Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Plan

When you think of all the books that are available to read, some published recently, some written thousands of years ago, it is difficult to know where to begin in a lifelong reading program. So, how do you decide what books to read if you want to broaden your perspective and read the classics? There seems to be an infinite number of good books and more are published every day. So, what do you read?

For myself, I have decided to abstain from reading books that I have had a previous proclivity toward. This means avoiding popular fiction, non-fiction history books or any other book not on my "classics" list. Now that I have my not-to-read-list what do I read?

The plan will be to use two different methods to tackle the sheer number of great literary works available. I will limit myself to literature from Western society, initially. A program which holds promise for me is the Great Books of the Western World. This series of 54 books covers over 2000 years of literature, philosophy, poetry and other works from Western civilization. It is a good place to start and this series comes with a 10-year reading program with additional suggested reading.

My second plan is to use the opinions of others as to the greatest literary works. There are several lists provided by readers and critics that detail, for example, the "Greatest 100 novels" of all time. Of course following these lists is not comprehensive, but I think it is the best place to start. If I can maintain my goal of reading one book per week, I think over 10 years I will have at the minimum made a good beginning toward my goal.

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