One of the best things about life is the feeling of losing yourself in a story.
A gripping novel has the effect of hooking you in, turning each page until you reach an epic conclusion.
Page-turning books can range from fascinating thrillers, engrossing romance tales, or modern fiction stories that are incredibly riveting.
If you’re struggling to find interest in the stories on your bookshelf, you’re in the right place!
We’ve collected a list of 11 novels that are engaging, compelling, and powerful page-turners below.
Whether you’re into beautiful depictions of true stories, or thrilling plots that harbor fascinating secrets, you’re sure to find a book that suits your literary tastes in this post!
11 Captivating Books That Are Guaranteed Page Turners
The Guest List: A Novel – By Lucy Foley
The Guest List was promoted as part of the thriller genre, but the novel is more like an investigation into the psyche.
All of the characters are well fleshed out, including a woman that runs a prosperous online magazine, her prospective husband and relatives, and a well-liked couple, who the plot centers around.
Though all the characters are flawed and harbor mysterious secrets, Foley manages to make the readers care about each person.
A surprise turn of events happens when one of the characters is killed.
The Guest List isn’t exactly like the well-known Agatha Christie story, but the plot has similarities.
The story includes a murderer that lives on a distant Irish island. The area also has an unnerving past, which provides a great setting for the plot to unfold.
Many hints at the killer’s identity are revealed to us throughout, just like in a Christie novel.
Despite this, Foley’s book isn’t like a classic murder mystery novel, as the killer isn’t exposed until roughly 90 percent of the way through the story.
The Guest List is packed with details and several thrilling storylines. This makes it perfect for those who love to read about complex characters.
If you adore crime novels, like Agatha Christie, or are interested in reading a captivating psychological mystery, consider adding The Guest List to your bookshelf!
- Complex characters: An interesting mix of characters that are realistic and have depth
- Modern murder mystery: Classic murder mystery theme set in a modern setting
- Tale has several storylines that may be harder to remember as you read through the book.
Educated: A Memoir – By Tara Westover
This emotional tale involves Westover’s battle to become educated, despite her Mormon family’s beliefs.
Westover emphasizes how necessary education is and how schooling can change someone’s life.
Westover was only nine years old when her mother, a midwife, was involved in a car accident.
The event left her mother with serious brain damage that affected her midwifery skills.
Westover’s father was a scrapper who continued to leave his family unprotected in the face of danger.
Westover was then encouraged to seek learning and schooling, even though her family continued to resist.
When her violent older brother left for college, Westover decided to pursue a search for knowledge. She traveled across different continents to find herself at Cambridge University.
Despite her resilience, at Cambridge, Westover was plagued with self-doubt. She continued to question whether she truly belonged.
A moving story about conquering adversity, Educated will inspire its readers to think about their present circumstances and understand the value of education.
Westover writes in a captivating and emotional way, helping readers comprehend the gravity of her words.
If you’re after a book that covers a tough upbringing, battling hardship, and persevering in the face of adversity, you may struggle to put Educated: A Memoir down.
- Well-written prose: The story keeps you entertained throughout
- Sends a positive message: Displays the importance of an education
- A few of the events seem exaggerated for dramatic effect.
He Said/She Said: A Novel By Erin Kelly
This intellectual thriller has a double narrative that makes you wonder whose side you should believe.
Kelly’s fantastic novel is well-written and manages to keep you guessing as you work your way through the book.
Characters Kit and Laura see a sexual assault and decide to tell the police. The plot revolves around this decision, as this choice affects them later down the line.
Many years later, the two characters keep living in continual fear.
Readers will feel the intensity as the couple attempts to run away from the repercussions of that night’s actions.
The novel switches between Kit and Laura’s different sides, as well as past and present events. The result is an intelligent, psychological book that’s brimming with puzzling elements.
You’re sure to feel the nervous energy with each page that you turn, but be warned, He Said/She Said is very hard to put down!
- Dual narration: Adds complexity and depth to the plot
- Engaging story: Full of suspense and tension, keeps the reader invested
- The jumps from past to present can occasionally be confusing.
The Last Thing To Burn: A Novel By Will Dean
The Last Thing to Burn is an extremely chilling, emotional, and fantastically well-written book.
The story involves a woman who has been kidnapped from Vietnam and held prisoner by a man on a remote English farm.
Our protagonist cannot break free as her captor used bolt cutters to shatter her ankle in the past.
She lives in continual pain and is unable to walk.
She is controlled through various methods, as she depends on her abductor to give her pills for the pain.
Her sister is also living illegally in England, but he threatens to have her deported if she tries to escape.
Cameras watch her all the time to track her activities.
If she doesn’t follow his rules, the captor cruelly reprimands her by making her choose one of her loved belongings to burn.
This absorbing novel delves into how resilient humans can be, even when confronted with incomprehensible adversity.
The Last Thing to Burn is incredible and will have your heart racing until the very end.
- Very well written: Reader feels protagonist’s desperation on every page
- Fast read: Captivating plot makes it hard to put down
- Contains vivid descriptions of violence and emotional distress.
Project Hail Mary By Andy Weir
With an extraordinary mysterious plot, continual twists and turns, and a well-written narrative, Project Hail Mary is certainly worth its many glowing reviews.
The plot centers around an unusual, unicellular creature called ‘Astrophage’.
It’s soaking up the Sun’s energy at a fast rate, which will lead to the Sun and Earth cooling down. It’s estimated that half of humanity will become extinct within 19 years.
The main character, Ryland Grace, awakens after a coma around 12 light years away from Earth. Ryland cannot remember why he is there or what he is meant to do.
As he starts to regain his memory, he figures out he’s the only survivor of a one-way ticket operation.
The goal is to reach the closest star that isn’t influenced by Astrophage.
Project Hail Mary is the mission of saving the human race.
As humanity’s last hope, Ryland has to work out how to kill the organism and send these details back to Earth as fast as he can.
This is a perfect novel for science fiction fans that is packed with puzzles and thrilling events.
With an interesting point of view, easy-to-understand sci-fi elements, and many surprising events, Project Hail Mary is definitely a must-read.
- Smooth, easy-to-follow prose: Engaging story that keeps readers interested
- Full of twists and turns: Keeps novel full of suspense
- Contains technical elements that can be hard to understand.
The Golden Couple By Greer Hendricks And Sarah Pekkanen
This mystery novel doesn’t feature a crime or dead body like some classic examples, but this doesn’t mean that the story lacks suspense!
The story features an affluent couple, Matthew and Marissa Bishop. They seem to have their life put together until Marissa commits infidelity.
Underneath their perfect outer exterior, their relationship is torn apart by a career and poor intimacy.
Marissa wants to fix things for their eight-year-old son and the fact that she loves Matthew. Avery Chambers then enters the scene.
She’s a therapist who has lost her license but still counsels people who are in a predicament.
The catch is that they have to follow her unconventional practices, and the Bishops are certainly desperate.
As the couple enters Avery’s office, all three characters are set on a dangerous course of action.
There are larger secrets that are still concealed, not just a marriage on the verge of collapse.
This psychological thriller is full of surprise twists that will have you guessing throughout. It’s hard to tell who to trust, as the book is certainly a rollercoaster ride.
The Golden Couple gives you enough information while retaining enough secrets, which will have you turning the pages to find out the truth.
It’s certainly a story that will have you hooked on its pages from start to finish.
- Many twists and turns: Several surprise events give the story a fast pace
- Alternating perspectives: Give the tale more depth and complexity
- Lots of secondary characters that aren’t vital to the story
VOX By Christina Dalcher
Dalcher’s Vox has been compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel that showcases a dystopian setting where women are viewed as property.
Vox has similar themes as the plot revolves around a world where women aren’t allowed to speak over a hundred words a day.
The story follows the main character, Dr. Jean McClellan.
During the day when the American government rules that women aren’t allowed to utter more than 100 words per day, Dr. McClellan cannot believe what is happening.
The decree is just the start of events, as women are soon no longer allowed to have jobs, learn to read or write or have a voice at all.
Thinking of her daughter, Jean decides that enough is enough.
Fighting for every woman in this dark and depressing world, Jean decides that she will get her voice back.
Dalcher’s writing makes you feel the tension emanating from the pages.
The events seem like they are just a few steps away from becoming reality, which is what makes the book incredibly terrifying.
We continuously root for Jean, our protagonist, to win in the face of adversity.
This compelling tale will have you racing through the pages to find out what happens next, so make sure that you add it to your bookshelf.
- Fascinating dystopian setting: Terrifying prospect gives novel tension and suspense
- Well-developed characters: Three-dimensional characters, particularly the protagonist
- Story centers on negative depictions of Christians and Christianity.
The Final Girl Support Group By Grady Hendrix
If you’re a fan of horror novels, there’s a good chance that you’ll like this book!
The ‘final girl’ in horror movies is the last one left alive when the film ends.
She’s the one who fought back, beat the murderer, and got revenge for her fallen friends. The question here is, what happens to the final girl after the sirens fade?
Enter Lynnette Tarkington, a final girl who survived a planned slaughter 22 years ago. The events have stuck with her every day that passed since the massacre.
Lynette has been meeting with a support group composed of five more final girls and a therapist.
After surviving harrowing events, the women aim to work together and get their lives back together.
One of the women misses a meeting which makes Lynette’s worst fears a reality.
Someone knows about the support group and is committed to ruining their lives once more.
We see how all of the ‘final girls’ are different from each other, as they react differently to the trauma they go through.
Our protagonist is also believably flawed. It’s enjoyable reading about the connections she has with the other women in the support group.
The book’s elements of dry humor give insight into the different characters and add a comedic twist to this fast-paced novel.
If you’re looking for a thriller novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you need to give The Final Girl Support Group a read.
- Well-written characters: Vivid characters with realistic flaws
- Not too gory: Horror story which isn’t extremely graphic
As there are lots of characters, it can be hard to feel invested in all of their stories
The Love Hypothesis By Ali Hazelwood
This list would not be complete without including a fun romance novel.
The Love Hypothesis features Ph.D. candidate Olive Smith. Olive tries to persuade Anh, her closest friend, that she’s in a happy relationship.
Olive then impulsively kisses the first guy she sees, Adam Carlsen, a strict, but attractive professor.
The two agree to a fake relationship to convince the school board Adam wants to stay at Stanford, but gets closer the more time they spend together.
A science conference then threatens to hang their connection and Olive’s career in the balance.
Despite his stern appearance, Adam becomes more lovable and sweet as you read through the book.
You start rooting for the couple and want their relationship to work, despite all the complications.
Overall, The Love Hypothesis is a fun romcom that is perfect for those looking for a feel-good story.
- Fast, easy read: Smooth prose and lighthearted story
- Strong female lead: Refreshing perspective from a woman in STEM
- The male counterpart character seems surface-level compared to the vibrant protagonist.
Seven Days In June By Tia Williams
Tia Williams’ love story includes traditional romance novel elements, like star-crossed lovers and important friendships, but it also explores deeper themes of Black identity, family affairs, and personal heartbreak.
Eva Mercy, a single mom and erotic writer runs into Shane Hall, an award-winning author, at a literary event.
The two have been writing about each other in their novels ever since they spent a week together, madly in love, 20 years in the past.
The next seven days are full of chemistry pulling the two together, but Eva questions whether she can trust Shane once more after he broke her heart all those years ago.
With its keen perceptions of race, love, and loyalty, Seven Days In June’s words will stay with you long after you first read it.
- Covers a range of themes: Explores romance, sexism, race, masculinity, and motherhood
- Well-written characters: Raw, three-dimensional characters keep readers invested in the story
- The author’s depiction of the working class can seem stereotypical.
The Nickel Boys By Colson Whitehead
This fiery novel from Pulitzer Prize winner, Colson Whitehead, is a fantastic dramatization based on the history of American reform schools.
Set during the Civil Rights movement, Two young boys are unable to escape from Florida’s Nickel Academy, a cruel and unruly establishment described as a ‘reform school’.
Elwood Curtis thinks that he shouldn’t confront his oppressors, but his counterpart, Turner, believes that this is naive.
Instead of Elwood’s trust in love and compassion, Turner believes that the world is corrupt.
He maintains that imitating the pessimism and ruthlessness of their persecutors is the only way to survive.
Based on a genuine reform school in Florida that brutally shattered children’s lives for 111 years, The Nickel Boys is a shocking, yet inspirational novel that will easily grab your attention.
- Moving, descriptive prose: Vividly portrays the characters’ suffering
- Well structured: Moves between different perspectives and past and present fluidly
- Contains lots of secondary characters which don’t add much to the plot.
Buyers Guide: Things To Look Out For In Page-Turning Novels
One of the hardest things to do is write a novel that’s full of suspense.
Though many novels are marketed as ‘page turners’, some of these may not captivate you as much as others.
Here are some things to look out for when choosing a page-turner novel. These tips will help make it more likely that you’ll find your book interesting.
Page-turning books typically contain three-dimensional characters that are written well.
This can be great if you’re reading about a character you care about, but it’s easy to find the book dull if you’re not interested in their story.
When choosing a novel that keeps you hooked on its story, think about the type of characters you’d like to read about.
Would a murder mystery that looks into the lives of several, extremely different characters thrill you, or bore you to death?
Would a love story with flashbacks to the protagonist’s life before their relationship be more up your street, or would you find it tiresome?
Page turners are full of detail, but if you’re not concerned about the characters, there’s a chance that you won’t find the novel entertaining.
Writers often add a red herring into their plot. This can help lead the reader’s expectations in another direction, creating more suspense.
A bit of misdirection and foreshadowing can help readers stay occupied with the book until it ends.
However, if you like to do detective work and think about how a story might end, you may find stories with red herrings frustrating.
Some may also find it harder to keep up with continuous surprises in a book.
If this is the case, it might be worth skipping murder mystery novels for books with fewer twists and turns.
For instance, Educated: A Memoir, or The Last Thing To Burn are two engaging stories that don’t feature a misleading plot.
On the other hand, if you love being kept on your toes, Project Hail Mary is full of surprises to keep you engaged until the book ends.
A powerful villain character can instantly increase the suspense in a novel. This helps the readers side with the protagonist and give them someone to root against.
A main villain isn’t a necessity for a page-turner, as some writers choose to use a larger cast of characters.
Still, it can be helpful to consider whether the stories you usually like to read involve a villainous character.
If you like books that involve fighting against a formidable villain, look for novels like The Last Thing To Burn.
If you prefer reading about a larger group of people, The Guest List may be more to your taste.
You can also find stories where the villain isn’t a person, but society instead, like VOX.
We hope that this list has given you some new stories to try for yourself.
Whether you’re into thrillers, romance, or true memoirs, the books above are all captivating and will have you hooked from the first page!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Page-Turner Book?
A page-turner book is a very engrossing story. The reader will be absorbed in the story and will want to read the book at a fast pace.
Is It Okay To Stop Reading A Book If It’s Boring?
Everyone has different literary preferences, so it’s unlikely that you’ll love every single book that you read. If you’re not enjoying your current book, it’s fine to put it down and find a novel that’s more to your taste.
How Do I Find Books That Interest Me?
You can get book recommendations from your local librarian, as well as friends and family. You can also look at websites, like Goodreads, for books related to your favorite genres and tiles.
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