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A book that has never been read before

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Have you ever come across a book that’s so energizingly rip-roaring, so envelopingly world-building, that you can’t believe you’ve never heard of it before—on a nightstand in an Airbnb, in a box of your mother’s college junk, on a shelf at a friend’s Bachelor viewing party—that you can’t believe you’ve never heard of it before? A book that you discovered was admired at the time but is now pushed to the side and forgotten, except by your closest reader-friends? These are the books in question. In this instance, what about your reader-friends? It’s a list of 21 of our favorite authors over the last few years. Sit back and listen to them pitch for the books on their shelves that are unjustly overlooked. I’ve been advocating for Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children for 20 years, describing it as the greatest family novel ever written and one of the greatest 20th-century novels of any kind, and waiting for even one person to tell me I’m wrong, as if it were a dream where I’m screaming at the top of my lungs and no one can hear me. I only run into individuals who had heard of it in Australia, where Stead was born and lived until she was 25. But I’ll say it again: The Man Who Loved Children has few parallels in global literature for psychological depth, memorable characterizations, vicious comedy, forceful prose, and trained insanity.

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