“Let others boast of the books they have been given to write; I boast of those that I was given to read… I wish this library to be as diverse as the unsatisfied curiosity that has led me, and continues to lead me, to the exploration of so many languages ​​and so many literatures.”

So begins the Biblioteca Personal of Jorge Luis Borges, a 1985 project commissioned by Argentine publisher Hyspamerica that asked the Buenos Aires-born writer to curate and compose prologues for 100 great works of literature. Though he only made it through 74 titles before dying of liver cancer the following year, Borges’ selections showcase a lifetime of inquisitive and disparate tastes.

Including Kafka classics alongside ancient religious texts, obscure philosophical works, Greek mythology, and the prose of Edgar Allan Poe, the collection is a treasure trove into the literary memory of a writer who revolutionized Latin American fiction. Explore Borges’ generous list below, and complement with the favorite books of Gabriel García Márquez, Paulo Coelho and Ernest Hemingway.


Stories by Julio Cortázar

The Apocryphal Gospels

Amerika and The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka

The Blue Cross: A Father Brown Mystery by G.K. Chesterton

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Intelligence of Flowers by Maurice Maeterlinck

The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati

Peer Gynt and Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

The Mandarin And Other Stories by Eça de Queirós

The Jesuit Empire by Leopoldo Lugones

The Counterfeiters by André Gide

The Time Machine and The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (also rec’d by Christopher Hitchens)

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Mathematics and the Imagination by Edward Kasner

The Great God Brown and Other Plays, Strange Interlude, and Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill

Tales of Ise by Ariwara no Narihara

Benito Cereno”, “Billy Budd”, and “Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville

The Tragic Everyday”, “The Blind Pilot”, and “Words and Blood by Giovanni Papini

The Three Impostors by Arthur Manchen

Song of Songs by Fray Luis de León

An Explanation of the Book of Job by Fray Luis de León

The End of the Tether and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

Essays & Dialogues by Oscar Wilde

A Barbarian in Asia by Henri Michaux

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (also rec’d by Leonard Cohen & Patti Smith)

Buried Alive by Arnold Bennett

On the Nature of Animals by Claudius Elianus

The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen

The Temptation of St. Antony by Gustave Flaubert

The Travels by Marco Polo

Imaginary Lives by Marcel Schwob

Caesar and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, and Candida by George Bernard Shaw

Marcus Brutus and The Hour of All Men by Francisco de Quevedo

The Red Redmaynes by Eden Phillpotts

Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard

The Golem by Gustav Meyrink

The Lesson of the Master, The Figure in the Carpet, and The Private Life by Henry James

The Nine Books of the History of Herodotus by Herdotus

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

Tales by Rudyard Kipling

Vathek by William Beckford

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Professional Secrets & Other Texts by Jean Cocteau

The Last Days of Emmanuel Kant and Other Stories by Thomas de Quincey

Prologue to the Work of Silverio Lanza by Ramon Gomez de la Serna

Arabian Nights: Tales From The Thousand and One Nights (also rec’d by Gabriel García Márquez)

The New Arabian Nights and Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson

Salvation Through the Jews, The Blood of the Poor, and In the Darkness by Léon Bloy

The Bhagavad Gita and The Epic of Gilgamesh

Confabulario by Juan José Arreola

Lady into Fox, A Man in the Zoo, and The Sailor’s Return by David Garnett

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Literary Criticism by Paul Groussac

The Idols by Manuel Mujica Láinez

Book of Good Love by Juan Ruiz

Complete Poetry by William Blake (also rec’d by Jim Morrison)

Above the Dark Circus by Hugh Walpole

Poetical Works by Ezequiel Martinez Estrada

The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe (also rec’d by Stevie Nicks)

The Aeneid by Virgil

Stories by Voltaire

An Experiment with Time by J.W. Dunne

An Essay on Orlando Furioso by Atilio Momigliano

The Varieties of Religious Experience: The Study of Human Nature by William James

Egil’s Saga by Snorri Sturluson

The Book of the Dead

The Problem of Time by J. Alexander Gunn

(via Open Culture)

Categories: Writers

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