Best thriller books in History
Ready for your hair to stand on end -- while reading a book? Check out our list of these 10 great thriller genres.
What makes a thriller thrilling? Nonstop action, precarious situations, hair-raising suspense, and heroic characters all exemplify the best thrillers on the market. But how can you be sure the book you choose is electrifying, not exasperating? Just consult the book editors at Reader’s Digest Select Editions who’ve spent 50 years finding the best, most satisfying stories that will race your heart and grip your imagination while you turn the pages. “People always ask us what are really the best books out there, ” says Laura Kelly, editor-in-chief of Select Editions. “They know we’re simply looking for well-told stories and won’t be fooled by all the hype around certain books and authors.”
For your reading pleasure, Kelly’s team has compiled a list of real double-trouble: the world’s best thrillers, featuring both recent and timeless stories. They’re organized by 10 popular thriller categories.
1. The Spy Thriller
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré (1963) is the quintessential espionage thriller. Set during the Cold War, this rich tale still captivates with its spellbinding portrayal of the world of secret agents. And don’t miss The Avenger by Frederick Forsyth (2003) the 21st century’s top spy pulse-pounder, by the author of The Day of the Jackal.
2. The Techno Thriller
Gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets. Ian Fleming started it all with James Bond and his arsenal of clever, useful gadgets, some not so far-fetched anymore. The best Bond book? From Russia with Love (1957). Get to know the real Bond, not Sean, Roger, Timothy or Pierce, by imbibing him on the printed page. For a more recent techno thriller, The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver (2001) stimulates the imagination with its truly surprising twists and turns, and a fascinating computer-based plot.
3. The Classic Thriller
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898) was one of the world’s pioneering thrillers, introducing this genre, unknown at the time, to worldwide acclaim. And the story is still alive and well today. We agree: Tom Cruise is cute, but treat yourself to the real deal and snatch up the book. For a more recent classic thriller, try Whiteout by Ken Follett (2004), the latest gem by the author of Eye of the Needle. It’s the chilling story of what happens when biological weapons fall into the wrong hands, and the blizzard that builds over the course of the book will cool you right off at the beach. Visit for excerpts from Whiteout and info on Ken Follett.
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