I love the concept of ‘one day’ books; page-turners so good that you can’t save even a single chapter – they simply must be read in a single sitting. Admittedly, winter isn’t always the ideal time for this as the cold weather brings with it the promise of slow, indulgent reads snuggled under duvets but often, a story is so engaging that you are unable to wait. These books are not short books; they are books with an addictive quality. So much so, that you remain wide awake, well past 3AM, frantically devouring the words until the final page. Below are five titles that have rid this writer (and many of the online ire) of much sleep, but trust me, start reading, and it will be worth it:
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Clare Mackintosh is the up-and-coming Queen of chilling thrillers, and her latest is as brilliant as her award-winning I Let You Go. It’s a typical day for Zoe Walker, and she takes another mundane journey to work – as she does every day – crammed into a packed train on the way in and an even fuller tube on the way home, making strained chit-chat and hesitant eye contact with strangers. She distractedly scans a local paper, when she spots something that makes her go cold: an ad in the classified section advertising a mysterious website, findtheone.com and a picture of …herself. The book is unsettling in the best I-can’t-put-it-down kind of way, and the first chapter should have you hooked.
The Girls by Emma Cline
I read this in a single sitting a few months back, and it remains my favourite read of 2016. The writing is so beautiful; the sentences perfectly formed, cumulated in a plot that slowly draws you in. The year is 1969 and unsure Evie is fascinated and slowly lured in by members of a mysterious cult and its enigmatic yet creepy leader, Russell. She’s lonely, she’s enthralled, she yearns to fit in. Based on Charles Manson and the infamous gruesome murders of the late sixties, Cline’s focus is on the impulses that drove his female acolytes to their dark and drastic actions. Eloquent, perceptive and insightful, you won’t be able to put this one down.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry DeTamble is a time traveller, although not by choice. A genetic mutation causes him to spontaneously travel through time, disappearing from view, leaving behind his clothes and possessions, and arriving naked in another time and another place. This is the basis of Niffenegger’s remarkable debut novel. It’s a love story as opposed to science fiction and beautifully written; the time travel is seamless and believable throughout, so much so that it never once seems far-fetched. Yes, it does what it says on the tin: tells the story of a woman who is married to a man who happens to travel through time, but the writing is so beautifully rich that this is anything but a run-of-the-mill love story. Set aside a day because this is a captivating read and one I always go back to.
The Window by Fiona Barton
When it comes to a late-night read, nothing beats a mystery and this one, by journalist Fiona Barton is thrilling. The eponymous widow is Jeanie, who after a life of tranquil normality becomes the center of a tabloid frenzy when her husband is accused of abducting and murdering a child. If your husband committed murder, you’d know, right? That’s what Jeanie wonders as she realises she doesn’t know her husband quite as well as she thinks she does. Has she married a monster or was he falsely accused? All eyes are on the woman who loyally stands by her man, but she is equally intriguing – could she know more than meets the eye? Every page is filled with suspense and wonder. I read the entire thing in a single sitting and you will too.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
First of all, forget the film adaptation. Its source material was always much more engaging. Author Gillian Flynn set the standard for page-turning thrillers, and Gone Girl remains one of her best. The story is of a missing person, a marriage gone wrong, townsfolk baying for blood and the darker side of the human psyche. You’ll keep going until the very end and even then, you won’t see the twist coming.