I think out of all of them, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," "The Birthmark," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The Artist of the Beautiful" were my favorites. But did they elicit from me anything other than an admiration for the concepts that Hawthorne presented? ...not really. The man can tell a story--that is unquestionable. He can also provide the mind with many deep and profound thoughts to dwell on, to mull over--food for the mind and not just mere trifles to read for entertainment. And from the point of view of one looking to increase their mental capacity, or enjoy writing for the artistic sake, this would probably be a very good addition to someone's library.
Yet nonetheless I found that for all that I enjoyed this book... it did not blow me away. There is an underlying tone in all these stories that elicits no emotions--no reader reaction. It is the tale told a child by an elderly man who continues to babble even when the child has little to no understanding of what they are saying. And though I'm not saying that Hawthorne is impossible to read, or even that he's difficult to understand (for his stories were quite straightforward for the most part), I am saying that he has very little claim over the skillful use of tone. He talks, and it's the same note from the beginning of the book to the ending, even when the stories change from one variety to another. And such a monotony of tone throughout various tales that have the potential to elicit so much life makes the book (however short it is) drag on even longer than necessary.
*Shrugs* It's a mixed bag of goodies. It presents you with wonderful concepts and ideas to entertain, but I feel that the execution isn't something that fits the excitement that most of those ideas conjure up within me. It's a case where personally--many may disagree with me on this--the storyteller's voice doesn't suit the tale he tells, regardless his eloquence in the conveyance. But for the ideas, it's still a great book worth picking up, and something that you should definitely try out just for the experience. Take it out of your library and give it a read-through! You'll come away a little more full for the knowledge and thoughtfulness it brings you.