A good way to learn more about fantasy worlds is to read in-world fiction based on the world. The Harry Potter book series, for example, also features spin-offs written as in-world textbooks (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), library books (Quidditch Through the Ages), and children’s stories (The Tales of Beedle the Bard). While not all fantasy worlds have in-world media that you can access, one world that does is Skyrim.
There are 337 readable books in the Skyrim world and 820 readable pieces of literature in general. Literature aside from books includes letters, journals, and more. Additionally, there are three official real-world books you can buy based on Skyrim, as well as an official cookbook.
In this article, I’ll explain the in-game books you can find in the Skyrim games in more detail and explain what you can expect to read in the real-world books. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea about whether reading the books in the game will be a worthwhile endeavor.
Skyrim – or, more accurately, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – is an original open-world role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It follows four previous games in the Elder Scrolls games series, and a sixth game is in development.
Skyrim isn’t based on an existing book or movie. However, as it’s part of a game series, it’s based in the same fictional world of Tamriel as the other games and incorporates elements from the other games as part of the game’s fictional history.
The Skyrim game is set 200 years after the fourth installment in the series.
As the game isn’t based on existing books and movies, the best way to familiarize yourself with the history of the world is to play the other games or read up on them online. You can also talk with people who have played the other games to understand the history and storyline better.
However, it should be noted that learning about the history isn’t necessary for enjoying the game. You can start playing Skyrim without prior knowledge of the Elder Scrolls universe and still enjoy yourself.
As Skyrim is a video game, the books in Skyrim are not physical items – instead, they’re part of the game. You can pick up books you encounter in the game and either read them where you are or shelve them in your house. Shelving them allows you to read the books at your own pace.
As mentioned above, there are 337 books you can read in the game. It’s possible to play the games without reading any. However, reading the books allows you to better understand the world’s fictional history and the history behind the quests you have to complete in the game. Most players agree that this knowledge makes playing the game much more enjoyable.
In general, the books can be broken into four categories:
These books do exactly what they claim to – help you train your skills in-game. Opening each of the books in this category enables you to increase a related skill rating by one point – keep in mind, to get this boost, all you need to do is open the book, so you don’t need to read them if you don’t want to.
There are 18 skills you can train in and five books available per skill. Additionally, there’s an additional skills book, the Oghma Infinium, that allows you to increase your skill ratings in one of three paths, each of which contains six skills. This book grants a five-point increase to each of the six skills in your chosen path, giving you a total increase of 30 points.
In total, there are 91 skill-training books you can encounter.
If you want to learn more about Tamriel and the history of the world of Skyrim, these are the books for you to read. They cover in-game historical events, biographies, and more, allowing you to better understand the cultures and races that populate the world of Skyrim. Additionally, they’re also an excellent way to learn interesting facts about Tamriel that the developers thought up but never included in the Elder Scrolls games.
Aside from worldbuilding, there are also books that’ll give you an insight into the stories that the characters in Skyrim like to read.
In-game fiction books are essentially a layer of fiction within another layer – you have the layer of the world of Tamriel, which is a fictional world for you, the game player. However, in-game fiction books are essentially the stories within the stories.
While historical and autobiographical texts in Skyrim are treated as fact, in-game fiction books are never meant to be more than stories. They’re often cautionary folk tales, similar to The Tales of Beedle the Bard in the Harry Potter universe.
Like in-game fiction books, the developers of Skyrim also came up with a fictional religious framework that the characters in the game believe. You can read about this religious system in a variety of books that cover the creation myths of Tamriel, as well as other thoughts on religion and the nature of the world of Skyrim. Some of these books are metafictional, in which the characters of the books realize they’re part of a video game.
In total, there are 307 books that can be considered to be worldbuilding, in-game fiction, or religious texts. Some books cross over between this category and the skill books, which is why there are 337 books in total, rather than 398. These 337 books total over 316,000 words of material.
You can also explore a range of other written material in Skyrim that doesn’t correspond to a “book.” This includes letters, recipes for potions and poisons, quest books that give your character a quest to complete, Black Books that transport your character to another realm, and more.
There are three “real-world” Skyrim books that you can purchase as physical objects. These books are:
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. II: Man, Mer, and Beast
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane
These books essentially collect the stories and books you can find in the game. While you can, of course, read the same material in-game, having a physical version makes it easier to read them. The Bethesda Softworks Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Collection (available on Amazon.com) includes a hardcover of the three books.
There’s also a graphic novel based on Skyrim known as C0DA. Released for free by ex-Skyrim developer Michael Kirkbride, it’s a meta exploration that encourages people to think of the Skyrim world as a place every player can contribute to, rather than one with a fixed canon and history. While the original C0DA website is unavailable, the graphic novel has been archived by social media users.
Finally, you can also buy an official cookbook based on The Elder Scrolls universe as a whole (rather than just the Skyrim game). The Chelsea Monroe-Cassel The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook (available on Amazon.com), features over 60 recipes. These are divided according to in-world cuisine, so you can better understand what foods the characters in the game would eat.
Though Skyrim is a video game and not a book, it features digital books you can read. There are 337 pieces of text available in the form of books, as well as additional written material like letters and spellbooks.
You can also read the stories in these books in the form of three real-world books. These books collect all the stories of Skyrim in one place, making it easier for fans to read them without worrying about missing out on some.
- Reddit: Reading books in Skyrim
- Wikipedia: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Wiki: Books (Skyrim)
- The Elder Scrolls Wiki: C0DA
- The Elder Scrolls Wiki: Skill Books (Skyrim)
- The Elder Scrolls Wiki: Oghma Infinium (Skyrim)
- Reddit: C0DA.es down?
- Game Rant: Elder Scrolls Player Read All 337 Books in Skyrim
- Quora: Is the video game called “The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim” based upon any books, movies or other stories? If so, which?
- Screen Rant: All 337 Skyrim Books Explained: What Elder Scrolls Literature is About
- Penn Book Center: How Many Books In Skyrim? Best Update 
- Reddit: [Q] Does anyone read the books? Was it worth it?
- Reddit: C0DA.es down?