The Lifetime Reading Plan (LRP)

Note: Eventually links to the Listings will be added to all authors' names. Until then, this label will show you the Listings of any author included in this list.


Clifton Fadiman's first Lifetime Reading Plan was published in 1960; the one in my Kindle is the 4th edition, from 1997. As Mr. Fadiman died in 1999, I expect this will be his last. But he had collaborators, and who knows? Someone may take up the torch.

One thing that sets this list apart from The Great Books of the Western World and The Harvard Classics is its inclusion of a number of non-Western works (though the HC did give a nod to Hindu and Buddhist writings). There is Japanese and Chinese literature here, as well as Indian. Africa is lightly represented, and such Middle Eastern classics as The Thousand and One Nights. Mr. Fadiman hopes you well have read The Bible; he includes The Koran on his list.There are some great 20th-century Latin American authors as well--and good old Saul Bellow to bring us back home.

I read Fadiman's (and John S. Major's?) essays over and over. While they're no substitute for reading The Great Books themselves, they are excellent in their own right as a result of Mr. Fadiman's lifetime spent as a Great Bookie.

Buy the book. You won't regret it.

About the "Parts": Mr. Fadiman explained that it was just to make for an easier approach, and to keep books of a period more-or-less together. Though he applied no labels, if I took a stab they would look like this:

And now, the list.

Part One

1. Anonymous (ca. 2000 BCE): The Epic of Gilgamesh
2. Homer (ca. 800 BCE): The Iliad
3. Homer (ca. 800 BCE): The Odyssey
4. Confucius (551-479 BCE): The Analects
5. Aeschylus (525-456/5 BCE): The Oresteia
6. Sophocles (496-406 BCE): Oedipus Rex; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone
7. Euripides (484-406 BCE): Alcestis; Medea; Hippolytus; Trojan Women; Electra; Bacchae
8. Herodotus (ca. 484-425 BCE): The Histories
9. Thucydides (470/460-ca.400 BCE): The History of the Peloponnesian War
10. Sun-tzu (Sunzi) (ca. 450-380 BCE): The Art of War
11. Aristophanes (448-388 BCE): Lysistrata; The Clouds; The Birds
12. Plato (428-348 BCE): Selected Works
13. Aristotle (384-322 BCE): Ethics; Politics; Poetics
14. Mencius (ca. 400-320 BCE): The Book of Mencius
15. Valmiki (ca. 300 BCE): The Book of Ramayana
16. Vyasa (ca. 200 BCE): The Mahabharata
17. Anonymous, (ca. 200 BCE) The Bhagavad Gita
18. Ssu-ma Ch'ien (Sima Qian) (145-86 BCE): Records of the Grand Historian
19. Lucretius (ca. 100-ca. 50 BCE): Of the Nature of Things
20. Virgil (70-19 BCE): The Aeneid
21. Marcus Aurelius (121-180): Meditations

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Part Two

22. Saint Augustine (354-430): The Confessions
23. Kalidasa (ca. 400): The Cloud Messenger; Sakuntala
24. Revealed to Muhammad (ca. 650): The Koran
25. Huineng (638-713): The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
26. Firdausi (ca. 940-1020): Shah Nameh
27. Sei Shonagon (ca. 965-1035): The Pillow Book
28. Lady Murasaki (ca. 976-1015): Tale of Genji
29. Omar Khayyam (1048-?): The Rubaiyat
30. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321): The Divine Comedy
31. Luo Kuan-chung (Luo Guanzhong), (ca. 1330-1400): The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
32. Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400): The Canterbury Tales
33. Anonymous, ca. 1500: The Thousand and One Nights
34. Niccolò Macchiavelli (1469-1527): The Prince
35. François Rabelais (1483-1553): Gargantua and Pantagruel
36. Wu Cheng-en (1500-1582): Journey to the West
37. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592): Selected Essays
38. Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra (1547-1616): Don Quixote

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Part Three

39. William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Complete Works
40. John Donne (1573-1631): Selected Works
41. Anonymous, 1618: The Plum in the Golden Vase (Chin P'ing Mei)
42. Galileo Galilei (1574-1642): Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
43. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679): Leviathan
44. René Descartes (1596-1650): Discourse on Method
45. John Milton (1608-1674): Paradise Lost; Lycidas; On the Morning of Christ's Nativity; Sonnets; Areopagitica
46. Molière (1622-1673): Selected Plays
47. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662): Thoughts (Pensées)
48. John Bunyan (1628-1688): Pilgrim's Progress
49. John Locke (1632-1688): Second Treatise of Government
50. Matsuo Basho (1644-1694): The Narrow Road to the Deep North
51. Daniel Defoe (1660-1731): Robinson Crusoe
52. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745): Gulliver's Travels
53. Voltaire (1694-1778): Candide and Other Works
54. David Hume (1711-1776): An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
55. Henry Fielding (1707-1754): Tom Jones
56. Ts'ao Hsüeh-ch'in (Cao Xueqin) (1715-1763): The Dream of the Red Chamber
57. Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778): Confessions
58. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768): Tristram Shandy
59. James Boswell (1740-1795): The Life of Samuel Johnson
60. Thomas Jefferson and others: Basic Documents in American History
61. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: The Federalist Papers

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Part Four

62. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): Faust
63. William Blake (1757-1827): Selected Works
64. William Wordsworth (1770-1850): The Prelude; Selected Shorter Poems; Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800)
65. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834): The Ancient Mariner; Christabel; Kubla Khan; Biographia Literaria; Writings on Shakespeare
66. Jane Austen (1775-1817): Pride and Prejudice; Emma
67. Stendhal (1783-1842): The Red and the Black
68. Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850): Père Goriot; Eugénie Grandet
69. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Selected Works
70. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864): The Scarlet Letter; Selected Tales
71. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859): Democracy in America
72. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): On Liberty; The Subjection of Women
73. Charles Darwin (1809-1882): The Voyage of the Beagle; The Origin of Species
74. Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852): Dead Souls
75. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): Short Stories and Other Works
76. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863): Vanity Fair
77. Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Great Expectations; Hard Times; Our Mutual Friend; Little Dorrit
78. Anthony Trollope (1815-1882): The Warden; The Last Chronicle of Barset; The Eustace Diamonds; The Way We Live Now; Autobiography
79. The Brontë Sisters
79A. Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855): Jane Eyre
79B. Emily Brontë (1818-1848): Wuthering Heights
80. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): Walden; Civil Disobedience
81. Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818-1883): Fathers and Sons
82. Karl Marx (1818-1883, and Friedrich Engels, 1820-1895): The Communist Manifesto
83. Herman Melville (1819-1891): Moby Dick; Bartleby the Scrivener
84. George Eliot (1819-1880): The Mill on the Floss; Middlemarch
85. Walt Whitman (1819-1892): Selected Poems; Democratic Vistas; Preface to the first issue of Leaves of Grass (1855); A Backward Glance O'er Travelled Roads
86. Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880): Madame Bovary
87. Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881): Crime and Punishment; The Brothers Karamazov
88. Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910): War and Peace
89. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906): Selected Plays
90. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886): Collected Poems
91. Lewis Carroll (1832-1898): Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking-Glass
92. Mark Twain (1835-1910): Huckleberry Finn
93. Henry Adams (1838-1918): The Education of Henry Adams
94. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928): The Mayor of Casterbridge
95. William James (1842-1910): The Principles of Psychology; Pragmatism; Four Essays from The Meaning of Truth; The Varieties of Religious Experience
96. Henry James (1843-1916): The Ambassadors
97. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900): Thus Spake Zarathustra; The Genealogy of Morals; Beyond Good and Evil; and other works

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Part Five
98. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): Selected Works, including The Interpretation of Dreams; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; and Civilization and Its Discontents
99. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950): Selected Plays and Prefaces
100. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924): Nostromo
101. Anton Chekhov (1860-1904): Uncle Vanya; Three Sisters; The Cherry Orchard; Selected Short Stories
102. Edith Wharton (1862-1937): The Custom of the Country; The Age of Innocence; The House of Mirth
103. William Butler Yeats (1865-1939): Collected Poems; Collected Plays; The Autobiography
104. Natsume Soseki (18676-1916): Kokoro
105. Marcel Proust (1871-1922): Remembrance of Things Past
106. Robert Frost (1874-1963): Collected Poems
107. Thomas Mann (1875-1955): The Magic Mountain
108. E. M. Forster (1879-1970): A Passage to India
109. Lu Hsün (Lu Xun) (1881-1936): Collected Short Stories
110. James Joyce (1882-1941): Ulysses
111. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941): Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Orlando; The Waves
112. Franz Kafka (1883-1924): The Trial; The Castle; Selected Short Stories
113. D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930): Sons and Lovers; Women in Love
114. Tanizaki Junichiro (1886-1965): The Makioka Sisters
115. Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953): Mourning Becomes Electra; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day's Journey into Night
116. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965): Collected Poems; Collected Plays
117. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963): Brave New World
118. William Faulkner (1897-1962): The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying
119. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1962): Short Stories
120. Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972): Beauty and Sadness
121. Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986): Labyrinths; Dreamtigers
122. Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977): Lolita; Pale Fire; Speak, Memory
123. George Orwell (1903-1950): Animal Farm; Nineteen Eighty-Four; Burmese Days
124. R. K. Narayan (1906- ): The English Teacher; The Vendor of Sweets
125. Samuel Beckett (1906-1989): Waiting for Godot; Endgame; Krapp's Last Tape
126. W. H. Auden (1907-1973): Collected Poems
127. Albert Camus (1913-1960): The Plague; The Stranger
128. Saul Bellow (1915- ): The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog; Humboldt's Gift
129. Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918- ): The First Circle; Cancer Ward
130. Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
131. Mishima Yukio (1925-1970): Confessions of a Mask; The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
132. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928- ): One Hundred Years of Solitude
133. Chinua Achebe (1930- ): Things Fall Apart

(Note: Some authors were still living at the time Mr. Fadiman wrote his book. I have left the year of death open, as in his list; please see the Listing for current status.)

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