Daniel Handler knows you don’t have enough for every book you read to be Les Misérables, so the writer compiled a list of his favorite short underrated books. See what he recommends below:
J.G. Ballard, Running Wild: “A pack of children attack and terrorize a gated community. This is why I don’t live in the suburbs.”
Muriel Spark, Not To Disturb: “Servants gather outside a locked door to make sure a murder goes smoothly. My favorite episode of Downton Abbey that sadly does not exist.”
Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in High School: “Remember that girl in high school who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Tangiers? Well, she took notes.”
Michael Tolkin, Under Radar: “This moody and tangled book is by the author of The Player and has a witch in the first sentence who never shows up again. If that’s not enough for you, you should rethink your priorities.”
J.P. Donleavy, The Lady Who Liked Clean Restrooms: “There aren’t a lot of great happy books but this is one of them. We all know — don’t we? — that anything can happen, but this is a goofy and somewhat tear-jerky reminder. Also it is a reminder to attend more funerals.”
Danielle Dutton, Attempts at A Life: “Indescribably beautiful, also indescribable. In fact, I’m not quite sure what this book’s about, really. Read it; remind yourself that comprehending things all the time is really boring.”
Ali Liebegott, The Beautifully Worthless: “A past-the-speed-limit blur of fast food, weird caves, a wary dog, and ‘the click-clack of sadness.’ In my head, this is the road book everybody knows, instead of what’s-his-name, Kerouac.”
Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child: Very good novel, very bad baby shower gift. Read it, shudder, and then go to YouTube and watch Lessing hearing she won the Nobel Prize and wonder why you’ll never be that cool.
A.T. Grant, Collected Alex: You probably don’t remember that time your parents gave you a corpse, but after reading this book you will swear you do.
Chris Adrian, The Children’s Hospital: OK, this is actually a very long novel. But it’s a wonderful dystopian medical drama with a weird magic-powers twist midway through, really stupendous and hilarious and sad. Why hasn’t this been adapted into something we can all binge-watch? What’s up with you Netflix?
For more criminally underrated entertainment, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.