The Lifetime Reading Plan
by Clifton Fadiman (3rd ed., 1988)

A Preliminary Talk With the Reader

"I   have assumed that anyone who would read this book is already familiar with the Bible."
— Fadiman

    The Beginning

  1. Homer. The Iliad.
  2. Homer. The Odyssey.
  3. Herodotus. The Histories.
  4. Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War.
  5. Plato. Selected Works.
  6. Aristotle. Ethics; Politics.
  7. Aeschylus. The Oresteia.
  8. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone
  9. Euripides. Alcestis; Medea; Hippolytus; Trojan Women; Electra; Bacchae.
  10. Lucretius. Of the Nature of Things.
  11. Virgil. The Aeneid.
  12. Marcus Aurelius. Meditations.

    The Middle Ages

  13. Saint Augustine. Confessions.
  14. Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy.
  15. Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales.


  16. William Shakespeare. Complete Works.
  17. Molière. Selected Plays.
  18. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Faust.
  19. Henrik Ibsen. Selected Plays.
  20. George Bernard Shaw. Selcted Plays and Prefaces.
  21. Anton Chekhov. Uncle Vanya; Three Sisters; The Cherry Orchard.
  22. Eugene O'Neill. Mourning Becomes Electra; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day's Journey into Night.
  23. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot; Endgame; Krapp's Last Tape.
  24. Contemporary Drama, edited by E. Bradlee Watson and Benfield Pressey.


  25. John Bunyan. Pilgrim's Progress.
  26. Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe.
  27. Jonathan Swift. Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal; Meditations upon a Broomstick; Resolutions when I Come to be Old.
  28. Laurence Sterne. Tristram Shandy.
  29. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.
  30. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice; Emma.
  31. Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights.
  32. William Makepeace Thackeray. Vanity Fair.
  33. Charles Dickens. Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Bleak House; Great Expectations; Hard Times; Our Mutual Friend; Little Dorrit.
  34. George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss; Middlemarch.
  35. Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking-Glass.
  36. Thomas Hardy. The Mayor of Casterbridge.
  37. Joseph Conrad. Nostromo.
  38. E. M. Forster. A Passage to India.
  39. James Joyce. Ulysses.
  40. Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Orlando; The Waves.
  41. D. H. Lawrence. Sons and Lovers; Women in Love.
  42. Aldous Huxley. Brave New World; Collected Essays.
  43. George Orwell. Animal Farm; Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  44. Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain.
  45. Franz Kafka. The Trial; The Castle; Selected Short Stories.
  46. François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel.
  47. Voltaire. Candide and Other Works.
  48. Stendhal. The Red and the Black.
  49. Honoré de Balzac. Père Goriot; Eugénie Grandet.
  50. Gustave Flaubert. Madame Bovary.
  51. Marcel Proust. Remembrance of Things Past.
  52. André Malraux. Man's Fate.
  53. Albert Camus. The Plague; The Stranger.
  54. Edgar Allan Poe. Short Stories and Other Works.
  55. Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter; Selcted Tales.
  56. Herman Melville. Moby Dick; Bartleby the Scrivener.
  57. Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn.
  58. Henry James. The Ambassadors.
  59. William Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying.
  60. Ernest Hemingway. Short Stories.
  61. Saul Bellow. The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog; Humboldt's Gift.
  62. Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra. Don Quixote.
  63. Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths Dreamtigers.
  64. Gabriel Garcia Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  65. Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol. Dead Souls.
  66. Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev. Fathers and Sons.
  67. Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Crime and Punishment; The Brothers Karamazov.
  68. Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy. War and Peace.
  69. Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita; Pale Fire; Speak, Memory.
  70. Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. The First Circle; Cancer Ward.

    Philosophy, Psychology, Politics, Essays

  71. Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan.
  72. John Locke. Second Treatise of Government.
  73. David Hume. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.
  74. John Stuart Mill. On Liberty.
  75. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto.
  76. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Thus Spake Zarathustra; Selected Other Works
  77. Sigmund Freud. Selected Works.
  78. Niccolò Macchiavelli. The Prince.
  79. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. Selected Essays.
  80. René Descartes. Discourse on Method.
  81. Blaise Pascal. Thoughts (Pensées).
  82. Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America.
  83. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Selected Works.
  84. Henry David Thoreau. Walden; Civil Disobedience.
  85. William James. The Principles of Psychology; Pragmatism and Four Essays from The Meaning of Truth; The Varieties of Religious Experience.
  86. John Dewey. Human Nature and Conduct.
  87. George Santayana. Skepticism and Animal Faith; Selected Other Works.


  88. John Donne. Selected Works.
  89. John Milton. Paradise Lost; Lycidas; On the Morning of Christ's Nativity; Sonnets; Areopagitica.
  90. William Blake. Selected Works.
  91. William Wordsworth. The Prelude; Selected Shorter Poems; Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, 1800.
  92. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner; Christabel; Kubla Khan; Biographia Literaria; Writings on Shakespeare.
  93. William Butler Yeats. Collected Poems; Collected Plays; The Autobiography.
  94. T. S. Eliot. Collected Poems, Collected Plays.
  95. Walt Whitman. Selected Poems; Democratic Vistas; Preface to the first issue of Leaves of Grass (1855); A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads.
  96. Robert Frost. Collected Poems.
  97. Poets of the English Language, edited by W.H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson.
  98. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, edited by Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair.

    History, Biography, Autobiography

  99. Basic Documents in American History, edited by Richard B. Morris; The Federalist Papers, edited by Clinton Rossiter.
  100. Jean Jacques Rousseau. Confessions.
  101. James Boswell. The Life of Samuel Johnson.
  102. Henry Adams. The Education of Henry Adams.
  103. Fernand Braudel. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II; Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century.


  1. William H. McNeill. The Rise of the West;
    Will and Ariel Durant. The Story of Civilization
  2. Samuel Eliot Morison. The Oxford History of the American People;
    Page Smith. A People's History of the United States
  3. Alfred North Whitehead. Science and the Modern World
  4. Alfred North Whitehead. An Introduction to Mathematics
  5. E. H. Gombrich. The Story of Art
  6. Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book

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Copyright ©  by Robert Teeter (Copyright and disclaimer page)

First posted: January 1998