Every once in a while, I pick up a book that’s so compelling I just can’t put it down until I reach the last page. Sometimes it’s because the book is flat-out amazing; sometimes it’s because the book is good enough and the plot is amazing.

Disregarding the “why” for a moment, I polished each of these 7 books off in less than 24 hours because I couldn’t put them down: 

Series: Un-put-down-able
The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility

I blew through this novel from my YA summer reading list over the weekend, even though it's almost 400 pages. If you loved Eleanor & Park, read this next. It's not a read-alike, but it has enough in common with E&P to make it a safe bet. One of the best books I've read this year. More info →
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: a Veronica Mars Mystery

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: a Veronica Mars Mystery

This wasn't high literature or anything, but it was so much fun (and had such good narrative drive) I didn't want to stop until I knew how it ended. Add Audible narration for $7.49. More info →
The Likeness

The Likeness

In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taught psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end. More info →
Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

This gorgeous novel can almost be categorized as literary fiction, which too many readers dismiss as inaccessible. Don't make that mistake. This Gatsby-esque novel pulls several shocking plot twists, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming. More info →
What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

This novel had me pinned to the couch for two days (or it might have been just one). It reads like the breeziest chick lit, but has a surprising depth that makes me love it even more. More info →
Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

I finished this one on a weekday afternoon when I was supposed to be working, because all I wanted to do was finish this book. (Interestingly, I also inhaled Rowell's newest, Landline, which just came out yesterday. But I didn't like it nearly as much.) More info →

Tell us about the last book (or three) you read that you just couldn’t put down.

P.S. How I find time to read, and why it’s so hard to put down the book and go to bed already.

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    • Roberta Temple says:

      You would probably love Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. Three books in all and they’re terrific! I still haven’t forgotten them. It’s set during the colosseum days and are enjoyably intense!

  1. Heather in VA says:

    A recent book that I couldn’t put down and read in about 24 hours was, The Girl With All The Gifts. Years ago I read the Poisonwood Bible and literally stayed up all night to read it. It’s stuck with me ever since as a book that has to be consumed.

  2. Sarah says:

    I have yet to read most of these books but a few that I have red recently are The Dogs of Winter which had me crying until the end and a very addicting fantasy call the Iron King ( book 1) .I also loved all the books that Maggie Stiefvater wrote, they were dark and powerful.

  3. Terri says:

    For fantasy lovers: The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flannagan. The first volume is The Ruins of Gorlan. It’s YA series set 100s of years ago in an England-type place. A Ranger is an elite set of men who keep the kingdom safe. Not a very good description, but definitely not-put-down-able! There are 11 books in the series.

    Books from my teens that I highly recommend:

    1. The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, written by Maria VonTrapp herself. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ve read one tiny part of the book!

    2. The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss. A true story set in the 1940s about a married couple who could not have children. So they started adopting. After one baby, the agencies refused to let them adopt another child. Not to be held back, they adopted children of different races who were “unadoptable.” You will find what the 1940s were like in a sociological way to be surprising.

    3. Karen by Marie Killilea. Another true story set in the 1940s. The Killilea’s first child was Karen, and she was born with cerebral palsy. It is their amazing journey from discovering their child had problems, to being told to put her in a special home and forget they ever had her and the years until they got a diagnosis. After knowing that she was cerebral palsied, they pulled out all the stops in helping her to have the physical and mental abilities of a “normal” child. Again, an eye-opener about how disabled children were treated and, during WWII, how people of other races were treated.

    More recent favorites:

    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand–5 awesome stars (romance without all the simpering and heavy breathing!)
    Three Dog Life–5 eye-opening stars (autobiography)
    We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance–5 breathtaking stars (biography)

    ANYthing written by Jason Wright. Start with The James Miracle or The Seventeen Second Miracle. 5 you’ll-want-to-read-them-again-and-again stars. (fiction)

    The Abhorsen Series written by Garth Nix. 4 books, start with Sabriel. 5 “this is by far the very best fantasy series I have ever read” stars.

    Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates. You’ll be amazed at this true story of a woman with a doctorate in Shakespeare’s Literature volunteers her time to teach Shakespeare to inmates without parole.

    Room by Emma Donoghue. fiction based on a true event. Just read it!

    • Dalis Foglia says:

      I read Helen Doss’s book, the Family Nobody Wanted when I was in 11th or 12 th grade. ( A long time ago…) I admired Helen and her husband and the way they cared for those “unadoptable” kids.

  4. Ana says:

    Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society had me glued to the page until I finished it. I’ve enjoyed everything by Liane Moriarty. And my guilty can’t-put-it-down pleasure… the Sebastian St. Cyr series of Regency mysteries by CS Harris.

  5. Michelle says:

    I have just discovered Colleen Hoover this summer and have read 4 of her books in about 2 weeks!! Her books are great. But I have to say my favorite so far has been Maybe Someday. It’s definitely un-put-downable!! I read the whole book in one sitting. Definitely recommend you give her a try!!

  6. Janet says:

    I read two very different books last week and loved them both!
    The first was “All the Light We Cannot See”- which is WWII as seen from the experience of two children. The other was “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore”. Very different, don’t read it if you don’t relate to computers and Google : )

  7. Anastasia says:

    I’m not a huge “re-reader” so when I do, that’s when I know it’s up there on the list of greats!

    -Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
    Had me in a trance the entire time! The History! The mystery!
    -Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert
    So intrigued by the presence of alchemy and magic in such a seemingly realistic, present-day novel. Didn’t seem far-fetched at all but totally reasonable!
    -David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
    So inspiring! Filled with stats but with just as much heart! Stories of how “underdogs” are actually more successful.
    -The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    Currently reading and I’m hooked! Another reasonably unreasonable story!

  8. Jenny Combs says:

    I loved The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It was my favorite book I read all summer. I was enraptured with the story and loved learning about that part of women’s history that I didn’t know a lot about. Currently reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes for my book club. It’s gotten a lot of praise from my patrons at the library I work at. Hope it lives up to the hype! Just finished Fangirl also and liked it more than I thought I would. If you want to crawl into the mind of a gross, awkward, hilarious, crass, teenage boy read Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl. There were parts in it I laughed so loud the people in other campsites came over to ask me what I was reading. (Warning: lots of swearing!)

    • Anne says:

      If you enjoyed The Nightingale consider giving another Jojo Moyes book a try: The Girl You Left Behind. When I read The Nightingale it reminded me so much of Moyes’s book!

  9. Meredith DuHamel says:

    I’d like to recommend Those Who Save Us and The Secret of Mary Bowser. They’re both historical novels and I am definitely more of a British mystery maven, but these two books are wonderful! Plus, I learned quite a bit while reading them which was an additional bonus. The first book is about WWII but from a German woman’s perspective. The second novel is based on a true story about a freed slave who spied for the Yankees during the Civil War.

    I just finished a book called Me and Emma that I found to be highly engrossing, well-written, and very poignant. A tale of family strife told from a precocious eight year old’s point of view.

  10. Sandra mosolgo says:

    I always look forward to a new Louise Penny, mysteries set in Quebec with multi-layered characters, complicated plots and descriptions of food that will make your mouth water. If you try her, the books must be read in order.

  11. Lauren Hershey says:

    Jane Smiley’s Last Hundred Years Trilogy, which includes Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age, was amazing and I couldn’t stop until I found out what happened to every family member over that century. Each of the three books has a family tree in the front that I referred to many times. I highly recommend it.

  12. Carol B. says:

    My most recent books that I loved were:
    Cinder by Marissa Meyer (the start of the Lunar Chronicles series, it’s YA and fabulous),
    Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (and I would recommend all of her books, she writes paranormal fiction that has action, humor and a little romance on the side) and lastly the book
    A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (I had to read it for school but it was honestly the best book that I would never have chosen for myself and I couldn’t put it down! Someone else really liked it too because it’s becoming a movie).

  13. wendy thorburn says:

    I love seeing the books other people rave about! Read you blog from top to bottom. Often cannot get these books , maybe South Africa is a bit behind!! Haven’t got a kindle yet, but know more books are available there and much cheaper than in the book store! Thanks keep the suggestions flowing! Wendy Thorburn

  14. Lisa says:

    Any Sandra Brown mystery/suspense (she used to write romance, also. Romance just isn’t my thing!), and also anything by J.A. Jance. Last week I read 4 books!

  15. Chelsea says:

    So I picked up Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” on Jan 1, 2015 and finished book 8 by the end of the month. Yes, 8 DG books in a month. I guzzled them. My kids fed and watered themselves. My excuse if they have any recurring negative effects of my neglect of them that month is that all of them are girls and I will be the one to gift them the epic story of Jamie and Claire Fraser and the world of Outlander… so in the end, we all win. 🙂

    The most recent books I couldn’t put down – Light Between the Oceans and The Orphans of Race Point. LOVED them!

  16. Vicky says:

    Assigned reading of “Of Mice and Men”, in high school, left a bad taste in my mouth for John Steinbeck. So I didn’t read anything by him until a few years ago. Upon recommendation of a friend I picked up “East of Eden” and absolutely could not put it down till I turned the last page. Absolutely a masterpiece.

  17. Jennifer Kepesh says:

    I am surprised that no one ever mentions Joshilyn Jackson’s fantastic books when they talk about un-put-downable reads or authors you will always read. Jackson’s first book was “Gods in Alabama,” and I highly, highly recommend it. A couple of the other books are related to this one, though they aren’t proper sequels. All of her books have been set in the South; all feature a strong, interesting, woman; most have a pretty important familial legacy, such as a woman raised by maiden aunts (so, where is Mom, and why is she gone is part of the story). I am not doing them justice, because if I read this description, I’d think, “BORing, Chick Lit.” But Joshilyn’s just a great writer, and her main character’s voice (actually, almost all are written in first-person) is always so clear and compelling. Her writing will definitely make you laugh, between the southernisms and the southern manners…but they are not silly books. They are generally fast-paced, easy to devour, yet you’ll be thinking about the characters’ interactions for a long time. Jump in!

  18. Chantel says:

    My latest guilty pleasure has been the Selection Series by Kiera Cass. A little more for the YA reader but a series nonetheless. Another is the Divergent Series – was NOT a fan of the movies at all but absolutely LOVED the books. Spilled Milk was another one that I could not put down!

  19. Pam says:

    Hi Anne! I recently just binge-listened through all your podcast episodes (so you can imagine what my reading list and Amazon wish list look like now!). The podcast and the blog are superb! Thanks for all your great work. And I love how this post continues to get comments!

    I loooove What Alice Forgot and I’ve been trying to read all of Lianne Moriarty’s other books since. The Husband’s Secret is in 2nd place for me, but I did not like The Hypnotist’s Love Story (your thoughts?). I am currently reading Truly, Madly, Guilty and am yet to read the others.

    I read but did not enjoy In the Woods by Tana French some years ago, but I am giving The Likeness a try now just because sooo many people recommend her work that I really had to give her books another chance.

  20. Billie Huntley says:

    I totally love all of Kate Morton’s books. ” The House at Riverton” kept me up all night. If you have not read “Mrs. Mike” it is the most wonderful book. I was 12 when I first read it and now am 70. I think I read it every couple of years.

  21. Carol says:

    Just finished Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House in 2 days…..unputdownable……and I enjoyed it more than the Kitchen House (which I also loved!).

  22. Bridget says:

    The Martian. I wasn’t even sure I would like the book as I am not into super sci-fi/survival stories but I honestly could not put it down and spent a whole summer afternoon/evening reading it outside and then on my couch because I needed to know what happened to Mark Watney. Seriously became one of my fave books! I enjoyed the lunar chronicles and admit to binge reading Winter within a day. and of course Harry Potter series are un-put down-able but I think that goes without saying;) Also so glad to see the Sea of Tranquility. LOVED that book so much! Definitely couldn’t stop reading

  23. Trisha says:

    Hello! I just found you on Pinterest and am exploring your popular posts. Anyway, I’m on a book hunt right now so I’ll be back to check out more of your lists–this one looks great as to some of the mentions in the comments!

    I read books to recommend them to my students who are non-native speakers, so I am constantly reading titles I would not typically choose for myself and find myself loving them–but there was one surprise I couldn’t put down: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

    I almost stopped reading it after 20 pages because it was too dark for me–and then it sucked me in!

    Anyway, I look forward to reading your blog.

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