A nice alternative to compelling, gripping or all-engrossing is the word riveting
The latest Clint Eastwood movie is riveting. You can’t take your eyes off the screen.
Hers was a riveting display of gymnastic talent.
Obviously the –ed version is riveted.
I was riveted by the story he told of crossing the desert as a child.
The word rivet itself refers to those metal or steel bolts that hold things together like two sheets of iron or even the seams on a pair of jeans. So when we say we are riveted by something, it’s like saying we were so fascinated by it, it was like being bolted to the spot. It tends to be used to describe positive experiences.
Despite this somewhat painful analogy, I like the sound of the word in its various forms.
Have you had a rivetingly good read lately?