100 Books You Can’t Put Down

Oh the joy of discovering a book you just… can’t… put… down. I have a profound memory of being 12 years old and reading the mystical children’s book, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (now out of print). I tried to read it slowly to stretch out the adventure, but I couldn’t stop. And I will never forget how I cried when I was finished. I cried not necessarily because it was a sad book, but because the adventure was over.

I have been lucky to read many books I just can’t put down. Below is a list of 100 Books You Can’t Put Down, compiled from both your recommendations as well as suggested titles from our HPB Bibliomaniacs.

(1) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling (4) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (5) The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown (6) The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (7) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (8) The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (9) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (10) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (11) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (12) Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (13) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (14) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (15) A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (16) The Fault in our Stars, by John Green (17) The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (18) City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (19) Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (20) 11.22.63, by Stephen King (21) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (22) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (23) The Giver, by Lois Lowry (24) Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradlez (25) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt


(26) A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (27) Night Circus, by Eric Morgenstern (28) Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (29) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (30) On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (31) Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld (32) Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (33) The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (34) Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (35) Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (36) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyers (37) Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy (38) Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan (39) Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (40) Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (41) The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant (42) Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (43) The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (44) Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosney (45) The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (46) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (47) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (48) The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck (49) Divergent, by Veronica Roth (50) The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson


(51) Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (52) The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (53) Someone Knows my Name, by Lawrence Hill (54)
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (55) The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory (56) The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton (57) Big Stone Gap, by Ardiana Trigiani (58) Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen (59) She, by H. Rider Haggard (60) The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (61)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (62) Teacher Man: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt (63) Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (64) And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (65)
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (66) World War Z, by Max Brooks (67) Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (68) Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (69) History of Love, by Nicole Krauss (70) Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok (71) Explosive 18, by Janet Evanovich (72)
Bossypants, by Tina Fey (73) The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta (74)
Siddhartha, by Herman Hess (75) Catch 22, by Joseph Heller


(76) I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies), by Laurie Notaro (77) You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers (78) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume (79) Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (80) The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono (81) The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (82) Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (83) Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, by Susan McCorkindale (84) Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost (85) Prey, by Linda Howard (86) The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett (87) The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon (88) High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby (89) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson (90) Deerskin, by Robin McKinley (91) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (92) The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger (93) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon (94) The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (95) Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James (96) Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris (97) Murder on Astor Place, by Victoria Thompson (98) Deadly Sins, by Lora Leigh (99) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson (100) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

Do you remember a book you just couldn’t put down?

Susan is Production Assistant at Half Price Books Corporate.

35 thoughts on “100 Books You Can’t Put Down

  1. Remarkably, there are books in this list that I haven't read LOL. I wonder sometimes how I get the time to read but when I find a good book, I really can't put it down and will sacrifice sleep to get it read. Thanks for this list! I guess I know what I'll be doing today.

  2. Sure! There are many books I can recommend to you–although you should be able at any time to put a book down and deal with real-world circumstances, answer the phone, get off the bus, and so forth; if you don't have an "overmind" active while you are immersed in reading, you have a serious cognitive problem. (LOL) Therefore, I call them books that I want to return to and that I have on my "keepers" shelf. These are a few you haven't heard of.BELLWETHER by Connie WillisLITTLE RITUALS by Denise WeeksCAT'S CRADLE by Kurt VonnegutFAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray BradburySOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray BradburyTHE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tarttand next year, my YA debut from Muse Harbor Press, APRIL, MAYBE JUNE. (LOL!)Many books that are not best-sellers deserve to be, and you should actively seek out the sort of books you want to read!

  3. Could not put down Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter! Well-written and very interesting as well as beautiful description of Italy.

  4. I'm with Kelly M. I read the Kindle sample of 50 Shades and thank God I did that before I wasted $10 on it. "The Light Between Oceans" by ML Stedman, "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides, "Still Missing" by Chevy Stevens, "Labor Day" by Joyce Maynard, "12 Years a Slave" by Solomon Northup, "Creep" by Jennifer Hillier, and absolutely ANYTHING by Jodi Picoult or Wally Lamb.

  5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen. The Book of bright Ideas by Sandra King. The Kitchen House. Some of my favorites….I have read many on your list and look forward to many I haven't read.

  6. Red -Ted dekkarBlack -Ted dekkarWhite – Ted dekkarGreen Ted dekkarA child called it Stravaganza seriesThe runaways series by vc Andrews Call of the wild – jack LondonTo build a fire jack LondonWhite fang jack LondonNeedful things Stephen kingVampire chronicles -Ann rice

  7. I've read a few of those and couldn't put them down,I think the Gone series by Michael grant is really good.(That's if you have a strong stomach):-)

  8. I see some of my favorite books one here, and some I personally never thought would be close to the list. One that I think should have been in it was 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak, 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury, and possibly Slaughterhouse 5.

  9. lost all respect for the list when i saw fifty shades on it. one of the worst books i've ever encountered. also disagreed with the odyssey. yes, it's a treasure of classical literature, but really easy to put down. it is tedious… and you just want to lend odysseus a map, a gps, or a ride home to end it all.

  10. Mistress of Spices Chitra DivakaruniShopaholic seriesCara Black – Aimee Leduc mysteriesAnita ShreveDogs of BabelI

  11. Mistress of Spices Chitra DivakaruniShopaholic seriesCara Black – Aimee Leduc mysteriesAnita ShreveDogs of BabelI

  12. I've read maybe half of the books on this list and really enjoyed them, so I am looking forward to following up on the rest of the recommendations. I must add "Watership Down" by Richard Adams to the list–it is one of very few books that I have read more than twice. I must also concur with everyone giving the side-eye to 50 Shades of Grey–that was a very poorly written book and does not deserve to be on, or even in the vicinity of, this list.

  13. Huge Suggestion for you

    I did like the list as mini photos of the book covers

    You need to list the books Alphabetically by Title
    And a List By Authors last name!!
    Much easier to shop in your store to find the above books.
    Come on half price think how YOU would shop for the above books if you were trying to find them on your own?
    Just using the visuals, and your list it would take a long time to find these books in any store


    • I agree that further listing details would be helpful… specifically the genre and/ or sales section it could be found in.
      I disagree that some of the books deserve to be on the list, but I believe that in one or two cases (for me) it may have something to do with the writing style(s) associated with the genre(s) I don’t usually read. Also, some times, some people suggest books from a genre they don’t normally read (thinking the book good), because they don’t know how good that genre can actually be.

  14. I can’t imagine why you would label the list as “books you can’t put down.” There are dozens on there i had no problem dropping at all. Some others I put aside reluctantly because i had bought the book. I read fewer than 5 pages of the first harry potter — it is fine for children but no self-respecting adult should be gushing over it. She is such a bad writer.
    I can’t get through Cormac McCarthy with his lack of punctuation.
    Girl who kicke the hornet’s nest was boring and only 50 pages of that. Regretted buying it.
    Dropped Water for Elephants after about 20 pages – books should not be written in the present tense. More money wasted.
    Read Gone with the Wind through, but it is racist propaganda.
    Read 50 Shades of Grey, but that was enough to keep me from buying her other novels. She is a worse writer than JK Rowling.
    A friend recommend World War Z – more money wasted. The whole zombie phenomenon puzzles me. They move slow, so why should anyone be afaid of them. Even more puzzling: they are dead and the dead do not need nutrition. So why are they eating people.

    • Who finishes Fifty Shades of Grey and puts down Water for Elephants (a beautiful book, by the way)? I have to question YOUR judgement right there. My suggestion to you–stop buying the books and use your local library!

  15. One book I remember that I literally couldn’t put down until I finished was Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank. I wish I could figure out why and how some stories are so well written that you can’t leave their world.

  16. Yes, alphabetical please. Loved “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr and “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. Thanks for the list!

  17. Not much nonfiction on the list, but the list is not mine, so I can’t argue with someone else’s opinion. Some people on the comments should get their own blog if they want to argue taste. My list of books include Kay Redfield Jamison’s book “Touched with Fire” , Cynthia Kim’s book “Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate”, Irvin Yalom’s book “Loves Executioner”, Tara Brach’s book “True Refuge”, Any book by Pema Chodron. Thanks. Much Metta & Peace.

  18. Non-fiction books UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand; BONHOEFFER by Eric Metaxas; THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE by Brian Greene; BRAIN RULES by John Medina; BRAVING THE WILDERNESS by Brené Brown

  19. Flowers For Algernon was the last one I couldn’t put down! And am I the only one on the planet who didn’t like Catcher In The Rye?

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