11 Books By Authors You Know That Don’t Get Nearly Enough Love (But You Can Change That Starting Now)
You know that feeling you get when you're cleaning out your closet, and, amidst the wreckage of leather pants you always planned to fit into, you find that one perfect dress that you never even knew you had from a designer you totally love? Imagine that feeling but in book form.
During a casual conversation with a work colleague who foolishly left her light reading out on the table during lunch (didn't she know I would interrogate her as soon as I saw it?), I discovered an Agatha Christie novel I'd never read before, despite how much I loved the author. After canceling all of my plans, and taking the rest of the night off to read through the new (well, new-for-me) tale over a glass of wine and a box of chocolates (don't judge, it was a celebration!), it occurred to me that this incredible discovery might not have been an isolated event. After a few days of recovery from Christie-mania, I went looking for more under-appreciated books by beloved authors, and the results exceeded even my expectations.
So, cancel your weekend plans and prepare to have your mind boggled: these 11 books by authors you already adore don't get nearly as much love as they should. But all that's about to change.
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
In recent years, David Mitchell has become a literary luminary. Whether or not you fell for The Bone Clocks (and I have to admit, I didn't), Mitchell's oeuvre is impressive, and Black Swan Green belongs at the top of any Mitchell must-read list... even though most people have never heard of it. Chronicling the life of a 13-year-old boy in a sleepy English village at the dawn of the '80s, Black Swan Green feels poignantly autobiographical and daringly modern. Gypsies, young love, Margaret Thatcher, and Duran Duran make this one coming-of-age story you do not want to miss.
The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
In certain circles, A Visit to the Goon Squad is ranked right up there with the great American classics, and for good reason. Although my Egan tastes run more towards the 2001 stunner Look at Me, I certainly consider myself something of a fangirl, so I was shocked to hear there was an Egan novel out there I had never read. Set way back in the 1960s, The Invisible Circus is part family drama, part mystery, and full-on engaging. I suggest you draw yourself a bubble bath for this masterpiece and dive right in.
Strong Motion by Jonathan Franzen
I've read The Corrections more times than I care to consider, and Freedom is at the top of a very short list I've compiled of near-perfect contemporary novels, so you can imagine my delight in coming across a new Franzen novel... well, new for me. Of course, after shock, awe, and the thrill of discovery, the fear began to set in — what if this enigmatic novel centered around a series of inexplicable earthquakes and an insightful Harvard seismologist simply doesn't live up to the Franzen legacy? I'll be honest with you, I haven't had the chance to check it out yet, but I'm willing to risk it all on the basis of a pretty compelling reputation... are you?
Romola by George Eliot
When it comes to the authors who regularly share space on college syllabi with the absolute all-time greats, it's rare to discover a novel that hasn't been given the full, scholarly treatment and adapted for film and television several times over. So, if you're looking to seriously boost your literary street cred with a little taste of the arcane while sticking with an author who never fails to win hearts and minds, I suggest George Eliot's Romola. No matter who's perusing your shelves next, she's bound to be impressed.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
It's not hard to see why Gabriel García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold is so often overlooked in favor of the author's more epic woks. This slim, strange little volume is unusual, but with the same Márquez magic you've come to know and love, and a storytelling style that's original, there's no reason this book shouldn't make its way to your bedside table post haste.
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
There are authors who have developed something of a cult following, there are authors who have entered the canon, and then there is Margaret Atwood. With a fierce literary legacy, crazy-awesome feminist credibility, and one of the strongest speculative fiction games out there, Atwood's work is tracked with adoration, and yet most people have never heard of The Edible Woman. If you're already an Atwood fan, you're going to wonder how this book has evaded you for so long, and if you haven't yet had the pleasure this phenomenal story of a newly affianced woman unable to eat and yet strangely convinced she's being consumed is the perfect introduction to Atwood's strange and sultry world.
Adverbs by David Handler
At first glance, the name Daniel Handler might not mean much to you, but unless you've been living under a rock for a few long years now, you've certainly heard of Lemony Snicket. If you've ever wondered what an adult novel from the beloved children's satirist might look like, you've just been gifted the opportunity to find out with Adverbs, a love story unlike any other from one of the wickedest minds ever to turn a phrase in the service of fun.
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby is undoubtedly best known for works of fiction that have been adapted into some of the finest films in recent memory — High Fidelity, anyone? But, if you thought Hornby was simply a flash-in-the-pan Hollywood type, think again. Settle in with How to be Good, and enjoy the devilish joys of a Hornby story that hasn't yet made it to the silver screen, because I'm guessing this story of a selfish, unloving, mean-spirited soul who has really, truly changed (...or has he...) is the next Hornby novel up for adaptation.
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
Sometimes it's the book that launches a literary career that most quickly succumbs to the ignominy of obscurity. With an unsettling ultimatum at its core, "find the sheep or face the consequences," A Wild Sheep Chase is a mystery novel that lives up to the Murakami name, even if you've never heard of it.
The Sally Lockhart Series by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass is a YA classic for a reason — heck, I still dream about my own person daemon virtually every day (and no, I'm not kidding about that). However, if you ask me, Philip Pullman's best work is a series that has received far less attention — The Sally Lockhart Mysteries. Following 16-year-old Sally Lockhart through the underworld of Victorian London on a mission to avenge her recently-murdered father, The Ruby in the Smoke is just the first step on a whirlwind journey that rivals any trip through time and space you might take with The Subtle Knife.
Jonah’s Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston is probably best known for her strong female characters, but with Jonah's Gourd Vine she brings us the incomparable tale of one young man who loves far too many women for his own good. Raw, powerful, and deeply poetic, Zora Neale Hurston's first novel has all the substance and style of the classics that soon followed —without any of the spoilers that come with a place in the canon.