Moreish fiction; the most addictive page-turners to chomp through in one weekend or less

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Anna Brech
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An addictive book is like a particularly tempting hunk of crumbly cheddar cheese.

We know we should step back and take time to covet it over a series of slow, delicious weeks. But we can rarely resist the urge to dive straight in and snaffle it down in one greedy - yet deeply satisfying - gulp.

We might even stay up all night to do it, just as we did when we were kids (we're talking more books now, rather than cheese... though that too).

Afterwards, we'll be struck by a slight giddy feeling of guilt, but it's not enough to stop us from doing exactly the same thing the next time a brilliant read hits our radar. 

From fraught crime fiction to laugh-out-loud comedy, these are the not-so-heavy and compulsive reads we love to gobble down in one weekend or less.

Forget the books we think we should read; these are the ones we just can't stop reading, whether we want to or not.

Have we missed out your favourite addictive read? Let us know in the comments section below

Words: Anna Brech

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

    Who could resist a tale of Nazi Germany narrated by Death? And yet, he's such a sensitive soul.

    Marcus Zusak's heart-wrenching debut will pull you in to the very last breath.

  • The Beach by Alex Garland

    It's a shame this classic travelling book isn't harder to read; it would kill a few more hours on those bum-numbing bus journeys through South East Asia.

    Still, Alex Garland's modern fable of a backpacker idyll gone bad is a delight and you'll have raced through it before you can say "book me a one-way ticket to the Khao San road".


    The arrival of a sinister teenage house guest sets off warning bells in Lauren Liebenberg’s debut novel told through the eyes of a young girl growing up in 1970s Rhodesia.

    The book is quick to get under your skin, and you stay with the young narrator every step of the way just to check she heeds the danger signs that are obvious to an adult reader. 

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    Gillian Flynn thrilled millions with her groundbreaking story of a marriage in crisis - and a missing woman.

    We couldn't get enough of the thread of domestic suspense she so expertly weaved through contrasting his n' her narratives, in a riveting re-imagining of the genre.

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    We challenge you to not to gallump through this New York Times bestseller at double-quick pace.

    Kathryn Stockett brings life to some brilliantly evocative figures in her eye-opening tale of black maids bringing up white children in 1960s Mississippi. 

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    Lose yourself in the world of Christopher, a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome whose discovery of the neighbour's dead dog sparks a surreal quest for answers.

    His touching narrative, riddled with quiet humour and unseen threats, will have you hooked. 

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

    It'll be a weepy day or so, but few could tear themselves away from this brutal tale of two women caught in a horrific marriage in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. 

    Khaled Hosseini is a master storyteller, luring his readers in with an intricate web of warmth, tragedy and suspense. 

  • Lasting Damage by Sophie Hannah

    Sophie Hannah is expert at building quiet, domestic scenarios into a taut arc of psychological suspense.

    We love the unlikely premise of this story, which plays out as a woman witnesses a grisly crime scene on a property website. But will anyone ever believe her? Stay awake to find out. 

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    There's a reason why Harper Lee's seminal tale of racism in 1930s Alabama has shifted more than 45 million copies.

    With a beguiling cast of characters that jumps right off the page at you, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel can be drunk in one smooth gulp. 

  • Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson

    The genius of SJ Watson's thriller lies in the plot; a woman who is traumatised by a mysterious violence of her past, but loses fresh memories every time she falls asleep. 

    Its gradual build in tension will keep you up to the early hours. 

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

    Truman Capote's wistful, charismatic novella is every inch as darker and sadder than the 1961 film, but it has the same free-willed heroine at its heart. 

    The fragile and oddly alluring Holly Golightly will take you by the hand on a short but wildly captivating jaunt through this gem of a story. 

  • Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

    Liza Klaussmann's powerful debut is set in 1950s America and tells the story of the Derringer family through the perspective of five different characters.

    It's a tale of old-school glamour and hot summer nights, which cleverly threads in themes of infidelity, friendship, female hardship and murder for a truly spellbinding read. 

  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

    There's plenty to get your teeth into with Paula Hawkins' gritty new thriller, based on an alcoholic woman who becomes enmeshed in the lives of strangers she sees from a passing train.

    As the plot gets murkier and evermore unfathomable, the book gets harder and harder to put down. It's a page-turner, all right. 

  • The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

    If Lauren Weisberger's hilariously sharp take on life at fictional New York fashion magazine Runway has somehow eluded you, now's the time to dive in.

    Inspired by her tenure under Vogue editor Anna Wintour, it will have you chomping at the bit for more brilliantly observed detail of life on the cutting edge of couture. 


    A violent and terrifying incident on a beach in Nigeria seizes your attention in this tense masterpiece of a book, but it's only the beginning of a fateful sequence of events that will find you desperately backing the survival of an asylum seeker on the run in the UK. 

  • One Day by David Nicholls

    You can positively gorge on David Nicholls' hit story of two lifelong friends who meet at university in the 80s.

    It's peppered with authentic dialogue and detail that makes it both a hilarious and nostalgic read; one to race through on a cold winter's afternoon. 

  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

    The original Bridget Jones's Diary - charting the adventures of a chain-smoking, neurotic thirty-something - is so painfully funny, we want it to go on forever.

    Alas, it's short-lived but a riotously good read that will keep you chuckling far beyond the few hours it takes to snaffle it. 

  • The Distance between Us by Maggie O'Farrell

    Maggie O'Farrell certainly knows how to spin a good yarn. There are so many questions that keep us on tenterhooks here, not least - what is the dark secret that ties sisters Stella and Nina so closely together? 

    With a series of colliding events and childhood flashbacks, you have to constantly fight the urge to skip forward and find out how it all ends.

  • Backpack by Emily Barr

    Washed-out journo Tansy embarks on a round-the-world trip to escape her demons, only to chance across a trail of murder that somehow seems to follow her around. 

    Emily Barr's books are packed with wit, coupled with a building sense of menace, and this is one of her best.

  • The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

    As the title suggests, this is the first and lightest in Elizabeth Jane Howard's sumptuously-written Cazalet family saga, set in Britain just before the Second World War.

    The various members of this huge, warm and fallible family are so true to life, you will find yourself gliding through what is actually a fairly huge book, and desperate for more at the end. 

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.