7 Incredible Books From the Last 25 Years That No One Talks About

There are a lot of books published every year... like a lot a lot. And every year a few of them manage to work up a whole bunch of buzz and devotion, make their authors lots of money, and are pretty much all anyone talks about for the next few years. A handful of other books get a little attention, but, despite their brilliance, never get the amount of hype and praise and readership they deserve. Sometimes they’re overshadowed by an author’s previous work of brilliance that likely steals the limelight from all of their other work. Sometimes they’re a little too untraditional to draw the same sort of popularity as the bestseller, and other times? Well, there’s just no saying why exactly they didn’t immediately launch to the top of everyone’s to-read lists.

But just because these books didn’t reach the heights of the Americanahs and Freedoms of the book world doesn’t mean they aren’t just as brilliant. In fact, some of them might even be more brilliant than some of the books that overshadow them from their thrones on the bestseller lists.

In the last 25 years, there have been a lot of brilliant books, and some of them just didn’t get their due. This short list is a small attempt to let you in on the secret. If you missed them the first time around, you NEED to get your hands on these books.

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson (1990)

It won the National Book Award when it came out in 1990, and everybody pretty much went crazy over it and hailed it for its amazingly realistic depiction of the Middle Passage and the illegal slave trade. And it IS in fact that brilliant, but somehow it hasn’t entered into that canon of literary awesomeness where we put other books of similar caliber. But it so deserves to be there.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)

After Americanah we all fell in love with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and when Beyoncé showed her love for Adichie we all fell even harder for the amazing feminist writer. But even before Americanah and before Queen Bey officially inducted Adichie into the royal court of badassery, Adichie wrote some brilliant novels, like her first novel Purple Hibiscus which treats of a family dealing with religion and violence in post-colonial Nigeria.

The Neighborhood by Gonçalo M. Tavares (2012)

It’s a shame this one isn’t better known and talked about. It's pretty non-traditional, but it's amazing. Tavares basically wrote every book-lover’s daydream, creating a town and populating it with his favorite authors. Is that not the fantasy?

Mosquito by Gayl Jones (2000)

Gayl Jones is just all around underrated. Her novel The Healing was a National Book Award finalist, but her other books have languished in unfortunate obscurity. Mosquito is one of her best and most creative with a quirky Black woman truck driver named Sojourner doing her part in the “new underground railroad” to provide sanctuary to Latin American immigrants coming to the U.S.

An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (2015)

Howard Zinn was onto something when he wrote A People’s History of the United States, telling history from the perspective of the people who lived it instead of just washing over the humanity of history by telling only of events and leaders. Dunbar-Ortiz follows that legacy brilliantly, telling a crucial (and often brutal) history of the indigenous peoples of the U.S. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a necessary one. It just came out, so who knows if it'll get the love it deserves, but you should clearly read it and then tell all of your friends to read it.

A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe (1997)

Chinua Achebe wrote mad books, y’all. Things Fall Apart was the business, for sure. It was crazy amazing brilliant good, but the story doesn’t stop there. In A Man of the People Achebe deals with a post-colonial Nigeria struggling to make sense and a new world out of its colonial legacy.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (1994)

It got a decent amount of love when it first came out in 1994, but to this day when most people think of Julia Alvarez they think of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents which was only published three years before this one. In the Time of the Butterflies is very different from Garcia Girls. It tells of the true story of the Mirabel sisters who were assassinated for their underground movement against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

Image Courtesy of Mark Cortez