Top Ten Page-Turners

Once upon a time, I hated staying home on Saturday nights. I guess I must be getting old because Saturday night found me home alone, and I couldn’t have been happier, partly because I had what I hoped was a good book to read


I started reading at 9pm. At 10.30, and 11.15 I thought about going to sleep. By midnight I had admitted to myself that I was going to stay up to finish it, no matter how late it got. This Bright River opened with a mystery, and other mysteries were added as the story progressed. As well as being intrigued by the plot, I was really rooting for the central characters. In addition, it was beautifully written. I think it’s very rare for a novel to be satisfying on so many levels, and for me, this rare combination is what makes a book unputdownable (I know: there’s no such word).

Here’s a selection of some other books I’ve read in which those elements come together, all of which have kept me up past my bedtime.


Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

This one’s a little old-fashioned now but still has plenty of thrills and spills.

Annihilation by Jeff VanDerMeer

Four scientists form the twelfth expedition to the mysterious Area X. What happened to the previous expeditionists? What is the dark secret behind Area X? Still hot off the presses, and with a sequel due out any day now, this book is weird and creepy and full of surprises.


Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey is the king of cliff-hanger chapter endings in this post-apocalyptic action tale, with  good strong characters including a baddie you’ll LOVE to hate. Join the million-odd other readers who went crazy for this series.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I never thought I could like a zombie/vampire book but The Passage changed my mind.  More action than a Die Hard movie, supported by Justin Cronin’s writing chops which he earned writing literary novels, including the beautiful Mary and O’Neil.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Twist upon twist! And then another twist! I was all ready to hate this book but it sucked me in and it was great fun.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

This book made me so anxious I felt actually sick. Which sounds unpleasant. But I guess I must like that feeling because I went back and read it again. Riveting suspense. Dark. Creepy. Shudder.


Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing

A classic epic quest story, in which our hero and heroine travel across a future version of Africa, battling drought, giant man-eating lizards, drug addiction, evil cults, wars, and a few other things I can’t remember now. Super-dooper.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I don’t read a lot of YA but I guess I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Well, I found out. Kerblammy. Lots of action here. Katniss is a pretty rad heroine.


Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Someone bought me book one as a gift and I read it to be polite but I thought it was pretty childish and had no intention of going any further. The, while on a holiday I found myself with nothing to read. Meanwhile my friend had her nose buried deep in ..The Goblet of Fire (book four). She raved, and for wont of better options, when she finished it, I gave it a crack. Wooh! What a rush! I read the next 3 in less than a week and seriously loved them.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Humans. What a horrible bunch we are, and there’s nothing like an apocalypse to bring the worst out in us (cannibalism, amyone?). And yet, there’s still hope, as this story so beautifully illustrates. This is the most disturbing book I’ve ever read, which doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation, I know, but it is also one of the most compelling and powerful. I read it in one sitting and afterwards felt so traumatised by certain scenes that I couldn’t sleep, but it was worth it.

Your turn: What are the books that have kept you up past your bedtime? Have you read any of these?

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Top Ten Page Turners   ANNABEL SMITH

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