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Top 100 Books?

Of course every list of 'top n books' reflects the biases, judgements, experiences and prejudices of the writer. But here are some books that any educated English-speaking person should be expected to have read. They are not much in order, except insofar as the occurred to me when I was writing this list.

And, of course, there's not really 100, yet. I expect I shall be inundated with suggestions...

  1. The Holy Bible. The King James Version is the most 'literary', but there are many newer versions. Even an atheist should read this, for it is the cultural underpinning of western literature. You should also read the Quran and the Talmud to get a well-rounded view.
  2. The Great Code: The Bible As Literature
  3. How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler
  4. A Dictionary of Quotations, such as The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
  5. An English Dictionary (at least for browsing; you might not read it cover to cover at one sitting :-))
  6. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  7. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey
  8. Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt
  9. The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer (preferred translations by Lattimer)
  10. Anarchy, State and Utopia, by Robert Nozick.
  11. The Act of Creation, by Arthur Koestler
  12. Don Quijote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Cervantes for short) You should really learn Spanish and read it in the original, but if you don't have time, get one of the better English-language translations.
  13. Cities and the Wealth of Nations, by Jane Jacobs
  14. Roberts' Rules of Order (Revised)
  15. Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
  16. Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand (get the Brian Hooker translation; some of the other translations are execrable).
  17. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo (see note above for Don Quijote, about reading great novels in the original).
  18. The Psychology of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden
  19. Weaving the Web, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web)
  20. Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Modern Computer Era, by Michael Hiltzik
  21. On The Sublime, by Longinus
  22. Richard Feynman's lectures, or The Character of Physical Law
  23. The Republic of Plato and/or Great Dialogues of Plato.
  24. The Basic Works of Aristotle
  25. The Five Day Course in Thinking, by Edward de Bono
  26. The Book of Virtues.
  27. The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin.
  28. The books of Loren Eisley.
  29. The books of Stephen Jay Gould.
  30. The Selfish Gene
  31. The Ring trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Two 'lighter' series that Tolkien influenced:
  32. The Narnia series, by Christian apologist Clive Staples ('C.S.') Lewis
  33. The Taran series, by Lloyd Alexander.
  34. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (one of America's most enduring cult figures)
  35. Karl Marx, Das Kapital, the very opposite of Rand.
  36. The Tipping Point
  37. The Long Tail

The astute observer will note that there's not 100 here, yet. Send me your suggestions.

See also this competing list of Amazon's 100 Books to Read.

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