Reading List

One part of life’s great journey is to learn everything we can, expanding our minds further to a different level of human understanding. It is our moral imperative.

Reading, critiquing and questioning great literary works is one of the best ways to generate understanding and new ideas. I’ve comprised this list of books from the University of Chicago’s Great Books of the Western World series, Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book and added some additional works, per suggestions. This list, albeit a collection of great works from the past three millennia, is not comprehensive and up for debate.

There’s no way I can read this entire list wellI hope to get through most of them, and will try to mark them off as I go. Won’t you join me?


  1. Homer – Iliad; Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
  4. Sophocles – Tragedies
  5. Herodotus – History (of the Persian War)
  6. Euripides – Tragedies (esp. Medea, Hippolytus, The Bacchae)
  7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes – Comedies (The Clouds, The Birds, The Frogs)
  10. Plato – Dialogues (The Republic, Symposium, Phaedo, Meno, Aplogy, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Sophis, Theaetetus)
  11. Aristotle – Works (esp. Organon, Physics, metaphsyics, On the Soul, The Nichomachean, Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, Poetics)
  12. Confucius – Analects
  13. Epicurus – “Letter to Herodotus”; “Letter to Menoecus”
  14. Euclid – Elements (of Geometry)
  15. Archimedes – Works (esp. the Equilibrium of Planes, On Floating Bodies, The Sand Reckoner)
  16. Apollonius – On Conic Sections
  17. Cicero – Works (esp. Orations; On Friendship; On Old Age; Republic; Laws; Tusculan Disputations; Offices)
  18. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things
  19. Virgil – Works (esp. Aeneid)
  20. Horace – Works (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry)
  21. Livy – History of Rome
  22. Ovid – Works (esp. Metamorphoses)
  23. Plutarch – Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans; Moralia
  24. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola; Germania
  25. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic
  26. Epictetus – Discourses; Enchiridion
  27. Ptolemy – Almagest
  28. Lucian – Works (esp. The Way to Write History; The True History; The Sale of Creeds; Dialogue of the Gods; Dialogues of the Sea-Gods; Dialogues of the Dead)
  29. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
  30. Galen – On the Natural Faculties
  31. The New Testament
  32. Plotinus – The Enneads
  33. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine
  34. Sun-tzu – The Art of War
  35. The Volsungs Saga or Nibelungenlied
  36. The Song of Roland
  37. The Saga of Burnt Njál
  38. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica
  39. Dante Alighieri – The New Life (La Vita Nuova); “On Monarchy”; Divine Comedy
  40. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales
  41. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks
  42. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy
  43. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly
  44. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
  45. Thomas More – Utopia
  46. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises
  47. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel
  48. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion
  49. Michel de Montaigne – Essays
  50. William Gilbert – On the Lodestone and Magnetic Bodies
  51. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote
  52. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene
  53. Francis Bacon – Essays; The Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum; New Atlantis
  54. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays
  55. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger;  Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
  56. Johannes Kepler – The Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Harmonices Mundi (Concerning the Harmonies of the World)
  57. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; Generation of Animals
  58. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan
  59. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy; Principles of Philosophy
  60. John Milton – Works (esp. the minor poems; Areopagitica; Paradise Lost; Samson Agonistes)
  61. Molière – Comedies (esp. The Miser; The School for Wives; The Misanthrope; The Doctor in Spite of Himself; Tartuffe
  62. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensées; Scientific Treatises
  63. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light
  64. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics
  65. John Locke – A Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; An Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Some Thoughts Concerning Education
  66. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies (esp. Andromache; Phaedra)
  67. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics
  68. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays on Human Understanding; Monadology
  69. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe
  70. Jonathan Swift –  A Tale of a Tub; A Journal to Stella; Gulliver’s Travels; A Modest Proposal
  71. William Congreve – The Way of the World
  72. George Berkeley –  Principles of Human Knowledge
  73. Alexander Pope – An Essay on Criticism; The Rape of the Lock; An Essay on Man
  74. Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters
  75. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary
  76. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones
  77. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; Lives of the Poets
  78. David Hume – A Treatise of Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  79. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Discourse on Inequality; On Political Economy; Emile; The Social Contract
  80. Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
  81. Adam Smith – The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations
  82. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason; Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace
  83. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography
  84. James Boswell – London Journal; The Life of Samuel Johnson
  85. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier – Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry)
  86. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – Federalist Papers (together with the Articles of Confederation; United States Constitution and United States Declaration of Independence)
  87. Jeremy Bentham – Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions
  88. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Faust; Poetry and Truth
  89. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier – Analytical Theory of Heat
  90. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – The Phenomenology of Spirit; Elements of the Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History
  91. William Wordsworth – Poems (esp. Lyrical Ballads; Lucy poems; sonnets; The Prelude)
  92. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems (esp. Kubla Khan; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner); Biographia Literaria
  93. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice; Emma
  94. Carl von Clausewitz – On War
  95. Stendhal – The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love
  96. Lord Byron – Don Juan
  97. Arthur Schopenhauer – Studies in Pessimism
  98. Michael Faraday – The Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity
  99. Nikolai Lobachevsky – Geometrical Researches on the Theory of Parallels
  100. Charles Lyell – Principles of Geology
  101. Auguste Comte – The Positive Philosophy
  102. Honoré de Balzac – Works (esp. Le Père Goriot; Le Cousin Pons; Eugénie Grandet)
  103. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Representative Men; Essays; Journal
  104. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
  105. Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America
  106. John Stuart Mill – A System of Logic; On Liberty; Considerations on Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
  107. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
  108. William Makepeace Thackeray – Vanity Fair; The History of Henry Esmond
  109. Charles Dickens – Works (esp. Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Oliver Twist; A Tale of Two Cities; Hard Times)
  110. Claude Bernard – Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
  111. George Boole – The Laws of Thought
  112. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience; Walden
  113. Karl Marx – Das Kapital (Capital); The Communist Manifesto
  114. George Eliot – Adam Bede; Middlemarch
  115. Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
  116. Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
  117. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary; Three Stories
  118. Henry Thomas Buckle – A History of Civilization in England
  119. Henrik Ibsen – Plays (esp. Hedda Gabler; Emperor and Galilean; A Doll’s House; The Wild Duck)
  120. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace; Anna Karenina; “What Is Art?”; Twenty-Three Tales
  121. Mark Twain – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger
  122. Henry Adams – History of the United States; The Education of Henry Adams; Degradation of Democratic Dogma
  123. Oliver Wendell Holmes – The Common Law; Collected Legal Papers
  124. William James – Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism
  125. Henry James – The American; The Ambassadors
  126. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; On the Genealogy of Morals; The Will to Power
  127. Jules Henri Poincaré – Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method
  128. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams; Three Essays to the Theory of Sex; Introduction to Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  129. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces (esp. Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Ceasar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion, Saint Joan)
  130. Max Planck – Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory; Where Is Science Going?; Scientific Autobiography
  131. Henri Bergson – Time and Free Will; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
  132. John Dewey – How We Think; Democracy and Education; Experience and Nature; Logic – The Theory of Inquiry
  133. Alfred North Whitehead – An Introduction to Mathematics; Science and the Modern World; The Aims of Education and Other Essays; Adventures of Ideas
  134. George Santayana – The Life of Reason; Skepticism and Animal Faith; Persons and Places
  135. Nikolai Lenin – The State and Revolution
  136. Marcel Proust – In Search of Lost Time (formerly translated as Remembrance of Things Past)
  137. Bertrand Russell – The Problems of Philosophy; Principia Mathematica; The Analysis of Mind; An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth; Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits
  138. Thomas Mann – The Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
  139. Albert Einstein – The Meaning of Relativity; On the Method of Theoretical Physics; The Evolution of Physics
  140. James Joyce – “The Dead” in Dubliners; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses
  141. Jacques Maritain – Art and Scholasticism; The Degrees of Knowledge; Freedom and the Modern World; The Rights of Man and Natural Law; True Humanism
  142. Franz Kafka – The Trial; The Castle
  143. Arnold J. Toynbee – A Study of History; Civilization on Trial
  144. Jean-Paul Sartre – Nausea; No Exit; Being and Nothingness
  145. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – The First Circle; Cancer Ward
  146. Joshua Parens – Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook
  147. Erick Fromm – Man for Himself
  148. Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
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