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


  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. 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.

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