40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

You know that book. The one you read in one or two sittings. The one you practically swallowed whole. What an exhilarating experience –– to be so captivated by a book that you cannot bear to do anything until you get to the last page!

I polled our ~3,000 HPB Bibliomaniacs around the country about which books they devoured. And they had much to say on the topic. So, if you’ve never read them, give these books a try. Without further ado, here are 40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down.

There seems to be something for everyone on this list — mystery, romance, biography, contemporary literature, classics, even paranormal. So, did your favorite quick read make the list? Add yours to our list by making a quick comment below.

— Julie

359 thoughts on “40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

  1. I didn't like everything on this list but it does have a lot of good choices. I'm looking forward to reading the ones I haven't checked out yet. I would add- The Dark Tower series by Stephen King-Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin- One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz- What Dreams May Come by Richard MathesonCouldn't put all of these down!

  2. I would have to put the whole Janet Evanovich Stephanine Plum series on the list they are all great. Also James Patterson's Womens Murder Club series are all page turners. I also recently read The Memory Keepers Daughter, I don't remember who it was by but I could not put it down!

  3. I also love the Uglies series, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, anything by Bill Bryson, Lord Vishnu's Love Handles by Will Clarke, & the Foundation series by Isaac Asmiov.

  4. I can't believe that Pride and Prejudice didn't make the list! I read it yearly. Also love Gone With the Wind, The Twilight series, all of the Sookie Stackhouse books, most of the Anne Rice books, Memoir of a Geisha, and both of the Bridget Jones books.

  5. Age of Miracles was incredible. Game of Thrones series. The Fault in Our Stars. Silver Linings Playbook. Life of Pi (that one will rip your heart out). The Perks of Being a Wallflower.And I just have to say…Godbless you for keeping Twilight and 50 Shades off of this list. Both of those series were abysmal. Terrible writing, horrible characters, repetitive juvenile idiocy, and weak lame plots that never went anywhere (especially 50 Shades. I read all 3 because I refuse to critique books I have not read. I was left with the desire to burn the books. Who wants to read about an insecure self absorbed ditz being caught up in a lame attempt at S&M relationship with a misogynistic self loathing piece of crap douchenozzle? Seriously, both of those series set the womens' movement back decades).

  6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Laks by Rebecca Skloot . . . and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand are two TRUE STORIES that are so riveting and compelling, it amazes you as you devour the stories of these people that it is truth!I still think about Henrietta Laks and Louie Zamperini (Unbroken) to this day, and I have long since finished these books.

  7. Love good reading lists! Two newer best books I have ever read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Shaffer/Barrows (wonderful) and On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (author??)

  8. Dean Koontz's book "Intensity" should be on this list. It grabs you right away and literally is a page-turner. I have read most of the books on this list, and some I didn't find as engaging as others, but for the most part, the list is pretty accurate.

  9. The Sultans Wife by Jane Johnson. The story takes place in Morroco in 1677. From the first page I was hooked and had to read it all in one sitting. Excellent if you love historical fiction.

  10. My most recent favorite is Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. I love the way she writes; her stories stay with you for a long time.

  11. The Road – read in one sitting several years ago and to this day am still talking about it. After I read it, took it to work and asked some of my co- workers to read it. This book evoked many different opinions regarding emotions and possibilities but common ground was a father's love for his son in the face of total despair.

  12. Taylor Caldwell's 'Grandmother and the Priests', and Kathy Clarke's 'The Breakable Vow'- must reads!Gone With the Wind- was that on the list?

  13. Read a lot of the books on the list and added the rest to my wish list. However I would add:Practical Magic – Alice HoffmanThe Golden Compass – Philip PullmanSafe Haven – Nicholas Sparks (or anything by him)Alex Cross series – James PattersonThe Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins

  14. Love, love LOVE Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I love the whole series, actually. It's difficult to pick one but Outlander has it all–love, drama, wolves, time traveling, sex, and Scottish men. 🙂

    • Absolutely addicted. Read the first one and thought, “What else could there be for her to say?” Boy, was I in for a treat!!

  15. Love this list and can't wait to jump into a few that I have yet to read. Something I discovered by accident, "The Supremes at Earl's All-you-Can-Eat" by Edward Kelsey Moore – is by far the belly laughingest book I have read in ages! Please give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

    • Kelly – I too stumbled upon this book and never laughed so much during reading. I think Oprah and Woopie should get with Tyler Perry and make this into a movie!!! What a hoot!!

  16. The Killer 3 (last one in the series)I usually look for titles in crime or mens adventure. I didnt even know that hard-boiled existed until a friend recommended The Killer and I stumbled across the genre. I bought all three books, began reading and have had very little sleep since. I simply couldnt put them down. What a page turner. I intended to write individual reviews for each book (I still might) but, having just completed the whole trilogy, then I have to commend Mr. Elgos for the way he has played games with my head. I dont like the IRA. I dont like terrorism. So why have I been routing for an Irish assassin turned MI6 operative? Because I couldnt help myself, thats why. Yet now I am questioning my whole set of beliefs. Im sure that Jack Elgos did not set out to be political here. This is a story of revenge set against a political background, thats all, yet the authors avoidance of any deep, moral point only serves to make that point more strongly. Conflicts, troubles, war all lead to a futile loss of life. Without giving anything away, the ending is absolutely brilliant. This has something for everyone. Its action packed, seriously fast paced and a thriller for sure. It even has a bit of the mystery, whodunit about it. I highly recommend reading this trilogy, but make sure you dont have anything pressing that you need to do in the meantime.

  17. Cormac McCarthy's, "The Road". Grim and relentless. A fascinating read. Tina Fry's, "Bossy Pants. Just what you probably expect. Insightful and hilarious.

  18. Some of these I love! My favorite book of all time is "Standing in the Rainbow" by Fannie Flagg (she also wrote Fried Green Tomatoes). I read it every year. It's one of those books that you laugh and cry and want to share with everyone you know! Fantastic.

  19. I go back and read "The Proud Breed" by Celeste DeBlasis every now and then. It is such a rich, sweeping historical drama of old California. It's easy to get totally vested in Tessa, Gavin, Indian and the generations that follow them. I'm partial to Daphne DuMaurier's "Rebecca" as well. I first read it in junior high and was hooked from the beginning. I second the vote for all the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy too!

  20. Thanks for the list – always looking for new reads – I very much loved the series of books by Patrick Taylor (Irish Country Doctor) and Louise Penney series. Great reads.

  21. I have only read one book on this list, The Help. I would like to recommend just a few that I have enjoyed over the years. A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, A Widow for One Year and Love is Eternal both by John Irving. I also enjoy reading Christian fiction which was not mentioned but I highly recommend. Secrets of the Cross Trilogy by Elizabeth Musser, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn were all books that I couldn't put down!

  22. I'm so glad Storm Front by Jim Butcher is on here! I've read the whole series at least 4 times and I am dying for the next one! I was super skeptical at first and fell in love. I'm sad there's no Dean Koontz, Sarah Dessen, Christioher Moore, Stephen King, etc. on here! So many good ones to be read!

  23. I would add my all time favorite book: Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen—it is chock full of Chicago history intertwined with a fascinating and under documented story of one of the worst serial killers in our history, and it is all true!

  24. Love this list! Would add the following:A Thousand Splendid SunsThe Girl Who Played With FireGone GirlThe WeddingThe Mortal Instruments series

  25. I am shocked that people have mentioned James Paterson as a favorite writer! Look at your book the next time you read one of his. Every other page is either blank or a half page. What a rip off! I calculated that a 347 page book that I was holding really only had about 186 pages. Not to mention the fact that his ployTs are totally formulaic and most of his books are written by ghost writers! There are SOOOOO many wonderful authors out there who work hard and actually write beautiful books with amazing plots. I can’t figure out why anyone would waste one second of time reading the junk that Paterson is pedaling.

  26. Longmire series by Craig Johnson: must read! “Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy, Anything by Wallace Stegner is very rewarding. Anything by Jodi Picoult!! Anything by Jennifer Weiner. Anything by Peri O’Shaugnessy or James Lee Burke.

    • Agree with the Longmire addition. While I liked Conroy’s “Prince of Tides,” I LOVED his “South of Broad.”

      I also strongly recommend Susan Meissner books.

  27. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is wonderful and underrated. Now every time I look at my dog, I think… hmmm, what if…?

  28. Kim Edwards wrote The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. Her followup book, The Lake of Dreams, is better yet. It moves between the present & the past. It will have you looking closer at the next piece of Tiffany glass, pseudo or real. you see.
    Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, of which The Golden Compass is the first, is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read; great characters, plotting, dialogue, purpose. It made me take a second look at Juvenile fiction.
    In the nonfiction area, T. E. Laurence’s The Seven Pillar’s of Wisdom is a start to understanding how we got into the mess we have in the Middle East today and well worth getting through its massive length, although there will be times TEL will be beyond irritating. On the same subject, Laurence In Arabia (I can’t remember the author), but he writes about other players of the time. Also, Rock the Casbah or anything else by Robin Wright.

  29. The MaddAddam trilogy: ‘Oryx and Crake’ (2003), ‘The Year of the Flood’ (2009), and ‘MaddAddam’ (2013) by Margaret Atwood are outstanding and addictive. Such a long wait between sequels, though!

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