Share 13 Compulsively Readable Novels of Obsession

13 Compulsively Readable Novels of Obsession

Erica Nelson works in marketing at Hachette Book Group.

It’s hard to look away from stories that teeter on the edge and then finally devolve into complete obsession.  As readers we must learn to never underestimate the power of a character determined beyond reason. Cut-throat and wildly unpredictable, these literary stars are sure to hook you deep into the throes of their delusional escapades.


The Woman Upstairs
by Claire Messud
Nora Eldridge is a reliable, but unremarkable, friend and neighbor, always on the fringe of other people’s achievements. But the arrival of the Shahid family draws her into a complex and exciting new world until a shattering betrayal occurs.
The Woman Upstairs
Claire Messud

The Woman Upstairs is a masterly portrait of Nora Eldridge, a thirty-seven-year-old elementary school teacher on the verge of disappearing. Having abandoned her desire to be an artist, she has become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Written with intimacy and piercing emotion, The Woman Upstairs is an urgently dispatched story of obsession and artistic fulfillment that explores the thrill—and the devastating cost—of being a woman in America today.

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The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

On her daily train ride, Rachel witnesses something shocking among the stretch of cozy suburban homes she once brazenly surveyed. She involves the police and is irrevocably entangled in the mess that unfolds. An obsessive read with captivating unreliable narration, GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a stunning Hitchcockian debut.

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins

On her daily train ride, Rachel witnesses something shocking among the stretch of cozy suburban homes she once brazenly surveyed. She involves the police and is irrevocably entangled in the mess that unfolds. An obsessive read with captivating unreliable narration, GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a stunning Hitchcockian debut.

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Misery
by Stephen King
Bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon has finally met his biggest fan. But now she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Annie has a lot of ways to get Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.
Misery
Stephen King

When novelist Paul Sheldon is in a terrible car crash on a wintry night, he is rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, who just happens to be his biggest fan. But when his latest novel isn't to Wilkes's liking, Sheldon becomes prisoner to her violent temper. The novel is gripping and nightmarish and the 1990 film features Kathy Bates at her creepy, demented best.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith
Tom Ripley is a young striver hired by a wealthy industrialist to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley’s fascination with Dickie’s debonair lifestyle takes a dark turn.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Patricia Highsmith

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Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov
Awe and exhilaration—along with heartbreak and mordant wit—abound in LOLITA, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel. This is the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s fixated, devouring, and doomed passion for the teenaged Dolores Haze.
Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov

The original dysfunctional relationship. Humbert Humbert’s obsession with the young, beautiful girl he nicknames “Lolita” is passionate, doomed, and completely unsettling.

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The Collector
by John Fowles
Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller, this is the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry. It remains unparalleled in its power to startle and mesmerize.
The Collector
John Fowles

The Collector is a tale of obsessive love--the story of a lonely clerk who is consumed by his butterfly collection and becomes equally obsessed with a young art student. The novel follows his quest to add her to his "collection" as his ultimate prize. Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller, The Collector is the internationally bestselling novel that catapulted John Fowles into the front rank of contemporary novelists.

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Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
In this great American novel, Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest for revenge on the albino sperm whale, Moby Dick. On a previous voyage, Moby Dick destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee, and Ahab has never since relented in his pursuit.
Moby Dick
Herman Melville

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!” —Captain Ahab

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Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff

For fans of “The Affair”

There are two sides to every story—and the psychological drama “The Affair” explores that quite creatively. FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.

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Engleby
by Sebastian Faulks

Mike Engleby is not quite right—his inability to relate to others and his undependable memory lead the reader down an unclear and often darkly humorous path. When his classmate goes missing, readers are left with the looming question: Is Engleby involved?

Engleby
Sebastian Faulks

Mike Engleby is not quite right—his inability to relate to others and his undependable memory lead the reader down an unclear and often darkly humorous path. When his classmate goes missing, readers are left with the looming question: Is Engleby involved?

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Perfume
by Patrick Süskind

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

Perfume
Patrick Süskind

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

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What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal
by Zoë Heller

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St. George’s, befriends her. But even as their relationship develops, so too does another: Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student.

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal
Zoë Heller

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St. George’s, befriends her. But even as their relationship develops, so too does another: Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student.

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Damage
by Josephine Hart

The unnamed narrator of this gripping story is a man who appears to have everything: wealth, a beautiful wife and children, and a prestigious political career. But an aching emptiness drives him to an all-consuming and desperate relationship with his son’s fiancée.

Damage
Josephine Hart

The unnamed narrator of this gripping story is a man who appears to have everything: wealth, a beautiful wife and children, and a prestigious political career. But an aching emptiness drives him to an all-consuming and desperate relationship with his son’s fiancée.

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The Sea, the Sea
by Iris Murdoch

Famous actor Charles Arrowby moves to the seaside and catches a glimpse of his first love—whom he then proceeds to pursue to the point of sheer insanity.

The Sea, the Sea
Iris Murdoch

Famous actor Charles Arrowby moves to the seaside and catches a glimpse of his first love—whom he then proceeds to pursue to the point of sheer insanity.

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7 Compulsively Readable Novels of Obsession was originally published on POPSUGAR.

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