Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, April 13, 2007

Weekend Reading ... For A Lifetime

Recently, Hugh Hewitt introduced a segment with this:
A few days ago, I was riding around with my intern, who is an enrollee at the Torrey Honors program at Biola University, and we were talking about what he was reading and not reading. And it occurred to me that most young college students are absolutely lost. They lack a program like Torrey, they lack a teacher like David Allen White, to tell them what they ought to read, at least when they’re freshmen or sophomores. And so I conspired with David Allen White, professor extraordinaire at the United States Naval Academy, where he’s been teaching Shakespeare and other matters to the mid-shipmen for more than a quarter century, and John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola University, and the head of the Torrey Honors program there, to put together a reading list, and it’s the top 30 books that every one of you ought to have read, and certainly freshmen and sophomores ought to have read.
The able Dwayne prepared a transcript (audio is also available), and I dove into it to snag all the titles and all the links. So, here it is, the combined reading list of two men with voracious appetites for books, lucid comprehension of human character and history, and an enviable knowledge base.

They both disclaimed on the Bible, saying it was firmly planted at the top of both of their lists, as it is on mine. I shall be reading that one daily until they nail the coffin shut.

So take a look at the White/Reynolds list, and count the ones you've read as you go. Let's meet again on the other side.

1. Plato’s Republic

2. Homer’s Iliad

3. Dante’s Divine Comedy

4. Cervantes’ Don Quixote

5. Dickens’ David Copperfield

6. Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov

7. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

8. Odyssey

9. Oedipus Rex

10. Augustine’s Confessions

11. Second Treatise on Government by Locke

12. Virgil’s Aeneid

13. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

14. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

15. Charles Dickens’ Child’s History of England

16. The Birth of the Modern, Johnson

17. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States

18. Federalist Papers

19. Democracy In America

20. Wealth of Nations

21. Communist Manifesto by Marx

22. Origin of Species

23. On The Genealogy of Morals

24. Civilization And Its Discontents

25. C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man

26. Pensees of Pascal

27. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

28. Immortal Poems of the English Language

29. Melville’s Moby Dick

30. Essays by Montaigne

31. Canterbury Tales

32. The Prince

33. The Faeire Queene

34. Calvin’s Institutes

35. Chanson de Geste from the Song of Roland

37. Alice In Wonderland

38. Through The Looking Glass

39. King Lear

40. MacBeth

41. Henry V

42. Julius Caesar

43. As You Like It

44. Twelfth Night

45. Henry IV, Part 1

46. Winter’s Tale

47. Tempest

48. Paradise Lost

49. Boethius, the Consolation of Philosophy

50. Cicero on Friendship and on Duties

51. Hobbes’ Leviathan

52. Anna Karenina or War And Peace

53. collected poems of T.S. Eliot

54. Witness by Whittaker Chambers

55. Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor

56. Norman Mailer’s Of A Fire On The Moon

57. Walker Percy’s Lost In The Cosmos

How'd you do? Let me know! Suggestions for books you would add to the list are also welcome.

I only checked off 11 or 12 (I'm a little rusty on what Shakespeare I've read), so I'm feeling overwhelmingly under-read. I'm going to order two of my unreads as soon as I post this (The Federalist Papers and The Abolition of Man should be a good start), and encourage you to do the same ... unless of course you've read them all already.

Their lists are entirely Western, which is fine because we are still a European/American culture and there's plenty of learning for us/me to do just on the home field. A little Lao Tsu , Sun Tsu or Confucious wouldn't hurt anyone, though, and I'd be interested in reading some of the foundational thinking of Islam, given that it's pretty hard to avoid dealing with Islam nowdays.

Look at the list again and think about high school and college curricula. How lost are we? Very! Imparting meaningful knowledge no longer seems to be the goal of our education system, as thousands of graduates with degrees in Women's Studies, various ethnic studies, environmental studies and other useless degrees are hanging sheepskins on their walls without one iota of knowledge about their history, the foundations of their culture, and why our society still remains superior.

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