flynn’s novels with Mitch Rapp and loved them. Wish there was more… So I googled what should I read next and here is Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” I just finished One Shot reading them in publishing date… DAMMM can’t get enough of these stories.. Excellent reading…..

  10. I just discovered this series recently and I’m hooked. Child does this kind of book as well as anyone, and I’ve been reading “hard boiled” and “anti-hero” fiction for 50 years. I started by accident with The Enemy and then read (publication date) nos. 2, 3, and 4. Next I’m going to read the Affair, Killing Floor, and Night School, then continue with the publication date for the rest of the series.

  11. I love reading these stories, Child has developed a character that feels real and too good to be true at the same time which is why I think these stories are popular, that and the fact the the bad guys usually get their comeuppance too (hehehe) So, I started with “The Affair” got hooked, and decided to read them in chronological order. I don’t think it matters much, but that’s just me, logical. I am up to #17 now so chronological meets published.
    Cheers, Mick

  12. Should Night School not be the new #4 in chronological order ? I have read 7 of them (8 counting the story anthology No Middle Name) & just finished The Enemy so it’s a scrambled choronological order like they were written. I could appreciate the way Child was setting the background for the early Enemy novel & establishing the career military milieu & the basic Reacher character for the stories to come but largely in a backwards perspective.

  13. Got into the series via the movies and am loving it!

    FWIW, a few of the short stories in “No Middle Name” come before “Killing Floor”…including two where Reacher is a teenager.

    – Second Son*
    – High Heat*
    – Deep Down
    – Small Wars

    *Set when Reacher as teen, before West Point.

  14. Thought I post here as I’ve discovered the John Milton series by Mark Dawson, I think Reacher fans will like it( I had to find something whilst awaiting the new Reacher release)

  15. I,m now half way though Night School, having read the collection in published order. Any advice on what I should read now whilst waiting for next Reacher novel in Nov?

  16. Started out random years ago. Now going to go chronological. Putting my Overdrive in overdrive.

    Thanks for the excellent lists. You have given me a reading agenda for months. It will be fun to reread the ones I’ve already read with the background of his development.

  17. I have been reading chronological. It made more sense to me to follow his progression of experiences.

    If you like Jack Reacher – try reading one of the Joe Pike/Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais.

  18. I just started The Enemy and it was confusing. A warning at the beginning letting me know it was a prequel would have been nice. I would prefer no prequels.

  19. I went through a couple of stents where I listened to audio books of this series. I was getting digital downloads of them from the library and they didn’t have all of them nor were they all available at the time I was trying to rent them, so I didn’t listen to them in order. The way each book is written, I would say that they can be read in any order because they pretty much stand alone. Very few characters return in them and if they do, they’re given a brief recap of who they are.

  20. For a website dedicated to literature, I’m pretty disappointed in this grammatical error: “each story exists on it’s own.”

    Thanks for the lists though! I will be using them.

  21. I’ve not been a big fan of reading most of my life but my wife got “One Shot” from the library for me to read when we went on holiday last year (because I was a big fan of the film). I enjoyed the book and found it to be better than the film – though it took some time to get my head around the fact that Jack Reacher is nothing like Tom Cruise!
    My wife then bought me the paperback of Without Fail, which I also enjoyed and that whet my appetite to read more. I have since purchased books 1-22 as ebooks and I am working through them in publishing order – I’m currently on Nothing To Lose (Book 12).
    I thought by Book 10 (The Hard Way) the plots were getting too predictable, but Book 11 (Bad Luck and Trouble) changed my opinion and is possibly my favorite one so far (I could see that made into a film and it could easily be better than Never Go Back!)

  22. I have tried to read the series based on Chronological Oder. At the end of The Enemy he was reduced in rank to a Captain and assigned to a MP company.
    For Night School he is a Major and is receiving an award before the story begins.
    Are we sure these are the correct Chronological Oder?

  23. I went for Chaos. Started on a whim by buying ‘no middle name’, then just bought one when I came across it.
    I wouldn’t normally do this, but I have to say darting backwards and forwards has kept it fresh and exciting.

  24. I have just started reading Lee Child’s books and can’t stop. My first one was 61 hours which I loved and I have now been given a box full of Jack Reacher books which I shall put in order. Thank you for this list!

    1. That’s exactly the way I started Jean, 61 hours was the book that got me hooked! You are welcome 🙂

  25. I could get into trouble here so I will preface my opinion with this – I think Tom Cruise is a good actor ….but …. he is not a Jack Reacher now if I had a reading disability and just watched the movies I would enjoy them for what they are but Mr. Cruise is quite diminutive whereas Jack Reacher is a giant man 6 and a half feet tall with shoulders ….. in closing Cruise is the worst case of miss-casting in the history of Movies !!

    1. You are absolutely correct! I don’t know who did the casting, but the fact that Tom Cruise is a boxoffice draw doesn’t change the fact that Reacher’s stature is important to his mystique, and Cruise just doesn’t live up to the character.

  26. I have read all of Lee Child’s books, but failed to realise that “The Visitor” and “Running Blind” were the same book under a different title. But I still enjoyed it a second time. ( especially as we are both originally born in Coventry as well.)

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