The Well-Educated Mind List

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." - Francis Bacon

These are titles on The Well-Educated Mind list, by Susan Wise Bauer.  Blue highlighted titles have been read and reviewed by me:


Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote 
Bunyan, John: The Pilgrim's Progress 
Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels
Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice 
Dickens, Charles: Oliver Twist 
Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter 
Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick
Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom's Cabin
Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary
Dostoevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment
Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina  
Hardy, Thomas: The Return of the Native
James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady
Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge of Courage
Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness
Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth
Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby
Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway
Kafka, Franz: The Trial
Wright, Richard: Native Son
Camus, Albert: The Stranger
Orwell, George: 1984
Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man
Bellow, Saul: Seize the Day
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon (bailed)
DeLillo, Don: White Noise
Byatt, A.S.: Possession


Augustine: The Confessions
Kempe, Margery: The Book of Margery Kempe
De Montaigne, Michel: Essays
Descartes, Rene: Meditations
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Confessions
Thoreau, Henry David: Walden
Washington, Booker T.: Up from Slavery
Hitler, Adolf: Mein Kampf
Merton, Thomas: The Seven Storey Mountain
Sarton, May: Journal of a Solitude
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I.: The Gulag Archipelago
Colson, Charles W.: Born Again
Conway, Jill Ker: The Road from Coorain


Herodotus: The Histories
Plato: The Republic (read 100 pages, and bailed)
Plutarch: Lives
Augustine: The City of God: Part One, Part Two
Machiavelli, Niccolo: The Prince
More, Sir Thomas: Utopia
Hume, David: The History of England, Vol. V (bailed)
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: The Social Contract
Paine, Thomas: Common Sense
De Tocqueville, Alexis: Democracy in America
Marx, Karl & Engels, Friedrich: The Communist Manifesto
Burckhardt, Jacob: The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (bailed)
Du Bois, W.E.B.: The Souls of Black Folk 
Weber, Max: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (read, but not reviewed)
Strachey, Lytton: Queen Victoria
Orwell, George: The Road to Wigan Pier
Miller, Perry: The New England Mind (had to take a break)
Galbraith, John Kenneth: The Great Crash 1929
Ryan, Cornelius: The Longest Day
Friedan, Betty: The Feminine Mystique 
Tuchman, Barbara: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century
Woodward, Bob & Bernstein, Carl: All the President's Men
McPherson, James M.: Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher: A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary
Fukuyama, Francis: The End of History and the Last Man


Aeschylus: Agamemnon
Sophocles: Oedipus the King
Euripides: Medea
Aristophanes: The Birds
Aristotle: Poetics
Marlowe, Christopher: Doctor Faustus
Shakespeare: Richard III
Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare: Hamlet
Moliere: Tartuffe
Congreve, William: The Way of the World
Goldsmith, Oliver: She Stoops to Conquer
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley: The School for Scandal
Ibsen, Henrik: A Doll's House
Wilde, Oscar: The Importance of Being Earnest
Chekhov, Anton: The Cherry Orchard
Shaw, George Bernard: Saint Joan
Eliot, T.S.: Murder in the Cathedral
Wilder, Thornton: Our Town
O'Neill, Eugene: Long Day's Journey Into Night
Sartre, Jean Paul: No Exit
Williams, Tennessee: A Streetcar Named Desire
Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman
Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot
Bolt, Robert: A Man For All Seasons
Stoppard, Tom: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Shaffer, Peter: Equus


The Epic of Gilgamesh
Homer: Iliad and the Odyssey
Greek Lyricists
Horace: Odes
Alighieri, Dante: Inferno
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Chaucer, Geoffrey: The Canterbury Tales
Shakespeare: Sonnets
Donne, John
Bible: Psalms (King James Version)
Milton, John: Paradise Lost
Blake, William: Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Wordsworth, William
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Keats, John
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Lord Tennyson, Alfred
Whitman, Walt
Dickinson, Emily
Rossetti, Christina
Hopkins, Gerard Manley
Yeates, William Butler
Dunbar, Paul Laurence
Frost, Robert
Sandburg, Carl
Williams, William Carlos
Pound, Ezra
Eliot, T.S.
Hughes, Landston
Auden, W.H.


Hippocrates: On Airs, Waters, and Place
Aristotle: Physics
Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
Copernicus: Commentarioulus
Bacon: Novum Organum
Galileo: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
Hooke: Micrographia
Newton: "Rules" and "General Scholium from Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Cuvier: "Preliminary Discourse in Fossil bones, and Geological Catasrophes
Lyell: Principles of Geology
Darwin: On the Origin of Species
Mendel: Experiments in Plant Hybridization
Wegener: The Origin of Continents and Oceans
Einstein: The General Theory of Relativity
Planck: The Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory
Huxley: Evolution: The Modern Synthesis
Schrödinger: What is Life?
Carson: Silent Spring
Morris: The Naked Ape
Watson: The Double Helix
Dawkins: The Selfish Gene
Weinberg: The First Three Minutes
Wilson: On Human Nature
Lovelock: Gaia
Gould: The Mismeasure of Man
Gleick: Chaos: Makiing a New Science
Hawking: A Brief History of Time
Alvarez: T. Rex and the Crater of Doom


  1. This is just the blog I have been looking for! Can't wait for your reflections on the histories!

    1. So glad you found it! I can't wait to get to the histories either.

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your blog and I'm reading through the list with you.

    1. Well, thank you very much! Glad to have you along. Let me know if you get a blog up and start writing about what you read.

  3. Good job! I'm just starting the list.

    1. Hi, Glory. Let me know if you start posting about the books you read. It's always interesting to read someone else's take on the same books.

  4. I am just beginning my TWEM journey! I'll be back to visit!

    1. How exciting. It is always fun to meet someone who is just beginning. I will be interested to read about your experience if you write about it on your blog.

  5. Quite a list. I've read all the fiction except for Woolf (although I saw the movie with Vanessa Redgrave). Nor have I read the last five authors. The memoirs and poetry I confess I'm deficient on.

    1. Well, thank you. I am having a lot of fun going through the list. Poetry is my deficiency, too, and I am not really looking forward to it.

  6. Wow, this is one of the most complete and intimidating reading lists I have ever seen. I really respect Susan Wise Bauer, as her history books were basically what I read for fun growing up (call me a history geek). I read The Well Trained Mind my senior year of high school and was so impressed that I started designing my kids homeschool curriculum (20 years in advance?). Anyhow, I am going to have to copy this list and start plowing through it.

  7. Thank you for this list!! I can't count how many times I have read early 20th century books and felt like I have missed out on a great education. Thanks again from the UK :-)

    1. You're welcome. Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I think I totally missed your comment back in June. : (.

  8. Finally got around to this list.....I asked Cleo where I could find it!
    I'll see what I can do to read some of the selectons. Thanks!

  9. Have you noticed how predominantly male authors are represented on this list? I have glanced over this list several times, & you may remember I was going to read along through the whole thing (maybe a year ago?), & I never noticed how few women are represented. The ones who ARE represented often speak from the viewpoint of feminism (Wollstonecraft). Although Dickinson & Austen go beyond that. I guess I don't know much about some of the other women on this list (Byatt, Tuchman, Thatcher.)

    In one of my classes, we were discussing the canon wars of the eighties and nineties. I'd never heard of them & didn't take the conversation very seriously. (My thinking was -- who cares what higher education wants to canonize? People are going to read what they want.) But just looking at the absence of much of a female voice above (isn't Unbroken even a story about men, as opposed to women?) makes me think that -- maybe it actually is a real issue. I mean, look how I hadn't even noticed the absence of female voices on lists like this, until very recently.

    This article is really interesting (I think).

    Not to critique this list, by the way. All of these are representative of literary history too! It's just that women were writing -- all along, in these eras. This list suggests (to me) that what Bauer values in literary history is what men had to say, for the most part. Or that women's voices were so often erased that their input is beside the point in our own evaluation of history, even today, or simply undervalued, unnoticed, considered what I've read is currrently being dubbed "the second shelf." (Am I lecturing? I seem to lecture lately. Ignore me. Well, don't ignore me: I make good points! But also, bear in mind that I mean no disrespect to your project. I'm just noting my thoughts on the canon & what I wonder may be missing, in the voices not represented. I've read that women had A LOT of control over politics & such, through GOSSIP. So often gossip has a negative connotation, but it was the female political network, & females had a lot of personal influence within the domestic scene. I'm thinking that epistolary collections and journals by women could add a lot of input to the above. Also, under plays, Bauer might have added Aphra Behn, whose "The Rover" certainly had something to say about the male-centric literary world. Which is as valid a point of view as Shakespeare's, I reckon. I also notice she left off The Taming of the Shrew -- which also adds voice to the female side of things.) :-) x

    1. Okay, now I'm not sure why I mentioned Unbroken. I thought I saw it on the list. My lecture is, as ever, unresearched & without merit! :) :P

    2. Oh -- I saw Unbroken on your "books read" list! That must have been a personal selection. Pardon me! I remove it from my discourse. :)

    3. Hi, Jillian,

      You raise valuable points and ideas.

      If I remember correctly, I think Bauer used an existing list of classics or Great Books to compile her list for this project. If there are more male authors than women, as there are, it is probably because that is what there was to choose from. Interestingly, however, there are novels from the male authors on the list, such as Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, and Leo Tolstoy, who wrote about women to magnify the inequality and double standards of the time and the unfair obstacles in their way. Anyway, I think Bauer was focusing on these titles b/c these are the ones used in college courses and classical education.

      I do not doubt that women wrote, kept journals, and collaborated with each other. I am confident they were an active force, even if they were quiet and discreet, not exposed as men were. We may not have moved in large numbers, or publicly, or with great exposure, but we were preoccupied with raising future generations and maintaining households - which is no minor task. But our day has come, and today we are quite public and noted as men, leaving our mark and changing the world.

      Having said that, I think you could compile a reading list (like this one) either including only female authors in every genre, or making it equal to male authors. I couldn't do it myself b/c I am not well read. I think journals and epistolaries would be an excellent enhancement to the collection. I know that Bauer added science to her five genres in her new edition of TWEM.

      Now, I will say this: I feel differently about my experience as a woman. I agree women can still be undervalued and our opinions put aside; however, I also believe that women in America (at least) have the ability and liberty today to stand up and be heard, especially when we have the confidence to do so. Often I wonder if maybe we are our biggest obstacles. Not to sound cliché, but if we would believe in our message and ability, we would soar. Women are leaders, too. It isn't that we are not capable and are set up to fail b/c of inequality, it is that we doubt. Then we get defensive and spend our energies on what we think is wrong instead of just doing it and getting it done - which women are so good at doing: getting it done! I have three daughters, and I can count on them before I can count on my boys. Women (girls) work!

      When I was in college, I was studying architecture, and I remember twice I was told by two different men that I was not supposed to be an architect b/c that was a man's job. (One guy was an Indian, so I just assumed it was a foreign idea.) But it never occurred to me that I couldn't be an architect b/c of my gender. It was comical to me. My male architect professors treated us female students equally. But my point is that I never worried about being female b/c sexist ideas never hindered me. And reading this list of mostly male authors w/ a mostly male perspective is only one way to see the world. If someone doesn't write up that list of female authors similar to this reading list, who will know that they exist or what they have to say? So what I am saying is, [someone] do it because it is a good idea and [you] think the world should read more female authors and their perspective on the same history.

      So I hope I understood your points and responded accordingly. If I misunderstood, please let me know. But no pressure; I just think it would be worth it to put together a serious list of authors of these genres that include more female authors.

    4. I don't want to forget to answer you, but it's my bedtime here :) so I only have a quick note: I do realize, of course, that much of what was published & treasured by the ages was written by men. And also that this list was drawn from "great lists of books" and such. My point wasn't in criticism of this list in particular, but rather, the way it illustrates what our society still considers great.

      I actually consider a lot of the above great. I'm not one who thinks we should bury the men to get to the ladies, though I do find my personal reading is veering toward books by women right now. I mean (& didn't say well) that this list indicates that literary history is still absent of female voices which very much did exist, though they are sometimes relegated to journals & letters. And of course, there were many, many women who could not write. Some were taught to read but were expressly NOT taught to write, for fear their ideas (objections, grievances, unpopular notions) would spread. After the printing press was invented and England & Europe exploded with pamphlets, women found enormous opportunity to speak, though MANY of them signed their works "a lady" or "anonymous." They are the women Virginia Woolf referred to when she wrote, "Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman." I'd like to see serious scholarship on some of these works -- to see them unearthed, to get a greater picture of history.

      With respect to Henry James & etc., I don't particularly care what his version of a woman was, if what I want to know is what it was like to be a woman. I would value his work in a literary sense, & certainly -- as you say -- in defense of women. (I would value all that very much!) But that isn't the same as actually, in the 21st century, rolling up our sleeves and looking for the perspective on history (or works of literature) through a woman's viewpoint. What his or other male writers' works address is their version of woman -- which is VERY important to literary history. Very valuable. I'm just saying it's not the full picture, & I would like to live to see a day when these lists of books equally represent women of various viewpoints: not just the feminist, but the everyday woman within the historical moment. If we only represent a handful of educated women who have the courage to speak, then we are leaving the impression that the bulk of history was lived by men & a few strong women. We are not seeing the gentle lives lived between the pages. A tall order perhaps, but I think it's worth investigating. There is value in the sensational novels, the Gothics, the romances, the letters & journals the women were writing. There is value in the pamphlets & poems scratched anonymously & published in the 1700s. These were written in response to that world. Those voices are only silent because we are not reading them.

      *We may not have moved in large numbers, or publicly, or with great exposure, but we were preoccupied with raising future generations and maintaining households - which is no minor task.* - This assumes that all women were married raising children? Enormous numbers in London alone were single, widowed, etc.

      Well, anyhow, I will probably forget to come back here if you respond. I can't get the "notify me" thing to work, & I really should be writing a paper, not a comment. I just didn't want to leave you unanswered since you took the time for me. :) I think we are generally on the same page. (I was going to tell you to feel free to delete all this if it's troublesome, but that sounds a bit too much like our current version of literary history -- har!) xx

    5. Should like to add: here's a woman who was married & quite busy with her children (& trying to survive) who still found time to write:

      Here's another:

      Here's another clever woman:

      This is the sort of scholarship which makes me feel we are getting closer to things. :)

    6. In case you return here:

      Yes, I was implying that women were married, raising children, and taking care of the home, and probably b/c that's my world. But you are correct, not every woman was married or had children, and may have been widowed; but whichever, they were in the same place - and that is a man's world. But that has changed. You could begin compiling a list of titles and authors as you find them, and one day you will have a great list to share with the world of those women who told their stories, quietly.

      P.S. I appreciated the article you linked in your first comment. When I get a chance today, I'll look at these other links.

    7. I did come back! :) & I agree with what you say above. x

  10. Never commented before, but I do appreciate your reading recommendations very much. I mostly follow you on Pinterest and have started to compile a list of your recommendations. I'm beginning to read through your list which includes many books in my library, but have never read. Two of my grandchildren are English majors working on their masters, one of which is a poet as well as an English lit professor. Having never been interested in poetry, especially modern poetry, I was surprised at how really compelling it is. I am trying to thoroughly digest a poem a week and write about it. I need to balance this with other classics. I don't care if they were written by males or females, a classic is a classic! Thank you for the time you have obviously put into compiling this list.

    1. You are welcome. It's my pleasure! Thank you for commenting. I'm with you on poetry, which is why I committed myself to read TWEM lists. Poetry is the last genre on TWEM, and I am a little nervous about it; but I think it will turn out just fine. This project has helped me to overcome my intimidation of the classics.

  11. Found a link to this list on Pinterest. I'm thrilled to find it. I wish that literary salons were still popular to have like-minded people (at least in the sense that they value reading) meeting in person over a meal or good wine to discuss and challenge one another intellectually.

    1. Oh, that would be great. The next best things are book clubs and literary blogs. : )

  12. I clicked on Commonplace books. Didn,t get too much about that subject, did I miss something?

  13. I agree with those who commented about the lack of women writers included in these works. It is also very heavily Western and British in focus. The overall list is intriguing, however, and most of the works are worthy of attention.

    1. Hi, Caroline,
      Susan Wise Bauer is focusing on the Western Civilization. She wrote The Well-Trained Mind, which is a homeschool curriculum that teaches the Classical method, which is rooted in Western Civ. Her Well-Educated Mind then is for those of us adults who never received a Classical education in school. Her list is from the Western Canon.

  14. Man's search for meaning should be there too under biographies

    1. I haven't read this one. I know some friends who did, but one of them was not totally impressed by it.

  15. Can you please tell me about if i can read free online

    1. Nimra, I'm not sure if you are asking if you can read The Well-Educated Mind online or these titles. You probably cannot find a copy of TWEM, but I'm sure you would be able to find many of these titles available to read for free online. Some you may be able to read via

  16. Before I began with my reflections, if you want to read to Tony Morrison book, I think Jazz would be the best one to do for you.

    Ok now here are my thoughts. First, there are plenty of modern novels that aren't graphic in their descriptions of violent things. But that doesn't make them better or worse. Also, sometimes these are the actual stories that people experience, and their stories deserve to be told too. I also don't think that someone's being a liberal will immediately mean that they will want to and/or be able to get through a book that is graphically descriptive, as opposed to someone who isn't liberal. I think it's silly to attribute politics to art in that aspect. I have also noticed that a lot of people think about art and literature on a linear timeline that is going backward. They say, oh yesterday everything was so great, and now everything is just not as good as it once was! But to be fair some older stuff is horribly dehumanizing of certain groups of people, like heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad. Good literature will always be produced in the world I believe. Sometimes not everyone's going to like it. That is one some of the most interesting discussions can to happen, but I have to admit I too am not a huge fan of graphic descriptions of violence!

    The wonderful thing about "good" lit though, is that when you take a list like Bauer's, it would be very disappointing if one person to get through all and enjoy it all. They would just be too similar in my opinion! We need diverse literature. With diverse characters with diverse experiences, with diverse ways of telling the stories, from diverse time periods, and so on. If you feel uncomfortable reading a novel, that's fine. As a reader you have every right to not read a book. However, I don't think that if a book is making you uncomfortable it is doing so because it believes the only way to make you think is to make you uncomfortable. While the saying goes, one learns best outside of their comfort zone, I hope you'll be able to think just us deeply about what makes you comfortable as you should be about what makes you uncomfortable.

    Ok my rant is over. Haha. I would like to try this list at some point; i've read a good number of them. Although from Morrison I've only read jazz and Bluest Eye.

    1. Thank you, Erica, for your thoughts. I've not heard of Jazz, but it will be something to consider when it is time to read Morrison again. I did get a used copy of The Bluest Eye and I hope to try it in the future. I think what irritated me most about Song of Solomon was that it was too poetic for me, and I struggled to comprehend it for a whole week. I gave it up. The blasphemy and vile descriptions were only fuel for the fire.

      That was a few years ago when I attempted to read it, and it came on the heels on several other contemporary works that I absolutely did not enjoy b/c they were not traditional novels at all. They were just plain weird and incoherent. However, I have am still open up to reading more contemporary works, and I actually look forward to many of them.

      I do think that some authors (or artists and entertainers) want you to feel uncomfortable in the name of being provocative and forcing the reader to think about such things, only to stomp out traditional values, push limits, destroy standards, or just be offensive - not all, but some do. It's not necessarily inappropriate, either, but some are far too insulting, like Madonna, let's say, or Andy Warhol or John Steinbeck. And of course, these are my opinions, while someone else may appreciate their "art" or work. So at the time of my reading, I felt like Morrison was insulting me, and I could not, at that time, read her work with an open mind.

      Anyway, that's were I'm at with contemporary or modern lit these days.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Yeah I see! One more comment for you to ponder; I hope it enriches and contextual ones your perspective as you go through this thorough list. Overall, one shouldn't see literature on a timeline that is two-dimensional. With literature either getting better are getting worse over time.

      My hope with this comment is to share with you how the term "insulting" may be applied to the older works; simply put, "good" standards are not only a thing of the past but of the present. The idea that new books are "destroying standards" implies they destroy good standards. If any standards are indeed being destroyed by modern lit they might also be bad ones. Many modern books embrace what (I think) would be traditional values like love, forgiveness, hard work, etc. but many modern novels are also very depressing; life isn't always happy. But I digress.

      While I can say that it I don't find either Steinbeck or Warhol insulting, I can understand how the popular ornacclaime literature of today can be at odds with people who are more familiar with "the classics" or at least classics of western lit. One issue with western lot though that has come up in English departments is the lack of diversity in the traditional English canon. Some of the books on here represent women authors or authors of color, but, as one Yale student pointed out in an article titled, "The Canon Is Sexist, Racist, Colonialist, and Totally Gross. Yes, You Have to Read It Anyway," the canon is reflective of a history where non-white, female, lower class, straight, disabled etc people did not have privilege and did not produce art to the extent that those within the more powerful identity spheres did. While I am more of a children's lit expert, I am aware of some of these debates from my time in grad school. However, for the time being I simply wanted to problemetize your concern that more modern lot can be insulting by pointing out that, depending on who you talk to, the same could be true for older lit; Joseph Conrad I already cited for his colonialist treatment of African people in his works. I enjoy Hemingway but boy do I feel a little shunned while reading his some of the ways he writes about women in his novels! And to bring a poignant example from children's lit, this article by a black children's author (a very good one) follows up on an essay by a librarian thirty years ago:
      This article looks at the large numbers rather than one book, but it raises some good issues. You may be flustered that some books included here don't sit well on your palate. A perfectly valid feeling. Yet others from different backgrounds might for personal reasons or from larger, structural forces, feel at odds with a very homogeneous or sometimes insulting canon. But as the same Yale student I mentioned above pointed out, it's still very important to read all the canon. See the full article here:

    4. Erica, thanks again for your comments and links. Every time I try to answer you, I am interrupted over here and I have to quit. I give up. All I can say is this:

      I am convinced by my reading experience, and from other resources, that man's (by which I mean both genders) is losing his understanding of what is true, good, and beautiful. It doesn't mean good art isn't being produced anymore today, but I do mean that there is significant evidence of the decline of these disciplines.

      Yes, I think we can know what is true, good, and beautiful; ancient and classic literature/writing provides examples for us. However, b/c art reflects our culture and society and civilization, we can see that man has no idea what is truth anymore (he is so confused, he has lost commonsense); what is good is now evil and what is evil is now good; and finally, what is offensive and - yes, ugly - is now supposed to be beautiful, we think; yet, we are truly confused. Modern or contemporary art demonstrates how lost we are.

      The article about the cannon breaks my heart b/c I see a bunch of Yale students who do not know or understand world history. It's not entirely their fault b/c back in high school they were taught current events (and how it connects to their feelings); yet, if they learned real historical truths, they would understand why these are called the great books, why they are mostly written by European males, and why they need to read them. They wouldn't use their modern mindset and worldview to describe people from generations ago, many of whose works they probably have NEVER EVEN READ!!! The irony!!! Talk about racist and sexist!!!

      So I agree with the writer, but not with the demands of the students. If they want to read diverse literature, then they are free to find those authors and their works and read them to their heart's content. But they do not need to go to Yale to study diverse literature; nonetheless, they do need to read the ancient and classical great works b/c the writing is the standard of good writing. It just is.

  17. ^the above typos are due to voice to text not being 100% perfect ;)

  18. Regarding female authors and the "canon": Anne Bradstreet should be on the list for poetry. She was an absolute best-seller sensation in her time, and wrote beautiful poetry very much from her personal perspective as a colonial woman. Men and women read her and were blown away by her talent.

    1. Thanks, Abigail. I will want to add her to my list once I get to poetry. I'm not a poetry fan, but I believe once i immerse myself in it, I will love it. And I love the colonial period, too.

  19. Thank you so much for this list, I have been looking for a list like this. Just this week a coworker and I started a conversation about the woman authors vs male authors because he gives me so many great recommendations of books to read (many on this list) thanks you for all of your views on thoughts about it..

    1. You're welcome. I have been reading through the list since 2012, and it has been a great experience. I'm already considering returning to the novels when I finish the last genre - poetry - which will be in like another ten years. Let me know if you decide to start reading through the list, and if you create a blog to write your opinions.

  20. Hi Ruth, I just wanted to thank you for your blog and your consistency in keeping up with it. It has been very encouraging for me. We have been reading through the Great Books (very slowly) the past several years and I finally started a blog to start documenting, and to encourage others to reclaim their education. You make me wish I had not been so timid with my thoughts on the books, and had just written them down :) But time waits for no man. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. Your thoughts make me feel like I'm having a good review with a friend over coffee.

    Most Humbly,

    1. Thank you, Audra. I'm excited for you. I hope you find that writing about what you read enhances your literary journey.

  21. Diving into this journey also, starting with Histories tomorrow. Very impressive group of books under your belt. Bravo!

    1. Hey, good luck to you. History is one of my favorite genre, but I've been struggling through these Ancients.

  22. hay there I found your blog looking for book recommendation's. recently I have been going through Rory Gilmores reading list of 359 books ... your list is quite impressive. I am adding to my already growing list thank you for sharing

    1. You're welcome. I'd like to check out that reading list of 359.

    2. I found a great website that lists all 359 books. Thanks!

  23. A fine list of great books, many of which I've read. Yes, even Gibbon's 3000 pages DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
    I feel the entire HOLY BIBLE should also be read cover to cover, and I have done so, twice. I'm glad to see WALDEN listed, a fine book and I am a Thoreau Society Life member! However, I did not notice any Hemingway or Sinclair Lewis listed, perhaps my error, as I read the list quickly! Thank you everyone for your comments, we devoted readers have this literary dimension to our character that cannot be taken away.

  24. An interesting list! There are a few on each list that I know I'll be reading, so I'll probably refer back to this. (Well, except the science list; I think I'd find it pretty dry, except maybe some of the more recent books.) I hadn't looked at the entire list before.

    I think maybe something by Hannah Arendt should be on the history list. I'll be reading her next year, I think, if I don't get to it this year.

    I'm also planning to read a few of the poetry books next year. I'm reading a poetry anthology and just finished the William Blake selections, so I'm looking forward to reading _Songs of Innocence & Experience_ when I get around to it. Also Langston Hughes, I've been impressed with a few of his poems but I have never read a whole book of his poetry.

  25. Hi Ruth....Just checking to see if you are still on your literary trek....Recently (Jan. 19, 2019) celebrated the 210th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe. Have loved his work since at least 1966. Your booklist has a lot in common with Mortimer Adler's book "How to Read a Book". He says in this book that the only books worth reading (other than for entertainment or information collecting) are those which are above the readers head. These, maybe 100-200 works, are the only ones that force the reader to become a better reader, to cause the reader to grow and expand his/her abilities.

    Travis B. Donnelly (south Georgia)

    1. I read Adler's book many years ago. It is due for a reread. I have to agree with him, though I know it is difficult. But it is the only way to grow. Rereading is helpful, too.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  26. Is this the updated book list in the crimson book?

    1. I think it is. I do not own a copy of the new edition, but if I remember correctly, it is bright red. The older version is pale yellow. The new edition includes the list for science.

  27. Great post, please keep on sharing amazing article like this! It makes me happy reading your post.

  28. This is a great project, Ruth, and I am tempted to join in :) I've just finished reading Wise Bauer's book, and I am thinking about combining it with other books on reading (such as Harold Bloom's and Mortimer Adler's tomes on 'How to Read', and such). Your post is very inspiring - and I love a good reading list! :D

    1. That sounds like a great project, and a perfect way to accomplish all of those great reading lists. I have made several book lists, like Adler's and others, but right now I'm focusing on Bauer's -- though I am sure the titles cross over and you can kill several birds w/ one stone.

  29. I've been following your journey for a couple of years since I'm also working on the TWEM list. I admire your discipline in going straight down the list, I've been mostly going in order but sometimes couldn't resist jumping around (as a dinosaur fan, how could I save "T-Rex and the Crater of Doom" for last?).

    I haven't been forced to bail on any of the 20 books I've read so far, but I imagine it will happen eventually. It's been an enlightening adventure so far, I love to see that someone else is working on the same goal since it motivates me to push on. Good luck!

  30. Hi, ZACH: I would love to see which books you've read so far. You do not have a blog? Anyway, that's fine if you jump around. Most people seem to do that. I think I'm drawn to the chronology, and it is even the way I homeschool my kids. Only recently I have had to jump around bc the libraries in my area have been closed for the last five months bc of the RONA, and I haven't been able to get the next books in the history list. I could only read what I had on my shelf. And right now I have stalled in the entire project.
    Thanks for stopping by and best of luck to finishing your list!

    1. Hi Ruth, I have in fact been writing on a private page with WordPress which isn't very beginner-friendly. I can send it over once I figure out how to share it, I've just been writing for myself so far until I figure out what I'd like to do with the blog :)

      Same here with the libraries, I've been visiting eBay a lot more lately. Some of the harder-to-find books aren't cheap!

  31. Hey Ruth. Thanks for this list and your reviews. I'm having a baby soon and since I am completely un-educated (thanks college!) I decided to get serious about provided my child a real education, better than I had. I am about to finish my first book (Protestant Ethic). It is actually fascinating! On to Ben Franklin. I hope each book I read is as worthy of chewing and digesting as my first one.

    1. How exciting!!! I felt the same way about my own education and my children's education (which is why I homeschool).

      And you are welcome. I love meeting others on the WEM journey. What a feat that you began w/ Protestant Ethic. That was not an easy book for me, but I enjoyed your synopsis in your comment. It was great! I hope you enjoy many of them, too.

  32. I just absolutely love your blog. You inspire me to write more about what I love on my personal blog. Thanks for being such a great inspiration. I came across your blog, by sheer luck. I was looking for information on Edith Wharton. I recently watched a movie called Bucaneers on Amazon and was intrigued with the story. Somehow, I felt something was not quite right with the piece. I did not know if it was the script, acting or the original writer. I really enjoyed the story, but it did not flow as well as I thought it should. I have learned so much about Edith Wharton and think that she is truly one of our great writers that I never knew existed. I am a Jane Austen and Agatha Christie fan, so I just love great writing. Thanks for sharing your passion and love for great books. I am inspired to share more of my passion on great books that I read. Kudo's on your success...

    1. Thank you, Juliet. I visited your blog and it is quite extensive and very well organized. I look forward to visiting and looking around to see what else you write about. So thank you for your kind words.

      I have to agree about Wharton. She is one of my favorite female authors. Her writing is emotional and beautiful. I have not heard of Buccaneers however, and now I'm curious. I'll have to take a look.

  33. Wonderful list! A female Author you may wish to look into is Jennifer Chiaverini. Her Historical Fiction is amazing, not to mention her stories about women. 'Enchantress of Numbers', 'Mrs.Lincoln's Sisters', ' Resistance Woman', just to name a few.