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Misery, The Guest List, and more: 10 thriller books you might not want to read before bed

There's a reason so many of these became movies

pile of books on a table
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Obsessed with thrillers? You’re not alone. Thrillers are a popular genre, earning the description page-turner. Another mark of an engaging thriller is what happens when you start reading; you can’t put it down. Those plot twists and unexpected cliffhangers, chapter after chapter keep readers wanting more, much like those popular movie thrillers. Well, many of those successful suspense movies were based on a thriller, and most of the time, the book is better.

Any time of the year is ripe for a gripping mystery, but there’s just something about winter that screams suspense novel. If you’re looking for your next great read or perhaps thriller books you somehow missed, then we’ve got your list. So, sit back, cuddle up, and prepare to dive in because these thrillers will linger with you long after you’ve read the last page.

Best thriller books

If you love suspense and mystery books, you are always on the lookout for a hot new read. Since there is never a shortage of thrillers at your favorite bookstore or on the shelves of your local library, it’s easy to miss some must-reads. There’s a reason why this genre is always trendy. Suspense thrillers never go out of style. So, if you’re craving a thriller book and haven’t found a perfect fit, read on because this list will most definitely lead you to your next page-turner.


Originally published in 1987, this Stephen King classic became a hit movie three years later. If you’ve seen the movie with James Caan and Kathy Bates, read the book. It’s a psychological thriller pitting a best-selling author being held captive by his totally obsessed and slightly deranged fan until he brings back her favorite character. Need we say more?

The Perfect Nanny

If you’re on the hunt for a can’t-put-down suspense novel, Leila Slimani’s thriller fits the bill. It’s a book that will stick with you, which is why it was a New York Times bestseller. The story is not a new one. A couple on the hunt for a reliable nanny to take care of their children so mom can return to work goes horribly wrong. It’s the opening line that grabs you and doesn’t let go; “The baby is dead.”

The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins’ debut thriller is another best seller brought to the big screen. If you’ve seen the movie, but never read the book, check it out. The book is so much better than the movie. Girl on the Train is a first-person novel told from the point of view of three of the book’s main characters. There are enough twists and turns in this thriller to keep you reading and on the edge of your seat even if you’ve seen the film.

The Guest List

A wedding on an isolated island off the coast of Ireland with a storm rolling in coupled with a guest list of people packing secrets is a perfect recipe for a thriller. British author Lucy Foley delivers a wedding weekend to die for. The Guest List is also a Reese’s Book Club pick and made the list of The New York Times’ top thrillers.

Everyone Here is Lying

Shari Lapena’s thrillers are notoriously addictive, but the twists and turns in this suspense novel reach new levels. All the characters are hiding something from husband William to nine-year-old Avery and good luck trying to guess what.

The Only One Left

Riley Sager is the pen name for American author Todd Ritter. Sager’s books are carefully crafted suspense novels that you’ll want to leave the light on after you finish. This thriller has caregiver Kit looking after a notorious woman nearing the end of her life. The twist is the woman is thought to have killed her family as a teen. Did she, or is she innocent as she cryptically types on an aging typewriter?

The Shining

Another Stephen King classic, The Shining, is the very definition of a psychological thriller. It’s one that sticks with you even if you’ve seen the movie starring Jack Nicholson in an unforgettable performance.

The Silent Patient

When painter Alicia Berenson shoots her famous photographer husband in the face five times, she becomes a silent patient in a psychiatric hospital. It’s the reason why she never speaks again, which is truly shocking. You really won’t see what’s around the corner in this bestseller you won’t be able to put down.

The Big Sleep

If you’re a huge fan of thrillers, you’d be remiss if you didn’t read this Raymond Chandler classic. Chandler is often credited for establishing crime fiction as a genre. The Big Sleep was originally published in 1939 and introduces readers to one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time, Philip Marlowe. If you’re already a Chandler fan and loved the book that introduced Marlowe to the world, then you’ll enjoy The Annotated Big SleepIt takes you inside Chandler’s Los Angeles and gives Marlowe fans an engaging look into the enduring character.

Behind Closed Doors

This book by B.A. Paris is the very definition of a thriller. Paris’ debut is a suspense novel that will literally make you cringe. It brings to life in spades the old adage the title comes from. Don’t start this one on a work night. Save it for the weekend when you don’t have to get up.

Books on a window background.

Mystery books to savor

Reading is one of those enduring simple pleasures avid book lovers carve out time for. In a world where it’s hard to stay on top of the hottest streaming series, it’s comforting to open a book. The reality is many of the trending series are based on thrillers you just can’t put down. Whether you’re on the hunt for a vacation read, a new book for the daily commute on the train, or love an infectious suspense novel, the thrillers on this list won’t disappoint, but they just might keep you up a night.

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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