Our lives are shaped by all kinds of books. Some, however, fail to be recognized by the general public. They may be considered good by those who read them, but they just don’t get the recognition they deserve. Many of these books slip through the cracks and remain unread by you! Here are 11 novels we think should have received the highest praise, that you should definitely read them (if you haven’t already):
1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
One of the most underrated young adult novels of all time, Kira-Kira tells the story of two sisters, Katie and Lynn, the daughters of Japanese immigrants. As the family faces unending adversity, Katie reminds herself of the Japanese idea of “Kira-Kira,” to recognize that there is always a silver lining. Although it won a Newbery Medal, Kira-Kira is fairly unrecognized, but definitely worth the read.
2. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
While told from a dog’s perspective, Garth Stein’s tale is an in-depth tale of strength, growth, and love. It also details that bond animal-lovers struggle to explain: the relationship between a dog owner and their beloved pet. Although the book received very few accolades, its emotional plot and descriptive language definitely deserve more attention.
3. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
A widely-acclaimed book in Ireland, The Glorious Heresies tells the story of a murder, and how four outsiders find themselves intrinsically connected because of the crime. McInerney is considered to be one of “the most talented writer at work in Ireland today,” but very few have heard of her work in the United States. The story is original, beautifully written, and extremely accurate in its portrayal of the intricacies of our complicated world.
4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
If you’re a bookworm, you’ve probably heard of Jeffrey Eugenides. Does Middlesex ring a bell? While that novel won a Pulitzer Prize, his debut novel The Virgin Suicides is read with much less frequency. The story is tragic and touching, but also extremely dark. Even though the novel was turned into a movie, which one might assume made it wildly popular, it isn’t his most well-known work. It is, however, definitely worth the read.
5. A Servant’s Tale by Paula Fox
Paula Fox tells the complicated and rich story of Luisa de la Cueva, the daughter of a plantation owner’s son and a native woman on the Caribbean island of Malagita. The family eventually moves to New York, where Luisa’s constant dream is to return to the island. While her life may be considered simple, considering she spends her entire life as a servant, Luisa’s story is proof of the depth that exists in every person’s history. Few have heard of Paula Fox or the brilliant piece that is A Servant’s Tale.
6. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Another underrated young adult novel, The Mysterious Benedict Society, details the life of four young, highly gifted children: Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire. The group becomes “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” going on adventures and solving problems that would fulfill any child’s wildest dreams. Although it did receive some awards, the novel should really be recognized as one of the most well-written young adult novels out there.
7. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Brontë sisters. Charlotte, Emily and Anne all led short, but highly productive lives. In fact, they became some of the most well-known Victorian novelists. Most people know Charlotte Brontë for Jane Eyre, the dark tale of Jane, Mr. Rochester, and his crazy ex-wife in the attic. Very few, however, know of Charlotte’s final novel, Villette. One of the most intricate and beautifully written books of the era, the story of Lucy Snowe deserves far more attention than it gets.
8. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary T. Hamann
Hilary Thayer Hamann’s first novel tells the coming-of-age story of Eveline Auerbach. The semi-autobiographical story has been heralded for its beautiful writing but has also been criticized for its length and its tendency to drag on. Some brilliant stories, however, require long, in-depth passages to best explain what it’s like to experience growth in such a crucial moment in life.
9. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Part of the Neapolitan Novels series, My Brilliant Friend tells the story of Elena and her best friend Lila growing up outside of Naples, Italy. The books were translated from Italian, making the diction slightly less eloquent than it is for those who read the book in its original language. The novel, however, is a beautiful depiction of attempting to navigate adolescence.
10. A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell
Chaim Skibelski’s tale begins as his life comes to an end. He is shot and killed along with other Jews in the small Polish village where he lives, but instead of retreating into death, he is left to wander the earth. This magical realism recounting of the Holocaust is unique and beautiful, a wonderful book that has definitely been overlooked.
11. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer is another author familiar to most bookworms, known for works like Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, but Under the Banner of Heaven takes a slightly different tone than his other works. The novel combines the origin story of the Mormon church with a double murder committed in the name of God by two brothers (members of a fundamentalist Mormon sect). You learn a bit of history while the murder story captivates and thrills you. A must-read.
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