F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Reading List

The Great American Author’s List of 22 Essential Books

fitzgerald_reading_listIn 1936, while he was recovering from physical and mental health issues, the author of what many consider to be the greatest American novel, “The Great Gatsby,” created a list of “22 Essential Books” for the nurse who was attending him.

Fitzgerald’s illness stemmed from his wife Zelda’s recent institutionalization and his own alcoholism.  It was 1936, in Asheville, North Carolina, and Fitzgerald was at one of the darkest points in his life. He was in North Carolina to put his wife into a mental hospital. Apparently overcome with stress and possibly attempting suicide, Fitzgerald fired a revolver into the air at the hotel where he was staying. The hotel’s management, fearing for Fitzgerald’s mental state, refused to let him stay unless he hired a nurse, and so a registered nurse named Miss Richardson came to stay with the author at the Grove Park Inn (which is still in operation.) He dictated the list to her, but the heading is probably Miss Richardson’s. It reads, “These are books that Scott thought should be required reading.”

Zelda fitgerald

  Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, with their daughter Scottie

Grove Park Inn, NC

The Grove Park Inn

An Odd Collection

The list of Fitzgerald’s essentials is curious for what it includes but even more so for what it excludes. Shakespeare, for instance, is not on the list.  Neither is James Joyce or Henry James, but the works of Proust appear three times. The only non-fiction inclusion is “An Outline of Abnormal Psychology” which may be indicative of Fitzgerald’s frame of mind at the time.

Below is the list in full. Almost all are now public domain and available for free. Those that are not public domain are linked to their page on Amazon.com.

Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser

The Life of Jesus, by Ernest Renan

A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen

Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson

The Old Wives’ Tale, by Arnold Bennett

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiel Hammett

The Red and the Black, by Stendahl

The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant, translated by Michael Monahan

An Outline of Abnormal Psychology, edited by Gardner Murphy

The Stories of Anton Chekhov, edited by Robert N. Linscott

The Best American Humorous Short Stories, edited by Alexander Jessup

Victory, by Joseph Conrad

The Revolt of the Angels, by Anatole France

The Plays of Oscar Wilde

Sanctuary, by William Faulkner

Within a Budding Grove, by Marcel Proust

The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust

Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust

South Wind, by Norman Douglas

The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Complete Poetical Works


More on F. Scott and Zelda Fitgerald

Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald

Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald

The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Novels and Stories 1920-1922: This Side of Paradise, Flappers and Philosophers, The Beautiful and Damned, Tales of the Jazz Age [Kindle Edition]

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Novels and Stories 1920-1922: This Side of Paradise, Flappers and Philosophers, The Beautiful and Damned, Tales of the Jazz Age [Kindle Edition]

The Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald on Amazon.com

The Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald on Amazon.com

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