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Books of the year features can seem pretty pointless, ladling hype on books that have already been fulsomely praised. In order to elicit livelier responses, Prospect asked a range of contributors to nominate their “most overrated and underrated books of 2006.” Some interpreted the words “of 2006” to mean “read by me in 2006,” and chose books written in previous years. In a way, they had a point—why bother with new stuff when there are so many older (and often better) books out there? Others ignored any notion of a critical consensus and simply chose books they liked or disliked—hence…

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