Reading the Great Books

Hello! I was fairly active here a few months ago, but hectic schedules have reduced me to just a lurker. I hope to back to my usual social (well, social online, at any rate) self soon, and to get back to updating my story.

Meanwhile, if it isn't out of place, I wanted to share a project I've been working on for a while. I know that, like myself, many people who love to write (and you all are some awesome writers) also love to read. So I wanted to invite anyone who was interested to join in on a Great Books read along. The Great Books are a set (though somewhat flexible) list of texts that have had a strong influence on Western literature. If you are interested, you can find more information on my blog here: The more the merrier, and all are welcome!

Hmm..this is something I've thought about doing, and maybe your project will provide me the impetus. Anyone whose serial I've followed knows I love commenting and discussion!

Last year I was trying to do the Bible, starting with the Old Testament. The Bible has had a huge influence on our history and literature but I never read the whole thing through in context.I was doing it by podcast because I had more time to listen than read, and I found it more interesting and easier to absorb that way. Unfortunately I only got as far as Deutoromony due to some technical problems, probably intervention by the Devil ;-)

I'm glad you're interested, Fiona! I did the Great Books program in college, and started this to force myself to re-read them. The Bible can be a tough read, especially if you try to read it straight through. I haven't written out the whole reading list yet, but selections from the Bible will be a part of it.

@ Fiona,

As a companion to the Bible try reading Jack Miles "God: a biography" where he approaches the Bible as literature, instead of focusing on it as history or religion. If you treat the Bible as a literary book, God is the protagonist as the only continual character and the literal "first actor" so reading it in order creates a character arc and development. Fascinating stuff.

It's very Greek. And while the History of the Peloponnese did have a big impact on literature, I think that's more along the lines of historiagraphy than straight-up entertainment. I think The Republic and Nicomachean Ethics aren't the kind of things most writers will go for when it comes to influencing Western writing. Western philosophy and political thought, but not so much literature. If you are including though, you might also toss in there The Prince.

Maybe it's just my own leanings, but I think you gotta have Poe and Lovecraft for the horror side of things. And when it comes to dystopian fiction, you gotta have Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We". Without that thing, you don't get Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, or Anthem, nor the various works derived from them like the movie Equilibrium.

@Psycho Gecko, thank you for checking out the blog and for your feedback!I probably should have said Western thought, not Western lit (and, of course, the big problem with the Great Books is that it only focuses on Western writing. Hopefully someone will make a more inclusive list one day). The list on my blog is mostly Greek right now because it isn't complete and we're going in chronological order. This isn't my list. The Great Books is an actual list of books and authors that has been put together over the years. Wikipedia has a good sample list if you are curious what other authors are included. You can find it here:

When including the Prince, I think it important to remember what a lot of people forget, or never knew, that it was Colbert Report style satire. Is largely a description of a couple of particular nobleman, and makes fun of them and they way they do things that failed miserably, rather than being an actual guide for controlling people.

Hunh, I see the wikipedia list has a lot of Christian texts, but there were a LOT of more occult texts that filtered into western thought as much, if not more. The Emerald Tablet and Solomon's Key should totally be in there, LOTS of their philosophy in modern western thought.