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Fictional Document

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Kryten: Sir, the Space Corps Directives are there to protect us. They are not a set of vindictive pronouncements directed against any one person.
Rimmer: Has anyone ever seen this legendary Space Corps Directive Manual?
Lister: Well... no.
Rimmer: He's making it up, isn't he? The bloody book doesn't exist!

All the books, magazines, and newspapers that exist only within a fictional world, from the Necronomicon to the mysteries of Jessica Fletcher. They are more common in Speculative Fiction, but not restricted to it.

They serve two main narrative purposes: verisimilitude and exposition. Jessica is supposed to be an author. It would be bizarre if no trace of the books she writes existed. Reading the Necronomicon may frighten the protagonist half to death, but it also gives the reader an idea of the Backstory.

Fictional documents are also used to comment on literary tropes, and as aids to characterization. Characters comparing their own predicament with their favorite book can get very sarcastic about how unrealistic it was, while few things so embarrass the Action Girl as having her little brother read aloud a few choice passages from her favourite romance. Sometimes, however, you may just have to Take Our Word for It.

Sister trope to Show Within a Show, Fictional Video Game, and Fictional Painting.

Common types of fictional document include:

If your story is made entirely of Fictional Documents, it's a Scrapbook Story (so please list it there rather than here). If the paratext quotes from these, it's quoting the Encyclopedia Exposita. And if the story itself appears in the story, it's Recursive Canon. If it merely claims to have been written by a character within the setting, it probably falls under Direct Line to the Author. In Video Games, they are almost always used as Flavor Text.

Occasionally prone to Defictionalization.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Shizuka is a fan of "Circlet Love Story", a romance novel about a princess named Io and her beloved knight Kamacle. When Rentarou confesses his love to her, she sees herself as the princess and him as the knight.
  • Chobits features a picture book which corresponds to the main character so completely that it becomes of little wonder when it's revealed that it was written specifically for her.
  • Near the end of the Chrono Crusade manga, there's quotations from both Mary Magdalene's prophecies, and Azmaria's memoir. It's implied that at least some of the manga is "based on" the book Azmaria wrote.
  • D.N.Angel has a plotline focused around the fictional fairytale Ice and Snow—which turns out to be the edited, abridged version of the original tale, Ice and Dark.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, at the end of the series, it is revealed that over the course of his life Zenitsu wrote a book of his memoirs as a demon slayer, called Zenitsu-den (Legend of Zenitsu), being left as a family possession that his great-grandson personally enjoyed reading; in post-epilogue material it is shown bit by bit that Zenitsu was quite biased towards making himself looking very heroic, the greater than life type, dramatizing the whole affair at the expense of making every other slayer look less impressive than Zenitsu, in his own mind. Afterwards even more details for Zenitsu-den was given, to the point of Defictionalization in the art gallery Koyoharu Gotouge Exhibition in late 2021, Japan, where a partial rendition of Zenitsu-den was produced for attendees to see; really showing much personal bias Zenitsu really wrote, but also showing that at the very last chapter of his book, written in his elder years, Zenitsu wisely admitted the previous 24 chapters were all fictional, with the last one being a historically accurate account of all the events that transpired over the course of the series.
  • A few story arcs I Think Our Son Is Gay revolves around Koi-Men, a popular Boys' Love genre manga that has been adopted into a popular TV drama. Unlike the norm of that genre, Koi-Men lacks explicit sex scenes and puts more emphasis on gay romance. It is, for the most part, inspired by the real-life gay romance drama Ossan's Love.
  • The villain of Monster bases his identity on a brainwashing children's book. The story, along with several others, is reproduced in the series with full text and illustrations.
  • Much of Princess Tutu's plot revolves around the fictional fairytale The Prince and the Raven.
  • A major chunk of the plot of Whisper of the Heart revolves around the main character struggling to write her first novel - which was later Defictionalized.

    Comic Books 
  • Firefly: The Sting: Each chapter after the first starts with some documents from the narrating character. For Zoe, it's a video of a conversation with Wash. For Inara, journal pages and drawings. For Kaylee, a diary. For River, assorted drawings and strange writings.
  • Pretty much all of the 11 backup features in Watchmen, in addition to the comic book Tales from the Black Freighter. The comic contains these documents for real in the sense of containing their actual texts and illustrations (this does mean Under the Hood is a very short book, even though it sounds credible enough when you read it).
    Chapter 1, 2 and 3: Chapters 1 through 5 of Under the Hood, written by Hollis Mason (Nite Owl I), discussing the story of the earlier crimefighters.
    Chapter 4: The book Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers by Dr. Milton Glass, discussing Manhattan's role in shaping the world of Watchmen; the Introduction is included in the comic.
    Chapter 5: "A Man on Fifteen Dead Man's Chests", a history on Tales From the Black Freighter from Treasure Island Treasury of Comics.
    Chapter 6: A variety of documents chronicling Rorschach's personal history, sources including the New York Police Department, the Charlton Home and the New York State Psychiatric Hospital.
    Chapter 7: "Blood From the Shoulder of Pallas", an essay written by Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II)
    Chapter 8: The New Frontiersman Issue IVII No. 21, discussing the vigilantes from a Right-Wing perspective.
    Chapter 9: A variety of news clippings chronicling Sally Jupiter's career.
    Chapter 10: Various memos from the desk of Adrian Veidt.
    Chapter 11: "After the Masquerade: Superstyle and the art of humanoid watching," an interview with Adrian Veidt from 1975.
  • Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, in which the titular Black Dossier is a Fictional Document, containing excerpts from other Fictional Documents: Oliver Haddo (of The Magician)'s "On the Descent of the Gods"; British comic strip Trump's "Life of Orlando"; a lost Shakespeare play entitled Faerie's Fortunes Founded; a sequel to Fanny Hill; a Jeeves and Wooster story detailing an encounter with a Great Old One; and a novel, The Crazy Wide Forever, by Kerouac's alter ego Sal Paradyse, as well as a pornsec booklet as produced by the Minitrue of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Earlier volumes also included an Allan Quatermain short story, a traveler's almanac, and various fictional Victorian advertisements, posters, postcards, &c. as All There in the Manual-type extra features.
  • In The Sandman (1989), Dream's castle includes a library of books that were never written.
  • The DC Universe features "true crime" comics of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.'s adventures, presumably taken from media accounts, etc.; one late '60s Batman story made use of this as its plot (Batman forced to confront the writer of his world's "Batman" comic).
  • Superman of course features the great metropolitan newspaper The Daily Planet, as well as Lois Lane, who also had a novel published.
  • In Wonder Woman (1987) Wonder Woman wrote an autobiography titled Reflections: A Collection of Essays and Speeches, with the cover art done by Kyle Rayner.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! features fictional Earth-C versions of some DC Comics characters. Captain Carrot in his alter ego works as a writer/artist for his world's DC Comics, writing stories about "Super-Squirrel", "Wonder Wabbit", "the Batmouse", and the "Just'a Lotta Animals" (though the Zoo Crew later discovered that their "fictional" comics characters were actually real, on the parallel world of Earth-C-Minus).
  • Marvel examples:
    • The New York-based daily newspaper, The Daily Bugle. J. Jonah Jameson also used to publish Now and Woman magazine. The latter was edited for a time by Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel.
    • The Darkhold, which among other things contains the Montesi Formula, which destroys vampires.
      • Dr. Strange's friend Morgana Blessing has published books about the occult.
    • Destiny's diaries, which contain(ed) many visions of the future.
      • Pyro, her teammate in the Brotherhood/Freedom Force is a best-selling novelist.
    • Marvel Comics, which in the Marvel Universe for the most part are licensed by the heroes depicted in them. For a time, Steve Rogers was put in charge of drawing the Captain America comic book.
    • Peter Parker put out Webs, a coffee-table book of photographs of Spider-Man.
    • Marvel Comics in the Marvel Universe are more or less accurate re-tellings of character's adventures with names changed to protect secret identities. In She-Hulk, it is explained that the comics code is in charge of making sure they are factually accurate and "approving" comics that can be used as legal accounts of events.
  • In Empowered mention is made of a lot of slash fan-fiction especially involving the male Superhomeys. Some of the latter was written by Emp herself using a pseudonym.
  • The Junior Woodchucks' Guidebook, the most stupendous and comprehensive guide to everything.
  • The tourist guide Syldavia, Land of the Black Pelican, a few pages of which are reprinted in King Ottokar's Sceptre. And by extension the 14th and 15th-century manuscripts from which some of its illustrations were taken.
    • The manuscript "Journal of Sir Francis Haddocke, Captain in the King's Navy, Commander of the vessel Vnicorn" from The Secret of the Unicorn.
  • Judge Dredd has the Book of the Law, which is about the only volume that Dredd reads. There's also The Comportment, a handbook written by Dredd himself, which is required reading for all judges.
  • One Astro City story follows a comic book publisher and the trouble he gets into when supers take offense to his fast-and-loose attititude toward the facts.

  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero opens every chapter with an excerpt from one of these, whether a guide to being a hero, poetry, or some sort of diary.
  • The fic Equestria: A History Revealed is full of them and serves as one itself, being an In-Universe historical essay on the history of Equestria, written with an insane conspiracy theorist's edge. As it possesses its own bibliography and cites these "sources", the fic is filled with all sorts of referenced books, the most notable of which include: What are Fingers? Anthro Puberty and You, On Heroism: The Glory of Celestia and the Equestrian Civil War, and How the Sea-Pony Wished Upon a Star and Unknowingly Started Racial Prosecution Under An Emergent Fascist Regime: A Collection of Filly’s Tales and Legends That Start Off Whimsical But End in Destruction and Death.
  • The Exoria Files.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist fan fiction The Game of Three Generals, after it's announced that his wife is pregnant, Roy Mustang is gifted with an expectant father's advice book called Look What You Did to Me.
  • In A Growing Affection, Naruto's maternal grandfather was a prolific writer, and implied to be the reason Naruto was able to ghost write for Jiraiya. Hinata is a fan of his fantasy trilogy The Kunoichi and the Priest.
  • Chapter 7 of '"Muv Luv Comet'' opens with several articles discussing the future acquisition plans of the US Space Force.
  • Every chapter of The Mobius Chronicles starts off with a passage from somebody's future memoirs or a history book written after the war.
  • The Pokéumans Fan Verse has produced several, including Spiritus' memoirs and an untitled play by Amy the Jigglypuff about her own story.
  • Sun & Moon is presented as a history written by Twilight Sparkle, and references other documents at the start of chapters.
  • The PandoraHearts fanfic Beyond the Winding Road discusses has these in a bonus chapter that reads like a history podcast, covering the events of the manga from the eyes of future historians. The extended version of the podcast in Advance IV notes that much of the information historians have about the Dukedoms before and after the Revolution of 1901 comes from newspapers, journals, letters, and diary entries. A photographic version of this trope is the Lamontre Fils Photograph (the tea party photograph from the manga), which contains the last known images of many of Sable's aristocracy before their mysterious deaths and includes the unexplained image of the late Oz Vessalius, someone who'd been declared dead ten years before the photograph was taken. Naturally these documents are a source of great mystery to historians and conspiracy theorists.
  • In the A Song of Ice and Fire story Wearing Robert's Crown, both Robert Baratheon and Tyrion Lannister are published authors (helped by Robert's invention of the printing press). Tyrion writes books based on his exploits as a gentleman-adventurer. Robert's known publication was a bit controversial since it was a sex manual - he may have also written an agricultural advice book.
    • Also, Varys publishes a newspaper.
  • Code Geass: Colorless Memories Most of the Fanon Wiki pages are written as documents and messages found In-Universe by characters of different groups and also concerning different matters that each page touches upon.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the second chapter is a life-sized but completely fictional BBC online article detailing Chrysalis' arrival in the city, fake comments and adverts included.
  • Each chapter of In Short Supply begins with some kind of fictional document, usually providing background on that chapter's theme or the characters involved. Examples include Dib's journal, information about Irken religion, or transcripts from a black market sale.
  • The History of Human War is a book the Mane Six read in Innocence Once Lost.
  • There are several examples of this throughout Skyhold Academy Yearbook, seeing as how Varric is a published author who teaches writing classes. Both he and a couple of his students occasionally disrupt the plot by sharing in-universe stories they've written.
  • A few of the chapters in the main volumes of Twice Upon an Age are comprised of letters or reports written by various Dragon Age: Inquisition characters during the course of the adventure.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, each chapter opens with epigraphs that are presented extracts from various books that will be published in the future of the new history where trained dragons become a common part of human civilization, ranging from historical books providing brief hints about the human characters' future histories to some details about dragon biology.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch follows Stefan's efforts to adapt a Gamebook called Bandersnatch into a video game.
  • MirrorMask has "The Really Useful Book" and "A Complete History of Everything".
  • In the original novel Frankenstein, the actual method of bringing the Monster back to life is never detailed. In the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein, this fact is parodied by the discovery of a book by Frankenstein entitled simply How I Did It. It's likely a parody of the book he made of his work in the Universal movies, The Secret of Life and Death. This is also sort of Hilarious in Hindsight today after O.J. Simpson wrote a similarly titled book about how he murdered his wife (hypothetically, of course).
  • The great Depression Era novel O Brother Where Art Thou, by Sinclair Beckstein, is cited by director John Sullivan in the 1941 ''Sullivan's Travels'.'
    • No real details about the book are ever given, but the Coen brothers' 2000 film of the same name fits the supposed saga nicely in plot and details.
  • In Finding Forrester, Sean Connery's eponymous character's reputation is entirely based on his only novel, Flying to Avalon.
  • One of the many details of the final draft script of A New Hope that didn't make it into the finished cut of the movie note  but preserved in Alan Dean Foster's novelization was the Journal of the Whills, which seems to have been intended as a history of the Empire and its collapse. This does get a few sly references in the movies, especially the prequels; it's amazing how awesome R2-D2 (who supposedly told the story to the Willis) gets when nobody's looking...
  • Airplane II: The Sequel features a musical variant: moon-base commander Murdock is shown shuttle-pilot Ted Striker's record, which is a vinyl LP titled "Ted Striker's 400 Polka Favorites".
  • Night Train to Lisbon: The writings of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor who wanted to be a writer but went into medicine inspired by his sick father.
  • Wes Anderson loves this trope.
    • The Royal Tenenbaums includes numerous books by its characters: Family of Geniuses by Etheline Tenenbaum, Old Custer by Eli Cash, The Peculiar Neurodegenerative Inhabitants of the Kazawa Atoll and Dudley's World by Raleigh St. Clair, Three Plays (Erotic Transference, Nakedness Tonight, and Static Electricity) by Margot Tenenbaum, and Accounting for Everything: A Guide to Personal Finance by Henry Sherman.
    • Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom packed six YA novels when she ran away: Shelly and the Secret Universe, The Girl from Jupiter, Disappearance of the 6th Grade, The Francine Odysseys by Gertrude Price, The Light of Seven Matchsticks, and The Return of Auntie Lorraine.
    • The Grand Budapest Hotel has the main narrative framed as the story within the book The Grand Budapest Hotel, written by "our great author."
  • Rosemary's Baby prominently features All of Them Witches by J. R. Hanslet as both a source of information and as a clue to the identity of certain characters.
  • Dr. Leo Marvin's self-help book Baby Steps is a major force driving the plot of What About Bob?
  • In the "new" 1985 at the end of Back to the Future, George has become an author who just published A Match Made in Space, obviously directly inspired by his encounter with "Darth Vader, of the planet Vulcan" back in 1955.
    • Marty's attempt to take Gray's Sports Almanac (covering the years 1950-2000) back from 2015 in the second movie led to a Biff-centric dystopian alternate 1985.
  • In the world of Beetlejuice, every new dead person is assigned a copy of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased. It apparently reads like stereo instructions.
    • And the publishers of this book also produced The Living and the Dead, instructions for living humans on "peaceful co-existence" with ghosts. It also reads like stereo instructions.
  • Austin Powers: Austin is evidently the not-so-proud author of Swedish-made Penis Enlarger Pumps and Me: (This Sort of Thing Is My Bag, Baby.)
  • Doctor... Series:
    • In Doctor in the House (1954), Simon and Tony read The Student's Friend by Gordon Joycey when they get stuck during their first time examining patients.
    • ''Doctor in Love':
      • Dr. Hare reads A Touch of Spice by Jack Lane while he recovers from jaundice.
      • Dr. Hare tells Mr. Green to read The Garden of Pleasure by Tony Worth to learn about sex.
    • In Doctor in Distress (1963), Sir Lancelot inspects True Tales of Love and Jealousy at the railway station bookstall.
    • In Doctor in Clover, Dr. Grimsdyke reads Rejuvenation by Drugs and Other Methods by Professor J.V. Kaginovitch after Jeannine rejects him for being too old.
  • Please Turn Over has Naked Revolt, the book Jo writes using people she knows as the basis for her characters that drives the plot of the film.
  • Up Pompeii has The Daily Tablet, a newspaper scroll read by the citizens of Pompeii.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Catch That Rabbit": Gregory Powell always keeps a copy of the Handbook of Robotics nearby. A Noodle Incident is referenced where he would've ran out of a burning building naked rather than lose his copy.
    • Foundation Series:
    • "Galley Slave":
      • Physical Chemistry of Electrolytes in Solution is the first book that EZ-27 proofreads on-screen.
      • Social Tensions Involved in Space-Flight and Their Resolution is Professor Simon Ninheimer's book, the one that he alleges has been destroyed by robot EZ-27's editing. It is named often enough to be referred to by the shortened title, Social Tensions.
      • Ninheimer's book involves a variety of references; Sociological Reviews (containing a paper from Suzuki on neurological effects in low gravity), Social Science Abstracts (a magazine in which Ninheimer is annotating for inclusion), as well as unnamed papers by Speidell and Ipatiev.
    • "The Imaginary": Helo's Tables of Time Integrals is a mathematics book similar to the real life CRC Standard Mathematical Tables and Formulae or Standard Four-Figure Mathematical Tables. Lor Haridin uses Helo's to look up complicated mathematics answers.
      "You look 'em up in a table, taking half an hour to find the proper entry, and they give you seventeen possible answers. You have to pick the one that makes sense, and - Arcturus help me! - either they all do, or none do! Run up against eight of them, as we do in this problem, and we've got enough permutations to last us the rest of our life." —- Lor Haridin
    • Liar! (1941): The first few books Dr Calvin gives Herbie are textbooks such as Theory of Hyperatomics. After telling her that he prefers fiction, she starts giving him books like Purple Passion and Love in Space.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: Several romantic novels the girls read get mentioned occasionally, the most prominent being The Devilish Count, owing to the eponymous count being frequently compared to Nicol.
    • Pebble in the Sky:
      • The newspaper that Grew reads is called the Tribune. It provides information about Bel Arvardan, the archeologist, visiting Earth and Affret Shekt's search for volunteers to test his Synapsifier.
      • Journal of the Galactic Archaeological Society is a prestigious science magazine, which has published Bel Arvardan's research.
      • Physical Reviews, a less-popular scientific magazine but still with galactic circulation, has published an article about Affret Shekt's invention of the Synapsifier.
  • Jorge Luis Borges loved this trope. Many of his stories are either supposedly true stories about made-up books, or supposed commentaries (not stories in the usual sense) on made-up books. In his own words: "It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books, setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them." To name a few:
    • "The Garden of Forking Paths": The Chinese protagonist's ancestor renounced his political post, and everything that came with it, to pursue two projects: To write a novel "with more characters than there are in the Hung Lou Mêng"; and to construct a maze "in which all men would lose themselves". Though he cloistered himself for 13 years to work on these, sadly he was murdered before he could finish the novel; and if he ever did make the maze, it was never found. The novel's incompleteness is apparent, as it is "a shapeless mass of contradictory rough drafts"; for example, the hero dies in chapter 3, only to show up alive in chapter 4. As it turns out, the novel and the labyrinth are one and the same. The novel reflects the author's belief that reality is constantly branching into many realities based on the choices people make.
    • "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is about A First Encyclopedia of Tlön: A 40-volume encyclopedia about a fictitious planet called Tlön, whose people hold an extreme form of subjective idealism (denying the reality of the material world); their world is understood "not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts." As a consequence, their languages don't have nouns; some of them are composed entirely of verbs, others entirely of adjectives. The encyclopedia was written by a secret society called Orbis Tertius, over the course of several generations.
    • "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim" is a commentary on The Conversation with the Man Called Al-Mu'tasim: A Game of Shifting Mirrors, the second edition of an earlier work (now out of print) simply called The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim. The book is about a free-thinking Bombay law student who, from the small amount of spiritual clarity radiating from certain people, infers the existence of a perfect man who he calls Al-Mu'tasim, and goes on a search for him. The commentator has praise for the book, but also notes that based on what he has been able to find out, it leans too hard into allegory and symbolism compared to the original.
    • "An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain" is about fictitious Irish author Herbert Quain, and a commentary on four of his novels: The God of the Labyrinth, April March, The Secret Mirror, and Statements.
    • "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" shows that he couldn't resist this trope even in his non-fiction. In order to make a point about the inherent arbitrariness and subjectivity of classification, he presents the reader with a Nonsense Classification of animals (with such categories as "those who have just broken the flower vase" and "those included in this classification"), claiming that it was discovered by the translator Franz Kuhn in a Chinese encyclopedia called The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. (Interestingly, perhaps to ward off any suspicions that he made it up, Borges himself implies in the very same essay that the encyclopedia may be inauthentic.) There is no evidence that any such book ever existed, and those familiar with Borges's work have always taken it with a grain of salt; but there have also been serious academics who have taken it at face value and used it to back up claims about non-Western thinking.
  • David Eddings loves these. The prologues of nearly all his books take the form of a fictional document detailing what has gone on before.
    • Some that specifically deserve to be called out from The Belgariad: The Mrin Codex and the Darine Codex are the collected ravings of two madmen inspired by the prophesy of light. The Ashabine Oracles are writings by Torak under the influence of the prophecy of dark.
  • Lisa Goldstein is fond of this trope. In Walking the Labyrinth, there is Emily Wether's diary, Callan's diary, Lady Westingate's pamphlet and Andrew Dodd's review. In Dark Cities Underground, there is a fictional children's series called the Jeremy Books. In The Uncertain Places, there is a fictional Brother's Grimm fairy tale as well as excerpts from a police interview from the 1920's.
  • Daniel Handler also uses this trope in his books written as Daniel Handler. In Adverbs, there is Helena's novel Glee Club. In Why We Broke Up, there is an imaginary book of recipes for food from the movies called Real Recipes from Tinseltown.
  • Stephen King occasionally has characters in one book reading a book written by a writer who was a character in another book, such as Rose (Rose Madder) reading Paul Sheldon (Misery), or Jo (Bag of Bones) reading William Denbrough (IT), or Darla (Lisey’s Story) listening to an audio book by Michael Noonan (Bag of Bones) or Fran (The Stand) reading a book by Bobbi Anderson (The Tommyknockers) to someone. In The Tommyknockers, Bobbi's neighbors compare her favorably to "that other writer" from Maine, who writes the stories with all the monsters and cursing (King himself).
    • A large percentage of Carrie is excerpts from books, magazine articles, or investigative reports relating to various characters and events.
    • King does it again in The Regulators (under pen name Richard Bachman), interspersing narrative with newspaper clippings, letters, diary excerpts, etc.
  • Many of the page quotes in Dean Koontz novels are from The Book of Counted Sorrows, though this eventually became The Red Stapler.
  • Juliet McKenna likes them even more; she prefaces nearly every chapter with a fictional document. Some of them are only tangentially relevant.
  • Craig Thomas has used this in his novels, such as Wolfsbane, Sea Leopard and Firefox.
  • The novels and short stories of Kilgore Trout, a failed science fiction author who's a recurring character in several of Kurt Vonnegut's novels. His 117 novels and 2000 short stories were published by a disreputable porn company and used as filler material for trashy erotic magazines though, so only a handful of other characters have ever heard of Kilgore Trout. His novel Venus On The Half Shell ended up making the transition from fictional document to real book when sf writer Philip José Farmer wrote and published it under the name Kilgore Trout (Vonnegut was apparently not amused, and the byline in later editions was Farmer's own name).
  • The French sci-fi writer Bernard Werber frequently uses this device. The Ants trilogy has fragments from his fictional character Edmond Wells's Encyclopedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge, which was later published in paperback form under Werber's name (rather disappointingly, it mostly intersperse the bits already quoted from it and include little, if any new material). This last detail is egregious since Wells explains in his atypical encyclopedia that he thinks he is turning schizophrenic and the paperback makes it sound as if it were Werber's voice (moreover, Edmond actually dies just before the beginning of the first novel and only appears through flashbacks and the Encyclopedia, and he's a bit of a Mad Scientist at that). Also, the Thanatonautes series has fragments from a character's collection of world myths and legends concerning life after death. Yes, you know what it means.
  • P. G. Wodehouse:
    • Most of the books on the pig-related shelf in the library of Blandings Castle, including most notably Lord Emsworth's favourite, Whiffles On the Care of the Pig. (The title is given with variations in different novels, in Galahad at Blandings the author is called Augustus Whipple).
    • Other Wodehouse examples: the inter-class romance novels of Rosie M. Banks (examples include A Red, Red Summer Rose, Only a Factory Girl, The Woman Who Braved All, The Courtship of Lord Strathmorlick, Madcap Myrtle, and Mervyn Keen, Clubman) and various detective novels read by the protagonists (which generally have overblown titles like A Trail of Blood).
    • A number of older Wodehouse characters caused scandals by writing their memoirs, with examples including Lady Carnaby's "Memories of Eighty Interesting Years.", Bertie Wooster's uncle Willoughby's "Recollections of a Long Life" and the sadly never-published Reminiscences of the hon. Galahad Threepwood.
  • In Walter Moers' The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear there is The Encyclopedia of Marvels, Life Forms and Other Phenomena of Zamonia and its Environs. There are also many imaginary books and plays including The Voltigork's Vibrobass, an experimental drama which lasted 240 hours and had a literal cast of thousands by Wilfred the Wordsmith and the bestseller How Dank Was My Valley by Psittachus Rumplestilt.
  • In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, one of the so-called intelligentsia writes an article titled "The Octopus" which slams Henry Rearden. Then there's "Why Do You Think You Think?", "The Heart is a Milkman", "The Vulture is Molting", and even a "The Future" magazine. Then there's the laws and regulations and plans, including the "Anti-Dog Eat Dog Rule" to the "Equalization of Opportunity" bill to the "Railroad Unification Plan" to the "Steel Unification Plan". There are even audio versions, with Richard Halley's works and its bastardizations.
  • The Book of All Hours in Hal Duncan's duology of the same name.
  • Robert Rankin's novel The Book of Ultimate Truths is about a search for the missing chapters of a book called The Book of Ultimate Truths, a book about the secrets of the world.
    • Several of his books also include reference to fictional private detective Lazlo Woodbine, who has appeared in various other novels.
  • The Books of Pellinor are all written as if they are histories of the fictional land the books are based in. The back of the book even includes annotations, a bibliography, family trees and various other fictitious documents.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin goes through his and his brothers' birth certificates, which are a bit different from birth certificates in our world. He also receives a letter at some point in the narrative, which is quoted in the book.
  • Lawrence Block's The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling revolves around The Deliverance of Fort Bucklow, the spectacularly awful result of Rudyard Kipling's descent into Filibuster Freefall.
  • Walter Moers' The City of Dreaming Books is chock full of fictional documents from Thanks But No Thanks by Goliath Ghork to Silence of the Sirens by Count Klanthu of Kinomaz.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Moose County newspapers The Moose County Something and its predecessor, the Pickax Picayune; also City of Brotherly Crime, the book Qwill wrote when he was younger.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • The Necronomicon, spawned in the Lovecraft horrorverse but since widely exported to other canons and other media. Many different Necronomicons have been published over the years. Their quality... varies. Some are merely collections of Mythos stories. Others run the gamut from psudeophilosophical ramblings to attempts at a "genuine" version of the Mad Arab's writings.
    • The Other Wiki has a rather extensive list of Cthulhu Mythos arcane literature, most of which falls under this trope. The Book of Eibon, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and De Vermis Mysteriis are mentioned nearly as often as The Necronomicon.
  • Sex Is My Adventure, Josella Playton's undeservedly-infamous novel in The Day of the Triffids.
  • Used extensively in Jack Vance's The Demon Princes series. A lot of the chapters, in fact, start with more or less related quotes from various invented works. Titles mentioned include the many-volumed "Life" by Baron Bodissey or the "Scroll from the Ninth Dimension". Also quite prominent in the story is a fictional magazine named "Cosmopolis".
  • Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series has a few of these:
    • Camber is seen working on an ancient scroll in his research on Orin and his student Jodotha; Camber has a scholarly bent which he indulges in retirement.
    • In the short story "Legacy" Prince Wencit Furstán is reading one of Ariella's letters to her brother and lover Imre; a key paragraph is part of the text of the story.
    • In The King's Justice, Rothana reads some of Orin's poetry aloud to Richenda in the ladies solar. Jehana overhears and enjoys them until she's told the author was Deryni.
    • Jehana later finds a copy of Annales Queroni, an autobiographical treatise on Deryni Healing by the tenth-century Dom Queron Kinevan, in Kelson's arcane library annex. She's reading it when she discovers she isn't alone in the library: Barrett is reading a work by Kitron, and he refers Kitron's Principia Magica, as well as authors Jokal and Sulien.
  • This trope appears as a central theme in the book The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. In it, the protagonist girl is given a very high tech teaching book by the name of "The Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer", which also appears as a subtitle of the book. It's not so much a fictional document as a fictional nanotechnological superweapon, but most of the time it looks and acts like a book.
  • Discworld:
    • Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure, a Beatrix Potter pastiche from Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
    • Pratchett is very fond of this trope; other examples from Discworld include The Necrotelicomnicon aka Liber Paginarum Fulvarum (a Tome of Eldritch Lore), The Joy of Tantric Sex with Illustrations for the Advanced Student, by A. Lady, The Book of Going Forth Around Elevenish, The Little Folks' Book of Flower Fairies, The Bumper Fun Grimoire, How to Dynamically Manage People for Dynamic Results in a Caring Empowering Way in Quite a Short Time Dynamically, Wellcome to Ankh-Morporke, Citie of One Thousand Surprises, and many more, usually parody versions of real books. The Discworld Companion includes a full list.
      • Several have been Defictionalised for merchandising purposes, including Where's My Cow? (a children's book) and Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (a follow-up to her in-universe book The Joye of Snackes).
    • Some of the books even become important plot devices, like The Summoning of Dragons (slightly foxed and heavily dragoned), What I Did on My Holidays, and the first newspaper in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Dining Out On Mythical Beasts, a cookbook by Grimspite the sinistrom of The Divide Trilogy. It would probably be a fairly standard recipe guide in our world, because Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either.
  • Excerpts from Princess Irulan's various scholarly works (and other people's, for that matter) appear as chapter headers throughout the Dune novels.
    • There's also The Orange Catholic Bible that Yueh gives Paul. It's stated in some of the background material that the book contains most of the scriptures of the major religions of Earth. The copy given Paul is no larger than the end of his thumb, but has 1800 pages, and the print is so small that a built-in magnifier has to be used to read it.
    • There's also the Dune Encyclopedia which is both written as in-universe and references other fictional documents.
  • There are multiple chapters in The Empirium Trilogy that start off with excerpts from in-universe texts, letters, and other such documents. They're used to give the audience glimpses of the goings on of background characters, flesh out the world of Avitas, or both.
  • The book The Hive Queen and the Hegemon is one of the most influential in the society of the Ender's Game Series.
  • The Fault in Our Stars features An Imperial Affliction as well as The Price of Dawn and its sequels. The epigraph is from An Imperial Affliction, as a reference to The Great Gatsby, whose epigraph is also from another fictional book.
  • Fergus Crane:
    • Practical Pot-Holing for Beginners by Edward T. Trellis, the main textbook referred to on the school ship Betty-Jeanne.
    • The Cycling Fish, a popular musical farce (also by Edward T. Trellis), is referenced to several times throughout the book, either in passing or in the background of illustrations. According to the critics, "the elephant is as thrilling as ever".
  • Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail is a counterfactual history of the North American continent following a failed American Revolution which includes a frequently referenced bibliography with dozens of fictional academic books.
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch contained both The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (obviously) and that book's sequel.
  • Harry Potter has stacks of these, from trading cards to school textbooks to government pamphlets to wizarding comic books. As time has gone on, Rowling has taken to turning some of them into published works (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard).
  • John Moore's Heroics for Beginners has The Handbook of Practical Heroics, which is exactly what it sounds like: a self-help book for wanna-be heroes.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in all of its incarnations.
  • In particular, the film The Navidson Record from House of Leaves doesn't actually exist, and the protagonist tells you this in the book's introduction. Meanwhile, the meat of House of Leaves is an academic analysis/summary of said film. A few of the people and books referred to in the analysis's footnotes are real; the vast, vast majority of them are completely made up.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones reference is made to several, very long ballads that Ward liked to quote to people who really annoy him, as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity. Thankfully, the reader is spared the full texts. Those ballads become a plot point when a runaway slave tells Ward that this is how she learnt that Hurog is a safe place to go; she met a guy who had been the victim of Ward's habit of reciting ballads. (The knowledge is outdated, Ward's father was a jerk who would have happily sent her back. Ward isn't, though.)
  • Italo Calvino's If on a winter’s night a traveler has excerpts from ten wildly different fictional novels, though the Reader can never get past the first chapter of each.
  • Inkheart is the most important plot device within its eponymous frame story.
  • Julian works on the theory that Julian the Apostate, in the last months of his life, partially dictated his memoirs while campaigning in Persia.
  • Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom has The Compleat Atlas, which is a magic book that will tell you anything about the House.
  • The King in Yellow, a fictional play script from the book of short stories of the same name.
  • Footnotes in Loyal Enemies seem to be written from an in-universe perspective, sometimes referring the more curious reader to in-universe documents on subjects such as the biology of werewolves or the witch rings of Beloria.
  • The Grasshopper Lies Heavy from The Man in the High Castle, a popular Alternate History novel within the story that becomes very important to the plot. Given that The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history itself, this means that The Grasshopper depicts a world similar to our own (though not the same).
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore has several examples, including The Dragonsong Trilogy (which turns out to be a plot device).
  • The Others from the Night Watch (Series) have The Great Treaty between Light and Darkness, which restricted the century-old bloodshed between the Light Ones and the Dark Ones, regularized the relations between the two factions and stipulated formation and functioning of the Watches.
  • The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • The Noob novels feature a couple of magazine articles related to Horizon.
  • Early in November 9, Ben begins writing a romance novel titled November 9 inspired by his and Fallon's lives and relationship, with Fallon even initially believing that getting material for the novel is the main reason they continue to meet once a year on November 9th (she's wrong, of course). The manuscript becomes particularly significant when Fallon reads a section and discovers from it that Ben actually set her house on fire two years before they met. In the end, reading more of the manuscript and learning why Ben did this prompts Fallon to forgive him and accept that she's in love with him.
  • The Old Kingdom series features quite a few of these; of particular note is The Book of the Dead, which follows people around, can only be opened by a necromancer and closed by an uncorrupted Charter mage, and causes the reader to forget the parts of it that would be too unpleasant to remember until needed. Slightly more mundane, but still magical, texts include The Book of Remembrance and Forgetting, which is about how to see into the past; In The Skin of a Lyon, which is about how to turn into an animal; and Creatures by Nagy, which is a bestiary of unpleasant Free Magic monsters. It's that kind of series.
  • Speculative Fiction author Bruce Sterling's short story "Our Neural Chernobyl" was written as a review of a fictional monograph (a non-fiction book on a specific real-world topic) about the "neural Chernobyl", which described the development, release, and consequences of a retrovirus that caused massive growth in brain complexity in almost all mammals, something catastrophic for humans as the process makes humans massively intelligent, but effectively burns out the brain after a while. The story even touches on the book's exploration of the controversial topic of non-human uplifting from the virus, where many animals became much more intelligent, to the point cats developed torture devices to use on mice.
  • When medieval poet Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote Parzival, a German retelling and continuation of Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, he answered criticism of discrepancies between his version and Chrétien's earlier ones by claiming he was being faithful to the original account by one "Kyot the Provencal", whom he alleged to have been Chrétien's source as well.
  • About half of each the books in The Pendragon Adventure is journals from Bobby Pendragon himself, detailing his stays and attempts to save the Territories.
  • The Princess Bride is a real novel written as if it were the annotated 'just the good bits' version of an even longer novel about the history and culture of the fictional nation Florin.
  • Safehold:
    • The Holy Writ, the holy book cooked up by Langhorne and Bédard, with most of it written by Chihiro, as part of their God Guise.
    • Book 10 starts off with an excerpt from a biography of Merlin published circa 4200 CE, the better part of a thousand Earth years after the beginning of the series, revealing that Merlin will eventually succeed in his mission of breaking the Church of God Awaiting and the Holy Writ.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers:
    • In The Documents in the Case, Munting's novel I to Hercules is an unexpected hit.
    • Harriet Vane in the Lord Peter Wimsey novels is an author of detective stories, such as Death 'Twixt Wind and Water and The Fountain-Pen Mystery.
    • Montague Egg frequently quotes rhymes from "The Salesman's Handbook".
  • In Der Schimmelreiter (The Rider on the White Horse) by the 19th-century German writer Theodor Storm, the narrator claims to be piecing together from memory a novella he read as a youngster.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Snicket's letters at the end of each book, leading his editor to the manuscript of the following book and several props borrowed from it; also, numerous diaries and newspapers are quoted within the narrative, while the supplementary books are each a full-blown Scrapbook Story.
  • Sherlock Holmes: "Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. , Late of the Army Medical Department".
    • Holmes himself was the author of numerous monographs regarding the science of detection, including ones on the analysis of typewritten documents, on the dating of handwriting, on the tracing of footprints, on cryptoanalysis, and of course on the different types of cigar(ette) ash.
    • Professor James Moriarty's work, On the Dynamics of An Asteroid, has been suppressed by the scientific community since its initial publication, and as Isaac Asimov 's Black Widowers deduce, it's a good thing too.
    • The Baker Street Museum in London has a number of books lying about that were purportedly written by Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty. One of Holmes's texts is a book about bees.
  • Simon Ark: "The Vicar of Hell" is concerned with the search for a surviving copy of The Worship of Satan: a Tudor-era occult text that had been banned by the government and all known copies siezed and destroyed.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch, the Royal Protocol document, bane of Starfleet Officers everywhere. A complete list of dos and don'ts for interacting with alien royals, it's a necessity if diplomatic incidents are to be avoided. It's mind-numbing in its detail, full of little rules along the lines of "when greeting the King, touch your head to the ground three times and then wave your left hand. Oh, and under no circumstances wear purple". An important plot point arises when it's realized "Royal Protocol" has a very different meaning to the Borg.
  • Star Wars Legends: Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd, or How I Spent My Inter-Term Break, an essay supposedly written by Tash Arranda of Galaxy of Fear, cites several in-universe documents.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, each book shares it's name with an in-universe book:
    • The first book, The Way of Kings (2010), is named after one of the oldest surviving books, written by an ancient king named Nohadon. It is a set of parables, documenting a journey Nohadon went on alone, each teaching or exploring a lesson about what it means to rule. The book also inspired much of the philosophy of the now also ancient Knights Radiant. It's lessons are more or less ignored in modern Alethkar, both due to it's association with the now disgraced and fallen orders of Knights, as well as for containing lessons like "nobles should act responsibly" and "fighting isn't always the best solution."
    • The second book, Words of Radiance, is named after an in-universe book chronicling the history of the Knights Radiant, their abilities, and their ethics. It was written a few centuries after the Orders had already fallen, though, and the author acknowledges some of the information is unreliable, based on hearsay or superstition.
    • The third book, Oathbringer, is named after an in-universe book written by Dalinar (after Navani taught him to read) chronicling the events of his life. The book in turn is named after the Shardblade Oathbringer, which once belonged to the first man to unite Alethkar, and was Dalinar's Blade for most of his life.
    • The fourth book, Rhythm of War, is named after the in-universe book made from the compiled research notes of the Fused Raboniel and the human Navani. Specifically, it regards their notes on the various types of Investiture Light and how the Rhythms of Roshar affect them. The book centers mostly on the Rhythm of War, the combination of the Rhythm of Honor (which creates Stormlight) and the Rhythm of Odium (which creates Voidlight). Together, they create Warlight, as well as the creation of Anti-Voidlight and Anti-Stormlight, which can destroy entities of the respective investiture.
  • Used from time to time in Sword of Truth, mostly in the form of books of prophecy. Being prophesies, they are then promptly ignored.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful features two fictional newspapers, The Georgeport Standard-Vanguard and The Georgeport Gayzette, both to provide exposition and to satirize the news media.
  • Extracts from Thursday Next's autobiography are scattered throughout the series. Extracts from others characters' jottings/memoirs also feature prominently.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium (The Lord of the Rings, etc) has lots of fictional pieces of literature, both in prose and poetry, and also historic and scientific texts. Most well known is for obvious reasons the Red Book of Westmarch, which contains Bilbo and Frodo's The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.
    • The Book of Mazarbul, the record of Balin's doomed Moria colony, in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • The Books of Gold and Silver are two noble genealogies that are mentioned from time to time.
    • A Spy's Guide is a collection of sensitive documents collected by George Cooper while clearing out a room at Pirate's Swoop.
  • To Serve Man, appearing in the short story of the same name by Damon Knight (and adapted as an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959)). Written by the alien Kanamits, it turns out it's a cookbook.
  • In Troubled Blood from the Cormoran Strike Novels, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott both read The Demon of Paradise Park, a biography about the serial killer Dennis Creed, in order to familiarize themselves with the story of Margot Bamborough's (the cold case they're investigating) potential killer. Robin also manages to get a hold of an advance release copy of another book, Whatever Happened to Margot Bamborough?, a much more sensational tract written by a disreputable author which never made into general press because the family sued to stop it.
  • The Village Tales series is stuffing with these. Including historical documents attributed to Wordsworth, Pope, Addison, Johnson, and Grey (and the Duke of Taunton's late In-Universe godfather, Sir John Betjeman), and parliamentary speeches printed in Hansard. All of them excellent Shown Their Work pastiches.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Several of the Horus Heresy books have characters talk about an epic called The Chronicles of Ursh. They never go into more detail about it.
    • In the Ciaphas Cain novels, Amberley Vail uses extracts from other sources to fill in the blanks left by Cain's self-centered account. These include the Purple Prose-filled memoirs of a future general in his unit, histories of varying accuracy, travel guides, and even a children's book about promethium.
  • Much of Karel Čapek's War with the Newts consists of fictional newspaper excerpts commenting on the situation with the Newts (and, eventually, the eponymous war).
  • Whateley Universe: Everything published by Whateley Press.
    • Introduction to the Modern Theory of Mutant Powers, a Whateley Press textbook by Filbert R. Z. Quintain, M.S., Ph.D., F.A.A.S.
    • From All Hallows Ball Part Two:
      Dr Quintain's [...] Beyond Shiva: A Detailed Study of the Avatar Trait
    • There is also Sara's Little Purple Book, a guide to exploiting Power Perversion Potential while avoiding Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex problems.
    • Sara claims that the Great Old Ones have their own novels, but states that reading one would probably kill a mortal, or else drive them insane.
  • The Book of Night with Moon from Diane Duane's Young Wizards series.
  • A Memoir by Lady Trent:
    • Every book is presented and reads like an old-fashioned memoir penned by Lady Trent.
    • Isabella makes many references to in-world books on both her travels and dragon biology, including the first book's namesake, A Natural History of Dragons.
    • The plot of the Spin-Offspring novel Turning Darkness Into Light centers around Lady Trent's granddaughter translating a lost mythological epic from several clay tablets.
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: Mma Ramotswe finds a book called The Principles of Private Detection by an American detective named Clovis Andersen and uses it to launch her own detective agency, quoting it as needed throughout the series. She actually meets her hero, and while he proves a competent investigator, at the end he reveals the book was an utter failure: he had to get it privately published, only ever sold 30 copies out of the 200 printed, and has no idea how one ever wound up in Botswana of all places. She gives him a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech which seems to work, as he sends her a letter indicating he feels a lot better about himself.
  • While My Pretty One Sleeps:
    • Ethel Lambston was writing an article for a magazine about New York's fashion industry; during the research process she also claimed to have found something that could make a bestselling non-fiction book. She had already turned in the article for publication before she disappeared, but was still working on the book, initially leading many people to believe she'd holed up somewhere to finish her manuscript without telling anyone. Neeve and Ethel's potential publisher Jack Campbell end up going through Ethel's extensive notes to find clues as to what happened to her.
    • A moment of comic relief is provided via a manuscript Jack Campbell is reading. It turns out to be an extremely cheesy and ridiculous erotic romance book, revolving around a lonely therapist who finds passion in life again after embarking on a torrid affair with an older client. Jack tells his assistant that the story is "horrendous" but that it will probably sell well regardless. He also questions the heavily idealised sex scenes, saying that having sex out in the garden on a summer night would realistically result in lots of mosquito bites.

    Live Action TV 
  • Birds of a Feather: The Revival reveals that Dorien became a famous author by releasing Sixty Shades of Green, an extremely steamy memoir. This ends up getting her in trouble with the legal team behind Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • Bones makes frequent reference to the novels that Brennan has written, and one episode includes a series of murders that imitate those in one of her books. (In a playfully meta note, the books have the same title scheme as the Kathy Reichs novels that the series is based on, and "Kathy Reichs" is the name of Brennan's fictional forensic anthropologist.)
  • I Believe, the auto-biography that Brittas writes between Series 4 and 5 of The Brittas Empire. Apparently, it mentions Laura a lot; Tim, not so much.
  • Blush, the fashion magazine whose offices are the setting for Just Shoot Me!.
  • The Chronicle, the tabloid from the show of the same name.
  • The fat sci-fi paperback Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure is, inexplicably, not popular with publishers. Colbert eventually decided to self-publish in the form of comic books and animated shorts, both of which do exist in Real Life.
  • Agent McGee's novels in NCIS. In one episode, characters from his book are being killed—a book that hasn't even been published.
  • Jake Sisko's novel Anslem in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Particularly important to the frame story of "The Visitor."
    • Also, the Ferengi "Rules of Acquisition", which is considered to be the most important book in the entire Ferengi culture.
    • There's also the Federation Charter, their version of the Constitution. And several texts at Starfleet Academy.
  • Criminal Minds has several:
    • David Rossi is the author of several books on criminal psychology; an UnSub quotes from them in an interrogation scene in "Masterpiece."
    • A new book on the Keystone Killer induces the unsub to resume his murderous ways in "Unfinished Business."
    • A reporter who wrote a book on the Boston Reaper is a character in "Omnivore."
    • Professor Ursula Kent's SF novel in "Empty Planet."
    • Johnny McHale's comic book Blue in "True Night."
  • The Space Corps Directive of Red Dwarf, dedicated to listing every possible rule of the Space Corps in extreme detail. Rimmer frequently attempts to justify himself by quoting random rule numbers from it, only for Kryten to recite the (entirely irrelevant) actual rule. Shortly after the above quote, Holly beams a holographic copy of the Space Corp Directives into Rimmer's hands, proving it does exist. It's much thinner than you might think; the rules are apparently in small type.
  • In an episode of Corner Gas, at the end Brent does an "if you want to find out more, visit your local Library!" segment with the books featured in the episode. One of them he says is just something the prop guy made for the episode, but is still a surprisingly good read.
  • The Bro Code, which Barney quotes on various occasions in one episode of How I Met Your Mother. Barney claims it was written by his ancestor Barnabas Stinson on the back of the U.S. Constitution. It is heavily implied that Barney just made it all up, making this a fictional fictional document.
    • Subverted now since the Bro Code is now an official book. Also, "quotes" from the Bro Code appear in the closing credits of each episode, not all of which appeared in actual dialogue.
  • Richard Castle's MANY novels in Castle.
    • Well, the Derek Storm novels at least. Heat Wave is Defictionalized. And even then there are real comic book adaptations of the (still-fictional) Derek Storm novels.
  • On Lost, Sawyer reads a fictional manuscript for a novel called "Bad Twin" that was later Defictionalized.
    • Between season 5 and 6, a fictional documentary TV episode on the DHARMA Initiative has been released.
  • The horror novels of Garth Marenghi. Garth reads out passages at the start of episodes and has Dagless read one of them to keep his mind occupied.
  • Dreaming of Sean that appears in the NUMB3RS fifth season episode "The Fifth Man" Alan is holding when Don wakes up in recovery after being stabbed.
  • The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" has the book From Outer Space being written by Jose Chung. It's supposed to be a non-fiction science fiction about an alien abduction case.
  • The two playwrights Mossop and Kindrick in the third season of Blackadder are writing and rehearsing a play titled The Bloody Murder Of Prince Romero And His Enormously-Bosomed Wife.
    Blackadder: So, a philosophical work, then.
    Kindrick: Indeed it is, sir. The vileness of the murder and the vastness of the bosoms are entirely justified within context.
    • Blackadder has himself written his own novel: Edmund: A Butler's Tale. "A sizzling depiction of domestic servitude in the eighteenth-century, with some hot gypsies thrown in".
  • Ghostwriter: "A Crime of Two Cities" prominently features a fictional British series of children's books about a girl named Sophie Madison.



    Print Media 
  • Calvin and Hobbes has Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey, as well as Chewing, a hobby magazine about chewing gum. Commander Coriander Salamander And 'Er Singlehander Bellyander, the sequel to Hamster Huey, is mentioned once.
  • Peanuts made reference to a whole series of books starring The Six Bunny-Wunnies on various adventures, authored by one Helen Sweetstory. Over a dozen titles were given, each usually mentioned only once, but The Six Bunny-Wunnies Freak Out is the most widely remembered for having been banned by the local school board and subsequently championed by Linus.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has numerous fictional documents that are quoted in cards' flavor text and in some of the novels and comics. Some of the notable ones include The Antiquities War, an epic poem about the Brothers' War that the comics and novel are supposedly based on; Sarpadian Empires, whose first six volumes are quoted in Fallen Empires flavor text and whose seventh volume was printed as a card in Time Spiral; and The Underworld Cookbook, which is only quoted on three cards (one of which is from the self-parody expansion Unhinged), but whose author's name, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, is the longest word ever to appear on a Magic card. The Love Song of Night and Day actually exists and was written as part of the world-building for the Mirage expansion, and can be read here.
    • The end of the Rise Of The Eldrazi block had quotes from a book called the War Diaries as flavour for some cards. It seems like an account of the terrible fighting against the Cthulhu-sytle horrors of the Eldrazi, and contains sentences about crucial turning points.
  • A pair of meta-examples from Dungeons & Dragons: The Book Of Exalted Deeds and the Book Of Vile Darkness, which exist as powerful artifacts in-universe and useful splatbooks out-of-universe.
    • Forgotten Realms uses it via its Direct Line to the Author: at least Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue and every Volo's Guide to [blank] are supposed to be "actual" books printed on Toril, and some others, like Elminster's Ecologies mostly consists of various in-'verse exposition texts.
    • The Ravenloft campaign setting features the Tome of Strahd, an exceedingly rare manifesto written by Strahd von Zarovich which serves as the foreword of the Ravenloft sourcebook. Also, and more popularly, there are the Van Richten's Guides, written by famed doctor and monster hunter Ruldolph van Richten. Copies of these books are published and distributed by the doctor's office and serve as guides on proper hunting techniques. Often, Dr. van Richten complains in his books that there are so many other inferior and incorrect works on monster hunting in existence that he sees it as his duty to put out properly researched guides that won't get novice hunters killed. Out of universe, the Guides exist and are written in the author's voice for the fluff sections, though it is assumed that any crunchy statistics and in-game information is ghosted out of the in-universe versions.
  • Much of the rich background information for Warhammer 40,000 is conveyed through quotes, after-action reports, or excerpts from fictional investigations, histories, or journals. In an example of Defictionalization, one such book, The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, has actually been published.
  • Exalted has a lot of these, some of which have been Defictionalized. Notable examples include The Broken-Winged Crane, The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier, The Book of Three Circles, The White Treatise, The Black Treatise, The Book of Bone and Ebony, and Oadenol's Codex.
    • White Wolf hasn't left their Worlds of Darkness out either, with examples such as The Book of Nod, The Ericyes Fragments, The Prince's Primer, Revelations of the Dark Mother, The Silver Record, Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth, Rites of the Dragon, and The Testament of Longinus.
  • Star Trek Adventures: Sidebars in the rulebooks include quotations from a wide range of authors regarding events in Star Trek, usually but not always related to the topics on the page.
  • Because Sentinels of the Multiverse is supposed to be based on in-universe comic books, the flavor text for each card is cited as coming from one Sentinel Comics title or another. This is to the point that the tabletop RPG spinoff is the Sentinel Comics RPG as opposed to the SOTM RPG. One of the goals of the Definitive Edition, aside from fixing some notorious balance issues from the Enhanced Edition, was to clean up the "publication timeline" of the fictional comics.

  • Under Milk Wood:
    • Rev. Jenkins' White Book of Llareggub, a compendium of the town and its residents.
    • Mr. Pugh has just had a copy of Lives of the Great Poisoners delivered to his house. It's unclear whether he actually intends to poison his overbearing wife, or just vicariously wishes he could do.

    Video Games 
  • Several games have used fictional documents as part of the documentation. Well-known examples include text adventures from Infocom and the Ultima series, as well as WipEout.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: There are several in-game books that are primarily for examination; one being called "History of Evil AI". One of significance is called The Codex, a mysterious scroll written in an ancient codified language. Its contents are a source of information and different hypotheses such as the existence and details regarding Hinterland.
  • Baldur's Gate is full of these. Some provide plot-relevant information ("The History of the Dead Three") other just notes on the setting. One is a recipe for cookies.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, Jade's sidekick Double H quotes passages frequently from the the 'Carlson & Peeters' military manual, a Big Book of War. While the player eventually does see a section of the book in digital form, most of what we know about the book is from Double H offering advice from the book as quoted passages: "If you can't go through a door, go around it!". Perhaps one of the few fictional documents which also serves as inspiration for someone's Battle Cry.
  • The Books of Chzo, which includes The Book of The Bridge, the Book of The New Prince, The Book of Victims, and the Book of The Prince. These Books are shown in pieces throughout the Chzo Mythos in order to flesh out most of the back-story and themes of the series.
  • Devil May Cry 2: Each mission's start-up screen contains a passage from "Guidepost for the Hunters" alongside its Chapter and Clause numbers. These briefly foreshadow what you're about to encounter during the missions, but they're narrated in a subtly cryptic manner; the "Hunter", "Protector" and "King" subjects mentioned in these passages refer to Dante, Lucia and Arius respectively, while the other bosses are mentioned using their descriptions or Meaningful Names.
  • Dragon Age has a bunch of fictional documents - books with notes on the setting, silly poetry, letters between characters, and Varric's schlocky novels (Hawke: "'Hard in Hightown.' 'Siege Harder.' What does that even MEAN? Ohh, Varric must be stopped.") Particularly prevalent is Anders's Manifesto, which the rebel mage appears to have stuffed in every book on Hawke's shelf, left on every table, and dropped in the fireplace. (Some fans have even attempted a Defictionalization of it.)
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series in general offers hundreds per game, dating back to Daggerfall. These documents range from full blown In-Game Novels like the 2920: The Last Year of the First Era series, The Real Barenziah, King Edward, A Dance in the Fire, and The Wolf Queen to religious texts such as For My Gods and Emperor and 36 Lessons of Vivec, to numerous historical works which help fill in the thousands of years of backstory, to simple notes handwritten by the world's inhabitants to make the world feel more alive (you can literally find the grocery lists of NPCs). Many of the histories presented within the game are contradictory and at odds with each other, leaving it up to the reader to piece together the history of Tamriel for him/herself. For tropes relating to these works, see The Elder Scrolls In-Universe Books page.
    • Morrowind:
      • Morrowind has the lightly pornographic play The Lusty Argonian Maid, written by the Camp Gay (though technically bisexual) Crassius Curio. It centers around a character named Crantus Colto and his, well, Argonian maid. A quest in the game has you attempting to find actors willing to be in it.
      • There is also Boethiah's Pillow Book, named after the Daedric Prince Boethiah, master Manipulative Bastard. It needs to be stolen from a respectable Dunmeri noble family so they can be blackmailed with it. This heavily implies it's obscene nature, but it can only imply. When you try to read it, all you get is: "No words can describe what you see. Or what you think you see."
    • Come Skyrim, a sequel to the Lusty Argonian Maid has been written. One of its DLC expansions adds The Sulty Argonian Bard, a Gender Flipped version for the ladies.
  • In Fallout 3, The Wasteland Survival Guide, the quality of which depends on how much work you put into it, including none at all!
  • The hugely popular epic poem (and later play) LOVELESS is frequently quoted by Genesis in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. What we hear of the plot is that it's about two young men, in love with the same woman, who go to war and end up on opposite sides. And after that? Well, the last chapter of the poem is missing, so nobody's sure. And Genesis is the only named character who doesn't think it's a trainwreck.
  • In the Homeworld clone O.R.B.: Off-World Resource Base, both factions use the same holy text called Torumin in their state religions. Naturally, a few quotations from it are present in the game (moreso in the manual). In fact, the initial conflict between the factions is directly caused by an incorrect interpretation of the Torumin by one of them.
    All living creatures wake to the light of the sun;
    When there are two suns,
    Does this increase our awareness?
    Shadow upon shadow, light negates light.
    Divination MI
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has a subplot involving writer Martin Summers. His first, most famous novel is called "The Secret Word" and the story behind this...story is the driving factor to his role in the greater scheme of the plot.
  • Hungry Lamu: Lamu's favorite book, "The Llama is Hungry", is based aroud a Llama who spends his day eating food. Within the book, there is red writing from Lamu that reveals his backstory and a newspaper clipping about Eric Bronze, a quack doctor whose animal-human genetic modifications are proven to be false, and on the back of the clipping reveals that Lamu was Bronze's son who he experimented on.
  • Although not many appear in the game itself, information about a few characters from League of Legends is taken as extracts from in-universe documents, such as Cecil B. Heimerdinger's daily journals or a Zaunite field report of an attempt to track down Twitch (it doesn't go well). The player can also build an item called the Morellomnicon, a book literally crackling with magical energy.
  • Metal Gear Solid has a few books mentioned in the game. Most notably one called In the Darkness of Shadow Moses, a novelization of the events of the first game which is available to read on the main menu of MGS2.
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge has an entire library of fictional documents, mostly comprised of various jokes, in-jokes, and parodies.
  • In the vein of plot-important fake books is In-Laqetti, of Persona 2 fame. A composition of patchwork conspiracy including aliens, Mayans, and Master-D himself, which would apparently cause the world to go bye-de-bye. Thanks to a bit of kotodama and extreme Wikiality, things start coming true.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Pokédex, in both Regional and National forms. A digital encyclopedia that updates itself with every Pokemon you see and catch, providing various Flavor Text and data for each species. Most Pokémon Professors appear to have their own version.
    • Bookcases throughout the series, if checked, are mentioned have various books, magazines and so on on their shelves, some of which are named. In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, as well as Platinum, you can even read extracts of the mythology books in Canalave Library.
    • Shauntal of the Unova Elite Four is shown to be a writer — however, none of her books have so far been named. A Fairy Girl in Pokémon X and Y is said to have enjoyed her new novel, though.
  • Quest for Glory uses the correspondence courses from Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School as supplements to the manual for each game until the 5th game, which features Famous Adventurer himself as an NPC who helps the player with some of the Rites of Rulership.
  • The Emigre Document of Shadow Hearts, seemingly based on the untranslatable Voynich Manuscript carries in it all manner of dangerous knowlege including resurrection. That part always fails in the most catastrophic ways possible, usually summoning soulless abominations from your loved ones corpse to devour them and you as well. Except for two recorded times. And in the first example, the corpse couldn't take the stress and dissolved before the process finished.
    • If that is not Lovecraftian enough, also available is the R'lyeh Text, translated as Codex of Lurie, which you find in a nudie mag.
  • Many of the techs and secret projects in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri use quotes from fictional books ostensibly written by the various faction leaders, although a few quotes are from Real Life works. They are also used to introduce each faction when first selecting them. This is continued in the Alien Crossfire Expansion Pack with the 5 new human and 2 alien factions (yes, aliens write and read books too).
    Our first challenge is to create an entire economic infrastructure, from top to bottom, out of whole cloth. No gradual evolution from previous economic systems is possible, because there is no previous economic system. Each interdependent piece must be materialized simultaneously and in perfect working order; otherwise the system will crash out before it ever gets off the ground.
    CEO Nwabudike Morgan, "The Centauri Monopoly"
  • The Sunken Scrolls in the Splatoon series are a set of miscellaneous documents and fragments that can be found scattered throughout the Octarian domes, most of which contain bits of information regarding the games' backstory and lore. The contents of the scrolls vary widely, and include newspaper clippings, historical photographs, paintings, schematics of Octarian technology, sheet music, propaganda and recruitment posters, Hyakunin Isshu cards, religious texts, and much, much more.
  • The Talos Principle: Dozens of them on the various computer terminals, to help the AI learn who its makers were and what happened to them, as well as possibly inspire it to make something great based on one or more of them. The most prominent one, of course, is the origin of the Talos Principle itself, supposedly posited by a Greek philosopher named Straton of Stageira.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: While researching the minotaur, Antimony was unimpressed with Gainsbury World Mythology and Mythology 4 Kidz! as sources. Later, she's seen reading Tannhäuser Gate, and Kat borrows Important Stuff (Like Science) from the library.
  • In part 2 of the Lebanese comic Malaak: Angel of Peace, a collage of fictional newspapers is used on one page to suggest that the heroine has piled up missions and has been noticed by the general public. The papers' titles and contents (ads included) are all parodies of actual papers and places.
  • The various popular Heterodyne Boys pulp novels in Girl Genius.
    • And less popular, the Trelawney Thorpe: Spark of the Realm books, which are from British publishers.
    • And of course the classic tome Using Found Objects as Weapons.
    • Everybody Wants to Talk by Gilgamesh Wulfenbach's spymaster, published by Extremis Press. The author describes it 'a vanity project from my youth'. It has since been added to Forbidden Stacks of the Immortal Library, and simply realising that they are face-to-face with the author makes one suspect confess immediately.
  • The Legend of Genji has Benderteen, a popular gossip magazine aimed at teenagers that regularly prints exclusive interviews with the false Avatar Luan.
  • The various mad science journals (including the New Journal of Malology) from Narbonic.
  • In The Life of Nob T. Mouse and All Over The House, The Blobland Gang is a set of books, TV & radio shows, and even a film. They are all based on Hubert Schlongson's visits to Blobland to learn about the adventures of Nob Mouse and Company.
  • The Way of the Metagamer's sequel, The Way Of The Metagamer 2: In Name Only, exists only within the comic.
  • The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries of Schlock Mercenary (originally Seven Habits of Highly Successful Pirates), a Big Book of War and spoof of a well-known book on business-managements self-empowerment type stuff.
  • Unwinder's Tall Comics are loaded with fictional books. Unwinder is a fan of the After Dark series, a series of romance novels involving zombies who are actually super-attractive athletes who can also fly, as well as the remarkably dull sci-fi doorstoppers of Gary P. Rastov. Excerpts from all of these are provided, of course.
    The author even parodies his use of this trope, by having Unwinder write his own webcomic, with said webcomic featuring its own, uniquely dull, fictional novel: The Gun and the Grapes, which cranks Narrative Filigree up to eleven. Back in the main comic, a reader is unimpressed by Unwinder's metafiction.
    Amy: I can't really tell what you're going for here. ...You invented an intentionally boring author and provided an intentionally boring prose sample. Mission accomplished. Now why should I care?
    Unwinder: There's...there's a certain audience for this.
  • Several are mentioned in passing in The Mansion of E.
  • El Goonish Shive has a copy of the journal of the wizard who enchanted the Dewitchery Diamond.
  • The Pridelands novels from Housepets!, an epic Game of Thrones-esque series with various big cat species, written specifically to appeal to cats in a universe where all animals are anthropomorphised and sentient. It turns out that this is partly because it was written by a cat. Grape and Maxwell are stated fans of the series, and given their discussions of it, it appears to have a very complicated mythos. Peanut takes an interest as well, and several of the other dogs admit to have found 'only a couple of bits of it' interesting.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Kim Possible features the "classic novella" Lo The Plow Shall Till The Soil Of Redemption. One critic (i.e. Ron) describes it thus: "snobby, pompous, overwritten, and the pictures [are] in black and white!"
  • A Futurama episode features the Becktionary and the Rhyming Becktionary.
  • The Simpsons has lots of these, including
    • Shall There Ever Be Another Rainbow?, C. Montgomery Burns' touching autobiography. One must not forget of course his other tell-all autobiography Yes, I Am a Vampire, with a foreword by Steve Allen.
    • Bob Woodward's book about Jebediah Springfield.
    • Marge Simpson's bodice-ripper novel of Nantucket whaling.
    • Various stage works, most notably the musicals Streetcar! and Stop the Planet of the Apes.
    • Periodicals like The Springfield Shopper and Junior Sceptic Magazine.
    • Lisa's unfinished novel: They promised me ponies.
    • Kang and Kodos' recipe book How To Cook For Forty Humans.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Daring Do series.
    • Countless reference works in Twilight Sparkle's library. Of particular note is the one that contains the backstory of Nightmare Moon and apparently some other major Equestrian threats, such as The Dazzlings.
    • The Foal Free Press, the newspaper at the school the Cutie Mark Crusaders attend.
  • The Transformers follow the Covenant of Primus, a book of prophetic texts delivered by their creator-god, in many continuities, most notably Beast Wars and the "Aligned" continuity branch that includes the Transformers: Prime TV series and a series of novels.
  • Tobin's Spirit Guide was referenced often by Egon on The Real Ghostbusters.
  • King of the Hill has A Dinner of Onions which Peggy is tasked to read for a book club in "Full Metal Dust Jacket". The book is seen in future episodes being read by various characters and also has a film adaption. In the same episode, Bobby discovers a series of fantasy books titled The Elves of Evermore.
  • The Dover Boys at Pimento University: Dan Backslide (coward, bully, cad, and thief!) consults the Handbook of Useful Information for help in kidnapping dainty Dora Standpipe, and the narrator makes reference to another installment in the series, The Dover Boys in the Everglades.
  • Adventure Time has the book Mind Games by Jay T Doggzone, which contains very bad advice for men on relationships and attracting women, and is generally believed to be a parody of Neil Strauss's 'The Game, which describes and discusses the teachings of the real-world Pick-Up Artist subculture.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has the "Yipper" franchise, which is shown to have comic books, a TV series, and (most prominently) trading cards. Apparently it's about cartoon dogs who fly airplanes.
  • The Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner short "Stop! Look! And Hasten!" has Wile E. follow the instructions provided by the book How To Build A Burmese Tiger Trap. The resulting pit proves to be very effective.. if you are hoping to catch a Burmese tiger.


Video Example(s):


I Believe

Carole gushes to Helen and Laura over I Believe, the book Mr. Brittas has published in the time between Series 4 and 5.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / FictionalDocument

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