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Sunday, March 15, 2009

My next 5 difficult books to read

If I were to choose five authors from the list of Great Books of the Western World to read, my picks would be:
  • Homer (800 BC)
  • The Bible (600 BC–100AD)
  • Plato (427BC–347BC, 80 years)
  • Aristotle (384BC–322BC, 62 years)
  • Shakespeare (1564–1616, 52 years)
Similarly, my five picks from the Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan would be:
  • St. Augustine (354–430, 76 years)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274, 49 years)
  • Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471, 91 years)
  • St. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582, 67 years)
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897, 24 years)
There's never enough time, and so many other things to do, but I hope that before I die I'll have read the major works of the above authors.

What five difficult authors/books do you plan to read in your lifetime?


10 Comments:

  • So I've got all these books on-hand. How do I avoid getting stuck on one of the longer books?

    My plan is to have 2-3 books on the go at any given time. One might be long and take me a few months (such as Plato's Republic). Another might be quite short, finishable in a day (such as one of the books in the Bible). Also I might be doing a quick first reading of one of the books, and a detailed second reading of another.

    So I'll be mixing things up for variety.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/16/2009 11:07 PM  

  • "Still, in a first reading we must achieve a middle ground between the slow sipping which never gets to the bottom of the glass and the quick gulp which never senses the flavor, body and aroma."
    -Adler

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/17/2009 10:21 PM  

  • I am currently reading the autobiography of St. Therese (260 pages). It's part autobiography, part theology (in the form of aphorisms).

    "How To Read A Book" doesn't give many instructions for this kind of work, so I am adapting the instructions as follows. In the autobiographical parts, I simply immerse myself in the story, getting familiar with the character of each person, and the warm family home environment. In the theological parts, I note the main points being made (and supporting points, although these are rare).

    I am not focusing much on terms and arguments, as the book doesn't have much of either.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/22/2009 4:51 PM  

  • There are four "tracks" to my reading plan:

    * Dramatic track: Iliad, Odyssey, Divine Comedy, Aeneid, and Shakespeare
    * Philosophy track: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas
    * Bible track: The Bible, The Catechism of the Catholic Church
    * Saints track: St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, Thomas a Kempis, St. Therese of Lisieux

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 4/18/2009 5:31 PM  

  • Refined the tracks a bit:

    Biblical Track
    * Revised Standard Version (2nd Catholic Ed.)

    Theology Track
    * St. Augustine – City of God
    * St. Augustine – Confessions
    * St. Augustine – Of True Religion
    * St. Augustine – Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Charity
    * Thomas a Kempis – Imitation of Christ
    * St. Teresa of Avila – Life
    * St. Teresa of Avila – Way of Perfection
    * St. Teresa of Avila – Interior Castle
    * St. Therese of Lisieux – Autobiography
    * Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Philosophy Track
    * Plato - Complete Works
    * Aristotle - Complete Works
    * Aquinas – Summa Theologiae
    * Aquinas – Summa Contra Gentiles
    * Aquinas – Catechetical Instructions

    Literature Track
    * Homer – Odyssey
    * Homer – Iliad
    * Virgil – Aeneid
    * Dante – Inferno
    * Dante – Purgatorio
    * Dante – Paradiso
    * Shakespeare – Complete Works

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 4/26/2009 2:49 PM  

  • Notably missing on your western reads: Atlas Shrugged.

    By Blogger Doug Ransom, at 5/01/2009 7:07 AM  

  • Ah yes, Atlas Shrugged is considered by many to be a classic. I chose my books from Encyclopædia Britannica's Great Books of the Western World, which is mostly older works.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 5/01/2009 12:26 PM  

  • A lifetime reading plan is hard work, a long-term investment. Why do it? It's a preparation for a moment in the distant future—of greatness or of great temptation—such as the one that Churchill wrote of: "I felt as if I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour."

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 5/09/2009 10:53 PM  

  • I'm glad to see Dante on your list. Reading the Divine Comedy is not an easy undertaking -- keeping straight all the Ghibellines and Guelfs and people well-known back then but known today primarily because of Dante -- but the year I devoted to reading through it was some of the best time I ever spent.

    By Blogger stpetric, at 7/13/2009 4:58 AM  

  • stpetric—well done!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/13/2009 8:19 AM  

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