22 Books F. Scott Fitzgerald Thought Everyone Should Read

Posted by Hayley on September 24, 2015
Four years before he died, F. Scott Fitzgerald found himself at a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, under the care of a nurse named Dorothy Richardson. He was unhealthy, in debt, and depressed. Ordinary men might have turned inward and submitted to self-pity; Fitzgerald turned outward. After careful deliberation, he gave his nurse a list of 22 titles. "These are books that Scott thought should be required reading," Richardson relayed later.

His list blends the familiar and the obscure (with an almost gleeful disregard for several literary giants), and we bet few readers have made it through the whole thing. How many have you read?

Sister Carrie
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The Life of Jesus
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A Doll's House
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Winesburg, Ohio
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The Old Wive's Tale
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The Maltese Falcon
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The Red and the Black
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The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant
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An Outline of Abnormal Psychology
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The Stories of Anton Chekhov
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The Best American Humorous Short Stories
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Victory
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The Revolt of the Angels
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The Plays of Oscar Wilde
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Sanctuary
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Within a Budding Grove
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The Guermantes Way
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Swann's Way
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South Wind
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The Garden Party
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War and Peace
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The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley
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Do you agree with Fitzgerald's "required" reading list? Which books do you think had the most influence on his own writing?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 81 (81 new)


message 1: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I'm currently working on sitting down with Swann's Way.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan I don't know why I'm so surprised he read so much Proust. As far as 'influences' go, for him... Hmm. Chekhov, Faulkner, & Wilde, perhaps?


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan Cindy wrote: "I'm currently working on sitting down with Swann's Way."

Cindy-- I attempted that--- whooo boy! Yay for you, and I'd love to know what you thought. (I'm summarily impressed!)


message 4: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalamaras I never was a big Proust fan. I tried, god knows, but I really never got that into him. Others Chekov, Faulkner, even Dashill Hammet were preferable to Marcel!


message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria meh thanks for the advice Scott, but there's enough white dude recommending what we should read. Now if zelda had a list that may be slightly more interesting


message 6: by Isabella (new)

Isabella Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the book was published?

(Also, I 100% Agree with you, Maria :P)


message 7: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Sep 24, 2015 09:29AM) (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Isabella wrote: "Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the book was published?

(Also, I ..."


Hahaha! I was going to mention about that! The picture (now anyway) is of the wonderful Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party & other short stories. I'm not much of a short story reader but I love her work.

Edit; I have reported in GR's Feedback Group.


message 8: by Becky (last edited Sep 24, 2015 09:39AM) (new)

Becky Isabella wrote: "Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the book was published?"


I don't see The Handmaid's Tale listed... I see The Old Wives' Tale.

Edit - ahhh, I see. It's showing The Garden Party, but is linked to Handmaid's Tale. Weird.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Becky wrote: "Edit - ahhh, I see. It's showing The Garden Party, but is linked to Handmaid's Tale. Weird.

It's been fixed now.

I love Mansfield, even though normally I'm not one for short stories.


message 10: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Maria wrote: "meh thanks for the advice Scott, but there's enough white dude recommending what we should read. Now if zelda had a list that may be slightly more interesting"

Forgive me, but to what Zelda do you refer? I only know of one, and she is of the Princess variety...

On another note, I actually have The Maltese Falcon on my shelf right now. Might have to move this one further up my stack!


message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalamaras Erma wrote: "Maria wrote: "meh thanks for the advice Scott, but there's enough white dude recommending what we should read. Now if zelda had a list that may be slightly more interesting"

Forgive me, but to wha..."


Maltese Falcon so worth it. Absolutely fun read.


message 12: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Maria wrote: "meh thanks for the advice Scott, but there's enough white dude recommending what we should read. Now if zelda had a list that may be slightly more interesting"

I'm pretty sure they posted this list today since today is FSF's birthday.


message 13: by Janie (new)

Janie Zelda was a novelist - wife of F Scott Fitzgerald


message 14: by A. (last edited Sep 24, 2015 10:27AM) (new)

A.  J. Maria wrote: "meh thanks for the advice Scott, but there's enough white dude recommending what we should read. Now if zelda had a list that may be slightly more interesting"

Maria, could I ask you, what is the nature of this comment? I mean sure, there has been oppression - in some places there still is. But is that really a reason to go around and write these kinds of comments? Why can't you judge a person by their character rather than their skin colour? Pray tell, for I don't understand. After all, is this statement not a form of racism?


message 15: by Jaycie (new)

Jaycie Letters written by F. Scott Fitzgerald provide many other recommendations as well as the context of why he recommends a particular book. Reading about books he suggested to his daughter and why she should read them was fascinating and sometimes funny.


message 16: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalamaras may I ask all of you a favor?


message 17: by Ella (new)

Ella Wagemakers Isabella wrote: "Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the book was published?

(Also, I ..."


I don't see Tje Handmaid's Tale on the list


message 18: by Lily (new)

Lily Ella wrote: "...I don't see The Handmaid's Tale on the list ..."

Check out msgs 8 & 9, Ella. Apparently there was some bug that has been fixed. (My guess: selecting "The Garden Party" linked to "The Handmaid's Tale," but that's only a guess. Seems to have been fixed, whatever it was.)


message 19: by Erin (new)

Erin Ella wrote: "Isabella wrote: "Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the book was publ..."


I think you misread the title, The Old Wives' Tale?


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ The mistake with the link has been corrected. Here is the thread in Goodreads Feedback where I reported that the Garden Party was wrongly linked with the Handmaids Tale.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 21: by Betsy (new)

Betsy I certainly agree with WAR and PEACE.


message 22: by Mary (last edited Sep 24, 2015 02:20PM) (new)

Mary Sisney I'm surprised that he didn't include at least one Edith Wharton novel, maybe HOUSE OF MIRTH. He should have also mentioned T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," and not just VICTORY but other Conrad novels, such as LORD JIM and HEART OF DARKNESS. But I'm not surprised that he didn't mention the book that I argue (including in my memoir and two posts on my Goodreads blog) was one of his primary influences--James Weldon Johnson's AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLOURED MAN. I noticed that Maureen Corrigan, author of SO WE READ ON, a book focused on GREAT GATSBY, did not incorporate my ideas in the paperback version of her book. I wrote her a letter, encouraging her to investigate the Johnson connection; she never responded. But my English major students and colleagues all agree (some reluctantly) that I have made a compelling case, using specific parallel passages, that Fitzgerald was revising Johnson's 1912 novel when he wrote GREAT GATSBY in 1925.


message 23: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Janie wrote: "Zelda was a novelist - wife of F Scott Fitzgerald"

Ah! Thank you!

I love lists like these, because I actually learn more about the authors I read from. Oftentimes their stories are as rich as the ones they wrote!


message 24: by Alma Q (last edited Sep 25, 2015 07:24AM) (new)

Alma Q Inkweaver wrote: "Maria, could I ask you, what is the nature of this comment? I mean sure, there has been oppression - in some places there still is. But is that really a reason to go around and write these kinds of comments? Why can't you judge a person by their character rather than their skin colour? Pray tell, for I don't understand. After all, is this statement not a form of racism?"

Okay, I'll take the bait.

I believe Maria just meant to point out that as white male authors dominate the entire literary field, their PoV is already disproportionately represented. List compiled by/about people outside of that group of people are considerably harder to find.

And yes, since this is historically caused by oppression, it still pissess a lot of people off. At least in modern times, an effort could be made give previously ignored voices their share of attention instead of simply continuing to toot the privileged authors' horn, so to speak - they have done quite enough of that themselves. ;p

That doesn't make it racism. It's not oppression or an attempt to erase their achievements from the face of earth. It's just wanting to finally give non-white, non-male authors the attention they, too, deserve - despite millennials of racism, misogyny, and oppression that has left their voices largely unheard.

(BTW, nothing against white male authors. Obviously many of them are great, influential writers and knowing the their work is, by and large, required if one wishes to be well-versed in literature, or indeed in any other field. I also don't despise this particular list - it just doesn't excite me, either.)

Just a little someting to think about. Well, maybe next time...

(edit: late-night typos. Wow, this thread has taken quite the a for the worse since...)


message 25: by Emma Ruth (new)

Emma Ruth I've only read one of these (A Doll's House) and hated it, so I probably won't be jumping on this list anytime soon.


Ertica*~She'sABookBirdy~*Castley The plays of oscar wilde by oscar wilde seems interesting


message 27: by Susan (last edited Sep 24, 2015 09:30PM) (new)

Susan F.P. wrote: "What a shocker: a best-of list that’s an almost-all-male revue. Gee, I see best-of and must-read lists like this only every five minutes for the classics and for most every genre except for romance..."

Wow. you wrote an essay. TL,DR: Someone is alllllll upset about... something they needn't be upset about. Whoooo Boy. THE END.


message 28: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Kelley How tedious. I clicked on this to read a great writer's reading list and instead read some Cultural Marxists checking this dead guy's privilege. Gutsy.


message 29: by Ella (new)

Ella Wagemakers Erin wrote: "Ella wrote: "Isabella wrote: "Wait, didn't he die in 1940? And wasn't The Handmaid's Tale first published in the 80's??????

How could he recommend this one if he died long before the ..."


Thanks! I think there was an auto-correct somewhere with the other person's message.


message 30: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai Those kind of lists always make me wonder and the higher the personality writing it the funnier. Tastes are really a very intimate thing.


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul No Austen, no Eliot, only one female in the list. No non-European/north Americans; need I go on!


message 32: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Paul wrote: "No Austen, no Eliot, only one female in the list. No non-European/north Americans; need I go on!"

Who would your "non-European/north Americans" be?


message 33: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (sigh) Some people really know how to take the fun out of everything. Ahhh, to have lived in a pre-PC world....


message 34: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Betsy wrote: "I certainly agree with WAR and PEACE."

I hope one day I can finish that. I started reading it a few weeks ago. I'm not hurrying, I'm taking my time. Once I get pass a lot of the footnotes and French translation, I think it will be good.


message 35: by Susan (last edited Sep 25, 2015 06:41AM) (new)

Susan The person with the long posts? and response rants? Who are you? 'F.P'? Honestly-- you seem to be posting your own personal agenda, and that's annoying. All about feminism, and god knows what else. You cite: Logic 101. Well, dear-- imho, 'Logic 101' would be to comment regarding the gosh darn CONTENT-- IE: stick to the question asked of you-- "which authors do YOU think influenced F. Scott Fitzgerald?" NOT: "Hey! here's your opportunity to freak out about being butt hurt that women are under-represented in the canon of literature." Anyone with an ounce of a brain understands that indeed, that is factually true-- however, that was NOT the question being posed, nor was it the focus. But hey! Sure! Hijack a post about F Scott Fitzgerald to push your feminist agenda. Have a field day, darling. & In response to your claim that "others already brought up that point (about the under-representation of women) it goes without saying that I am addressing them as well. In conclusion-- & good lord, I've already said waay too much-- Stick to the content, it makes for a better thread. But hey kids of today-- knock yourselves out. You slay me-- all of you. (Oy Vey, with your nonsense.) Honestly? If it had been a post about women writers or their under-representation, etc. I would have cogently posed a response. So there's THAT.


message 36: by Carly (new)

Carly Nicholas I am not really interesting in reading all of these books, but some of them are appealing.


message 37: by Alma Q (new)

Alma Q F.P. wrote: "Is there some corner of the world where nearly all the best-of lists are filled with books written by women and those books are not marketed as romance books or are not under a list of books meant to be BY women specifically? I'm talking about general lists where at least half the books are written by women."

Some GR groups which may be of interest to you (plenty of lists, too):
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

Have fun! ;)

Susan wrote: "Hijack a post about F Scott Fitzgerald to push your feminist agenda. Have a field day, darling. & In response to your claim that "others already brought up that point (about the under-representation of women) it goes without saying that I am addressing them as well."

Not to stir the pot further, I'd like to point out that my intention was merely to answer @Inkweaver's question - not to push my agenda as much as for the sake of honest discussion.

But, I'm out. Hope the situation calms down soon. :-)


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan But seriously? You asked and obviously freaked out because I allegedly called you out. Umm. I (in italics) did NOT post an ESSAY long thing about stuff. Stuff that had NOTHING to do with anything to do with the gosh darn original post. Nothing you can say mitigates what you posted. Don't try to obfuscate your original error. It's not OK. It wasn't OK for whomever else. Inkweaver? Whatever, whomever. I don't care. Stick to the topic. Wow. Just. Wow.


message 39: by Suvi (new)

Suvi Is it too much to ask to let everyone express their opinion without belittling them? It's inappropriate to try and dictate what others are allowed to point out, or what they're allowed to be upset about.

Let's just all calm down. These blog posts are meant to stir discussion, and in this case it's about whether you agree with the list or not. There are a bunch of reasons why someone would agree/disagree with the list, and one of them is the fact that there's only one woman author.

Let's give all valid points some room, if they're clearly not meant to be offensive, but discuss the issue in hand and have great arguments.


message 40: by Geoffrey (last edited Sep 25, 2015 11:22AM) (new)

Geoffrey Mary wrote: "I'm surprised that he didn't include at least one Edith Wharton novel, maybe HOUSE OF MIRTH. He should have also mentioned T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," and not just VICTORY but other Conrad novel..."

I also faulted him for victory's inclusion. Regardless of the fact that I haven't read it, Heart of Darkness and his tales from the south seas are incredible. I am surprised he didn't include Of Mice and Men, nor Ethan Fromme. And where is My Antonia?

Otherwise it's a good list, and yes, even as a male, I can clearly evince his gender bias.


message 41: by Paul (new)

Paul Sharon; you ask who would my non-Europeans/North Americans be; well I would probably kick off with The Thousand and One Nights and include The Tale of Genji, Romance of The Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin; haven't even looked at the Indian sub-continent, but there are many others, most of which have been around centuries.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan Cindy wrote: "I'm currently working on sitting down with Swann's Way."

Hi Cindy,

I recently read Swann's Way and Within a Budding Grove and once I got into the narrative flow-I really enjoyed both of them. I am currently reading Gueramantes Way-Good luck and hope you enjoy!


message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary Sisney While my earlier comment focused on writers who I (and other Fitzgerald critics) thought influenced Fitzgerald (Jane Austen is another possibility since GREAT GATSBY is a novel of manners, and Austen is the queen of the novel of manners), I should point out to you "Cultural Marxists" who are interested in an expanded canon but may not know him or his novel that James W. Johnson is a black writer, known more for his song lyrics and his work in the NAACP; interestingly, he wrote the black national anthem. Fitzgerald, of course, was named after his relative who wrote the "American" National anthem.


TheBohemianBookworm I've read absolutly none of these which is kind of surprising as I usually see myself as fairly well read. I haven't even heard of most of these lol.


TheBohemianBookworm Sorobai wrote: "Those kind of lists always make me wonder and the higher the personality writing it the funnier. Tastes are really a very intimate thing."

Agreed. Most of these books don't look that interesting to me.


message 46: by Allison (new)

Allison War and Peace is one of the best books I have read and i'm currently reading The Garden Party and Other Stories. This list is great!


message 47: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα And....I've read none.


message 48: by One (new)

One Flew It's funny that even 'to read' lists need to be culturally sensitive. Oh no, there isn't enough women or non europeans on the list, whatever will we do?


message 49: by Sorobai (new)

Sorobai Hannah wrote: "Sorobai wrote: "Those kind of lists always make me wonder and the higher the personality writing it the funnier. Tastes are really a very intimate thing."

Agreed. Most of these books don't look th..."


I didn't say it as a negative comment. Just that it's always interesting to see what everybody thinks are great books. Tastes vary from person to person undobtly.


message 50: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Kelley Political Correctness is a tenet of Cultural Marxism.
I wasn't calling anyone an economic Marxist.
Merely that I personally find it depressing a reading list must be weighed against a standard of political correctness with regards to gender diversity.
If this is all you get out of literature, you should just watch TV or take up destroying fine china with a baseball bat--your ideology is just another club to destroy a value for which you lack the capacity to understand.


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