Harold Bloom's list of books that can teach you to read well.

Harold Bloom in How to Read and Why sets out the following list of books, books which he believes have the power to instill in one a life-long love of aesthetically and intellectually great literature.





Short Stories

  • Ivan Turgenev "Bezhin Lea" and "Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands."

  • Anton Chekhov "The Kiss" and "The Student" and "The Lady with the Dog"

  • Guy de Maupassant "Madame Tellier's Establishment" and "The Horla"

  • Ernest Hemingway "Hill Like White Elephants" and "God Rest You Merry, Gentleman" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "A Sea Change"

  • Flannery O'Connor "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "Good Country People" and "A View of the Woods"

  • Vladimir Nabokov's "The Vane Sisters"

  • Jorge Luis Borges "Tlon, Ugbar, Orbis Tertius"

  • Tommaso Landolfi "Gogol's Wife"

  • Italo Calvino "Invisible Cities"


  • A. E. Housman "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" and "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 Bronte "Stanzas: Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning"

  • Popular Ballads "Sir Patrick Spence" and "The Unquiet Grave"

  • Anonymous "Tom O'Bedlam"

  • Shakespeare's "Sonnet 121 - Tis Better to Be Vil Than Vile Esteemed" and "Sonnet 129 - The Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame" and "Sonnet 144 - Two Loves I have, of Comfort and Despair"

  • John Milton "Paradise Lost"

  • William Wordsworth "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" and "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"

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"

  • Henry James "The Portrait of a Lady"

  • Marcel Proust "In Search of Lost Time"

  • Thomas Mann "The Magic Mountain"


  • Shakespeare "Hamlet"

  • Henrik Ibsen "Hedda Gabler"

  • Oscar Wilde "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Novels - Part II

  • Herman Melville "Moby Dick"

  • William Faulkner "As I Lay Dying"

  • Nathanael West "Miss Lonelyhearts"

  • Thomas Pynchon "The Crying of Lot 49"

  • Cormac McCarthy "Blood Meridian"

  • Ralph Ellison "Invisible Man"

  • Toni Morrison "Song of Solomon"