36. Short Novels of Henry James -(Daisy Miller, Washington Square, The Aspern Papers, The Pupil, The Turn of the Screw) Henry James' work had shown up several times as optional choices in my academic years of reading. I never chose him because, based on the summaries I'd read, I though his plots sounded dull and cliche. Boy, was I wrong! All of his works have that twist of cruelty that makes Victorian era lit readable, no matter how over-written the dialog is. I especially liked The Aspern Papers - a story of a stalker getting his just reward.
37. 63:Dream Place, Selected Stories 1956 - 1987 by James Purdy- 27 short stories in all. My favorite was the title piece, a dark story about a brother who's not cut out to be the caretaker of his sickly younger brother. By the time you realize how the story has to end, you can't look away. There's also a bittersweet story about an young boy and his grandfather, Home By Dark, written so well it was like being right there on the front porch with the characters.
38. Cabot Wright Begins by James Purdy - This was Purdy's first full length novel to be published, and a lot of the themes that would be examined in greater detail in later books are jammed into this story about the people involved in getting a book about a convicted rapist published. It's Purdy's characters that keep this from being a total wallow in cynicism - they're the extremes of humanity.
38. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - Once again, I discover how much I admire Woolf's observational skills and can't stand her writing. For some reason, I seem to need to rediscover that every four or five years.
39. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - A fun read with a nice little message about the importance of stories mixed in with the usual (or unusual?) Gaiman characters.
40. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho - If you believe in yourself, everything turns out for the best.