If you pick what you read from the titles on the bestseller list, then you might miss on some good reads. While reading the books that are currently popular is a safe way of picking what you are going to read, it also closes your door on other possibilities. There are some books that do not make it on the bestseller list that are worth your time and your money.
These books could be the works of famous authors that have been overshadowed by their more famous works or they can be pieces from unknown authors. We have compiled a list
here of some of the most underrated literary works . This is a very subjective list. For some readers the lack of popularity of some of these books is well-deserved. You might want to check out some of the titles that we have here. You might be surprised to find a book that you are going to enjoy.
The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of the greatest novelists of all time. His works rank highly in world literature and he left behind an impressive body of work. You might be surprised that aside from the well-known titles that Dostoevsky wrote he has some lesser known novels as well and they are also available in English translations. One such book is The Adolescent. The novel was first published in 1875 and it was not well received. Even more than a hundred years after it was first published it is still causing controversy.
Some critics say that The Adolescent cannot compare with the other novels of Dostoevsky. They point out to the fact that it does not reach the philosophical depths that were reached by works such as The Idiot or Crime Punishment. But it is well-crafted tale of a young man who is bent on finding love. Just try reading it and you might be surprised to find an unexpected classic.
Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz
Gombrowicz is appreciated by critics. In fact Cosmos was the winner of the International Prize for Literature in 1967. The problem is that he does not have that many readers outside of his native Poland. He has very few readers in the United States and his books deserve more readers. Cosmos is about two men in Warsaw who set out to find the killer of a sparrow that they found hanged in a tree.
Petersburg by Andrei Bely
Bely is a perfect example of a writer who has been recognized by official publications, but still failed to capture the popular imagination. No less than The New York Times Book Review called Petersburg to be the most important piece of literary work in Russia in the 20th century. That’s quite an achievement considering that he had to compete with the works of Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn. Despite the official praise, Petersburg is largely ignored by readers and only a few people are able to appreciate the beauty of this work.
Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
Mark Twain left behind a large body of work and it is inevitable that some of those were not so good. People tend to remember him only as the creator of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but he is so much more than that. One of Twain’s books which have been overshadowed by his more popular novels is Pudd’nhead Wilson. This work deserves much more attention than what it is getting today. The novel is about a slave of mixed racial backgrounds who swaps her baby with the infant son of her master. As with other works of Twain, it tackles a lot of deep topics such slavery, racism and American society. Others deride it because it was written in a hurry so that Twain could have the money to stay out of debt.
The Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell
George Orwell is always going to be remembered for 1984 and that is why some of his other writings are pushed into the background. The Clergyman’s Daughter is one such work that is largely ignored by readers. Another reason why The Clergyman’s Daughter is largely forgotten now is because Orwell himself has dismissed it as “bollocks.” But this might be one of the best proofs that a writer is the poorest critic of his own works. This tale of a house worker during the depression is underrated. It is also a departure from Orwell’s usual fluid style and is more experimental.
A Gun for Hire by Graham Greene
A Gun for Hire is connected to Brighton Rock which is a more famous work of Greene, but it does not enjoy the same kind of popularity. A Gun for Hire is about a espionage incident that raises the possibility of war in Europe. This book has Greene’s usual style of writing.
The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
The Crossing is actually the second book in the Border Trilogy. Although All the Pretty Horses which came before it is more popular and has received more praise, some critics consider The Crossing to be better. The book recounts the journey of a young cowboy who travels from New Mexico to Mexico at the time of the Second World War. On the journey, he encounters many adventures including gunfights and attacks of packs of wolves.
Cassada by James Salter
Cassada is already out of print which is very unfortunate because it really deserves a wider readership than what it is getting today. The book is about a pilot for the United State Air Force in the 1950s who gets stationed in Germany. The pilot is itching for the spark that would turn the Cold War into a hot conflict.
Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates
Unfortunately for Yates his writing was never fully appreciated while he was still alive. It was only several years after his death that interest has been generated for his writings. Young Hearts Crying is about a young couple who was hopeful when they started out, but eventually they fell farther apart from each other. It’s a tragically accurate take on how one’s dreams can be hard to reach when within the constraints of being a couple.
The Reef by Edith Wharton
A lot of people have read Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, but very few people would have heard of The Reef. The novel is about four Americans who were living in Paris and who were all romantically intertwined. The book offers a great mix of psychological drama and great writing. It should be read by more people today.
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
Link is one of those authors whose works are not so easy to categorize. Stranger Things Happen can be classified as science fiction, but it can also fall under surrealism. You can forget about such distinctions however and just enjoy reading the tale. Though critics love her work, Link is not a familiar name to readers.
These are just a few of the most underrated books out there. Not all of the books that are sold are good and unfortunately many of them are bad. That makes it even sadder that these gems that we have listed are being largely ignored by the readers. You should go out of your way to read these books and find some other works that few people appreciate.