There are some books that become culturally inescapable. Whether they attain classic status and get taught in schools, become the source material for a hit mini-series, or catch the notice of the folks on BookTok, there's a sense with some books that if you haven't read it, you're planning on reading it, and if you're not planning on reading it, you've at least heard of it. (Or already own a copy that you're going to start soon, you swear.)
That kind of ubiquity is rare, but one of its benefits is that when you finish one of those books, there's a community of other readers there to talk to about it, whether that means swapping theories or commiserating over a sad ending. But sometimes, you finish a book and you ask everyone you talk to, "Holy shit, have you read this thing I loved and want to discuss further?" And the answer keeps on being, "Nope, never heard of it!" It's a discouraging experience, but an extremely common one, if you trust the thousands of responses received by Redditor u/Euthanaught, who asked the bibliophiles of r/books, "What's your favorite book of all time that no one has ever heard of?"
Here are 18 of the books that readers adore and want more people to know about.
Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.
1. "All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. It's a beautiful short story that I picked up off the shelf and stood there until I was about to miss my train. I bought it, ran for my train, and finished it before I got home. It's a wonderful world where lots of people have a strange and unique superpower. Our main character has no such power but on his wedding to a woman who can make anything perfect her ex uses his power of suggestion to make her new husband invisible to her. The book is his desperate attempt to break this curse before she gives up on her husband and makes a new life without him 'perfect' by forgetting him completely. It's strange and it's wonderful and I love it."
2. "Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence. First published in 1985, it tells the story of nuclear armageddon from the perspective of a small family in Gloucester. It splits the story into three parts a few decades apart: the first dealing with the initial holocaust, the second with the intermediary societies that emerge as nuclear winter starts to subside, and the third with the final resulting society as humans in Britain learn to adapt to the new world."
"Now, it's not the best written book ever, with simple language, some odd themes, and some pretty on-the-nose messaging about the folly of nuclear war, modern societal ills, and religion, but it's really good at its mode of storytelling and I think about some parts of its story pretty regularly. It's short and simple, but has some surprising depth to it."