What's a (big) word or phrase to describe a book that is so good that I cannot put down when I start to read it?

  • If you can’t put it down, you must be "gripping" it. ;) – user80365 Jun 16 '14 at 20:28

"Page-turner" is common. I've heard people say "potboiler," but i believe this inapt, as "potboiler" originally meant a work churned out merely to earn some lunch-money.

  • Sometimes called "Page-burner" as well. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 15 '14 at 19:46
  • Depending on the genre, "potboiler" could be used, especially for something like a trashy bodice-ripper. It might not be "good" in any literary sense, but if it makes money for the author, that's good enough (see original meaning). – Phil Perry Jun 16 '14 at 13:44
  • 2
    @PhilPerry, yes, but potboiler could serve just as well, if not better, for the sort of book where once you put it down, you can't pick it up. – Jon Hanna Jun 16 '14 at 16:03
  • LoL. James Bradley's "The Imperial Cruise." – steven king Jun 16 '14 at 16:22
  • @JonHanna, is there enough paper in the book to bring a small teakettle to a boil? – Phil Perry Jun 16 '14 at 21:24

Unputdownable has the exact meaning you described. Here's the FreeDictionary definition

  • 4
    This word sounds like newspeak. Doubleplusgood! – Kevin Workman Jun 16 '14 at 16:31
  • 1
    @KevinWorkman Oh dear. I haven't actually heard anyone say "newspeak" since I read 1984. – Cruncher Jun 16 '14 at 20:05

The phrase compelling read is often used to describe a book or article that is so good that one is drawn to finish it.


engrossing, absorbing, captivating, gripping, fascinating, riveting, consuming, addictive read


“Page-turner” comes up top of mind.

Cambridge online English Dictionary defines “page-turner” as;

a book that is so exciting that you want to read it quickly.

Oxford online English Dictionary simply defines it as “an exciting book.

Merriam-Webster online Dictionary defines it as;

a book, story, etc., that is difficult to stop reading because it is so interesting

Kenkyu-sha Readers English Japanese Dictionary, the best-selling English Japanese dictionary published by Kenyusha Publishing defines “page-turner” as;

a book that is so interesting and exciting that you feel impatient to moving to the next page (turn pages).

As examples, I found the following phrase and sentences including "page-turner" and "turning pages" in the book review of Jeffrey Archer's "As the crow flies," which I picked to get an example of the use of "page-turner" at random;

  • A certified page-turner - New York Daily News
  • Archer plots with skill, and keeps you turning the pages - The Boston Globe
  • Mr. Archer tells a story to keep you turning those pages - The Washington Post.

Besides, the New Yorker magazine has “Page-turner: On books and writing life” page as its regular columm.


Oprah calls them "books you can't put down" (as in 25 books you can't...). Good Reads and Amazon advertises her choices using that phrase as well.


When you are reading a nail biter you cannot wait to see what is going to happen next and surely can't put book down.

: something (such as a game or movie) that causes people to feel nervous because the ending is not known until the final moment


Relentless. Take-no-prisoners. Driven. Fast/-paced. (non-stop, etc.)...race to the end. Rip-roaring.


When you read a phenomenal book you want to read the book over and over again. Trust me you'll know what kind of book that is.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.