Each year the Guardian "asks publishers which books deserved a better reception, and which book they wish they'd bagged." The article acts as a nice round-up of the books that publishers think shouldn't have tanked and a way for them to pat other publishers on the back for books that were comparatively succesful.

Like other end of year round-ups, such lists help bring one's attention to two things: the books that one has missed along the way, of course, but also the astonishing fact that one has missed them! Books are my life. I work in publishing, I have a book blog, my friends are bookish. At the end of a working day, I read on the tube back home, get in, eat... and read. Yet still, each year, I seem to miss – or forget I've noticed – many good books along the way.

Part of my job is book marketing, so thinking about this problem, and what digital solutions there might be to it, is part of what I'll be up to in the coming year. If even bibliophiles are constantly missing books that they might love, how can publishers make sure their books aren't missed, and how can readers and bloggers make sure they don't miss them? (If you have any good ideas, use the comments box!)

Last year, I somehow managed to miss (or forget) that Michael Wood had written a book on Yeats (Yeats and Violence, OUP; reviewed in the New Statesman). Astonishingly, I also missed Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography by John A Hall (Verso). In my own end of year round-up, Lee Rourke brought my attention to Quilt by Nicholas Royle. And Rob Young's Electric Eden (Faber), published in August, only jumped into my consciousness right at the end of the year (to compensate, it is this month's book of the month; Rob has a blog – last updated 25th November – at

So, what did you miss!?

Readers Comments

  1. Lee's comment on Quilt reminded me that I had overlooked it too. I took a review copy earlier last year, and then it sank into the TBR piles until Lee tweeted about it. It's now *definitely* going to be my next read ... but one ... just as soon as I get through the ones on my bedside table first...

    I always enjoy the Guardian piece you refer to, though it didn't turn up any titles this year that I thought "wow, must read that!" - despite being promoted to a full page this time around...

  2. I would say that none of the books on The Guardian's list deserved to be published. Pointless literary mush. Is there even a market for that kind of drivel? The marketplace picked those losers correctly.

  3. John, you reminded me (on a Tweet) of Jenny Erpenbeck's work. Up my street, do you think? Philip, as far as quality goes, the market is rarely right!

  4. Yes I think so, Mark. Very Maclehose Press... I have her new one, Visitation, though haven't read it yet, as it's not so long since I read The Old Child/The Book of Words. I suspect it's the sort of thing that even if you don't like it, you'll still *like* it, if you know what I mean.

  5. Notice how Philip Hansen's contempt relies entirely on the market, as if this has anything to do with the books themselves. Perhaps he's "the horror and western" writer of the same name who has a website which has a category for "All things zombie". One doesn't need to notice the headline Nietzsche quotation to recognise a serious ressentiment at play.

  6. What are you talking about, Steve? Are you saying you don't itch to read 'Faith and a .45'?

    Oh I see.

  7. it is a hard one so many books so little coverage ,maybe a meme like friday reads where publishers promte underselling undercovered books ,fridayreads has grown on twitter .all the best stu

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