19 Gripping Books You Can’t Put Down Once You Begin


Prepared to be swept away into these fascinating books you can’t put down. Just make sure you don’t have anything important going on the next day, because these are 19 gripping books that will keep you up all night long.

We’ve all read them. Those books that keep you up all night because you are completely enthralled in the story. You lose all sense of time and don’t realize it’s suddenly 3 o’clock in the morning. But you only have 30 more pages to go, so why stop now?

The best page turners are worth the loss of sleep. Just remind yourself that you won’t be able to sleep anyways. You’ll just sit in head with your mind spinning with possibilities. You simply must know what will happen next.

I’ve read more than my fair share of books that are hard to put down. Many a time I’ve stayed up way too late reading a captivating book. It’s like the author cast a spell on me. I can’t look away.

The mere fact that these books you can’t put down exist, teach you that they must be really good books. The author has done his job. He has made you completely invested in these characters and this story.

So if you are prepared to lose some sleep, here are 19 books you can’t put down once you begin.

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The Best Page Turners

book cover for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

For some reason, I had low expectations for this Swedish thriller, so I was caught off guard when the entire series turned out to be the type of books you can’t put down. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist takes on the investigation into the 40 year old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, the teenage daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden. He teams up with Lisbeth Slander, a pierced and tattooed hacker whose troubled past has left her with a capacity for ruthlessness. It really is a thrilling read, but, be warned, there is quite a lot of violence and language.


book cover for In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

Truman Capote was the founder of narrative nonfiction with his thrilling look at an unspeakable crime. On November 15, 1959, in the small farming town of Holcomb, Kansas, two men brutally murder the Clutter family in their home for no apparent reason. Through extensive interviews from the first days following the events all the way to the execution of the murderers, Capote suspensefully unfolds the whole story of exactly what happened and more intriguing of all, why it happened. Make sure you set aside a chunk of time to read this one because, I promise, once you start you won’t be able to put this captivating book down.


book cover for Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley

A private jet flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City crashes into the ocean. The sole survivors are a young boy who is now the sole heir of his parents’ extensive fortune and Scott Burroughs, a down-and-out painter who just happened to catch a ride. The mystery of why the plane crashed unfolds masterfully and definitely keeps you engaged. But the beauty of this book is that it is more than just a thriller. It’s a commentary on the consequences of our 24-hour news cycle and the desperate need to know everything right away. With its suspenseful build, this is surely the perfect example for books you can’t put down.


book cover for In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods
by Tana French

Mysteries are the perfect books that keep you up all night, and Tana French’s debut thriller is no exception. In the summer of 1984, four children go out to the woods to play but only one returns. With no memory of what happened to the other children that day, the lone survivor Rob Roy grows up to become a detective, seeking to right what wrongs he can. When he and his partner investigate a case eerily similar to what happened to him so long ago, Rob’s memories start to return. Will this case lead him to solving his own mystery? Or will his memories blind him to the truth of this case?

Really Good Books That Are Hard to Put Down

book cover for Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng

Set in 1970s Ohio, Celeste Ng’s debut novel starts with the drowning of Lydia, the beloved daughter of James and Marilyn Lee. As the family struggles with her death, the author takes you deeper into the cracks and flaws of this mixed race family. This captivating book is a poignant character study into the dynamics of a family where all the parents’ unfulfilled hopes are pinned on one child, to the detriment of all. The story unfolds masterfully and earns Ng her place among books you can’t put down. By the end, I was in tears for these poor children and the damage that had been done by their parents’ selfishness. Celeste Ng’s writing is exquisite, and I’m putting  her second book, Little Fires Everywhere, at the top of my to-read list.


book cover for Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Me Before You
by JoJo Moyes

Our grandfather was a paraplegic, so this book hit close to home for me. I was in tears at the story of Will Traynor, a heartbroken man who felt he had nothing left to live for after being paralyzed, not fully understanding that there is always something more. Hired to help care for Will is a scared young lady who has settled for a very ordinary life. Through their friendship, Will brings meaning into Louisa’s life and gets her to reach beyond what she thought she was capable of. In return, Louisa tries to bring meaning back into Will’s life, before it’s too late. I promise, this one will definitely make you cry and is one of those memorable books that keep you up all night.


book cover for Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

Await Your Reply
by Dan Chaon

Really good books can take a diverse group of people and interconnect them together in completely unforseen ways. Dan Chaon exactly achieves this with three strangers in his captivating book: Miles on an endless search for his missing schizophrenic twin brother, Lucy who runs away with her former high school teacher, and Ryan who just decides to walk away from it all. How much is our identity tied into who we are and how easily can we change it? Await Your Reply is one of those books that are hard to put down because every chapter keeps you wanting more.


book cover for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

I was surprised that Paula Hawkins second book, Into the Water, was one of the most overhyped books I read last year because I absolutely loved The Girl on the Train. Taking the same train to work every day, Rachel is fascinated by a woman who lives along her route. Everyday, Rachel gets a glimpse into this woman’s “perfect” life. Until one day, when Rachel witnesses something shocking. I think unreliable narrators like Rachel make for the best page turners because you can never figure out what is true and what is not. Love it or hate it, The Girl on the Train is definitely one of those books you can’t put down no matter how hard you try.

Related: Don’t Buy the Hype, Read This Not That

Historical Fiction Books That Keep You Up All Night

book cover for The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper
by Kate Morton

I have loved every Kate Morton book I’ve read, and this one is simply brilliant. It all starts when sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses her mother Dorothy stab a man to death on a calm summer day. If that doesn’t get your interest piqued, I don’t know what will. Kate Morton beautifully unfolds the backstory of Dorothy’s life during World War II. The more you learn about Dorothy, the more you’ll keep wanting more. If you love figuring out the twists and turns of novels, you’ll love this book. I, for one, did not guess the ending. 


book cover for Girl at War by Sara Novic

Girl at War
by Sara Nović

If you want to find a list of books you can’t put down, then look no further. I read this book cover-to-cover on a 3-hour flight and absolutely loved it. Historical fiction can be so much fun to read when you feel immersed in the time period. In her stunning first novel, Sara Nović tells the story of Ana Jurić, a ten-year-old girl whose life is upended by the start of the Yugoslavian civil war. The glimpses of modern war from a child’s perspective were fascinating. Yet, Nović doesn’t just cover the tragedies of Ana’s childhood. She jumps ahead 10 years as Ana returns to Yugoslavia to confront the ghosts of her childhood.  With beautiful observations and a riveting storyline, you’ll be glad you read this book.


book cover for The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s novel is one that would make pretty much anyone fall in love with historical fiction. Also, I think World War II novels tend to naturally be the type of books you can’t put down. Set in a small village in occupied France, the story centers around two sisters. Forced to house a German officer in her home, the older sister Vianne Mauriac must decide, in order to protect her daughter, where exactly she should draw the line of being complicit with German demands. On the other hand, her younger sister Isabelle Rossignol feels committed to do anything she can to resist the German occupation. Just so you know, her latest novel, The Great Alone, is also amazing!


book cover for Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein

I can’t recommend this book enough. Actually, I even listed it as one of the top 10 World War 2 books out there. You’ll find yourself immersed in a world of intrigue with the story British spy, Agent “Verity.” Captured when her plane crashes in occupied France, Verity is interrogated by the Gestapo in an attempt to learn of her mission. As she confesses under torture, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what secrets she is willing to exchange for her life. How far is she willing to go for her mission? A brilliant and emotional read that you won’t want to miss. Just be prepared to lose some sleep because this is definitely a prime example of books you can’t put down once you begin.

Related: The Best World War II Novels of the Last Decade

Gripping Novels in Young Adult Fiction

book cover for If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

When books that make you cry are the same books you can’t put down, you know you are in trouble. Originally, I saw this movie at a drive-in theater, and I immediately knew I had to read the book. In an moment, Mia’s world is turned upside down when her entire family is involved in a car accident. Mia’s emotions of watching her world change in an instance hit me particularly hard. As Mia decides whether life is worth living if her family might not be there with her, it made me wonder what I would do without my family. Of course, being a mother, just the thought of living without my family always brings me to tears. A great and emotional read.


book cover for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

You will have to settle for a vague description for this captivating book because I don’t dare risk spoiling it for you. A rich family vacations every summer on a private island. Four friends, known as the Liars, spend every summer together as their parents experience all the drama. After a terrible accident last summer, everything seems to be different. As the protagonist Cadence slowly starts regaining her memory and all the details of what happened start becoming clear, half the fun is in trying to figure out what is going on. I really enjoyed trying to piece the mystery of this book together. Besides informing you that once you begin this is one of those books you can’t put down, all I can say is that at some point, this becomes a book will make you cry. But that is all the spoiler you will get from me.


book cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter Series
by J. K. Rowling

The seven books in the Harry Potter Series are the ultimate books you can’t put down. J. K. Rowling’s masterpiece about the boy wizard Harry brings the ultimate theme of literature – the battle of good versus evil – to life with vivid imagery and fantastic imagination. You get so caught up in Rowling’s fantasy world that the books are hard to put down. The series basically defines the millennial generation and will be around for generations to come.


book cover for Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card

In a future where humanity is at war with an alien enemy determined to destroy life on Earth, Ender Wiggin is a third child in a family of extraordinarily gifted children. Sent off to battle school at only six years old, Ender with his perfect mix of compassion and ruthlessness is forced to become the military genius humanity so desperately needs. Ender’s Game is an amazing novel – not only thrilling enough to intrigue teenage boys who never read but also so packed with layer upon layer of complex themes and deeper meanings to make you want to read it again and again.

Related: 30 Books Every Millennial Needs to Read

Sci Fi/Fantasy Books You Can’t Put Down

book cover for The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
by Andy Weir

Astronaut Mark Watney wakes up to find himself marooned on the planet Mars, left for dead by the crew of the Ares 3 mission. Now, he must use all his ingenuity to overcome insurmountable odds for the chance to return back home to Earth. I love how Weir uses real science and technology in this captivating book. To be honest, I almost didn’t read this book because the strong language at the beginning of the book really turned me off. In fact, I’d have to say it’s one of the best sci fi books out there, and one of the most thrilling I’ve read in recent years – which is saying a lot considering how much I read.


book cover for Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

If you like science fiction books you can’t put down, then Station Eleven will be just right for you. Just so you know, it’s not the aliens and space ship variety of science fiction, but a story set in a dystopian future. Though, it’s set after an apocalypse, it’s not really about the apocalypse, either. This captivating book grabs your attention not for its plot twists but for its themes. It’s hard to adequately describe to you its power and beauty. So you’ll just have to read it for yourself.


book cover for The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss

Everyone should read at least one fantasy series in their life, and The Kingkiller Chronicle is the best one out there. Kvothe, a living legend in the world he lives in, tells how he cultivated his life into a myth of epic proportions to a local biographer. The intricate details of the world Rothfuss creates will captivate your attention for days on end and make it one of those books you can’t put down. In our opinion, the entire Kingkiller Chronicle are books that every millennial needs to read.

Do you like to read books you can’t put down? What books have kept you up all night?

Need a great book? Try these 19 gripping books you can't put down. We guarantee they'll keep you up all night, so make sure you have some time the next day because these are books you can't put down once you begin.

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  • Reply Tash October 16, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Oh yes , give me a good book over a movie any day. I spend many nights doing just this. I haven’t read any on the list but my last late into the night/early morning read was What if It’s Us as I had to know what happened.

  • Reply Tasha October 16, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I have a few of those books sitting on my bookshelves and am a huge Harry Potter fan. Great list.

  • Reply Hollybee October 16, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I have only read one of the books on this list, that is Harry Potter. The rest look great, though I have really been wanting to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I have not seen the movies, because I want to read the books first, but just haven’t yet. I may just have to add it to my shopping list today!

  • Reply Rachael October 16, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Ooh, this looks great – any list of books that starts the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has to be good! I loved that one, truly couldn’t put it down. I’ve heard the Martian was a really good read too – I loved the movie, so now I think I’ll check that one out next. Thanks!

  • Reply Amanda McGill October 16, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I totally agree with The Girl on the Train and the Harry Potter series! Couldn’t put them down!

  • Reply Nadia October 16, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Loved your list! I’ve read ‘The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo’, ‘Before the Fall’, ‘Me Before you’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’. Great books! I love a book that keeps me going! I am up till odd hours at night and pay for it the next morning!

  • Reply Milena October 16, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I agree about If I stay, Girl on the train and me before you. But I did not have so much lucky with Before the Fall. I should try again probably. Great post

  • Reply Jo Linsdell October 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

    These all look so good. I have me before you and after you by JoJo Moyer on my shelf. Looking forward to starting this series.

  • Reply DJ Sakata October 16, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Of this list, I’ve only read Harry Potter and Truman Capote – a study in extremes right there…

  • Reply marcia October 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Great selection! I read most of them but not all.

  • Reply Jenn @ Bound to Writing October 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    I agree that Code Name Verity is hard to put down once you get through a slow and confusing beginning. Great list of books that I need to add to my TBR list! 🙂

  • Reply Vidya Tiru October 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    I have only read Harry Potter in this list but so many of the others have been on my TBR for, well, forever now and I do need to get to them soon 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer October 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I didn’t like Girl on the Train.

    • Reply Rachael October 16, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I debated adding it because I know a lot of people don’t like it. But it definitely kept me up all night reading. I love the unreliable narrator.

  • Reply Eline October 16, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Great list! I definitely want to read more of these 🙂 But since I generally go for audiobooks, my books usually don’t keep me up at night, cause few things make me fall asleep as easily as audiobooks, haha

  • Reply Charlotte October 17, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve read a few of these (namely Harry Potter, The Martian (one of my favourite books!) and The Girl on the Train) and I love them all. I have a couple more of these on my shelf unread, so I should definitely get to those soon!

  • Reply Katiria Rodriguez October 18, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Great post and great list of books I have some of these books on my TBR pile and I can’t wait to check them out one day. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  • Reply Laura Elaine Bice October 23, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Perfect list! There are a few here that I’ll be grabbing for the cold season, my favorite time of year to snuggle up with a book!

  • Reply Maria October 23, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Whoa your taste seems so similar to mine! Of the books i’ve read on this list, I totally agree. Excited to check out some of your other recommendations!! I’m so glad I stumbled across this site! I’m always looking for good recommendations! There’s no time for bad books;)

  • Reply Dana October 24, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    So glad to see you mentioned _Station Eleven_ and _The Secret Keeper_. I don’t know anyone else who has read them, but they were great books. Thanks for putting this list together – it gives me some other titles to add to my “Want to Read” list!

  • Reply Holly Kukkonen June 11, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    I have read Ender’s Game and enjoyed it, though I liked the sequel better. That being said, I picked up Ender’s Shadow at a Little Free Library – it’s a parallel novel to Ender’s Game – and it was fabulous!

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