The best books about emotions and suspense

Who am I?

I’ve lived a life of emotions and suspense; things are either life and death or they’re just an inconvenience. I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction books (over 50 and counting) for quite a while. I’m an eclectic reader, enjoying all genres and creating my own works in most of them: young adult, adult, suspense, dystopian, time travel, sci-fi, fantasy, coming of age, romance, you name it. Two things I want in everything I read and write are emotional engagement (make me feel something strongly) and suspense (give me a page-turner!).

I wrote...

A Fault of Graves: YA High School Thriller

By Debra Chapoton,

Book cover of A Fault of Graves: YA High School Thriller

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a novel with teen characters that would still appeal to adult readers. In A Fault of Graves, I focused on the kids and their problems but included teachers, a principal, and parents. I layered in emotional things like hope, troubles, falling for someone, losing and finding faith, and growing in the midst of a disaster. As a former high school teacher, I know that all kids have problems, some more than others, but every one of them is struggling in some way and just looking for acceptance.

In this novel I took away their safety, their comfort, their known world and plunged them into the dark with people they didn’t know and didn’t like (emotions) and put a bunch of obstacles (suspense) in their way. Whose character traits, previously ignored or mocked, will help save them all?

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Echo of Escape: A Novel of Misogyny, Tragedy, and Unconditional Love

Debra Chapoton Why did I love this book?

This novel is partly fictional, but also based on the author’s life and traumatic first marriage. There’s suspense for sure and a range of feelings. I cried hard in some parts, smiled in others, and felt sorry, relieved, and even joyful in other sections. I had no idea what would happen next. The story played out like a movie in my head, full of my two favorite things: emotional engagement and nervous fear for the main character. This is a thriller that follows a woman on a daunting personal journey that will pluck at your heartstrings.

By Jessica Michaels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Echo of Escape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alyssa Burdick spends her days teaching middle-school and her nights battling the psychological oppression of a misogynist husband. He was her knight in shining armor from the day she met him up until the end of their wedding reception. Now all he does is humiliate her and turn her into a doormat. At least at school she can be herself. 
And after school, behind her closed classroom door ... well, she's humbled, confused, hopeful even, as her department head, Connor, mentors her. Slowly, very slowly, she…

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Debra Chapoton Why did I love this book?

Where the Crawdads Sing is a heartbreaking coming of age story with a twist. It was hard to turn pages as I was wringing my hands throughout. The main character is a child whose situation gripped my heart and squeezed and squeezed. The poor thing only yearns to be loved and I wanted to reach into the pages, pull her out, and hug her until it hurt. Delia Owens has a way with suspense too and startles the reader with unexpected events. This is a moving story about survival in a way I hope no one has to endure.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

Book cover of 13 Reasons Why

Debra Chapoton Why did I love this book?

I’d heard about the emotional impact of this book, but wasn’t prepared for the theme of teen suicide to be so absorbing. I read the whole thing in shock and suspense and a whole lot of hope – hope that when I got to the end the main character wouldn’t have done the unthinkable. There are so many different emotions in this novel that any reader will be able to connect one way or another. We’ve all been teens facing bullying, rejection, first love, misunderstandings, and all that other “stuff” that tears you apart or makes you stronger. 

By Jay Asher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked 13 Reasons Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?


Featuring cover art from the Netflix original series, with exclusive interviews and photos inside!
"Eerie, beautiful, and devastating." --Chicago Tribune
"A stealthy hit with staying power. . . . thriller-like pacing." --The New York Times
"Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading." --Amber Gibson, NPR's "All Things Considered"

You can't stop the future. 
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his…

Book cover of Gone Girl

Debra Chapoton Why did I love this book?

Whoa! Unreliable narrator or unbelievable plot twist? This is an edge-of-your-seat read and, of course, the book is better than the movie. I dove into this one with no expectations and the emotions swept over me and pulled me deeper into the deception. This is an ingenious thriller, hence much suspense. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. These are flawed characters who do despicable things, but oh, the suspense, the passionate reactions, the emotional sensations; all these things keep you reading and feed those insatiable demands for more literary thrills.

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Debra Chapoton Why did I love this book?

I picked this one to round out the five books about emotions and suspense partly because I like the title which has a double meaning (like mine: A Fault of Graves). Talk about emotional overload, whew, this one grips your heart. If you’re a softy like me, you’ll cry for these fictional characters who are dealt a low blow at a young age. Death is imminent. In my very first year teaching I had a student die and that sorrow has never left me. The suspense in this book is a steady groan, unlike the more striking bursts in the previous recommendations, but the steady nervous apprehension is sustained with ups and downs in the emotional department. As usual, the book is far better than the movie.

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Fault in Our Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The beloved, #1 global bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and Turtles All the Way Down

"John Green is one of the best writers alive." -E. Lockhart, #1 bestselling author of We Were Liars

"The greatest romance story of this decade." -Entertainment Weekly

#1 New York Times Bestseller * #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller * #1 USA Today Bestseller * #1 International Bestseller

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters…

You might also like...

The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

Book cover of The Emerald Necklace

Linda Rosen Author Of The Emerald Necklace

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Swimmer Public Speaker Reader Lover of gardens

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It’s 1969. Women are fighting for equality. Rosalee, an insecure sculptor, and Fran, a best-selling novelist, have their issues. Will their bitter envy of each other and long-held secrets destroy their tenuous friendship? Or will Jill, Rosalee’s granddaughter, and the story behind her emerald necklace bind them together?

A multi-generational novel of friendship and frenemies, envy, and long-held secrets that explores current issues through a historical lens. The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends, and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not.

The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

What is this book about?

"Engaging and mysterious, The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not." –Rebecca Rosenberg, award-winning Champagne Widows series

Three months after her husband's death in 1969, Rosalee Linoff is determined to jump back into life.

For her, that means returning to her art. She desperately wants to be accepted as a talented sculptor, but that requires she dig up the courage to submit her work again - and be judged. Her paralyzing insecurity mounts when she meets her new neighbor, best-selling…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in suicide, life satisfaction, and romantic love?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about suicide, life satisfaction, and romantic love.

Suicide Explore 169 books about suicide
Life Satisfaction Explore 197 books about life satisfaction
Romantic Love Explore 797 books about romantic love