Classics Reading List

Following is the list of books we’re reading in our Classics Book Club.

Our current selection is in bold-faced red.

Prehistory to 3500 B.C.: The First Humans

  • Visual arts: study Paleolithic cave art, megaliths
  • Neanderthal flute is the earliest human instrument; the 43,000-82,000 year old cave bear femur bone segment with four holes, matches Do-Re-Mi scale.
  • 1300 B.C., the Ten Commandments
  • c. 1035-972 B.C. David, King of Israel

3500 to 500 B.C.: Asia and Egypt

  • The Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Deborah; Ruth, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes; the minor Prophets; Esther, Malachi; Job.
  • 1780 B.C., The Code of Hammurabi (Mesopotamia).
  • 700 B.C., The Epic of Gilgamesh

3000 B.C. to 500 A.D.: The East

  • 638-713 B.C. Hui-Neng, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
  • 604-521 B.C. Lao-Tze, Tao Te Ch’ing
  • 551-479 B.C. Confucius, The Analects of Confucius
  • 500-477 B.C. Buddha
    • The Pali Canon TipiTaka
    • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh
    • The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • 450-380 B.C., Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
  • 400 B.C. Kalidasa, The Cloud Messenger and Sakuntala
  • 372-289 B.C. Mencius, The Book of Mencius (aka Meng-Tze, Ment the Sage)
  • 300 B.C. Valmiki, The Ramayana
  • 200 B.C. Vyasa, The Mahabharata
  • 200 B.C. The Bhagavad Gita

1900 B.C. to 133 B.C.: The Gifts of Greece

  • 800 B.C. Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey
  • 525-456 B.C. Aeschylus, The Oresteia, Dramas
  • 494-425 B.C. Herodotus, The Histories
  • 496-406 B.C. Sophocles, Dramas; Oedipus Rex, Oedipus of Colonus, Antigone
  • 469-399 B.C. Socrates, in Plato and Xenophon (see Plato)
  • 480-406 B.C. Euripedes, Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus, The Trojan Women, Electra
  • 460-400 B.C., Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
  • 448-388 B.C. Aristophanes, The Frogs, Lysistrata
  • 428-348 B.C. Plato, Apology, Crito, Dialogues
  • 384-322 B.C. Aristotle, Ethics, Politics, Poetics
  • 150-216 B.C. Clement of Alexandria, The One Who Knows God

600 B.C. to 500 A.D.: The Roman World

  • 538 B.C., Cyrus of Persia decrees the return of the Jews: Ezra (458 B.C.) and Nehemiah (444 B.C.)
  • 100-50 B.C. Lucretius, Of the Nature of Things
  • 70-19 B.C. Virgil, The Aeneid
  • 68 A.D. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers
  • 55-135 A.D., Epictetus, Golden Thoughts
  • 60-100 A.D. The Didache
  • 95-97 A.D., Clement, “The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians”
  • 98-117 A.D. Ignatius, “The Letters of Ignatius”
  • 121-180 A.D. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • 480-525 A.D. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

4 B.C. to A.D. 900: The Rise of Christendom

  • 6 B.C. to 30 A.D., Jesus Christ; read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke
  • 5 B.C. to 64 A.D., St. Paul, the letters of St. Paul, New Testament Bible
  • 64 A.D. (d.), St. Peter, 1 and 2 Peter, the Gospel of Mark
  • 101 A.D. St. John the Apostle, The Gospel of John (John the Theologian); The First Epistle of John (John the Evangelist); 2 and 3 Epistles of John (John the Presbyter); The Book of Revelation (John of Patmos)
  • 47-120 A.D. Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives
  • 100-165 A.D. St Justin the Martyr, Apologies
  • 354-430 A.D., Saint Augustine, Confessions
  • 673-735 A.D., The Venerable Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation
  • 949-1022 A.D., St. Symeon the New Theologian, The First Created Man; On the Priesthood and Eucharist

A.D. 400 to 1500: The Islamic World

A.D. 400 to 1500: The Golden Age of the East

  • 976-1015, Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji
  • 1048, Omar Khayyamm, The Rubaiyat
  • 1330-1400, Luo Kuan-chung, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

1000 to 1500: The Middle Ages

  • 1033-1109, Anselm of Canterbury, The Major Works
  • 1098-1179, Hildegard von Bingen, Secrets of God; listen to her music CD, Canticles of Ecstasy, Vision
  • 1100-1173, Richard of St. Victor, The 12 Patriarchs, The Mystical Ark, Book Three of the Trinity
  • 1181-1226, The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assissi
  • 1225-1274, Thomas Aquinas, The Light of Faith
  • 1260-1427, Master Eckhart, Writings
  • 1265-1321, Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
  • 1293-1381, Jan van Ruysbroeck, The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage
  • 1303-1373, Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden, Life and Revelations
  • 1342-1400, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
  • 1342-1416, Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
  • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, The Holy Grail
  • (c. 1800s) Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Morte d’Arthur and Galahad

1400 to 1600: European Renaissance & Reformation

  • 1469-1527, Machiavelli, The Prince
  • 1517, Martin Luther posts The Ninety-Five Theses; read Address to the German Nobility and Concerning Christian Liberty 
  • 1478-1535, St. Thomas More, Utopia
  • 1483-1553, Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
  • 1509-1564, John Calvin, Dedication to the Institution of the Christian Religion
  • 1513-1572, John Knox, Preface to the History of the Reformation
  • 1515-1582, St. Theresa of Avila, Interior Castle
  • 1553-1592, Michel de Montaigne, Essays
  • c. 1540, St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  • 1542-1592, St. John of the Cross, Collected Works of St. John of the Cross; The Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • 1547-1616, Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • 1561-1626, Sir Francis Bacon, Essays
  • 1564-1616, William Shakespeare, Complete Works
  • 1573-1631, John Donne, Selected Works
  • 1575-1624, Jacob Boehme, Writings
  • 1596-1650, Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method
  • 1588-1679, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
  • 1608-1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost
  • c. 1600, St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
  • 1605-1691, Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
  • Supplementals:

1450 to 1800: The Age of Expansion

1550 to 1815: The Age of Enlightenment & Revolution

  • 1574-1630, Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems 
  • 1590-1697, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation
  • Early American Poets, Slave Poetry by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), Jupiter Hammon (1720-1800) and Phillis Wheatley
  • 1600-1681, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Life is a Dream
  • 1623-1662, Blaise Pascal, Thoughts (Pensees)
  • 1628-1688, John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
  • 1660-1731, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
  • 1667-1745, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal
  • 1694-1773, Voltaire, Candide
  • 1706-1790, Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • 1707-1754, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
  • 1711-1776, David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • 1713-1795, Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
  • 1712-1778, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (the first modern autobiography)
  • 1724-1804, Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals
  • 1737-1809, Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”
  • 1740-1795, James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (the first modern biography)
  • 1723-1790, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
  • 1789-1859, Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • 1789-1851, James Fenimore Cooper, Leather Stocking Tales
  • 1787, Hamilton, Madison and Jay, The Federalist Papers
  • 1797, Hannah Foster, The Coquette
  • 1819-1892, Walt Whitman, War Poems and Poems on the Death of Lincoln
  • American Diaries
    • Samuel Sewall (1674-1729)
    • Cotton Mather (1663-1728)
    • William Byrd (1674-1744), History of the Dividing Line
    • Robert Beverley (1673-1722)
    • Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (1745-1797), The Interesting Narrative of…Olauda Equiano, Slave
  • Literary Criticism
    • Hume, On the Standard of Taste
    • Burke, On Taste and On the Sublime and Beautiful
    • Thackeray, Jonathan Swift
  • Essays

1800 to 1870: Industrialization & Nationalism

  • European Authors
    • 1749-1832, Johann Wolfgang von Goethë, Faust
    • 1757-1827, William Blake, Selected Works
    • 1770-1850, William Wordsworth, Poems
    • 1772-1834, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan
    • 1775-1817, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Emma
    • 1783-1842, Stendhal, The Red and the Black
    • 1799-1850, Honoré de Balzac, Peré Goriot, Eugenie Grandet, Cousin Bette
    • 1811-1863, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
    • 1812-1882, Anthony Trollope, The Warden, The Last Chronicle of Barset, The Way We Live Now
    • 1816-1855, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
    • 1818-1848, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
    • 1821-1880, Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  • Russian Authors
    • 1809-1852, Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, Dead Souls
    • 1818-1883, Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
    • 1821-1881, Feodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov
    • 1828-1910, Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • American Authors
    • 1803-1882, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Works, including “Self Reliance” (essay); Poems; and literary criticism (The Poet, Beauty, Literature)
    • 1804-1864, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
    • 1809-1849, Edgar Allan Poe, Short Stories
    • 1811-1896, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • 1817-1862, Henry David Thoreau, Walden
    • 1819-1891, Herman Melville, Moby Dick
    • 1819-1892, Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
    • 1835-1910, Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
    • 1807-1882, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Evangeline,” “Song of Hiawatha”
    • 1830-1886, Emily Dickinson, Collected Poems
    • 1835-1894, Celia Thaxter, Collected Poems
  • Autobiographies & Political
    • 1797-1883, Autobiography of Sojourner Truth
    • 1817-1895, Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
    • 1818-1896, Autobiography of Harriet Jacobs
    • 1818-1883, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
    • 1861-1865, American Civil War; Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863)
  • Music: The Romantic Period

1870-1914: Mass Society and the National State in the West

  • European Literature
    • 1819-1880, George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch
    • 1828-1906, Henrik Ibsen, Plays
    • 1840-1928, Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure
    • 1865-1939, William Butler Yeats, Collected Poems
    • 1867-1916, Natsume Soseki, Kokoro
    • 1879-1970, E. M. Forster, A Passage to India; A Room With a View; Howard’s End
  • American Literature
    • 1832-1898, Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass
    • 1895, Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
    • 1903, Jack London, The Call of the Wild
    • 1903, Henry James, The Ambassadors
    • 1911, Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
    • 1856-1915, Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery
    • 1871-1938, James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex Colored Man
    • 1868-1963, W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
  • Politics and War
    • 1805-1859, Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
    • 1806-1873, John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, The Subjection of Woman
    • 1817-1862, Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
    • 1838-1918, Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
    • 1878-1968, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
  • Philosophy, Religion, Science, and Psychology
    • 1809-1882, Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of the Species
    • 1844-1900, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morality, The Anti-Christ, Ecco Homo 
    • 1842-1910, William James, The Principles of Psychology, Pragmatism, essays from The Meaning of Truth, The Varieties of Religious Experience
    • 1873-1897, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
    • 1880, Thomas H. Huxley, Science and Culture
  • Visual Arts
  • Music

1914-1919: World War I

  • 1857-1924, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Nostromo
  • 1856-1950, George Bernard Shaw, Selected Plays
  • 1856-1939, Sigmund Freud, Selected Works, incl. The Interpretation of Dreams, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Civilization and Its Discontents
  • 1860-1904, Anton Chekhov, short stories, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard
  • 1862-1937, Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country, The Age of Innocence
  • 1871-1922, Marcel Proust, Remembrances of Things Past
  • 1875-1926, Rainer Maria Rilke, Elegies
  • 1882-1941, Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves
  • 1882-1941, James Joyce, Ulysses
  • 1883-1924, Franz Kafka, The Trial, The Castle, selected short stories
  • 1885-1930, D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love
  • 1899-1961, Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
  • 1894-1961, James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times
  • 1916, Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

1919 to 1939: Between the World Wars

  • 1868-1950, Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
  • 1874-1963, Robert Frost, Collected Poems
  • 1878-1967, Carl Sandburg, Collected Poems
  • 1879-1955, Wallace Stevens, Collected Poems
  • 1883-1963, William Carlos Wiliams, Collected Poems
  • 1885-1972, Ezra Pound, Collected Poems
  • 1888-1965, T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems, Collected Plays
  • 1888-1953, Eugene O’Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night
  • 1894-1963, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
  • 1896-1966, John of Shanghai, The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, the Birthgiver of God
  • 1902-1968, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men
  • 1903-1960, Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • 1930, Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science
  • 1938, St. Maria Faustine Kowalska, Diary
  • Music Between the World Wars:

1939-1945: World War II

  • 1874-1963, Robert Frost, Collected Poems
  • 1875-1955, Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
  • 1885-1951, Sinclair Lewis, Main Street (1920), Babbitt (1922), Arrowsmith (1925, Pulitzer Prize), Elmer Gantry (1927)
  • 1886-1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • 1892-1973, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937), The Lord of the Rings (1954-1956)
  • 1897-1962, William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying
  • 1897-1975, Thornton Wilder, Our Town
  • 1899-1961, Ernest Hemingway, Short Stories
  • 1902-1967, Langston Hughes, Poems
  • 1903-1950, George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1984, Burmese Days
  • 1906, R. K. Narayan, The English Teacher, The Vendor of Sweets
  • 1908-1960, Richard Wright, Native Son (1940), Black Boy (1945)
  • 1911-1983, Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (1945), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

1945-1970: The Cold War

  • The 1950s
  • The 1960s
  • 1893-1963, Mao Tse-Tung, Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung (The Little Red Book)
  • 1897-1963, A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (1957), The Knowledge of the Holy (1961)
  • 1919-., J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  • 1932-1963, Sylvia Plath, Collected Poems, The Bell Jar (1963)
  • 1928-1974, Anne Sexton, Collected Poems
  • 1923-1997, James Dickey, Deliverance (1970)
  • 1914-1993, John Hersey, A Bell for Adano (1944), Hiroshima (1946)
  • 1929-., Adrienne Rich, Collected Poems
  • 1922-1907, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse Five (1969)
  • 1905-1989, Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men (1946)
  • 1924-1987, James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
  • 1914-1994, Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man
  • 1925-1964, Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
  • 1931-1989, Donald Barthelme, Short Stories
  • 1944-., Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1983, Pulitzer Prize)
  • 1941-., Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons
  • 1922-1969, Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)
  • 1924-1984, Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (1966); Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958)
  • 1876-1941, Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
  • 1899-1986, Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths, Dreamtigers
  • 1899-1977, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Speak, Memory
  • 1906-1989, Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape
  • 1907-1973, W. H. Auden, Collected Poems
  • 1913-1960, Albert Camus, The Plague, The Stranger
  • 1915-., Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift, Herzog
  • 1918-., Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), The Gulag Archipelago (1973), The First Circle (1968)Harvard Commencement Speech (8 June 1978)
  • 1925-1970, Mishima Yukio, Confessions of a Mask, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
  • 1928-., Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • 1930-., Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

1970 to the Present

  • Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth (1931)
  • Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
  • Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)
  • Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (1951), Silent Spring (1962)
  • William Golding, Lord of the Flies (1954)
  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)
  • John LeCarre, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1963)
  • Richard Adams, Watership Down (1972)
  • Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter (1973)
  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970), Song of Solomon (1977)
  • John Irving, The World According to Garp (1978)
  • John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever (1978)
  • Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song (1980)
  • John Updike, Rabbit is Rich (1982), Rabbit at Rest (1991)
  • William Kennedy, Ironweed (1984)
  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove (1986)
  • Robert Olen Butler, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1993)
  • E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News (1994)
  • Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (1994)
  • Richard Ford, Independence Day (1996)
  • Philip Roth, American Pastoral (1998)
  • Michael Cunningham, The Hours (1999)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies (2000)
  • Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde (2000)
  • Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier & Clay (2001)
  • Julia Glass, Three Junes (2002)
  • Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire (2003)
  • Lily Tuck, The News from Paraguay (2004)
  • William T. Vollman, Europe Central (2005)
  • Richard Powers, The Echo Maker (2006)