Tag Archives: Henry James

Books and literature for recommended reading

The Gap List

The concept of the Gap List came from a conversation I had with a colleague. I said, “Have you read [some classic]?” To which she replied, “It’s one of my gaps.” We then talked about the books we intended to read but hadn’t gotten around to yet. Many years later, I found myself in a bookstore trying to remember any of the titles on my mental list of need-to-read novels and came up blank. Again.

So I sat down to compile a list. I still couldn’t remember more than a handful of obvious titles–the optional Austens, The House of Seven Gables, Boswell’s Life of Johnson. And a couple that I have had a hard time finding in bookstores: New Grub Street and Pedro Paramo. I knew there were about a million others, but I needed help. So I looked up other people’s top 100 lists and gleaned my own list of must-reads.

I wish I still had the original list, but I used to delete titles as I read them. The winnowed list is below. I keep it handy for when I find myself at a book store or used book sale or thrift shop. These are books that come highly recommended by somebody for some reason, but many of them are fairly obscure and hard to find. (Let me here Continue reading

The Turn of the Screw
Or, Mary Poppins in Collinwood

Why Do I Have to Read This?

Mary Poppins Collinwood Turn of the ScrewGoverness on the edge. Depraved ghosts, corrupted children. Great title admonishing us all for our perversity. What is not to like here? This is the touchstone of horror narrative. Yes, the sentences are sometimes long twisty things with oh-and-by-the-ways nested in them, but believe me, Henry James was just getting warmed up. His long novels have sentences so extended and convoluted you may need someone else to read for you while you go out and get a sandwich—you’ll have time to get back before the Continue reading