9 Unputdownable Books that Will Grip You Till the Last Page

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Alice Nuttall

Senior Contributor

Alice Nuttall (she/her) is a writer, pet-wrangler and D&D nerd. Her reading has got so out of control that she had to take a job at her local library to avoid bankrupting herself on books — unfortunately, this has just resulted in her TBR pile growing until it resembles Everest. Alice's webcomic, writing and everything else can be found at Her debut novel, The Zombie Project, is coming out in January 2025 with Chicken House.

We’ve all read books that we just can’t put down — the ones we stay up reading till 4 a.m. or skip plans to finish because we have to find out how it ends. A book that you can pick up and put down and digest over a longer period of time isn’t necessarily a bad book, but there’s something special about books that grab you so strongly that you need to read them as quickly as possible. Unputdownable books need a strong hook, a compelling premise, and snappy writing. I find that short chapters help to make a book really unputdownable for me, keeping the pace quick so that the story flies by.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of unputdownable books are in the mystery genre. The puzzle to be solved is what keeps you reading so you can find out what’s happening — who is the murderer or traitor, what has happened in the creepy town, what story is lurking in the protagonist’s past. However, not all unputdownable books have a mystery at their heart. Some are simply gripping stories, with characters so fascinating they make you want to stay with them until the end.

Here are some of the most unputdownable books published in recent years to add to your TBR pile.

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The Gathering by C. J. Tudor

Readers from the Buffy generation will love this fast-paced, high-stakes vampire mystery. Set in a world where vampires are a protected community — and a frequently-attacked marginalised group — a detective has to travel to a remote town in Alaska to investigate a murder that may have been committed by a vampire and which threatens to cause the whole place to explode into violence. The Gathering is compelling, shocking, and keeps the reader guessing with every chapter.

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Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Reid’s second book is as unputdownable as her debut, Such A Fun Age. In Come and Get It, Reid takes an uncompromising look at people’s relationships with money, through the relationship between researcher Agatha Paul and resident assistant Millie Cousins. Come and Get It is tense and often uncomfortable, pulling readers in with a sense of horrified fascination as they see the boundaries that people will push to make money in the current economic climate.

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Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns

Another searing takedown of late-stage capitalism, Your Driver is Waiting follows Damani, a young woman who works for a ride-sharing service. Damani is on the peripheries of a revolution that she can’t get involved in, much as she might want to, because she simply doesn’t have time — she has to keep working to support herself and her bereaved mother. When events in the city reach boiling point, Damani is pulled into the struggle.

Every Smile You Fake cover

Every Smile You Fake by Dorothy Koomson

Koomson’s most recent thriller takes on social media oversharing and the dangers of the manosphere. One night, therapist Kez finds a baby abandoned in the back seat of her car. While she believes the child is the son of her unofficial adopted daughter Brandee, she doesn’t know why he’s been left there or where Brandee has vanished to. As Kez digs deeper into the mystery, readers are pulled into a terrifying world, not knowing whether Kez will be able to save her loved ones, or even herself.

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Over My Dead Body by Maz Evans

Murder mysteries often make for unputdownable reads, and Over My Dead Body has the added twist of the main character having to solve her own murder. In this darkly comic detective story, Dr. Miriam Price has to work out who has killed her before she can move on to the afterlife, with only her cantankerous elderly neighbour to help her. The central mystery and the fantastic world-building of the afterlife make Over My Dead Body a story that hooks you in and keeps you there until it’s done.

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The List by Yomi Adegoke

In this complex debut, Ola and Michael, a soon-to-be-married couple, have their lives blown apart when Michael’s name is added to a list of sexual harassers and other abusers that is published on the internet. Michael insists that he hasn’t done what he’s been accused of, and Ola is torn between believing the man she loves and sticking to her principles of believing survivors when they talk about abusive men. As the question of who puts Michael’s name on The List deepens, the reader is pulled into a world of doubt, mystery, and the question of who to believe.

The Split cover

The Split by Laura Kay

Not all unputdownable books have to involve a mystery. Any story told well can be compelling enough that you’ll want to tear through it in a single sitting. In The Split, we follow Ally, who flees back to her childhood home after a sudden breakup, taking her ex-girlfriend’s cat along with her. Back in Sheffield, she reconnects with her childhood friend Jeremy, and the two settle on a plan; they’ll impress their exes by completing the local half-marathon. Along the way, Ally meets running trainer Jo and begins to realise that there might be more out there for her than reconnecting with her ex.

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The Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson

This standalone novel by the author of the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series is a tense and compelling read. Bel Price’s mother, Rachel, disappeared when Bel was just a toddler, leaving her alone in the family car. Sixteen years later, Bel is taking part in a documentary about her presumed dead mother when suddenly, Rachel turns up. Straight away, Bel believes that Rachel is lying about where she has been all these years, and the reader is pulled along with the young investigator as she tries to find the truth.

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The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron

If you’re looking for an unputdownable book for younger readers (and/or you just love vampire fiction), The Vanquishers, the first book in Kalynn Bayron’s supernatural middle grade series, is a great choice. Boog has grown up in a world where vampires used to be a terrifying presence but have since been defeated. When the vampires return, Boog and her friends have to follow in the footsteps of the Vanquishers, a super-heroic vampire-fighting team…especially when the vampires hit close to home.

Do you need more captivating books? Try our list of 20+ Books You Can’t Put Down. If you love high-stakes stories, try 9 Twisty Suspense Novels You Won’t Be Able to Put Down.