Great but Lesser-Known Books


Almost every great author has a book that remains in the shadows

Emily Stocksdale, Staff Writer

There is nothing better than sitting down to read a favorite book.  Within books lie an infinite range of possibilities, and with so many novels to choose from, it is easy to understand why people tend to stick to the works of more recognizable authors.  Many of the writers we recognize, whether from reading their books or watching movies based on their novels, also wrote lesser-known pieces.  Ironically, these unfamiliar books are arguably some of the best works written by these famous authors.

Even if you don’t recognize the name L. Frank Baum, you are likely familiar with at least one of his books.  The Wizard of Oz is a classic children’s story, namely due to the movies that have been made based on his stories.  You may even know that he wrote a whole series of books, talking about events happening in the Land of Oz, including some pretty interesting tales of a clock named Tic Toc, evil gnomes, and an island of pearls.  Baum was a very successful author, writing over fifty novels, eighty short stories, and at least a dozen plays.  While The Wizard of Oz may be the most recognizable of his work, the worth of such novels as Sky Island and Rinkitink cannot be underestimated.

Other well-known children’s authors also branched out from their usual genres once in a while.  Roald Dahl, author of books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG, also wrote several short stories, among them A Lamb to the Slaughter.  This story, while certainly not written for children, still provides an interesting alternative to the usual writings of the time.  Another author who strayed from his typical style was A. A. Milne, who wrote the Winnie the Pooh stories.  He too wrote novels for adults, including The Red House Mystery, a sort of “locked-room” murder mystery with an unusual twist.  Both stories are worth a spared glance.

Speaking of mystery stories, the character Sherlock Holmes has been gaining popularity in recent years, likely because of the multiple television shows which have been produced about him.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the original Holmes mysteries, was also a British physician and “wild west” enthusiast.  In his spare time, he drafted many books which were completely unrelated to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, including The Lost World and Micah Clark.  He also devoted several books to proving fairies and other supernatural phenomena really exist, interestingly enough.

All for one, and one for all! In all likelihood, you have heard of the Three Musketeers.  Alexander Dumas wrote several books that people are forced to read in school, among them The Count of Monte Cristo.  These two books do not make up the complete collection of Dumas’ works.  He also created such novels as The Black Tulip and Ten Years Later.  If you enjoyed his more popular books, you may consider giving these other novels a try.

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, also wrote Pierre (The Ambiguities), which may be a bit easier to swallow since it does not include so many whaling terms.  Virginia Woolf, who is most famous for her book Wuthering Heights, wrote a book called The Voyage Out as well.  From George Orwell to Jane Austin, William Faulkner to Louisa May Alcott, almost every great author has a book that remains in the shadows, even after other books they published have gained popularity.  Whether the book was their first, written on a less popular subject, or not part of their usual genre, these novels can still measure up or prove even better than their more famous counterparts.