6 Great Books Initially Underappreciated

This week sees the latest instalment in my popular famous book series. The following 6 books are presented in the order in which they were published.


Walden by Henry David Thoreau Walden

First published in 1854, Walden is about Thoreau’s time living in a cabin that he built in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. Life in the Woods (Walden’s original name) only sold 2,000 copies in its first 5 years. However this manual for self-reliance went on to become extremely popular. The emergence of the environmental movement is undoubtedly one reason for Walden’s belated success.


The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz KafkaThe Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is about a man who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. It was first published in a literary magazine in 1915, 9 years before its author’s death. The story did not garner much interest. Today The Metamorphosis is regarded as one of the most important works of fiction of the 20th Century.

Click here to read my review.


Moby-Dick by Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick

The story follows the quest to exact revenge on a white whale, who had previously destroyed Captain Ahab’s ship. Moby-Dick was something of a disaster for its author. The book was lambasted by most reviewers and sold merely a few copies. When it was published in England, a mistake led to the epilogue being omitted. Moby-Dick became popular during the Melville revival of the early 20th Century.


Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyBrave New World

When Brave New World was published in 1932 most critics disliked Huxley’s dystopian view of the future. Even fellow author and futurist H.G. Wells was critical of the book. The bad press resulted in only a few thousand copies initially being sold in America. Brave New World was ranked 5th in Modern Library’s 1999 list of the best English-language novels of the 20th Century.


Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies

This dystopian novel is about a group of boys stranded on a deserted island, who attempt to govern themselves. Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times before Faber and Faber accepted it. The book sold only about 3,000 copies in the United States before going out of print. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.


The Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath

Set during the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath is about a poor family from Oklahoma, who trek to California to start a new life. People were so outraged at its controversial depiction of the poor that the book was banned and even burned in Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas. The Grapes of Wrath went on to win a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. In 1962 its author won the Nobel Prize.


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