How to Read and Why (Reading List)

By Harold Bloom

The selections should not be interpreted as an exhaustive list of what to read, but rather as a sampling of works that illustrate why to read. (Preface to How to Read and Why, page 19)

Visit my Amazon store to purchase any of these works. Review all of my posts about HTR&W (to date) here.


Prologue: Why Read?

What is a Reader?

I. Short Stories

What is a short story?

  • Ivan Turgenev (thoughts here)
    • “Bezhin Lea”
    • “Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands”
  • Anton Chekhov (thoughts here and here)
    • “The Kiss”
    • “The Student”
    • “The Lady with the Dog”
  • Guy de Maupassant (thoughts here and here)
    • “Madame Tellier’s Establishment”
    • “The Horla”
  • Ernest Hemingway (thoughts here)
    • “Hills Like White Elephants”
    • “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”
    • “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
    • “A Sea Change”
  • Flannery O’Connor (thoughts here)
    • “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
    • “Good Country People”
    • “A View of the Woods”
  • Vladimir Nabokov (thoughts here)
    • “The Vane Sisters”
  • Jorge Luis Borges (thoughts here)
    • “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”
  • Tommaso Landolfi (thoughts here)
    • “Gogol’s Wife”
  • Italo Calvino (thoughts here)
    • Invisible Cities

Short stories retrospective

II. Poems

  • A. E. Housman (thoughts here)
    • “Into My Heart an Air That Kills”
  • William Blake
    • “The Sick Rose”
  • Walter Savage Landor
    • “On His Seventy-fifth Birthday”
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • “The Eagle”
    • “Ulysses”
  • Robert Browning
    • “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”
  • Walt Whitman
    • Song of Myself
  • Emily Dickinson
    • Poem 1260, “Because That You Are Going”
  • Emily Brontë
    • “Stanzas: Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning”
  • Popular Ballads
    • “Sir Patrick Spence”
    • “The Unquiet Grave”
  • Anonymous
    • “Tom O’Bedlam”
  • William Shakespeare
    • Sonnet 121, “‘Tis Better to Be Vile Than Vile Esteemed”
    • Sonnet 129, “Th’ Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame”
    • Sonnet 144, “Two Loves I Have, of Comfort and Despair”
  • John Milton (thoughts here)
    • Paradise Lost
  • William Wordsworth
    • “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”
    • “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
    • The Triumph of Life
  • John Keats
    • “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

III. Novels, Part I

  • Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote
  • Stendhal: The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Jane Austen: Emma
  • Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment (thoughts here)
  • Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady
  • Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
  • Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain

IV. Plays

  • William Shakespeare: Hamlet
  • Henrik Ibsen: Hedda Gabler
  • Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

V. Novels, Part II

  • Herman Melville: Moby-Dick
  • William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
  • Nathanael West: Miss Lonelyhearts
  • Thomas Pynchon: The Crying of Lot
  • Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian
  • Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
  • Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon

I’m reading these as a personal challenge. Do you want to join me?

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