The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)
A short story, yes, but I listened to this as an individual audio book (and likely wouldn’t have read it in a collection) so I’m counting it. Classic for a reason; I enjoyed it.
From Amazon.com: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story by American author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was first published in 1820. Along with Irving’s companion piece “Rip Van Winkle”, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is among the earliest examples of American fiction with enduring popularity.”
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
When I was a teenager, I managed to get it into my head that I needed to read and appreciate Henry James. So I did, tackling The Turn of the Screw and The Portrait of a Lady. And I hated them. I just didn’t get the stories at all. Re-reading The Turn of the Screw, I finished with a very different opinion and very much enjoyed it. I might even try to tackle The Portrait of a Lady again before the year ends if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. I’m not sure if my opinion about that one will be as easily changed though.
From Amazon.com: “The Turn of the Screw, originally published in 1898, is a gothic ghost story novella written by Henry James. Due to its original content, the novella became a favourite text of academics who subscribe to New Criticism. The novella has had differing interpretations, often mutually exclusive. Many critics have tried to determine the exact nature of the evil hinted at by the story. However, others have argued that the true brilliance of the novella comes with its ability to create an intimate confusion and suspense for the reader.”
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)
This book made me feel very uncomfortable. . . in a good way. The narration felt real and flawed. I could see myself in some of it – and that frightened me a bit. A very engrossing read. Probably not for everyone.
From Amazon.com: “Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.”