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Neglected Books

September 27, 2007

One of the areas where The Reader magazine excels is in looking again at writing that would otherwise get lost in the flood of bestsellers and prizewinners and shortlists. Not neglected books exactly, but things you might have read and haven’t had time to revisit, or things you might never have read had someone not said: ‘Read this. It’s terrific.’ The Reader magazine’s core purpose is to allow great writing and great writers to bob back to the surface. As editor Philip Davis puts it, ‘it is a magazine concerned with the direct effect of books on readers, with the human content and purpose of literature.’

Taking this a little further is the website The Neglected Books Page, which uncovers literary gems that have been hidden in some cases almost from the date of their publication. Site editor Brad Bigelow, who is an IT project manager for NATO by day, says:

Back when I was an undergraduate, I spent many hours wandering through the shelves of the university’s libraries, pulling down anything that seemed interesting. This is how I stumbled across W.V. Tilsley’s Other Ranks, for example, which tends to be the first book I name when asked for an unjustly neglected work. Over the years, I’ve collected books and lists on the subject, such as David Madden’s Rediscoveries series, and I finally decided to create the site about 18 months ago.

In those 18 months the site has accumulated a large volume of material, all painstakingly referenced and annotated with extracts from contemporary reviews. The great thing about it is that it is browsable and serendipitous, just like those library shelves. Here’s the link to Neglected Books again.

Posted by Chris Routledge

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