Like the perfect coffee blend or a bite of your favorite chocolatey something (two things that make great accompaniments to books, by the way) there are just some books that readers can’t get enough of — the most ‘addictive’ books, if you will. Not only is one page or one chapter not nearly enough, it’s impossible to stop at just one book too. That’s right, the books on this list so addictive that you’ll flip through their pages in no time flat, and they’ll also have you running out and buying absolutely every other thing their author has ever published. I mean, ever. I hope you have the shelf space cleared, because there is some serious book buying (or borrowing, if you’re a library kind of gal) in your future.
From must-read book series to authors who pull you in and don’t let go, these are the books you’ll stay up all night reading — even when you have to be at class, your office, or the yoga studio super early the next morning. But hey, if there’s one addiction I’m okay endorsing, it’s reading books. Here are 11 of the most addictive books of all time, perfect for when that TBR pile is looking a little low (like that ever happens, right?)
1. 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green
From The Fault in Our Stars to Looking for Alaska, author John Green writes YA that readers of every age are obsessed with. The Fault in Our Stars was really the first Green novel to really “go viral” — debuting as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2012, and evolving into a film adaptation that opened #1 in the box office in 2014. But no matter which of his novels you being with, you’ll find yourself coming back for more before that last page is turned, guaranteed.
2. 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn
Another novel that hit bookshelves and box offices in a big way was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Totally, page-turningly addictive, Gone Girl is a thriller that shifted the male/female dynamics of the entire genre and had readers scrambling to scoop up Flynn’s other novels as well. Flynn is also the author of Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and most recently, The Grownup.
3. 'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante
It’s called Ferrante-Fever for a reason. The pseudonymous writer of slim novels like The Days of Abandonment and Troubling Love really started captivating readers worldwide with her highly-addictive Neopolitan Novel series, beginning with the title My Brilliant Friend and continuing to tell the stories of childhood best friends Elena (“Lenù”) Greco and Raffaella (“Lila”) across three more books. For readers who have worked their way through Elena Ferrante and still can’t get enough, the good news is My Brilliant Friend is coming to HBO (we've got our fingers crossed for sometime in 2018, but no dates have been released yet.)
4. 'On Beauty' by Zadie Smith
Once you’ve read one Zadie Smith title you have to read them all. On Beauty is a Smith fan favorite, a novel that tackles issues of racism and identity in the United States and the United Kingdom, and explores socially-prescribed beauty standards. If you’re still catching up on your Zadie Smith reads, her latest novel is the 2016 title Swing Time.
5. 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver is another one of those writers who can take up nearly-endless amounts of shelf space in your home library, and still you’ll be eagerly awaiting her next title. The Poisonwood Bible is classic Kingsolver — and the first book of hers I ever read, so I’m personally partial to this one. There’s something ferocious about Kingsolver and her characters on the page, and there is never a lack of fierce, complex women featured in her novels.
6. 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins
This trilogy of novels had readers on the edge of their seats for three books and four movies worth of young adult dystopia. Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy (rounded out by Catching Fire and Mockingjay) introduced readers to one of literature’s favorite contemporary heroines: the rule-breaking, self-sacrificing Katniss Everdeen. Plus, a little love triangle is always good for keeping those pages turning.
7. 'I Know This Much Is True' by Wally Lamb
It’s difficult to describe how much I love Wally Lamb’s writing. His novels include She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True, The Hour I First Believed, and We Are Water. His latest, I’ll Take You There, landed on bookstore shelves last year, and I already cannot wait for his next. Lamb’s characters pull you into their lives and take you on deep, complicated, psychological journeys of the heart and mind. There aren’t too many writers like him writing today.
8. 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison
I mean, it’s Toni Morrison. What more do you need to know? The 1987 title Beloved was many readers’ first Morrison — often assigned in high school — but is hardly ever the last. The novel takes readers back to the days after the American Civil War and is inspired by the true story of African American Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in 1856. As one of the most celebrated and respected novelists in American literature today, Morrison’s other novels include The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Song of Solomon — and are not to be missed.
9. 'The Lost Book of the Grail' by Charles C. Lovett
Carlie Lovett books are dangerously addictive — especially if you’re a book lover who can’t imagine anything better than reading books about books and the people who obsessively love them. The Lost Book of the Grail is Lovett’s latest novel, a literary mystery that takes readers to the fictional English cathedral city of Barchester, where scholar Arthur Prescott is in the middle of a lifelong journey to find the Holy Grail. Filled with all sorts of yummy details like how antiquarian books are bound and what their pages smell like, each of Lovett’s novels (The Bookman’s Tale, First Impressions) celebrate everything there is to love about literature.
10. 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is basically the gateway book to a lifelong love of classic English literature. Once you’ve become wholly captivated by Jane Austen’s crazy Bennet’s and the brooding personality of Fitzwilliam Darcy, you’re only a few short steps away from devouring not only everything else Austen ever wrote (Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey) but also her contemporaries like the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, and Evelyn Waugh.
11. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J. K. Rowling
Like you need me to tell you how addictive Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, is. The seven fantasy novel series is so addictive, in fact, that I know fellow readers who not only collect each new edition of the books, but who have read and re-read some of those editions until their covers have fallen off. And, if you can believe it, this month marks the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of Harry Potter and his magical mates. It makes you realize how long you’ve been nursing that addiction, doesn’t it?