Books Worth Losing Sleep Over


Much to my shock and dismay, it’s still winter here in the Midwest. Except for a slight reprieve last week, cold weather has continued to pummel my area into the ground with its icy, Super-Bowl-ring-from-a-team-I-can’t-think-about laden fist. If you’re in Florida, this probably means you need a sweater at night (Pfft — yes, that’s really me giving you a raspberry), and if you live in Minnesota, well, likely you’ve already died of hypothermia. 

My condolences.

When the temperature goes down, there’s nothing I enjoy more than dancing around my kitchen belting out Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” reading a good book. So yesterday I cashed in a gift card, and treated myself to a few potentially fabulous reads:

LOVING FRANK by Nancy Horan: For my book club which ahem meets tomorrow night. (Procrastination is an art form, my friends.)

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis: Because I’m close personal friends with the author (er, I follow her blog and on Twitter, so same thing), and the buzz around this book has been deafening.


THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2010 edited by Richard Russo: Because short stories once cured my RBO  (Reader Burn-out).

Though I’m always reading something, I consider this past year to have been more of a writing year than a reading one. Which is good. And bad.

There was a time in my life when I would go through a book a day, and it was somewhat normal for me to stay up all night just to race to “The End.” But, as more responsibilities (read children) came to burrow in my home, those all-nighters spent reading started to fizzle out.

I came close the other weekend while zooming through THE LIGHTNING THIEF and the rest of that series. And I was awake to almost see the sun rise when reading THE HELP. Before that, it’s hard to remember.

Though my sleep, as of late, hasn’t been the greatest, I’m willing to give it up for a book deserving of swollen eyes and exhaustion headaches, while ignoring famine (my children’s) and flood (their tears) to devour the words.

I’m hopeful that one of my new books will hold such powers of insomnia, but I’m curious: What was the last book that kept you up all night?


Find me on Twitter @amandahoving



61 thoughts on “Books Worth Losing Sleep Over”

  1. City of Ember kept me up till the wee hours (well maybe just one…cough, cough…) one night, as well as Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Those are the two that stick out in the front of my mind…Was up until three last night, but it wasn’t reading, so I guess it didn’t count. (Does drawing count?)


      1. I must agree, City of E is sort of a slow read. Even the “climax” isn’t really a climax…in the movie, the sun comes up in an unrealistically quick sequence, and the red brilliance is accompanied by euphoric choral music and birds. But, no such fanfare in the book. Not even sure the thing had a climax. lol It’s slow.

        And Homecoming is very slow too. Drags on and on for pages and pages…sheesh, the thing has two parts to it, and it it’s four kids walking their way from like new hampshire to connecticut. (Not a lot of plot twists).

        I’m beginning to sense a theme with books that keep me awake…


  2. Last night I read a graphic novel called Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa. It was pretty interesting and I stayed up until I read the last page. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is another book that made me stay up all night along with East by Edith Pattou.


    1. Hi Vasilly — I checked out your site…welcome to a fellow avid reader! I’ve also been reading Before you Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, BTW.

      Thanks for the recommendations. I haven’t tried many graphic novels, but the one you listed looks interesting. And, yep Hunger Games is great. Glad you stopped by~


  3. I have no books to recommend. I’m just lurking looking for titles. But I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Loving Frank; I read it about a year ago and really liked it.


  4. The last book that kept me up all night was probably Stephen King’s IT…I read that book until my eyes closed, then promptly opened them and read some more. I tried to read it every Halloween for three years, then one day I started to read on my lunch break and got hooked! I didn’t know what to do with myself when I finished it. I have several on my to be read list that may keep me up all night reading, but, like you, I’ve been doing more writing than reading lately.


    1. I think I probably stayed up all night the first time I read The Shining — love that book! I haven’t read IT, but it’s on my shelf. Just too many books on the list.

      Thanks, 2blu!


  5. “Loving Frank” is great for book club discussion! “A Reliable Wife” by Robert Goolrick–set in rural, bitter-cold 1900’s Wisconsin–will appeal to readers who enjoy unusual characters and what makes them tick. Goolrick is a memoirist; learning of his own story may give insight to how he wove his fictional characters in “…Wife.” Love a book that makes me want to stay up all night!


  6. “I’m willing to give it up for a book deserving of swollen eyes and exhaustion headaches, while ignoring famine (my children’s) and flood (their tears) to devour the words.”

    Oh, yes. I know this feeling (and the result, a frightening reflection in the mirror). The last book that kept me up was Andrea Levy’s The Long Song. An amazing story, with a loveable main character. And, talk about voice. Wow.

    I also just heard Terry McMillan read from her new novel, Getting to Happy last night and added it to TBR list. The list is growing. All I need now is time 🙂


    1. Hearing an author read from their book almost always makes me want to buy it. They know exactly the right feeling to put into the words. I’m not familiar with Andrea Levy, so now must go look her up. Thank you, Christi!


  7. I don’t stay up late reading any more…I get up at 5:30 a.m.

    “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini was one that I read in record time (although I had to put it down on more than one occasion because I was so angry about how the women were treated!). I read Rohinton Mistry’s “A Fine Balance” in a week (over 800 pages)…that one was for our Book Club…excellent!



    1. I’m an early riser, too, Wendy, so I know what you mean. Still, if I happen to stay up reading and it’s suddenly 2:00am, I’ll think, “might as well just stay up.” Not the healthiest of choices, of course.

      Loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, and thanks for the other title rec.


  8. Good question! My criteria for a powerful book is not whether it keeps me up late, but whether I miss my subway stop. Like you, I was so engrossed in The Help, I didn’t realize the train doors closing before it was too late. That’s one good book!

    Most recently, The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray by Walter Mosley was unputdownable, if that’s a word. 🙂


    1. That’s a good gauge, Jacquelin.

      The Last Days is another book that I have in my house at this moment, but just haven’t gotten, to. Glad to hear it’s worth the time.

      And, yes, at my blog “unputdownable” is definitely a word. 😉


  9. I love posts like this about books – makes me want to burrow deep and READ! Why does life always get in the way of this?

    Loving Frank is a great read. I really felt like I came away knowing so much more about Frank Lloyd Wright and Maimeh (sp) – can’t remember her name. The ending is explosive.

    And sadly, I can’t remember the last book I stayed up all night for. Currently reading the Crimson Petal and the White – which is WONDERFUL – but what can I say? I love my sleep…


    1. Oh, good to hear about Loving Frank…now I’ll be racing to the explosive ending, and won’t be attending book club without finishing the book. Again. I’m losing points there.

      Thanks, Tarja!


  10. I prefer to think of it not as losing sleep, but as gaining booktime. And rational/functional thought the next day be damned.


  11. My sister got all the speed reading genes in our family. I rarely get into that lightning pace. Plus I’m always reading new textbooks for teaching which is not the most fun you can have. Enjoy your new books!


  12. Anything by Jodi Picoult (especially Nineteen Minutes) or Stephen King (especially Needful Things). Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.


  13. *Such* a great list of books, Amanda. As always, I can count on your exquisite literary tastes.

    Now that I know you’re a fan of The Best American Short Stories 2010, I have another one for you: The American Short Story, edited by Thomas K Parkes, 1994. It is by far the very favorite volume I own. It blows my mind that so much brilliance can be contained in just 1003 pages.


    1. Thanks, Maura, but I think literary mish-mash is a better description of my lists — I like so many different types of books.

      I will definitely have to check out your rec — yup, I’m a big short story fan. Thank you!


  14. I’ve been on a reading jag myself, lately — also whipped through THE LIGHTNING THIEF (I thought I was the last person on the planet to have finally gotten to it) and am now revisting old John Bellairs books. Very curious to hear how you like LOVING FRANK…


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kristen! I’m usually always behind on the current “hot” reads, so count on me to make you feel better about your own reading habits 😉

      I’ll let you know about LOVING FRANK…almost done.


  15. I finished Across the Universe a few days ago, and I LOVED it, so I can definitely second the recommendation! The Book Thief was good, too. Haven’t read the others, though. Will have to try them out.


  16. Stina Leicht’s dark fantasy Of Blood and Honey. She mixed fantasy with the 1970s conflict in Northern Ireland. What a fast, tight novel. I stayed up long after dark reading it. Great topic, Amanda!


  17. Definitely Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. It was fantastic. Even as I cried and cried and my eyes got puffy and swollen (which definitely did NOT look any better after a mere 3 hours sleep), I could not put it down as I got closer and closer to the end.


  18. Special thanks to “Grammar Nazi” for sending me a note about a rampant apostrophe in this post (which has since been fixed). I’m now feeling very frightened, though…



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