25 Underrated Books to Add to Your Shelves, According to Avid Readers
Some books quickly capture the entire world's attention, while others need a little more help generating the buzz they deserve. Lucky for us, the voracious readers in our POPSUGAR Book Club offered up their favorite underrated reads, making those hidden gems a little easier to find. From fantastical sci-fi picks to steamy romance stories, check out 25 titles you might have missed on your reading lists, ahead. And before you get lost in one of these page-turners, don't forget to join the POPSUGAR Book Club, our community for book-lovers everywhere.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
"Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen ($20) is the best thriller I've read this year. The author is local to New Jersey, and I wouldn't have heard about it unless I saw it in a bookstore recently! It's a great nod to some of the state's history and Atlantic City as a whole." — Murphey M.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
"I keep bringing this one up, but my favorite read this year was King and the Dragonflies ($12). It is a middle school/older student book. King is a boy who questions his sexuality as he deals with other issues: racism, death in family, etc. It's [written] by Kacen Callender, a nonbinary author." — Laura C.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
"Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger ($15). Everyone raves about The Time Traveler's Wife, and that is a great book, but her second novel doesn't get enough love. Maybe the ghost aspect turns people off? I don't know, but I loved it." — Nancy T.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
"I recommend it everywhere, but I don't hear nearly enough people talking about The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland ($17). I feel like everyone should read it. It should be made into a movie and a TV series and get a million sequels." — Julia H.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
"Words in Deep Blue ($8). I'd never heard of it before I read it, nor have I heard anybody mention it since. It has a gorgeous cover and is so much deeper than I ever expected when I picked it up. It devastated me when I read it (in a good way.)" — Jennifer H.
As Many Nows As I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl
"As Many Nows As I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl ($15). It is one of the most heartbreaking and honest depictions of the interior lives of academically driven students, drug abuse, adoption, and grief that I've ever read." — Tricia C.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
"Dark Matter by Michelle Paver ($13)! This is a wonderful ghost story that I feel has been buried under talk about Blake Crouch's novel of the same name. But I've never seen better for a sense of dread, some truly scary moments, a character study (well-told through a journal format), and last but not least, a really great dog! (The audio version is also dynamite!)" — Christine L.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
"The Neverending Story ($9). Most people only know about the movie, which is vastly altered from the original novel. It's a wonderful fantasy story that goes way beyond the fantastical elements and is more about the power of stories and friendship." — Hayley C.
Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories
"I've recommended Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories ($17) to anyone I can. With one exception, all of the writers are First Nations authors. The stories are set in Nunavut and draw on Inuk folklore and folkways. I found the writing more atmospheric than 'horror.' The characters are engaging, and the settings are gorgeous and austere. This book made such an impression on me that I'm now learning Inuktitut!" — Lilith P.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
"Maus (parts one and two) by Art Spiegelman ($25). It's a graphic novel about the author's father's survival during World War II. Books about WWII seem to be a popular genre, and I would put this book at the top of the list with Elie Wiesel's Night. I read it about 15 years ago, and the way the author describes the train ride to the camp, along with the graphics, haunts me still to this day." — Hilary M.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
"Rebecca and Jamaica Inn hog the Daphne du Maurier limelight, and My Cousin Rachel ($29) gets largely ignored. And when people do talk about it, they just go back and forth about Rachel's guilt. But it's such a deep dive into gender roles and perspectives and so richly atmospheric that I don't understand why it gets almost no attention." — Christina P.
My Tender Matador by Pedro Lembell
"Okay, so I've never seen ANYONE talk about this book, and it's absolutely fantastic: My Tender Matador by Pedro Lemebel ($13). It's set during Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile and is about a young revolutionary who befriends an older gay man in order to use his flat for clandestine meetings. It's beautifully written and very touching!" — Rebecca J.
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
"The Universe Versus Alex Woods ($16) [is] highly, highly underrated — I've encountered about a half dozen people who also read it, and I've been recommending it all over for ages (all the others I talked to loved it as much as I did.) Absolutely amazing. One of those books that's impossible to explain without it sounding totally insane . . . 'Young English boy with psychic mother, who is the second person in history struck by a meteorite, has an inauspicious encounter with a disabled, pacifist American Vietnam veteran with a passion for Kurt Vonnegut, and eventually winds up detained at border security with an urn and a lot of pot.' There's no way it should work as a coherent story, and yet somehow it does, and it's relatable and dryly hilarious and incredibly poignant — the book handles some very heavy issues in a very mature way. A bildungsroman like nothing else I've ever read, or probably will ever read. Everyone should read this book, and it frustrates me immensely that so few people have." — Kylie M.
We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson
"I don't know about 'underrated' but to me, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ($14) is a work of absolute genius, and I am forever banging on to friends, acquaintances, and book clubbers about how good it is." — Lesley D.