37 Unforgettable Books That Readers Say Will Stick With Them Forever

Note: This post contains mentions of sexual assault, rape, drug addiction, and mental health struggles.

As a self-proclaimed bookworm, there are so many books that I enjoyed but very few that I'd label as "unforgettable."

Matt LeBlanc appears surprised while reading a book

With that in mind, I asked the BuzzFeed Community what books they can't get out of their heads, and here's what they shared:

Gradient banner reading "THE GOOD" for a book-related article
Amatullah Shaw

1.The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Cover of "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, featuring title and author's name with a small central illustration

"It’s just WOW. It got me thinking about classics and language for ages after I read it the first time. I still think about how quickly and easily things can spiral, especially for people who have essentially been removed from reality. If it isn’t already considered a classic, it should be."


Ivy Books

"This book constantly shocked me, from every single character interaction to the reason why they did the things they did. One of my favorite books of all time. Totally not what I expected, it’s truly brilliant."


2.On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Book cover of "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac featuring two men in a car; one is driving

3.The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

Book cover of "The Way I Used to Be" by Amber Smith with sunflowers against a light background

4.Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Book cover of "Turtles All the Way Down" by John Green with title in bold, swirling text

"I read it as a 14-year-old struggling with severe anxiety, and I didn't feel completely insane because of the main character in this story, who struggles with OCD. It made me feel seen, and I still adore the book."


Dutton Books for Young Readers

5.Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cover of "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr featuring a book illustration with a cityscape and a bird flying overhead

"One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Every word is chosen so deliberately and every sentence woven so perfectly that it is a book that will leave you with a sense of awe at the piece of art you just read."



6.The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Cover of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, featuring title and author's name

7.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, featuring a tree and the novel's title

8.Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Book cover for "Remarkably Bright Creatures" by Shelby Van Pelt featuring an illustration of an octopus and a person

"Books don't normally make me cry, but I'll be darned if a book about an octopus helping draw people together and heal their wounds didn't make me a weepy mess."



9.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Cover of "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins featuring a golden pin with a mockingjay

10.Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book cover of 'Speak' by Laurie Halse Anderson featuring partial face obscured by tree branches, with National Book Award badge

11.The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Book cover of 'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien with critical acclaim quotes.

12.The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover of "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid, with accolades and a title emblem

13.A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Cover of "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole, featuring a drawing of the comical character Ignatius J. Reilly

14.The Last Watch and the sequel The Exiled Fleet by J.S. Dewes

Book covers of "The Last Watch" and "The Exiled Fleet" by J.S. Dewes, featuring space and starship imagery

15.Someone Who Isn't Me by Geoff Rickly

Book cover with title "Someone Who Isn't Me" by Geoff Rickly featuring abstract close-up of faces
"The BAD" in white bold letters centered on a gradient orange background
Amatullah Shaw

16.Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Book cover of "Glamorama" by Bret Easton Ellis with praise quotes

"Got to a portion of this book where I literally threw it across the room and said, 'Nah, fuck that!' Granted, Ellis already writes about rich, white people doing terrible things to each other, but this took it to an extreme that I wasn't prepared for and wanted no part of."



17.Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Book cover of "Our Endless Numbered Days" by Claire Fuller with tree and title overlay

18.Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Cover of "Uglies" by Westerfeld showing a fragmented profile of a girl's face with text overlay

19.The entire Fifty Shades series by E. L. James

Three book covers from the 'Fifty Shades' series by E.L. James featuring suggestive themes

20.Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Cover of "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee, featuring a tree and a train with reviews

21.Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Cover of "Lullaby" by Chuck Palahniuk features a stylized bird and arrow with a critique quote

"Destroyed me. One of the few books I wish I had never read as certain scenes have lingered in my brain for decades."


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Amatullah Shaw

22.Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book cover for "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro, featuring a blurred figure twirling and the text 'Booker Prize 2005'

23.A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Book cover of "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara showing a man's anguished face with text for awards received

"The most beautiful, heart-wrenching story I have ever read. It brought me to tears, and made me believe that love appears in our life in many different forms, and that you are worthy of it no matter how damaged you are."



24.A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Book cover of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, featuring a silhouette of a person walking towards a cityscape

25.House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Book cover of "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski featuring a labyrinth design and a compass rose

" [This] is so far the only book that’s truly stayed with me years after I’ve read it. It’s two stories in one, and it has so much style that it pulls you in to the deepest pit and doesn’t let you go. As the tagline goes, this book truly isn’t for you, and it will captivate anyone who reads it. Even after years of rereading the book, I still notice so many different things and small details!

And, most importantly of all, what was truly going in with the House on Ash Tree Lane? House of Leaves is my go-to recommendation when someone is looking for something different or a challenge; and everyone I’ve recommended this to has loved the book as much as I do."


26.Room by Emma Donoghue

Book cover of "ROOM" by Emma Donoghue with a blurred figure behind a red cardboard house

27.They Both Die at the End and The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Book cover of 'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera, featuring silhouette of two people on a bridge with cityscape and stars
Book cover of 'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera, featuring silhouette of two people on a bridge with cityscape and stars
Book cover for
Book cover for

Quill Tree Books

"If you haven’t read them, I strongly suggest you do if the books you enjoy are romantic, heartbreaking, gay romances. I could barely contain my tears in reading both of them. They are such beautifully written books and are SO heartbreaking. You’ll fall in love with the characters only for them to die at the end of the book. One of the worst parts is, you know they’re gonna die, but you can almost forget it while you’re reading."


28.The Measure by Nikki Erlick

Cover of "The Measure" by Nikki Erlick with floral graphics and a "Read with Jenna" sticker

"I listened to the audiobook and spent the last 30 minutes sobbing at my kitchen table."


William Morrow

29.Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Book cover of "Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke" by Eric LaRocca featuring abstract artwork

30.The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Cover of "The Haunting of Hill House" book, with a silhouette of a spooky house against a twilight sky, Netflix series mentioned

31.For Esme with Love and Squalor by J. D. Salinger

Book cover of "For Esmé - with Love and Squalor, and Other Stories" by J.D. Salinger with the author's name and previous work mentioned

32.We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Cover of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" shows a young boy with arms crossed and a stern look

"I knew somewhat how it was going to end, but the parts I wasn't expecting hit hard."


Serpent's Tail

33.The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Cover of "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair featuring industrial landscape painting

34.The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Book cover of "The Hot Zone" with a title, an illustrated virus, and author Richard Preston's name

35.Desperation by Stephen King

Cover of Stephen King's "Desperation" featuring eerie figures and a desolate small town backdrop

"[This] is the only book that has ever had me genuinely paranoid and scared while reading it."



36.Stoner by John Williams

Book cover of "Stoner" by John Williams with an introduction by John McGahern, featuring a painted portrait of a contemplative man

"When I finished the last page, I was crying my eyes out. A silent, slow story about one insignificant man and his mediocre life. Beautiful."


NYRB Classics

37.The Stand by Stephen King

Cover of "The Stand" by Stephen King

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.

Now it's your turn. Drop a book that's stuck with you (for better or worse) in the comments below.