Mortimer Adler’s Reading List

Reading list from “How To Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler(1972 edition)

  1. Homer: Iliad, Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus: Tragedies
  4. Sophocles: Tragedies
  5. Herodotus: Histories
  6. Euripides: Tragedies
  7. Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates: Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes: Comedies
  10. Plato: Dialogues
  11. Aristotle: Works
  12. Epicurus: Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus
  13. Euclid: Elements
  14. Archimedes: Works
  15. Apollonius of Perga: Conic Sections
  16. Cicero: Works
  17. Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
  18. Virgil: Works
  19. Horace: Works
  20. Livy: History of Rome
  21. Ovid: Works
  22. Plutarch: Parallel Lives; Moralia
  23. Tacitus: Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania
  24. Nicomachus of Gerasa: Introduction to Arithmetic
  25. Epictetus: Discourses; Encheiridion
  26. Ptolemy: Almagest
  27. Lucian: Works
  28. Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
  29. Galen: On the Natural Faculties
  30. The New Testament
  31. Plotinus: The Enneads
  32. St. Augustine: On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine
  33. The Song of Roland
  34. The Nibelungenlied
  35. The Saga of Burnt Njál
  36. St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica
  37. Dante Alighieri: The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy
  38. Geoffrey Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales
  39. Leonardo da Vinci: Notebooks
  40. Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy
  41. Desiderius Erasmus: The Praise of Folly
  42. Nicolaus Copernicus: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
  43. Thomas More: Utopia
  44. Martin Luther: Table Talk; Three Treatises
  45. Francois Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel
  46. John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion
  47. Michel de Montaigne: Essays
  48. William Gilbert: On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
  49. Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote
  50. Edmund Spenser: Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene
  51. Francis Bacon: Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, The New Atlantis
  52. William Shakespeare: Poetry and Plays
  53. Galileo Galilei: Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
  54. Johannes Kepler: Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World
  55. William Harvey: On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals
  56. Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
  57. René Descartes: Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy
  58. John Milton: Works
  59. Molière: Comedies
  60. Blaise Pascal: The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises
  61. Christiaan Huygens: Treatise on Light
  62. Benedict de Spinoza: Ethics
  63. John Locke: Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Thoughts Concerning Education
  64. Jean Baptiste Racine: Tragedies
  65. Isaac Newton: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics
  66. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz: Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding; Monadology
  67. Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe
  68. Jonathan Swift: A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver’s Travels; A Modest Proposal
  69. William Congreve: The Way of the World
  70. George Berkeley: Principles of Human Knowledge
  71. Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man
  72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu: Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws
  73. Voltaire: Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary
  74. Henry Fielding: Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones
  75. Samuel Johnson: The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets
  76. David Hume: Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile, The Social Contract
  78. Laurence Sterne: Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
  79. Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations
  80. Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace
  81. Edward Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography
  82. James Boswell: Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.
  83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier: Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry)
  84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison: Federalist Papers
  85. Jeremy Bentham: Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions
  86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust; Poetry and Truth
  87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier: Analytical Theory of Heat
  88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History
  89. William Wordsworth: Poems
  90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Poems; Biographia Literaria
  91. Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice; Emma
  92. Carl von Clausewitz: On War
  93. Stendhal: The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love
  94. Lord Byron: Don Juan
  95. Arthur Schopenhauer: Studies in Pessimism
  96. Michael Faraday: Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity
  97. Charles Lyell: Principles of Geology
  98. Auguste Comte: The Positive Philosophy
  99. Honore de Balzac: Père Goriot; Eugenie Grandet
  100. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Representative Men; Essays; Journal
  101. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  102. Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America
  103. John Stuart Mill: A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
  104. Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
  105. Charles Dickens: Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times
  106. Claude Bernard: Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
  107. Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience; Walden
  108. Karl Marx: Capital; Communist Manifesto
  109. George Eliot: Adam Bede; Middlemarch
  110. Herman Melville: Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
  111. Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
  112. Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary; Three Stories
  113. Henrik Ibsen: Plays
  114. Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales
  115. Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger
  116. William James: The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism
  117. Henry James: The American; ‘The Ambassadors
  118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals; The Will to Power
  119. Jules Henri Poincare: Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method
  120. Sigmund Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  121. George Bernard Shaw: Plays and Prefaces
  122. Max Planck: Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory; Where Is Science Going?; Scientific Autobiography
  123. Henri Bergson: Time and Free Will; Matter and Memory; Creative Evolution; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
  124. John Dewey: How We Think; Democracy and Education; Experience and Nature; Logic; the Theory of Inquiry
  125. Alfred North Whitehead: An Introduction to Mathematics; Science and the Modern World; The Aims of Education and Other Essays; Adventures of Ideas
  126. George Santayana: The Life of Reason; Skepticism and Animal Faith; Persons and Places
  127. Lenin: The State and Revolution
  128. Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past
  129. Bertrand Russell: The Problems of Philosophy; The Analysis of Mind; An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth; Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits
  130. Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
  131. Albert Einstein: The Meaning of Relativity; On the Method of Theoretical Physics; The Evolution of Physics
  132. James Joyce: ‘The Dead’ in Dubliners; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses
  133. Jacques Maritain: Art and Scholasticism; The Degrees of Knowledge; The Rights of Man and Natural Law; True Humanism
  134. Franz Kafka: The Trial; The Castle
  135. Arnold J. Toynbee: A Study of History; Civilization on Trial
  136. Jean Paul Sartre: Nausea; No Exit; Being and Nothingness
  137. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The First Circle; The Cancer Ward

14 comments

  1. Wow. That’s quite a list.

    The only one among those that was on my high school reading lists was Homer’s Odyssey, and even then, it wasn’t required reading.

    1. It is a GREAT list. I’ve read many from this list and my thinking has developed, transformed and grown a lot ever since. It continues to do so the more I expose myself to such great thinkers.

    1. Amazon.com is the best way. With prime you can get it in 2 days, and if you prefer to read them in your Kindle or Kindle app, you can receive the book immediately.

  2. Thank you so much for putting this up! I just finished Adler’s “How to Read a Book” and was looking for an easy place to access his recommended reading list in Appendix A. This is a perfect resource! I am beginning with #1. Here I come, Homer.

  3. I received a full set of these books in print as a college graduation present. I slowly worked my way throuh them and tried my best to understand the writings and think about what was written. This has to be the greatest present in my life.

  4. Aristotle’s “works” is a bit broad, don’t you think? It would be convenient if they were listed in the best order of reading: Categories, Ethics, Politics, Metaphysics (perhaps???)

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