ADLER AND VAN DOREN'S 
RECOMMENDED 
READING LIST

In their How to Read a Book (1940, 1972), Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren append "A Recommended Reading List." They write: "On the following pages appears a list of books that it would be worth your while to read. We mean the phrase 'worth your while' quite seriously. Although not all of the books listed are 'great' in any of the commonly accepted meanings of the term, all of them will reward you for the effort you make to read them. All of these books are over most people's heads - sufficiently so, at any rate, to force most readers to stretch their minds to understand and appreciate them. And that, of course, is the kind of book you should seek out if you want to improve your reading skills, and at the same time discover the best that has been thought and said in our literary tradition." In some instances where a general title for an author is cited, e.g. Works, Tragedies, the particular titles recommended by the authors are shown in parentheses.

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Homer (9th century B.C.) Iliad. Odyssey
The Old Testament  
Aeschylus (c.525-456 B.C.) Tragedies
Sophocles (c.495-406) Tragedies
Herodotus (c.484-425) The Persian Wars
Euripides (c.485-406 B.C.) Tragedies (Medea, Hippolytus, The Bacchae)
Thucydides (c.460-400 B.C.) History of the Peloponnesian Wars
Hippocrates (c.460-377 B.C.) Medical Writings
Aristophanes (c.448-380 B.C.) Comedies (The Clouds, The Birds, The Frogs)
Plato (c.427-347 B.C.) Dialogues (The Republic, Symposium, Phaedo, Meno, Apology, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Sophist, Theaetetus)
Aristotle (384-270 B.C.) Works (Organum, Physics, Metaphysics, On the Soul, The Nichomachean Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, Poetics)
Epicurus (c.341-270 B.C.) Letter to Herodotus, Letter to Menoeceus.
Euclid (fl. c.300 B.C.) Elements of Geometry
Archimedes (c.287-212 B.C.) Works (On the Equilibrium of Planes, On Floating Bodies, The Sand-Reckoner)
Apollonius of Perga (fl. c.240 B.C.) On Conic Sections
Cicero (106-43 B.C.) Works (Orations, On Friendship, On Old Age)
Lucretius (c.95-55 B.C.) On the Nature of Things
Virgil (70-19 B.C.) Works
Horace (65-8 B.C.) Works (Odes and Epodes, The Art of Poetry)
Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) History of Rome
Ovid (43 B.C. - A.D. 17) Works (Metamorphoses)
Plutarch (c.45-120) Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Moralia.
Tacitus (c. 55-117) Histories, Annals, Agricola, Germania.
Nicomachus of Gerasa (fl. c.100 A.D.) Introduction to Arithemetic
Epictetus (c.60-120) Discourses, Encheiridion (Handbook)
Ptolemy (c.100-178) Almagest
Lucian (c.120-190) Works (The way to Write History, The True History, The Sale of Creeds)
Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Meditations
Galen (c.130-200) On the Natural Facilities
The New Testament  
Plotinus (205-270) The Enneads.
St. Augustine (354-430) Works (On the Teacher, Confessions, The City of God, Christian Doctrine)
The Song of Roland (12th century?)  
The Nibelungenlied (13th century) (The Volsunga Saga is the Scandinavian version of the same legend)
The Saga of Burnt Njal  
St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1226-1274) Summa Theologica.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Works (The New Life, On Monarchy, The Divine Comedy)
Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400) Works (Troilus and Criseyde, Canterbury Tales)
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Notebooks
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy.
Desiderius Erasmus (c.1469-1536) The Praise of Folly
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
Sir Thomas More (c.1478-1535) Utopia
Martin Luther (1483-1546) Three Treatises, Table-Talk.
Francois Rabelais (c.1495-1553) Gargantua and Pantagruel
John Calvin (1509-1564) Institutes of the Christian Religion
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) Essays
William Gilbert (1540-1603) On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Don Quixote
Edmund Spenser c.1552-1599) Prothalamion, The Faerie Queene.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Essays, Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum, New Atlantis.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Works
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) The Starry Messenger, Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, Concerning the Harmonies of the World.
William Harvey (1578-1657) On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, On the Circulation of the Blood, On the Generation of Animals.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) The Leviathan
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on Method, Geometry, Meditations on First Philosophy. 
John Milton (1608-1674) Works (Minor Poems, Aeropagitica, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes)
Moliere (1622-1673) Comedies (The Miser, The School for Wives, The Misanthrope, The Doctor in Spite of Himself, Tartuffe)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) The Provincial Letters, Pensees, Scientific Treatises
Christian Huygens (1629-1695) Treatise on Light
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) Ethics
John Locke (1632-1704) Letter Concerning Toleration, Of Civil Government, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Thoughts Concerning Education.
Jean Baptiste Racine (1639-1699) Tragedies (Andromache, Phaedra)
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Optics.
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) Discourse on Metaphysics, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding, Monadology.
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) Robinson Crusoe
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) A Tale of a Tub, Journal to Stella, Gulliver's Travels, a Modest Proposal.
William Congreve (1670-1729) The Way of the World
George Berkeley (1685-1753) Principles of Human Knowledge
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) Essay on Criticism, Rape of the Lock, Essay on Man
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) Persian Letters, Spirit of Laws
Voltaire (1694-1778) Letters on the English, Candide, Philosophical Dictionary.
Henry Fielding (1707-1754) Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) The Vanity of Human Wishes, Dictionary, Rasselas, The Lives of the Poets (Essays on Milton and Pope)
David Hume (1711-1776) Treatise on Human Nature, Essays Moral and Political, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) On the Origin of Inequality, On Political Economy, Emile, The Social Contract.
Laurence Sterne (1713-1790) Tristam Shandy, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
Adam Smith (1723-1790) The Theory of the Moral Sentiments, Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Critique of Pure Reason, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, The Science of Right, Critique of Judgment, Perpetual Peace
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Autobiography.
James Boswell (1740-1795) Journal (London Journal), Life of Samuel Johnson.
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) Elements of Chemistry
John Jay (1745-1829), James Madison (1751-1836), Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) Federalist Papers (Together with the Articles of Confederation, Constitution of the United States, and the Declaration of Independence)
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Theory of Fictions.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Faust. Poetry and Truth.
Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) Analytical Theory of Heat
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) Phenomenology of Spirit, Philosophy of Right, Lectures on the Philosophy of History.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) Poems (Lyrical Ballads, Lucy Poems, Sonnets, The Prelude)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)  Poems (Kubla Khan), Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Biographia Literaria.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) Pride and Prejudice, Emma.
Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) On War
Stendahl (1783-1842) The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, On Love.
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) Don Juan
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) Studies in Pessimism
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) Chemical History of a Candle, Experimental Researches in Electricity
Charles Lyell (1797-1875) Principles of Geology
Auguste Comte (1798-1857) The Positive Philosophy
Honore de Balzac (1799-1850) Pere Goriot, Eugenie Grandet.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Representative Men, Essays, Journal.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) The Scarlet Letter
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) Democracy in America
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) A System of Logic, On Liberty, Representative Government, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women, Autobiography.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, Autobiography.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Works (Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Hard Times)
Claude Bernard (1813-1878) Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Civil Disobedience, Walden.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Capital (Together with Communist Manifesto)
George Eliot (1819-1880) Adam Bede, Middlemarch.
Herman Melville (1819-1881) Moby Dick, Billy Budd.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov.
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) Madame Bovary, Three Stories.
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) Plays (Hedda Gabler, A Doll's House, The Wild Duck)
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) War and Peace, Anna Karenina, What is Art? Twenty-Three Tales.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Mysterious Stranger.
William James (1842-1910) The Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Pragmatism, Essays in Radical Empiricism.
Henry James (1843-1916) The American, The Ambassadors.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, The Genealogy of Morals, The Will to Power.
Jules Henri Poincare (1854-1912) Science and Hypothesis, Science and Method.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) The Interpretation of Dreams, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Civilization and Its Discontents, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Plays (Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion, Saint Joan) Prefaces.
Max Planck (1858-1947) Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory, Where is Science Going? Scientific Autobiography.
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) Time and Free Will, Matter and Memory, Creative Evolution, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion.
John Dewey (1859-1952) How We Think, Democracy and Education, Experience and Nature; Logic, the Theory of Inquiry.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) An Introduction to Mathematics, Science and the Modern World, The Aims of Education and Other Essays, Adventures of Ideas.
George Santayana (1863-1952) The Life of Reason, Skepticism and Animal Faith, Persons and Places.
Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924) The State and Revolution
Marcel Proust (1871-1922) Remembrance of Things Past
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) The Problems of Philosophy, The Analysis of Mind, An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, Human Knowledge; Its Scope and Limits.
Thomas Mann (1875-1955) The Magic Mountain, Joseph and His Brothers
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) The Meaning of Relativity, On the Method of Theoretical Physics, The Evolution of Physics (with L. Infeld)
James Joyce (1882-1941) "The Dead" in Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses.
Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) Art and Scholasticism, The Degrees of Knowledge, The Rights of Man and Natural Law, True Humanism.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) The Trial, The Castle
Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) A Study of History, Civilization on Trial
Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Nausea, No Exit, Being and Nothingness
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918-) The First Circle, Cancer Ward.

 
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