Here are three of my favorite tales...
The Great Carbuncle — A band of intrepid, yet distinctly motivated explorers search the White Mountains of New England for a fabled gemstone known as the Great Carbuncle. The finder(s) may surprise you.
The Maypole of Merry Mount — A legend from Salem's earliest days in which a rival colony of forest-dwelling libertines dance beneath a maypole, celebrating the marriage of two youths.
The Minister's Black Veil — Mr. Hooper returns to his congregation one day with his face hidden behind a black veil. The community speculates as to its meaning and what happened to their preacher. [JG]
— The Maypole of Merry Mount, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne published his first novel, Fanshawe, anonymously at the age of twenty-four. It received mostly positive reviews at the time, although Hawthorne was critical of it himself. This self-criticism continued throughout Hawthorne's life. For example, he burned all of his drafts and notes, uncomfortable with people seeing any unfinished work. He died at age 59 with four romantic novels published and dozens of unfinished works.
Having recently reread Edith Hamilton's Mythology, I'm especially interested in reading The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls, Hawthorne's rendition of six ancient Greek myths. I've also been recommended The Marble Faun by a friend, which is set just before the American Civil War in a fantastical Italy. In that same 197-year-old barn I mentioned above, I picked up a copy of both. Will report back!