D&D books: the best D&D 5E sourcebooks

There are numerous DnD 5E books out there, but not all are made equal - these are the best D&D sourcebooks for both players and DMs

D&D books - Wizards artwork showing a stack of spellbooks in MTG's Strixhaven setting

So, you’re looking for the best D&D books? For starters, of course, both the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide are excellent, and foundational when it comes to learning how to play  Dungeons and Dragons. Whether in physical form, or digitally via DnDBeyond, these two tomes are most certainly at the top of your reading list. However, they are by no means the only DnD 5E sourcebooks worth your time.

Below, we’ve profiled seven of the best general D&D 5E sourcebooks, with a couple of extra bonus options thrown in for good measure. While these books aren’t necessary to play D&D, they are outstanding supplemental volumes, packed with game-expanding extra material that adds everything from monsters, to subclasses, to spells, to entire new worlds, oh my!

These sourcebooks vary in content and target audience. Some are designed specifically for Dungeon Masters (DMs), while others have useful information for both the players and the DM. If you’re a player looking through these sourcebooks, you’ll notice that some of them contain optional features for your D&D class. Make sure to talk to your DM about using these optional features, so they can factor this into their plans.

With so many books and options to choose from, you’re bound to find at least one that stops you in your tracks and makes you think “Hey wait! That’s actually really cool!”

Before we get into it, though, let’s have a role call of those top tier titles:

These are the best D&D books:

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Monster Manual

The Monster Manual is basically the ABC of Monsters. From Aarakocra to Zombies, and everything in between, you’re bound to find something vicious and/or surprising to throw at your players.

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Complete with terrifying pictures and easy-to-read stat blocks, the Monster Manual is crucial to rounding out combat encounters and spicing up your game. I’ve heard experienced DMs refer to the Monster Manual as “the true DM’s Guide” – and honestly, it kind of is.

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Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Xanathar’s Guide is a perfect expansion to the Player’s Handbook. With additional subclass options and class features, this helps players build more unique characters, allowing a huge array of new and different builds.

It also expands on simpler mechanics like sleeping, falling, and tool proficiencies, to help out the DM, while adding a suite of options for downtime activities and unique combat encounters. It’s a brilliant addition for players and DMs alike.

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Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

With even more subclasses to choose from, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything brings a whole lot more flavour to character creation. The subclass options really blur the lines between martial and spellcaster classes – so, if you get a kick from being both a caster and a fighter, you’re going to love the versatility that Tasha’s Cauldron brews up for you.

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It also features a delightful selection of puzzles and patrons, to help shore up any world building on the DM’s side.

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Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This is a must-have guidebook for those who love lore and world building. As well as adding seven new distinct playable races to those in the Player’s Handbook, Volo’s Guide features tons of extra lore behind common D&D monsters, plus a load of additional creatures to fight, including necromancers and… er… cows?

Truly, though, this book adds a lot of fun and frolics to the game, as well as some unique elements that your players will love to see.

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Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica

If you’re a fan of both Magic: The Gathering and D&D, this is something of an essential! Because the setting is based on Magic’s world of Ravnica (a planet-wide fantasy cityscape ruled by warring guilds), there’s a delicious blend here between an iconic Magic setting and the D&D core rules.

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Even if you’re really only into D&D, there’s still lots to love, with five new playable races, and a bunch of colourful Guilds you can add to your campaign.

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Eberron: Rising from the Last War

If you ever wished D&D was set during an industrial revolution, this is a fantastic sourcebook to check out. The 5E sourcebook for one of D&D’s most popular settings, Eberron: Rising from the Last War is full of quirky treats, like airships and unique weapons. It also gave D&D 5E the wonderful Artificer class.

This setting feels unlike any other, and provides so many brilliant additions to any campaign. It also features a level one adventure, to help new players get their steampunk safari started.

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Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Another D&D book with stupendous supplemental monsters, Mordenkainen focuses on beings that can traverse planes and dimensions. It’s stocked with angels and demons alike, and provides some incredible lore that will wow all your players.

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This sourcebook is definitely designed more for the Dungeon Master than for players, but it still has tons of material that anyone can appreciate. For starters, it dramatically expands the number of D&D races you can play. There are 30 within its pages, many times more than you’ll find in your Players’ Handbook.

Best D&D books - A magic the gathering strixhaven artwork showing a stack of spellbooks

Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

If you’re a fan of the smash hit D&D ‘actual play’ series Critical Role, you can always check out the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, which has tons of stat blocks and character concepts directly from the show itself! Even if you’re not a ‘Critter’, this can still be a winning sourcebook, especially as it introduces a a new character class, called the Bloodhunter. There are also four regions to explore, and a bunch of introductory adventures and plot hooks to help you do so. 

Acquisitions Incorporated

You can also give Acquisitions Incorporated a whirl, a sourcebook based off the podcast of the same name, which asks hard-hitting questions like: What if you only adventure as your 9-5? What do vacation days look like on a dungeon crawl, and does this quest come with a dental plan?

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Just like with Explorers Guide to Wildemount, there’s a ton to enjoy here, even if you aren’t already a fan of the show.