Saturday, May 30, 2009

History through the Great Books - Book List

Here is the list of "Great Books" that I provide for my students. These are not all the great books ever written, nor are they all the books I have ever read, however I have read all of these; except for The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, and Walden. I have tried several times on both – but Don Quixote is too sad, and Walden is pompous and boring. Many of the books below have greatly affected the history of the world; others are here because they have affected me. I hope you enjoy them.

History through the Great Books
Reading List

(2150 BC) The Epic of Gilgamesh

Homer (800 BC) The Iliad, The Odyssey

Aeschylus (525 BC) Agamemnon, Eumenides

Sophocles (495 BC) Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Electra

Herodotus (484 BC) The History of the Persian War

Euripides (480 BC) Medea, Hippolytus, The Trojan Women

Thucydides (460 BC) The Peloponnesian War

Plato (428 BC) Lysis, Symposium, Meno, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Alcibiades, The Republic; (There are many more.)

Aristotle (384 BC) Logic, Politics, Poetics, Rhetoric; (and much more)

Aristophanes (380 BC) The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Frogs, Lysistrata

Marcus Tullius Cicero, (106 BC) On the Laws, The Republic

Julius Caesar (102 BC) Gallic Wars

Virgil (70 BC) The Aeneid

Livy (59BC) The Histories of Rome

Tacitus (55 BC) The Annals and the Histories

Plutarch (40 BC) Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans

Augustine (430 AD) The Confessions, The City of God

(750 BC) Beowulf

Dante Alighieri (1265 AD) The Divine Comedy

Desiderius Erasmus (1467 AD) The Praise of Folly

Thomas Malory (1469 AD) Le Morte D’Arthur

Nicolo Machiavelli (1469 AD) The Prince

Nicolas Copernicus (1473 AD) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

Miguel De Cervantes (1547 AD) The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Galileo Galilei (1564 AD) Two New Sciences

William Shakespeare (1564 AD)
Comedies – The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing;
Tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra ;
Histories – Henry the Fifth, Cymbeline

Thomas Hobbes (1588 AD) Leviathan

Frances Bacon (1551 AD) Essays

Johannes Kepler (1571 AD) The Harmonies of the World

John Milton (1608 AD) Paradise Lost
John Lock (1632) Two Treatises on Government

Jonathan Swift (1667 AD) Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal

Voltaire (1694 AD) Candide

Benjamin Franklin (1706 AD) The Autobiography

Henry Fielding (1707 AD) Tom Jones

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 AD) Confessions, The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right

Thomas Paine (1737 AD) Common Sense, The Rights of Man, The Age of Reason

Sir Walter Scott (1771 AD) Ivanhoe

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison (1788 AD) The Federalist Papers

Nineteenth Century
J. M. Barrie - Peter Pan
Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward

Frank Bullen – The Cruse of the Cachalot

Lewis Carroll - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass

Joseph Conrad – Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness
James Fennimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans
Charles Darwin – The Origin of the Species, The Decent of Man

Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield

Alexander Dumas – The Three Musketeers

George Eliot – Silas Marner

Nathanial Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter, Twice Told Tales, The House of the Seven Gables

Victor Hugo – Notre Dame de Paris, Les Miserables

Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Books I & II, Kim

Karl Marx – The Manifesto of the Communist Party

Herman Melville – Moby Dick, Billy Budd

Alexander Pushkin – Eugene Onegin

Upton Sinclair – The Jungle
Robert Lewis Stevenson – The Black Arrow, Treasure Island

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Henry David Thoreau – Walden, Duty of Civil Disobedience

Mark Twain – Life on the Mississippi, Adventurers of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Short Stories – Eve’s Diary, Extract from Adam’s Diary, Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, The Mysterious Stranger, Fennimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, The Awful German Language

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace, Anna Kerenia

Ivan Turgenev – Fathers and Sons

Oscar Wilde – The Complete Fairy Tales, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Twentieth Century

L. Frank Baum – The Wizard of Oz, The Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Scarecrow of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, The Lost Princes of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz, The Magic of Oz, Glinda of Oz

Pearl S. Buck – The Good Earth

Lydia Chakovskaya – Sofia Petrovna
Bryce Courtenay - The Power of One

Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Michael Ende – The Neverending Story

Albert Einstein – Relativity the Special and the General Theory

C. S. Forester – Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, Hornblower and the Hotspur, Hornblower During the Crisis, Hornblower and the Atrops, Beat to Quarters, Ship of the Line, Flying Colors, Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies

E. M. Forster – A Passage to India

Jean Giono – The Man Who Planted Trees

Fyodor Gladkav – Cement

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Robert Graves – I Claudius, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina, The White Goddess, King Jesus, The Greek Myths – Complete Edition

Arthur L. Guptill – Drawing and Sketching in Pencil

Robert Beverly Hale – Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters

Alex Haley – Roots

Edith Hamilton – The Greek Way

Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

Frank Herbert – Dune

James Hilton – Goodbye Mr. Chips

John Knowles – A Separate Peace

Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

C. S. Lewis – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mere Christianity, The Screw Tape Letters

William Manchester – American Caesar

Norman McClean – A River Runs Through It

James Mortimer – Rumpole of the Bailey
Richard Nixon – No More Vietnams

George Orwell – Animal Farm, 1984

Stephen Pressfield – Gates of Fire, The Virtues of War
Mary Renault - The Last of the Wine, The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea

Earnest Thompson Seton – Wild Animals I Have Known, Two Little Savages, Rolf in the Woods. Trails of an Artiest Naturalist, Animal Heroes, The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians, BSA Handbook

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The First Circle, The Gulag Archipelago

Irving Stone – The Agony and the Ecstasy

J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion

Eugene Zamiatin - We


Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. ahem Lysis (almost gave your name away!) It is I, one of your history students! This is just so great how you have a blog and take the time, computer intellects to share what you know with everyone who is willing to listen/read. I really like your book list since I know they are worth reading now that you recommended them. Most of them you have recommended to read for a book report and I really enjoyed your brief summaries... they got me excited (and made me laugh plenty) to read them ALL. Thank you for your great dedication in sharing your thoughts, ideas, knowledge and skills with us at LHS and with the Boy Scout Community... and of course anywhere! Hope to see you around in your Boy Scout uniform this summer and in your cardigans when school starts again!
ps. Your Blogs SURE sound exactly as you would in school... except without the facial expressions and there's not as many jokes!

Lysis said...

Thank you for reading, and for being a student. No students, no teachers you know.

Clark Andersen said...


I'm very glad that I am familiar with many of the books posted on this list, but I can't help but notice the exclusion of works by J. Steinbeck and W. Faulkner on the 20th century list. I understand it's your personal list, and I'm not condemning it, I'm merely curious that they were nowhere to be found. I read East of Eden during the free time I had my first summer working at your camp, and I am of course familiar with Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Absalom! Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury. Were these books you've read but felt didn't capture the spirit of your list, or do you believe they're overrated, or was there some other rationale? I'm merely curious.