Book Riot's Start Here:

I am entering the Start Here Write-in-Giveaway at the fabulous Book Riot:

Book Riot's Reading Pathways feature is one of my favorites, and now they are going to publish a book (cover above) featuring wonderful, bookish suggestions for what to read if you want to get started with an author (maybe even an intimidating one).  I am choosing to write my "Start Here" about my beloved Nathaniel Hawthorne.  So, here are some suggestions if you want to read Hawthorne, and no high school/college professor has already plunged you in head first:

1. "Young Goodman Brown" - This is my favorite of Hawthorne's stories to teach.  It is dark, engaging, creepy, and provocative.  Other hits from the canon of short works include: "The Birthmark," "Rapaccini's Daughter," and "The Minister's Black Veil."  I do have to warn you, these stories are so engaging, IMHO, you might just gobble them all up, so you might as well buy the collected works now.

2. The Blithedale Romance- This book is quite readable, and many of the themes will take on an air of familiarity if you have read the short fictions.  The book is influenced by Hawthorne's time at Brook Farm, so it has a broad appeal to those interested in utopian pursuits, or literary history, and I just happen to like it better than The House of Seven Gables, although that also would work fine for the second slot as well.

3. The Prefaces -  There is nothing Hawthorne likes more than a preface.  Especially, a preface that has seemingly little, and yet everything, to do with the text that it precedes.  So, as a final warm up lap for number four, read "The Old Manse" (preface to Mosses from an Old Manse)  and "The Custom House" (preface to The Scarlet Letter).  

4.  The Scarlet Letter:  And finally, as you are already at the front door, it is time to read the book which so often is assigned too early and brings an abrupt end to one's Hawthorne reading career.  This is a beautiful book, better on each read, filled with symbolic complexity and utter badassness.  Enjoy it, you've earned it.

 Hope you enjoyed my list, and that you will think about making one yourself.  Also, you can financially support Book Riot's project by visiting Kickstarter here.


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