Gone with the Wind, The Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird might initially seem to share nothing, but there is a significant common thread that runs through all three of them: their authors only wrote one book. Yep, that’s right. Margaret Mitchell, J.D. Salinger, and Harper Lee contributed greatly to society, but they are rarities in the grand pool of authors out there.
For most, even if they have one book or series that is well known, they have at least a handful of other published works – be they novels, short stories, or poems – under their belts.
For those authors that are mostly known for one thing though, their other works can get swept under the rug, even if they are worth a read. Below are three less-known books by well-known authors that, while they might not be as golden as the famous ones, should definitely not be forgotten.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Everyone knows and most have read The Book Thief. For most of those who haven’t, someone at some point in their lives has told them they should. And they’re correct. I adore The Book Thief, and I think it’s a book that everyone should read, but Markus Zusak has another little gem that no one discusses.
I Am the Messenger is a book about people. I’ll admit, it’s so different from The Book Thief that I was initially surprised to find out they were written by the same man. I Am the Messenger takes place in the present day, it is in the first person with a human narrator, and it does not take place in the middle of a war, but it is just so real.
Ed Kennedy, our protagonist, is a 19-year-old cab driver who feels like he has no purpose in his life until an ace of diamonds comes in the mail with three addresses written on it. This starts Ed on a mission to help the people of his area, but he doesn’t know who his mission is coming from.
I Am the Messenger is a story about real people going through real problems and how one small thing can almost change a life. No one talks about the small things anymore. Apparently, if you don’t save the world, you’re not worth much. But this book flies in the face of that logic (thank goodness!). Maybe that’s why I like it so much….
“Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”
-Markus Zusak, I am the Messenger
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is best known for Fahrenheit 451, but that’s not the first Bradbury I read. Though I like Fahrenheit 451 and have read other Bradbury works, my favorite is one that no one ever talks about. No one but my seventh grade English teacher, who wouldn’t shut up about it no matter how hard you tried to make him.
While Fahrenheit 451 is about the dangers of the media and society, one of Bradbury’s least known books that doesn’t even appear in the mini-bio at the top of his Wikipedia page, Something Wicked This Way Comes, covers a very different theme.
Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade have lived next to each other and been best friends for their entire lives, ever since they were born one minute apart – Will the minute before midnight on October 30 and Jim the minute after midnight on October 31. They are both intrigued by a circus that comes to town, but they quickly realize that this circus might not be all that it seems.
I’ll be honest; this book is weird. But weird can still be beautiful in its own bizarre way. The language is beautiful and the themes are interesting and well-handled. After all, not every author can write a book centering on two thirteen-year-old boys about aging and death and still make it work.
“Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before death is what counts.”
-Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, stop, go read that, then come back.
Everyone back? Good.
Ender’s Game is both beautiful and tragic, one of my favorite sci-fi novels of all time. But Ender’s Shadow is a close second. It’s not technically a part of the original series, so it often gets passed over, but in Ender’s Shadow, we get to experience the inner-most thoughts of the smartest character in the whole series: Bean.
This book retells Ender’s Game through a new set of eyes. There’s enough new material that it doesn’t feel like the same story, but it also adds more depth to the original tragedy. Bean is wicked smart, and he figures things out way quicker than anyone ever expected from a kid on the streets. But he was a vital member of Ender’s crew, and this book proves that point inevitably.
“I saw, I wrote, and the world changed a little.”
-Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Shadow
What are some books YOU know by well-known authors that are underappreciated? Leave a comment below!