An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge


Ambrose Bierce - 1890
    A noose is tied around his neck. In a moment he will meet his fate: DEATH BY HANGING. There is no escape. Or is there? Find out in . . . An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

The Fall of the House of Usher


Edgar Allan Poe - 1839
    "The Fall .. " recounts the terrible events that befall the last remaining members of the once-illustrious Usher clan before it is -- quite literally -- rent asunder. With amazing economy, Poe plunges the reader into a state of deliciously agonizing suspense. It's a must-read for fans of the golden era of horror writing. "The Fall .." is one of Poe's best known short stories - if not the best.Librarian's note: this entry is for the story, "The Fall of the House of Usher." It is one of several collected into book form under the same name. Collections of short stories by the author, such as "The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales," can be found elsewhere on Goodreads.

Benito Cereno


Herman Melville - 1855
    Capt. Delano boards the San Dominick, providing needed supplies, and tries to learn from her aloof and disturbed captain, Benito Cereno, the story of how this ship came to be where she is. Dealing with racism, the slave trade, madness, the tension between representation and reality, and featuring at least one unreliable narrator, Melville's novella has both captivated and frustrated critics for decades.

The Yellow Wall-Paper


Charlotte Perkins Gilman - 1892
    This chilling account of postpartum depression and a husband's controlling behavior in the guise of treatment will leave you breathless.

A Rose for Emily and Other Stories


William Faulkner - 1930
    Emily is a member of a family in the antebellum Southern aristocracy; after the Civil War, the family has fallen on hard times.

McTeague


Frank Norris - 1899
    I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn't like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth," declared Frank Norris, shortly before his death at the age of thirty-two. Of his novels, none have shocked the reading public more than McTeague, and few works since have captured the seamy side of American urban life with such graphic immediacy as does this portrayal of human degradation in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Its protagonists, men and women alike, are shown as both products and victims of a debasing social order. Heredity and environment play the role of fate in a tale that moves toward its harrowing conclusion with the grim power and inevitablity of classic tragedy.

Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist


Charles Brockden Brown - 1798
    In the fragmentary sequel, Memoirs, Brown explores Carwin’s bizarre history as a manipulated disciple of the charismatic utopian Ludloe.

The Rise of Silas Lapham


William Dean Howells - 1885
    William Dean Howells' richly humorous characterization of a self-made millionaire in Boston society provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age.After establishing a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston, where they awkwardly attempt to break into Brahmin society.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets


Stephen Crane - 1893
    Considered at the time to be immature, it was a failure. Since that time it has come to be considered one of the earliest American realistic novels. Maggie is the story of a pretty child of the Bowery which is written with the same intensity and vivid scenes of his masterpiece -- The Red Badge of Courage. In her short life, Maggie "blossomed in a mud puddle", was driven to prostitution, and died by her own hand while still a teenager.Crane, who worked as a free lance reporter, was in many ways addicted to the low life of the cities. He died at the age of 29.

Daisy Miller


Henry James - 1878
    The young Daisy Miller, an American on holiday with her mother on the shores of Switzerland’s Lac Leman, is one of James’s most vivid and tragic characters. Daisy’s friendship with an American gentleman, Mr. Winterbourne, and her subsequent infatuation with a passionate but impoverished Italian bring to life the great Jamesian themes of Americans abroad, innocence versus experience, and the grip of fate. As Elizabeth Hardwick writes in her Introduction, Daisy Miller “lives on, a figure out of literature who has entered history as a name, a vision.”

The Devil and Tom Walker


Washington Irving - 1824
    The story is very similar to that of the ancient German legend of Faust.

Desiree's Baby


Kate Chopin - 1893
    Today she is considered a forerunner of the feminist authors of the 20th century. This powerful little story concerns a Southern gentleman who disowns his wife because he fears she has "negro" blood. The truth makes for a dramatic ending.

The Vampyre: A Tale


John William Polidori - 1819
    A young English gentleman of means, Aubrey is immediately intrigued by Lord Ruthven, the mysterious newcomer among society’s elite. His unknown origin and curious behavior tantalizes Aubrey’s imagination. But the young man soon discovers a sinister character hidden behind his new friend’s glamorous facade.   When the two are set upon by bandits while traveling together in Europe, Ruthven is fatally injured. Before drawing his last breath, he makes the odd request that Aubrey keep his death and crimes secret for a year and a day. But when Ruthven resurfaces in London—making overtures toward Aubrey’s sister—Aubrey realizes this immortal fiend is a vampyre.   John William Polidori’s The Vampyre is both a classic tale of gothic horror and the progenitor of the modern romantic vampire myth that has been fodder for artists ranging from Anne Rice to Alan Ball to Francis Ford Coppola. Originally published in 1819, many decades before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and misattributed to Polidori’s friend Lord Byron, The Vampyre has kept readers up at night for nearly two hundred years.

A Lost Lady


Willa Cather - 1923
    She draws her strength from that solid foundation, bringing delight and beauty to her elderly husband, to the small town of Sweet Water where they live, to the prairie land itself, and to the young narrator of her story, Neil Herbert. All are bewitched by her brilliance and grace, and all are ultimately betrayed. For Marian longs for "life on any terms," and in fulfilling herself, she loses all she loved and all who loved her. This, Willa Cather's most perfect novel, is not only a portrait of a troubling beauty, but also a haunting evocation of a noble age slipping irrevocably into the past.

The Monk


Matthew Gregory Lewis - 1796
    doomed to perish in tortures the most severe'Shocking, erotic and violent, The Monk is the story of Ambrosio, torn between his spiritual vows and the temptations of physical pleasure. His internal battle leads to sexual obsession, rape and murder, yet this book also contains knowing parody of its own excesses as well as social comedy. Written by Matthew Lewis when he was only nineteen, it was a ground-breaking novel in the Gothic Horror genre and spawned hundreds of imitators, drawn in by its mixture of bloodshed, sex and scandal.