We’re delighted that we’re not the only literary enterprise on the lookout for under-appreciated books and authors. We’re not even the best or most practiced at the hunt. Here are three places to go to find out about books that have probably flown below, around, or mysteriously through your radar: 1) The Neglected Books Page, http://neglectedbooks.com. If you’re a book lover and haven’t heard of this page, you really ought to be sore with yourself. Not only does it list recently neglected books (how’s that for a concept?), but it delves into neglect of years past, linking to lists like The American Scholar’s “Neglected Books of the Past 25 Years,” published in 1970. An old list like that one can be unexpectedly invigorating: it’s good to know that authors like Kate Chopin, Isaiah Berlin, and A.R. Ammons were once considered overlooked, since it means that time does remedy some injustices. It’s impossible to tell from the website who edits the Neglected Books Page, but it’s somebody judicious and industrious, and obviously not in it for the credit.
2) LeeSandlin.com. Many of our readers will know Lee Sandlin from our website’s effusive praise of him — praise that, we have reported before, helped him land a book deal with Pantheon. But Lee is not only a splendid essayist, he is also a champion of neglected books. Check out his list “Ten Novels That Not Enough People Have Read.” (Of the ten authors, we’d heard of one, and thought that maybe we’d heard of a second.) He annotates on the list here.
3) The Believer, annual award issue. This magazine, published by the same people responsible for McSweeney’s, reviews overlooked books in every issue, and once a year it gives out the Believer Book Award, the rubric for which is summed up here: “Each year the editors of the Believer generate a short list of the novels they thought were the strongest and, in their opinion, the most undervalued of the year.” Once again, we’d be surprised if you’d heard of any of the winners. Last year’s was Remainder, by Tom McCarthy.