To create The Guide, I started with a number of existing lists. Some of my favorites are referenced in the "alphabet soup" at the bottom of the "Just the Facts" section. (You can also find other entries from the same list by clicking the "Labels" in the footer of the post.)

On this page, clicking "Labels" will show you all Listings labeled with that list; "List" will show you the list itself. In most cases, the List link will also give you more background on the genesis of that list.

Here's a quick guide.

GBWW: The Great Books of the Western World. The original set of 54 volumes (seen above; one introductory volume; two of the "Syntopicon," a kind of index; and 51 volumes of texts) was published in 1952; nearly four decades later (1990), the set was revamped--not, as you might think, to become more inclusive, but to include better translations and more 20th-century works, but it's still mostly "dead white males." The new edition makes changes to several of the existing volumes, and adds six more for a total of 60. Authors found in either edition are tagged "GBWW." (1952 Labels) (1990 Labels) (List)

10YP: Ten-Year Reading Plan. The first volume of the GBWW was titled The Great Conversation, and included "reading helps." One of these was a plan that would get you through most (but not all) of the readings in--well--ten years (or so they said). This list can help us eliminate some of the less important authors. Thus, I have visually linked it to the GBWW label; an author can't be on the 10YP if he or she (let's be honest, darned few "shes") isn't in the GBWW. (Labels) (List)

My set of GGB
GGB: Gateway to the Great Books. Britannica--publishers of the GBWW--were always looking for ways to make a buck. So they published a second, 10-volume set, allegedly for younger people (but see the next item). Authors tagged GGB are found in that set. (Labels) (List)

PGR: A Plan of Graded Reading. This is supposed to be a way to access the GGB, and is tied to it as the 10YP is tied to the GBWW. Honestly, I don't know a seventh-grader who could get through, say, Molière's The Doctor in Spite of Himself or Hogben's Mathematics, the Mirror of Civilization. But I've included the recommendations here, for what they're worth. The numbers indicate the level: (Labels: PGR 1, PGR 2, PGR 3, PGR 4) (List)
  1. Grades 7 & 8
  2. Grades 9 & 10
  3. Grades 11 & 12
  4. the first two years of college
HC: The venerable Harvard Classics. Long before the GBWW was created by the University of Chicago, a similar enterprise was initiated by Harvard University under then-President Charles W. Eliot (hence the set's nickname, "Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf"). But it's better known as The Harvard Classics, and it was quite a publishing phenomenon for its time, selling an amazing 350,000 sets in the first 20 years after it was first published in 1909. That would be nearly nine million sets compared to today's population! (Labels) (List)

HCF: The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. The HC came out in 1909, just over 100 years ago; and the "Shelf of Fiction" followed separately eight years later, in 1917 (in the centenary of which The Guide will go live). It must have seemed a good idea at the time, but today's readers will find some of the choices more than a little outdated. (Labels) (List)

My ragged LRP
LRP: The Lifetime Reading Plan. This list is from the latest edition of a book by Clifton Fadiman, a confidant of the original Great Bookies. I highly recommend that you buy the book as not only a guide to the world's classics, but as a fun read in itself. (Labels) (List)

CA: California Classics. In 1971, Dr. Lawrence Clark Powell, longtime librarian at UCLA and a "bookman" of the old school, assembled a series of essays on such California-connected writer as John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, and, yes, Mark Twain. Some of the 31 authors from his table of contents are here, marked CA. (Labels) (List)

SW: Southwest Classics. Dr. Powell followed up his success with a list of 27 more writers (with some overlap), this time associated with the American Southwest. D.H. Lawrence is on it, and Zane Grey, along with some lesser-known gems. I've included the best here, tagged SW. Enjoy. (Labels) (List)

Pulitzer: I have selected certain winners of the Pulitzer Prize in the categories of Biography or Autobiography, Drama, History, Fiction, Non-Fiction. and Poetry. Many are so old and obscure as to be of much interest; others are too recent and unproven to be considered classics. (Labels) (List)

Nobel: I have included virtually all winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature. While most of the lists above reveal an Americo-centric bias, the Nobels are far more global in their reach. (Labels) (List)

UK Poets Laureate and US Poets Laureate: Most--but not all--of the Poets Laureate of the United Kingdom and the United States have been included in the listings. (Labels: UK - US) (List)

Bloom: In 1994, renowned critic Harold Bloom wrote The Western Canon, in which he defended the inclusion of 26 writers that he felt were central to the Western tradition. In an appendix to that book, he included--against his will and at the insistence of an editor, by one account--a list of writers he would consider for inclusion in an expanded canon. Not every Listing tied to Bloom's list has yet been labeled. Those which are can be seen by clicking the "Labels" link. (Labels) (List)

GC: Another more eclectic selection is Russ Kick's The Graphic Canon (2012-2013). There were some interesting surprises here. (Labels) (List)

In addition to the above, I have accessed lists of Poets Laureate, Oscar winners, the "XXX Best Artists" (or Composers), and so on. Most of these are easy enough to find via the Labels. See The Guide for more.

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