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April 13, 2008


Michelle R

The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer contains reading lists broken down by category: novel, autobiography, historical writings, drama, and poetry. The subtitle of her book is A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Not only does she tell you what to read, but she tells you HOW to read it.


I've made St. Thomas Aquinas' Great Books program my reading list.



My quick-and-dirty list:

1) The Iliad and Odyssey, by Homer

2) The Aeneid, by Virgil

3) Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumeides by Aeschylus

4) Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

5) Medea and The Bacchae by Euripides

6) The Republic, Apology, and Euthyphro by Plato

7) The Metamorphoses by Ovid

8) Any selections you can find of Catullus and Horace

9) Consolations of Philosophy by Boethius

10) History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours

11) Beowulf

12) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

13) Njal's saga

14) The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson

15) The Divine Comedy by Dante

16) The Mabinogion

17) Perceval by Chretien de Troyes

18) Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

19) Lais of Marie de France

20) Morte d'Arthur by Malory

21) Paradise Lost by Milton

And it's late, I'm tired, and I'm more of a medievalist anyway, so I won't carry this any further. You could, however, check out the 100 Great Books list, which I think is pretty good:



I have been wanting to ask the same question for years! Thanks!

John Kasaian

I'm slogging through The Brothers Karamozov right now. If you want a definitive reading list check out the one at Thomas Aquinas college---and there is always The Great Books series.

Word Lily

The Everyman's Essential 100 is a pretty good starting point, in my opinion. It's here: http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/classics/sets.php?id=0

Knoph also has (supplementary?) poetry, contemporary, etc., lists.

Here's the list I'm working my way through, although it's not exactly what you've asked for: http://wordlily.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/books/ This list is the top 100 (one book per author) creative works of the 20th century that engage the Judeo-Christian faith.


You could try some of the ones listed here:


"Beowulf," mentioned above, I started and could never get past the third page. It's nothing, in my opinion, to "El Cantar de Mio Cid," an epic poem which anyone who knows a bit of Spanish should read (or at least Pedro Salinas's translation to modern Spanish).

Of what I've read of that "Great Books" list, I'd recommend first Pascal's Pensées. They're gold.

Tom Simon

If you haven't read it before, and want to have some fun along with your classics, I suggest you give John Myers Myers' "Silverlock" a go, with "The Silverlock Companion". (I believe you can get them both in a one-volume edition from Amazon.)

"Silverlock", as you may know, is a roaring fun game of Name That Tale, in which an illiterate Chicagoan with an MBA finds himself in the Commonwealth of Letters and has to make (and justify) his way through it. His guide and pal is one O. Widsith Amergin Demodocus Boyan Taliesin Golias. (The O is for Orpheus, of course.) That should give you some idea of the tone.

"The Silverlock Companion" is a pretty exhaustive discussion of the hundreds of literary allusions in the text (everything from Gilgamesh to Raskolnikov, complete with a tour of the Inferno), and comes fairly well recommended. If you get to the point where you've read all, or even three-fourths, of the books Myers riffs on, so that you can fully appreciate all the inside jokes and resonances, you'll have passed a stiffer final exam in world literature than you'll find in any B.A. program.

One caveat: pretty nearly all the allusions are to fiction or poetry. For philosophy, history, theology, and science, you'll have to look elsewhere.

J.R. Stoodley

Beowulf is not optional. It must be read. I don't care if you don't like it.

Brian Saint-Paul

There are a number of excellent suggestions here and I love your project of reading the classics. Stick with it.

My two cents: I'd strongly recommend reading history along with the texts themselves. Often, self-educators focus on the staple titles, but don't provide themselves the context with which to fully appreciate them. It's great to read Boethius or Cassiodorus, but if you've never heard of Theodoric the Amal or the Ostrogothic Kingdom, you're missing the larger context.

And of course, that's true with the entire list.


Here are a couple--
Kipling - Especially Soldiers Three

Jane Austen- especially Pride and Prejudice (I don't care how many movies they try- just can't touch the original

A Thousand Nights and a Night - Sir Richard Burton, unabridged
I know it's 18 volumes, but the footnotes themselves are quite an eye-opener to the mind of a Victorian Era Englishman.

The collected works of Ogden Nash -- The man can make grammar and abbreviations tickle you.

And last but not least, if you can get hold of the 1934 Unabridged Webster's Dictionary-- you will be amazed. Just browse. You'll probably need it for some of the obscure - but then common - terms in Burton's Nights

Smoky Mountain

The collected works of Ogden Nash

My all time favorite poet ;) ...

The one "L" lama, he's a priest
The two "L" llama, he's a beast
The three "L" lllama, well
I'll be a silk pajama
That there is no three "L" lllama

That's from memory, so forgive any errors.


Smoky Mountain

Should have been "I'll bet a silk pajama"

Smoky Mountain

I just looked up that poem online. Seems my memory is a tad flawed. Ah well.


The first poem I ever heard was from my dad-- I didn't learn until waaaay later it was Nash--

A strage bird is the pelican.
It's bill can hold more than its belican.


If you are still looking for suggestions--I have written guides to classical literature of the Greeks, Romans and Old World Europe. They are available at http://search.aquinasandmore.com/results.php?i=search.aquinasandmore.com&keywords=rutherford

Tim J

Hot dog! Thank you, Fran, and everyone. Now I just need to find some of these books!

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