Every bookworm knows the feeling. “I’m just going to relax a little and read my book before bed” turns into “Why is it light outside? What time is it? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?”
There are a few qualities that combine into a magical mix that keeps us stuck to the page. Great characters, embroiled deeply in plenty of complications and stuck behind insurmountable obstacles. Wonderful prose, although if the premise is good enough just “good” writing is plenty good enough to keep us hooked.
Here is an assortment of books from many genres that combine all of these qualities into something that readers just couldn’t put down. Anyone of them might give you an accidental all-night reading session. You have been warned.
*Book descriptions come from Goodreads*
1. The Illuminae Series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This series is completely unique! The format is brilliant (yes, the story is told through files!), the attention to detail is fascinating, and the characters are great. Once you start – this series is impossible to put down!
“BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.”
2. The Martian by Andy Weir
This book might be the definition of a page-turner! Exciting, smart and hilarious – you will love to see what Mark Watney comes up with next. Just be careful – you might wake up your partner or your kids with all the laughs.
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.”
3. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
You Will Know Me is an unusual murder-mystery that will surprise you by the attention to detail and a unique storytelling. To quote Emily May (my favorite reviewer on Goodreads): It’s about the whys, the hows, the intricate details, and characterization.
“Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk.”
4. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh
This is one of those thrillers that truly makes you engage with the story, its themes, and with the character. Our main heroine is troubled in more ways than one, and as her story unfolds you will realize it is really hard to just stop at the end of the chapter. Also, TWISTS!
“In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.”
5. 11-22-63 by Stephen King
Stephen King barely needs an introduction. Yet, this book is a bit different than the rest in his bibliography. Time travel has been used so many times – it is hard to find a book that does it well. Yet, Stephen King succeeded!
“… prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke…”
6. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Amor Towles writes luscious history novels that are hard to forget (A Gentlemen in Moscow). Set in the 1930’s, it will seduce you with an amazing setting, great writing, and exciting characters.
“On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table.”
7. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
The Orenda is a highly rated and award-winning historical fiction novel. It is extremely compelling! This might not be the easiest read, but it will keep you glued to your book the whole night. Once you pick it up – it’s impossible to put it down.
“In the remote winter landscape, a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of a young Iroquois girl violently re-ignites a deep rift between two tribes. The girl’s captor, Bird, is one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. Years have passed since the murder of his family, and yet they are never far from his mind. In the girl, Snow Falls, he recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter, but as he fights for her heart and allegiance, small battles erupt into bigger wars as both tribes face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.”
8. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
This beautiful, feminine story set in 1911 will seduce you easily. Beautiful writing and a mesmerizing story promise a high-quality all-nighter reading event.
“A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….”
9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is an actor, writer, producer, and director. She currently stars in the Hulu original comedy series “The Mindy Project,” which she also writes and executive produces. Here attempt in writing a book did not go unnoticed.
“In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”
10. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s books have been giving readers all-nighters for generations! And if you are a mood for a good old-fashioned mystery – this is the book to turn to. Fun, smart, exciting and classic.
“First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.”
11. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Do you like strange? Do you like creepy? Fond of unreliable narrators? This book has it all. And everybody knows all of it is welcome in dark hours of the night.
“Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.”
12. The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
A twisted and brilliant take on the zombie genre. It manages to pull the reader in with its strong themes, wonderful characters, and warmth. It’s really hard to stop reading once you start. Also, there is a sequel worth checking out – The Boy On The Bridge.
“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.”
13. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is one of the best and most engaging YA novels of the recent era. The friendship between Aristotle and Dante is beautiful, and you will love reading about it. A beautiful, beautiful book impossible to put down!
“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”
14. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
A book in verse – impossible to put down. Perfect if you want a quick, but interesting read.
“Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he?”
15. The Deal by Elle Kennedy
If you think night (reading) hours are best for steamy hot novels – search no more, The Deal is perfect! It’s the first book in the new adult “Off-Campus” series so be prepared to get hooked to more book than just one.
“All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.”
16. Love and Other Words by Cristina Lauren
This rich love story is an audience favorite and perfect for those late midnight reading sessions in bed.
“Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.”
17. A Game of Thrones George RR Martin
This title needs no introduction. A big book. A massive story. But what a page-turner! Nobody is safe, especially our sleep.
“Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to.”
18. A Darker Shade of Magic VE Schwab
This delightful fantasy series by V.E. Schwab builds a world where a person can travel through many different Londons. As the series progresses the stakes get higher, the characters evolve and it gets increasingly harder to just put it down.
“Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.”
If you’d like some more great recommendations for engrossing books, you can also check out 15 Books You Can Finish in One Sitting