Last month, we told you about the books AbeBooks staff found so riveting and engrossing that we just couldn't put them down, and read them in one or two sittings, often to the detriment and minor neglect of our responsibilities and loved ones. We asked our readers to let us know if we'd missed any essential books from our list - and boy, did you!
We received hundreds of responses, including many multiple mentions of certain books (I must reassure at least 10 of you that I did intend to include Yann Martel's Life of Pi on the first list - it was an honest oversight!), from people all over the world, letting us know which books they found engrossing enough to be glued to. The runner-up for most mentioned was easily Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, which I should clearly look into. The response was so great that we deemed it worthy of a second installment.
So, without further ado, here are some of the books you couldn't put down.
The Readers Have Their Say:
Lord of the Rings. It took me two or three tries to get into it, but then I did without sleep and food until I'd finished reading the trilogy! I've since reread it several times, and every time the magic of Tolkien's imagination carries me off again.
Ursula K. LeGuin A Wizard of Earthsea trilogy
The Rats of Nimh
Lassie Come Home
The Wind in the Willows
Dean Koontz's 'Odd' trilogy: Odd Thomas, Forever Odd and Brother Odd
Peter O'Toole's marvelous biography, Loitering with Intent
Loved your article! I found several titles from your list that are now 'must- reads'. Please add to your list two of my favs: The Little Book by Selden Edwards, and Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng - my husband and children literally clapped their hands when I finished that one, as it now meant they would get to eat something other than cold cereal. I just could not put it down. Thanks again!
I just finished The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana, a memoir I couldn't stop reading until the last page. It's about a Fulbright Scholar, who spent a year in Damascus in 2004-2005; Ms. Saldana makes the ordinary people in Damascus come alive. They turn out to be wise, touching, loving and winsome. You want Ms. Saldana to stay with them. Now I long to see Damascus.
Recently you published a list of books readers said kept them up at night, away from work and other important things. Some classics were listed but the best of all, The Brothers Karamazov, was missed! While my wife was away for two weeks on a cruise with her mother, I devoured this book (finally), reading hours per day (I'm slow) and finished it finally before they returned. It's probably the greatest novel ever written, but no argument needs to be made for such an opinion: everyone has a different one to nominate. I'll read them all!
The book I couldn’t put down was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Rarely does a book appear that makes the reader care so much about the characters and have a storyline that is so compelling. Loved it!
-Sue, United Kingdom
For me, Nevil Shute's books have always been 'unputdownable.' My favorites being Trustee from the Toolroom, The Chequer Board, In the Wet, A Town Like Alice and The Pied Piper.
I even have a non-fiction book which falls into the same category - Not Much of an Engineer by Sir Stanley Hooker. I honestly think that if I had read this book when I was much younger (although it hadn't been written then) my life would have taken a different path!
How about Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts? I think this one qualifies...and cheers - Love the topic!
You left out the folowing one-sitters: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, and by the same author, The House of Special Purpose, The Thief of Time and Mutiny on the Bounty. All of these were unput-downable.
In whodunnits, you left out The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid, a book which grabbed you and didn't let go, despite scaring the living daylights out of you, you had to find out what happened, and how, and why, and who came off worst of the worst in the end. Her most brilliant book.
These two books kept me awake, and still haunt my dreams. First, Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis: a time traveler & medieval scholar mistakenly lands in England as the Black Death begins to grip the countryside. Absolutely claustrophobic atmosphere, but emotionally unflinching. The historical events of the 14th century come alive. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban: the rediscovery of gunpowder 1,000 years after a nuclear war has blown the human race back into the Stone Age. A devastating work of the imagination. It was very difficult to understand at first, until I began to read it aloud to myself. Suddenly the language made sense. As Anthony Burgess said of this book, it captures you and won't let you go.
Great article on books that you gulp down in a couple of sittings. When I was 12, I read (and read and read) Gone With The Wind for the first time (of many readings) in the summer. I couldn't stop reading it, even though it took longer than two sittings.
When I was 15, my friend loaned me her copy of Forever Amber, and I simply couldn't put it down. We both loved it, talked about it, and reread it until it fell apart.
More recently, Something Missing by Matthew Dicks has been read in one sitting and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in the car, driving back from Bucyrus, Ohio to Dover, Delaware.
As I write this, I am remembering many others. The first time I read Little Women in 5th grade and Celia Garth (by Gwen Bristow) in the 6th grade were other "I can't stop reading this!" books.
Thank you for such a good topic and memory-jogger.
Thanks for the list of 25 two-sitting reads. It includes a handful of books I haven't yet read, and I'll be adding them to my reading list. One title I would add to the list is Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose. This is a fascinating tale of the American West that brings to mind the adventure writing of Joseph Conrad. At the same time it is a touching story of a married couple dealing with the challenges, occasional triumphs, and frequent frustrations as they make their way together on the frontier as told by a modern-day descendant. It is among my top five all time favorites.
-Bruce, New Hampshire