Authors worth binge reading.

Authors worth binge reading.

Every once in a while I’ll stumble upon a new-to-me author and feel immediately compelled to read everything they’ve ever written—preferably before the week is over.

Last fall I was burning through Wallace Stegner novels. I re-read Crossing to Safety for the third time in two years, then read Angle of Repose for the second time, then The Spectator Bird for the first. (And then I couldn’t figure out which of his novels to read next and got distracted—but I did just pick up The Big Rock Candy Mountain from the library).

At the end of the year I blew through Kristin Harmel’s works. A publisher sent me The Life Intended, then she freaked when I said I’d never read The Sweetness of Forgetting because it was her favorite, and I liked those two so much I found Italian for Beginners.

I do the same thing whenever I revisit Jane Austen’s works. I sit down thinking I’m really in the mood to re-read Emma, and before I know it I’ve read three of her six novels, at which point I might as well go ahead and finish them all.

I’m always delighted to find an author worth binge reading. For me, sometimes this looks like great literature (Stegner, Austen).

More often, it’s an author whose books are fun, entertaining, and compulsively readable, like the following:

Series: To binge read Louise Penny
Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

This is the first installment of Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series, which will hit 11 books when her newest release comes out August 25. These mysteries are unlike anything I'd ever read: the whodunit plot lines are just an excuse to explore human nature, granting them a depth and psychological astuteness I never expected from this genre. (Note: if I thought Three Pines was a real place, I'd move there in a heartbeat.) You don't have to read these novels in order, but I recommend it: you'll miss the richness of her plot lines and characters if you jump in midstream. More info →
Bury Your Dead  (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 6)

Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 6)

There was never a question I'd continue with the Inspector Gamache series (although I will say that book 3 wasn't my favorite) but the series moves to the next level in this sixth installment, in which Penny finally brings a plotline she's only hinted at in previous books front and center, and it is riveting. More info →
A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

Penny's mysteries are alternately centered in the cozy village of Three Pines and the wider world. For this excellent follow-up to the game-changing Bury Your Dead, Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines to solve a murder that's intimately tied to the world of fine art. The story is built around the concept of chiaroscuro—the contrast between dark and light that's significant in some artists' works, and in all our natures. It may sound obtuse, but Penny probes with a light hand. It works. More info →
Series: To binge read Marisa de los Santos
Love Walked In

Love Walked In

De los Santos novels have all the characteristics of good binge reads: good storytelling, likable characters, and beautiful writing. (They're not terribly challenging, which makes them that much easier to speed through.) This is a great place to start with her work. More info →
Belong to Me

Belong to Me

This is the standalone sequel to Love Walked In, but go ahead and read them in order. (Belong to Me has higher ratings on Goodreads, but I enjoyed Love Walked In more. Though comfortably predictable and a little too feel-good for some people's taste, it's well-written, intelligent, and thoroughly readable. This would make a great beach read. More info →
Falling Together

Falling Together

This isn't as strong as de los Santos' previous works but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. A lovely depiction of an unusual friendship across many years, and a thoughtful exploration of the complexities of love, grief, and human nature. I wish this novel's finale didn't veer into over-the-top territory, but I still love its vivid portrayal of friendship in the college years and beyond. More info →
Series: To binge read Liane Moriarty
What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

Moriarty's works are compulsively readable: whenever I get my hands on a new one I inhale it in two days. This is the novel that made me love her: I spreed through it like it was the fluffiest chick lit, but found myself mulling over its themes for weeks after I finished. (I wrote a little about that here.) More info →
The Husband’s Secret

The Husband’s Secret

This story about three Australian women whose lives intersect in unexpected ways is packed full of secrets. Moriarty addressed dark topics here, but her tone remains light and witty, and she manages to weave in interesting notes—the Berlin wall, the myth of Pandora, the Snow White fairy tale. I loved this on audio: the Australian accent was delightful. More info →
Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Moriarty's latest novel focuses on three Aussie moms who have children in the same kindergarten class. We know from the prologue that the book culminates with a murder at the school’s trivia night fundraiser; what we don’t know is who, or how. A satirical take on the strange relationships of kindly moms, told in an unusual format (reminiscent of Elin Hilderbrand in parts). Darkly comic: pay close attention to how adroitly Moriarty addresses domestic violence. More info →
Series: To binge read Kate Morton
The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours

This Gothic mystery is slow to build but those who persevere will be rewarded. The plot flips back and forth between World War II and the 1990s, but not in the way you'd expect. The setting is a crumbling old castle, which contributes to the story's creepy (but not quite scary) feel. Some readers think this is Morton's best work. More info →
The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden

If the Brothers Grimm wrote The Secret Garden, this is what it would have been like. This sprawling family saga gets a little unwieldy at times, but I can't say I minded much. History, fairy tale, family drama, and Gothic mystery rolled into one. More info →
The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper

This is my favorite Morton novel. A daughter is determined to unravel a longstanding secret before her mother dies. As the daughter follows the clues, the story flips back and forth in time between today and the years before and during World War II, including the London Blitz, which Morton recreates so vividly you can almost hear the bombs dropping. Filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end. More info →
Series: To binge read Sarah Addison Allen
Garden Spells

Garden Spells

Sarah Addison Allen's novels share common elements: they're Southern, small-town, and uniquely magical. This is the book that hooked me on her writing. The romance is cheesy, the magic impossible, but put them together and it sings. A few love scenes are a little racy (ahem). If you’re not down with supernatural food or a magical apple tree, skip this one—but you should know how many readers call this “a wonderful surprise.” A must-read for fans of The Language of Flowers. More info →
The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen

Sparkly Southern women, screwed-up family relationships, and magical realism mark this novel. One woman's unique magic is that the specific book she needs in her life right then mysteriously appears—on her bedside table, on her desk at work, in her handbag. That's enough to win me over. More info →
First Frost

First Frost

Allen wrote Garden Spells in 2007, and eight whole years later—in January 2015—she published this sequel because readers kept asking her what happened next? and she was eager to revisit the Waverly sisters. Not quite as enchanting as Garden Spells, but still worth reading. More info →

Who are YOUR authors worth binge reading?

5 authors worth binge reading: these 5 authors write books that are compulsively readable and hugely enjoyable.

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183 comments

  1. Donna Bridges says:

    I too love Kate Morton especially The Secret Garden one , I am Australian and enjoy Fiona MacIntosh and Monica McInerney, I also enjoy Kate Forsyth , such lush writing it’s Devine.

  2. Karyn says:

    Thanks for the suggestions! DEFINITELY binge read everything by Elizabeth Berg, and Alan Bradley’s “Flavia de Luce” series!

  3. Rose says:

    I’ve binge read the books of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult. Now, on another binge reading mania with the books of Diane Chamberlain. Very entertaining! Just the right amount of heart, drama and mystery. I’m on her 6th book already!

  4. Adrianna Cobb says:

    If you are I interested in creepy mystery set in Ireland, Tana French is amazing. It’s not exactly a series but it builds, the first is In the Woods and it’s my least favorite. Power through though because the Likeness is the second and it’s amazing.

  5. Andi says:

    I just discovered Susanna Kearsley. She writes delicious Gothic novels that are at mostly set in modern day. I read The Winter Sea last week, which was listed as a book enjoyed by one of my favorite authors (Monica McCarty who writes Scottish romance). Yesterday, I read The Shadowy Horses, and today I’m reading The Rose Garden. I LOVE to binge read authors.

    • Raela says:

      She’s one of my all-time favorite authors! I always warn people to read The Winter Sea and Shadowy Horses prior to Firebird, but you’re already all set! The only sad thing about her is that she only publishes about once every two years 🙁

  6. Bonnie V. Walker says:

    I also love all these mentioned in the comments. I would add Helen Gaynor to this list, as well as Lucinda Riley. I have just discovered Lousie Penny, and have ordered a couple more of her books.

    Gaining new knowledge from all your comments. Keep them coming!

    Bonnie V.

  7. Jana says:

    Maeve Binchy – I cannot get enough of her writing. Her characters are so complete, and her dialogue is so believable. On top of that, I want to be in the beautiful places where her stories take place. She so often throws in a twist, and yet it is all so realistic.

  8. Cezanne says:

    I LOVED Garden Spells. A friend borrowed me a copy and I went and immediately bought it. Sadly, I have not read any of her othrr works.

  9. Jen says:

    Sarah Addison Allen is one of my absolute favorites. I met her at a book signing a couple of years ago and she is her books in human form. Meeting her made reading her books even better! Kate Morton is great as well. 2 of my other favorites are Sarah Jio and Susanna Kearsley.

  10. Katie says:

    I love Sarah Addison Allen!! And I love binge reading all of one author’s books at a time. Last year was Jo Nesbo for me, but before that was my absolute favorite– Michael Connelly. I’ve been wanting to read the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny for a while but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe 2017 is the year!

  11. Toni says:

    I binged on Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series. I’m about to start the second book in her Veronica Speedwell series, but I hate waiting for the new ones to arrive! I’d much rather have it all at once. I haven’t read the standalone books yet but I wonder how they compare.

  12. Terry says:

    Louise Penny’s novels hooked me in. Started in the middle and went back to ‘Still Life’ worth it to meet the town’s residents.

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