Absorbing Stories

My most absorbing reads from 2019

  • N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy
  • Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North
  • George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood Part 1
  • Madeline Miller’s Circe

My most absorbing reads from 2018

  • Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, The Magician King, and The Magician’s Land
  • Margaret Atwood’s Madd Adam Trilogy
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • The first three installments of the Graphic Novel Monstress

My most absorbing reads from 2017

  • Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea Series
  • The first 7 installments of the Graphic Novel Saga
  • The last installment of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth (The Long Cosmos)
  • Elizabeth Perkins’ Herland
  • The first three books in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike Series

Below is a collection of absorbing stories (novels, novellas, short stories or poems) that I have gathered with help from recent survey studies I conducted together with my colleagues from the University of Alberta, Don Kuiken and Shawn Douglas. We asked the participants to list engaging stories they had read in the last year.

This inventory is intended to serve everybody looking for an absorbing reading experience or looking for stimulus material to study absorption in their experimental studies. Enjoy!

Absorbing stories from a Canadian Sample of 264 participants with a mean age of 19 and the number of times these stories were mentioned. For every time a book in a series (e.g., Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, etc.) was mentioned, they were counted as a part of one and the same absorbing story. Below, only the books that were mentioned at least three times are mentioned. There were 27 stories that were mentioned twice and a further 216 stories that were mentioned only once.

  • J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (22 times)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (20 times)
  • John Green – The Fault in our Stars (13 times)
  • Khaled Hosseini – The Kit Runner (13 times)
  • John Green – Paper Towns (9 times)
  • George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire (9 times)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings (8 times)
  • Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird (7 times)
  • George Orwell – 1984 (6 times)
  • Art Spiegelman – Maus (6 times)
  • Shakespeare – Hamlet (6 times)
  • Tennessee Williams – A Streetcar named Desire (6 times)
  • J.D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye (5 times)
  • Shakespeare – Othello (5 times)
  • Timothy Findley – The Wars (5 times)
  • Markus Zusak – The Book Thief (5 times)
  • John Green – Looking for Alaska (5 times)
  • E.L. James – 50 Shades of Grey (5 times)
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (5 times)
  • Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Code (4 times)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (4 times)
  • Veronica Roth – Divergent (4 times)
  • Arthur Miller – Death of a Salesman (4 times)
  • Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice (4 times)
  • Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper (3 times)
  • Cassandra Claire – The Mortal instruments (3 times)
  • Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl (3 times)
  • Steven Galloway – The Cellist of Sarajevo (3 times)
  • Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (3 times)
  • Lawrence Hill – The Book of Negroes (3 times)
  • Alden Nowlan – The Glass Roses (3 times)
  • Lois Lowry – The Giver (3 times)
  • William Golding – Lord of the Flies (3 times)
  • Kiera Cass – The Selection (3 times)
  • Veronica Roth – Divergent (3 times)