Bringing Books Back From the Dead

Bringing Books Back From the Dead

Bringing Books Back From the Dead

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
June 25 2010 10:37 AM

Bringing Books Back From the Dead

There are more than 200,000 book titles published annually in the United States alone; a small number of those get reviewed in mainstream publications, and a still smaller slice makes it onto a significant number of bookshelves. Even those that initially strike a chord are often quickly forgotten. Sometimes that’s a reflection of quality, and sometimes it’s a product of chance. The Neglected Books Page seeks to rescue the worthiest of those titles from dusty oblivion. Drawing on resources like the American Scholar’s 1950 list of "the most neglected books of the past 25 years ," a 1934 New Republic list of " Good books no one has read ," and Doris Lessings’ off-the-beaten track list of influential books , the site has compiled an extensive archive of books to hunt for the next time you’re in a used bookstore or bored with Amazon’s suggested titles. Individual titles are also given the full recap treatment in occasional blog posts. (Not every so-called neglected treasure is deemed worthy of resuscitation— see the "Justly Neglected" tag .) Perhaps your interest will be piqued by The Very Strange and Exact Truth , for instance, which came out in 1964 to fine reviews, and is described as a dark, Edward Albee-approved coming-of-age novel. Or there’s Unfinished Business , a firsthand account of the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference that won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize, and which you’ve probably never heard of. (1946’s winner, The Age of Jackson , became a classic.) Seeing which books we’ve forgotten can be as instructive, in its own way, as reading one that we haven’t.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.