Sunday Salon: Will Durant's list for an educated person

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hello, blog world. I am so happy it is Sunday - no homework, no bus ride, no cleaning. Just me and my bowl of Brownie Crunch cereal (which you should try, if you haven't. I've had to limit myself to weekend mornings only so I don't balloon out).

Today I wanted to highlight a list that I found via my friend Chantel's blog. Chantel is recently engaged and wrote a long list of things she loves about her husband-to-be. One of these things is his desire to read a list made by Will Durant, a philosopher and writer. Supposedly, if you read all 100 of these books, you will have the educational level of a Ph.D.

I'm not sure if I will get through all of these books in my life, but I do want to challenge myself to keep track of the ones I do read and try to get through at least half of them at some point. Books I have already read will be struck out, and books I am currently reading will be italic. Books I know I want to read will be bold.

1 John Arthur Thomson, The Outline of Science: A Plain Story Simply Told (4 vol.)

2 Logan Clendening, The Human Body

3 John Harvey Kellogg, The New Dietetics, pp 1-531, 975-1011

4 William James, Principles of Psychology (2 vol.)

5 Herbert George Wells, The Outline of History

6 William Graham Sumner, Folkways

7 James Frazer, The Golden Bough (1 vol. abridged)

8 James Henry Breasted and James Harvey Robinson, The Human Adventure
(2 vol.)

9 Brian Brown, The Wisdom of China

10 The Bible

11 Elie Faure, History of Art (4 vol),

12 Henry Smith Williams, A History of Science (5 vol.)

13 J. B. Bury, History of Greece

14 Herodotus, Histories (Everyman Library)

15 Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (Everyman Library)

16 Plutarch, Lives of Illustrious Men

17 Gilbert Murray, Ancient Greek Literature

18 Homer, Iliad (trans. William Cullen Bryant)

19 Homer, Odyssey (trans. William Cullen Bryant)

20 Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

21 Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone )

22 Euripides, all plays (trans. Gilbert Murray)

23 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers

24 Plato, Dialogues (trans. Jowett),

25 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics

26 Aristotle, Politics

27 Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (trans. Munro, certain passages are admirably paraphrased in William Mallock, Lucretius on Life and Death)

28 Virgil, Aeneid (trans. William Morris), selections

29 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Everyman Library)

30 Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire* (6 vol., Everyman Library)

31 Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat (Fitzgerald paraphrase)

32 George Moore, Heloise and Abelard (2 vol.)

33 Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (trans. Longfellow or Charles E. Norton) (I've read the Inferno!)

34 Hippolyte Taine, History of English Literature*, book 1

35 Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales (Everyman Library)

36 Henry Adams, Mont St. Michel and Chartres

37 Cecil Gray, The History of Music, ch. 1-3, 5

38 John Addington Symonds, The Renaissance in Italy (7 vol.) (Durant also suggests Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy)

39 Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography (trans. Symonds)

40 Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Painters and Sculptors (4 vol.), esp. Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michaelangelo

41 Harald Hoffding, History of Modern Philosophy (2 vol.), sections on Bruno and Machiavelli

42 Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

43 Preserved Smith, The Age of the Reformation

44 Emile Faguet, The Literature of France, sections on the sixteenth century

45 Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

46 Michel de Montaigne, Essays (3 vol., Everyman Library), esp. "Of Coaches", "Of the Incommodity of Greatness", "Of Vanity", and "Of Experience"

47 Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

48 William Shakespeare, Plays

49 Francois La Rochefoucauld, Reflections

50 Moliere, Plays, esp. Tartuffe, The Miser, The Misanthrope, The Bourgeois Gentleman, and The Feast of the Statue (Don Juan)

51 Francis Bacon, Essays (Everyman Library)

52 John Milton, "Lycidias", "L'Allegro", "Il Penseroso", Sonnets, "Areopagitica" and selections from Paradise Los

53 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Everyman Library)

54 Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics and On the Improvement of the Understanding (Everyman Library)

55 Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Portraits of the 18th Century

56 Francois Marie de Voltaire, Works (1 vol. ed.), esp. Candide, Zadig, and essays on "Toleration" and "History"

57 John-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

58 Taine, Origins of Contemporary France (6 vol.)

59 Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution* (2 vol., Everyman Library)

60 James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (2 vol., Everyman Library)

61 Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (2 vol., Everyman Library)

62 Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy (Everyman Library)

63 Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (Everyman Library)

64 David Hume, Treatise on Human Nature (2 vol., Everyman Library) esp bks 2-3

65 Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman

66 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (2 vol., Everyman Library), selections (I tried to read this... don't know if I'll ever make it through!)

67 Emil Ludwig, Napoleon

68 George Brandes, Main Currents of 19th Century Literature (6 vol.)

69 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

70 Johann Peter Eckermann, Conversations with Goethe

71 Heinrich. Heine, Poems (trans. Loius Untermeyer)

72 John Keats, Poems

73 Percy Bysse Shelley, Poems

74 George Gordon Byron, Poems

75 Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot

76 Gustave Flaubert, Works* (1 vol. ed.), esp. Madame Bovary and Salambo

77 Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

78 Anatole France, Penguin Isle

79 Alfred Tennyson, Poems

80 Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers

81 William Thackeray, Vanity Fair

82 Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Children

83 Fyodor Dostoievski, The Brothers Karamozov

84 Leo Tolstoi, War and Peace

85 Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt

86 Charles Darwin, Descent of Man

87 William Buckle, Introduction to the History of Civilization in England, esp. pt 1 ch. 1-5, 15

88 Arthur Schopenhauer, Works (1 vol. ed.)

89 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

90 Charles and Mary Beard, The Rise of American Civilization* (2 vol.)

91 Edgar Allen Poe, Poems and Tales

92 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays

93 Henry David Thoreau, Walden

94 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

95 Abraham Lincoln, Letters and Speeches

96 Romain Rolland, Jean Cristophe (2 vol.)

97 Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. 1-3, 6

98 Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams

99 Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution

100 Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West (2 vol.)


  1. It's so nice to set goals. And it looks like, if not a PhD, you should be awarded...well, a lovely MA, perhaps.

    Here's my Sunday Salon: Une Petite Visite à Paris. (And don't's in English. I just like to pretend to speak French.)

  2. Interesting list. I think I've only read two books on it. Though I'm also currently reading Madame Bovary and Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

    BTW, I love your new blog theme.

  3. @Deb Nance - Exactly. I'm just going for my MA in Will Durant's list! Haha. And I pretend to speak French as well. :)

    @everybookandcranny - I want to read Madame Bovary as well, I've been hearing great things about it. And thank you!

  4. What a list! I thought I hadn't read any on it until we got to the Russian fellows. I had a "Russian summer" when I was in college, and enjoyed Tolstoy and Dosteovsky.

    Here's my reading for the week on MY SUNDAY SALON POST

  5. That is a VERY ambitious list! Awesome points to you for even attempting any of it, lol.

  6. Hrm, looks like PhD isn't my lot in life. :) I did love War and Peace though! I occasionally wish I was a person who wasn't scared by lists such as these, but whew! scary! I love lists, though, so thanks for sharing this one.

  7. Great list! Thanks for sharing this. I'm reading Montaigne now and LOVE him. Oh, and War and Peace. And I'm working on Madame Bovary and Leaves of Grass. :-)

    I'd love to read Lincoln's letters and speeches!! And well, much of the list, really.

  8. This list is intense! But you can do it!

  9. Wow. I've read 2 books on the list (The Odyssey and The Brothers Karamazov, which I loathed). I don't think I'll be getting my doctorate any time soon. :-D

  10. Creations - I've hardly read any Russian authors, just Chekhov. I need to get on that.

    Sarah - Yeah, I don't think I will be reading some of those 4 volume works.

    Melody - I know, at first I was thinking, "what a great idea!" and then decided, like Deb Nance said, maybe I'll just get my master's. :)

    Jillian - I can totally see you actually finishing this list! I don't know if I will, but it has given me some ideas.

    Sweetest Little Bookworm - Thanks for the confidence! At least I have my whole life to try, haha.

    Softdrink - Me either! it is so intense!


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