Top Ten Underrated Books

un·der·rate (verb/ˌəndə(r)ˈrāt/) : underestimate the extent, value or importance of someone or something.

1. The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon (1894): Hepworth Dixon is one of my favorite Victorian writers, but she doesn't get much recognition. I highly recommend The Story of a Modern Woman if you are interested in lesser-known late-Victorian lit.

2. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye is undeniably Salinger's most popular work, but for me, Franny and Zooey is his greatest.

3. "Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan (2009): Ok so this is a short story, but it's fantastic and you can read it in it's entirety for free right here. If you liked Shadow of the Wind, I think you'll like this short story as well. Sloan's website also informs me that Mr. Penumbra is going to be a full-length novel published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. I'm pretty excited about that one.

4. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (2007): If you've read Shriver, you've probably read We Need to Talk About Kevin. But don't miss The Post-Birthday World, a book that examines how one moment can dramatically alter our life.

5. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie (1990): This is a children's novel, but it's still fantastic to read as an adult; both whimsical and relevant.

6. In An Antique Land by Amitov Ghosh (1994): An in-depth look into the life of an Indian salve in Egypt.

7. The Street by Ann Prety (1946): A novel of the Harlem Renassance, The Street examines the hardships of single motherhood.

8. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2009): So this one isn't underrated by any means. It has actually been talked about quite a bit. This is just my way of saying if you haven't read this, you should.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish


  1. The Post-Birthday World is high on my TBR (as is We Need to Talk About Kevin) because I adored So Much for That. Great picks!

  2. I love Zeitoun. It's not underrated, but I do think that Eggers gets less attention in the blogging world than say, Franzen. I'm also in total agreement that Franny and Zooey is Salinger's best.

    Come visit be at The Scarlet Letter.

  3. I've seen Zeitoun and now I want to read more than ever. Thanks.

  4. Franny and Zooey is great and better than The Catcher in the Rye for me!

    Thank you so much for the link to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, what an amazing, delightful, creepy (for a while) story! I loved it!

  5. I love this week's theme! The only book off your list I have read is Franny and Zooey, and I absolutely hated it!

  6. You've got two on this list that are not as well known as I wish and that are marvelous: Zeitoun and Haroun.

    Here's my Top Ten post for this week: Top Ten Underappreciated Books
    And don't forget to stop in and sign up to win in the Readerbuzz August Giveaway!

  7. I really need to read Zeitoun. I keep seeing it at the bookstore and then something distracts me and I don't pick it up. I will fix this soon!

  8. I had The Post Birthday World on my list as well. One of my favourite books

  9. Haroun and the Sea of Stories has been on my radar for a while now (and all the editions slook so lovely!). I was one of those readers who was disappointed with The Shadow of the Wind, but any story with that title gets my attention. Thanks for flagging!

  10. Alex: Do it!! Haroun is one of my all-time favourite books, never mind my favourite of Rushdie's collection. It's...magical. After that, read Luka and the Fire of Life.

    PS. Well, Shadow of the Wind is also one of my favourites. Hmmm. But maybe it depends on when you read it? I read it when it first came out and I hadn't heard anything about it. But it's been soooo highly touted that if you read it with extremely high expectations, it's possible you would then be disappointed...

  11. I'm completely with you on Franny and Zooey. I have a friend reading Salinger for the first time and they picked Catcher and don't love it. I'm begging her to try Nine Stories or Franny and Zooey before abandoning him.

    I also really loved Zeitoun, it's my favorite of Eggers' work. I need to read Post-Birthday. We Need to Tal About Kevin was amazing, but for some reason Post-Birthday has languished on my shelf for 2 years.

  12. Really want to read Franny and Zooey, just to see if any of Salingers work is actually good (or, more objectively, if I like any of it!)