Ten Year Reading Plan

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What is the Ten Year Reading Plan?

In the introductory volume of the Great Books of the Western World, the editors laid out a ten year plan that will include every author in the set, but not every word.  Each year is chronological internally, but each year stands alone.

Here’s a listing of the ten year plan, copied from greatconversation.com, which is an online reading group going through the same reading list.  If you want to read in a group, but there isn’t a group near you, they might be a good place to start.


1. PLATO: Apology, Crito

2. ARISTOPHANES: Clouds, Lysistrata

3. PLATO: Republic [Book I-II]

4. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book I]

5. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book I]

6. PLUTARCH: The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans [Lycurgus, Numa
Pompilius, Lycurgus and Numa Compared, Alexander, Caesar]

7. NEW TESTAMENT: [The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, The Acts of the Apostles]

8. ST. AUGUSTINE: Confessions [Book I-VIII]

9. MACHIAVELLI: The Prince

10. RABELAIS: Gargantua and Pantagruel [Book I-II]

11. MONTAIGNE: Essays [Of Custom, and That We Should Not Easily Change a
Law Received; Of Pedantry; Of the Education of Children; That It Is Folly to Measure Truth and Error by Our Own Capacity; Of Cannibals; That the Relish of Good and Evil Depends in a Great Measure upon the Opinion We Have of Them; Upon Some Verses of Virgil]


13. LOCKE: Concerning Civil Government [Second Essay]

14. ROUSSEAU: The Social Contract [Book I-II]

15. GIBBON: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Ch. 15-16]

16. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Federalist [Numbers 1-10, 15, 31, 47, 51, 68-71]

17. SMITH: The Wealth of Nations [Introduction—Book I, Ch. 9]

18. MARX—ENGELS: Manifesto of the Communist Party

19. TOCQUEVILLE – Democracy in America [Vol 1, part II ch 6-8]

20. IBSEN – The Master Builder

21. SCHRODINGER – What is Life?


1. HOMER: The Iliad

2. AESCHYLUS: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides

3. SOPHOCLES: Oedipus the King, Antigone

4. HERODOTUS: The History [Book I-II]

5. PLATO: Meno

6. ARISTOTLE: Poetics

7. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book II; Book III, Ch. 5-12; Book VI, Ch. 8-13]

8. NICOMACHUS: Introduction to Arithmetic

9. LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things [Book I-IV]

10. MARCUS AURELIUS: Meditations

11. HOBBES: Leviathan [Part I]

12. MILTON: Areopagitica

13. PASCAL: Pensées [Numbers 72, 82-83, 100, 128, 131, 139, 142-143, 171, 194-195, 219, 229, 233-234, 242, 273, 277, 282, 289, 298, 303, 320, 323, 325, 330-331, 374, 385, 392, 395-397, 409, 412-413, 416, 418, 425, 430, 434-435, 463, 491, 525-531, 538, 543, 547, 553, 556, 564, 571, 586, 598, 607-610, 613, 619-620, 631, 640, 644, 673, 675, 684, 692-693, 737, 760, 768, 792-793]

14. PASCAL: Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle

15. SWIFT: Gulliver’s Travels

16. ROUSSEAU: A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

17. KANT: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals

18. MILL: On Liberty

19. VOLTAIRE – Candide

20. NIETZSCHE – Beyond Good and Evil

21. WHITEHEAD – Science and the Modern World [Ch I – VI]


1. AESCHYLUS: Prometheus Bound

2. HERODOTUS: The History [Book VII-IX]

3. THUCYDIDES: The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book I-II, V]

4. PLATO: Statesman

5. ARISTOTLE: On Interpretation [Ch. 1-10]

6. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book III-V]

7. EUCLID: Elements [Book I]

8. TACITUS: The Annals

9. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 90-97]

10. CHAUCER: Troilus and Cressida

11. SHAKESPEARE: Macbeth

12. MILTON: Paradise Lost

13. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book III, Ch. 1-3, 9-11]

14. KANT: Science of Right

15. MILL: Representative Government [Ch. 1-6]

16. LAVOISIER: Elements of Chemistry [Part I]

17. DOSTOEVSKY: The Brothers Karamazov [Part I-II]

18. FREUD: The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis

19. TWAIN – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

20. LEVI-STRAUSS – Structural Anthropology [Selections]

21. POINCARÉ – Science and Hypothesis [Part I – II]


1. EURPIDES: Medea, Hippolytus, Trojan Women, The Bacchantes

2. PLATO: Republic [Book VI-VII]

3. PLATO: Theaetetus

4. ARISTOTLE: Physics [Book IV, Ch. 1-5, 10-14]

5. ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics [Book I, Ch. 1-2; Book IV; Book VI, Ch. 1; Book XI, Ch. 1-4]

6. ST. AUGUSTINE: Confessions [Book IX-XIII]

7. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88]

8. MONTAIGNE: Apology for Raymond de Sebonde

9. GALILEO: Two New Sciences [Third Day, through Scholium of Theorem II]

10. BACON: Novum Organum [Preface, Book I]

11. DESCARTES: Discourse on the Method

12. NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Prefaces, Definitions, Axioms, General Scholium]

13. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book II]

14. HUME: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

15. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Prefaces, Introduction, Transcendental Aesthetic]

16. MELVILLE: Moby Dick

17. DOSTOEVSKY: The Brothers Karamazov [Part III-IV]

18. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. XV, XX]

19. CALVIN – Institutes of the Christian Religion [Book III]

20. FRAZER – The Golden Bough [Selections]

21. HEISENBERG – Physics and Philosophy [ch 1 – 6]


1. PLATO: Phaedo

2. ARISTOTLE: Categories

3. ARISTOTLE: On the Soul [Book II, Ch. 1-3; Book III]

4. HIPPOCRATES: The Oath; On Ancient Medicine; On Airs, Waters, and Places; The Book of Prognostics; Of the Epidemics; The Law; On the Sacred Disease

5. GALEN: On the Natural Faculties

6. VIRGIL: The Aeneid

7. PTOLEMY: The Almagest [Book I, Ch. 1-8]

8. COPERNICUS: Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres [Introduction—Book I-Ch. 11]

9. KEPLER: Epitome of Copernican Astronomy [Book IV, Part II, Ch. 1-2]

10. PLOTINUS: Sixth Ennead

11. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 75-76, 78-79]

12. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Hell]

13. HARVEY: The Motion of the Heart and Blood

14. CERVANTES: Don Quixote [Part I]

15. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part II]

16. BERKELEY: The Principles of Human Knowledge

17. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Analytic]

18. DARWIN: The Origin of Species [Introduction—Ch. 6, Ch. 15]

19. TOLSTOY: War and Peace [Book I-VIII]

20. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. XXVIII]

21. DEWEY – Experience and Education

22. WADDINGTON – The Nature of Life

23. ORWELL – Animal Farm


1. OLD TESTAMENT [Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy]

2. HOMER: The Odyssey

3. PLATO: Laws [Book X]

4. ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics [Book XII]

5. TACITUS: The Histories

6. PLOTINUS: Fifth Ennead

7. ST. AUGUSTINE: The City of God [Book XV-XVIII]

8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 1-13]

9. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Purgatory]

10. SHAKESPEARE: Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Twelfth Night

11. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part I]

12. MILTON: Samson Agonistes

13. PASCAL: The Provincial Letters

14. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book IV]

15. GIBBON: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Ch. 1-5, General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West]

16. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Dialectic]

17. HEGEL: Philosophy of History [Introduction]

18. TOLSTOY: War and Peace [Book IX-XV, Epilogues]

19. KIERKEGAARD – Fear and Trembling

20. HUIZINGA – The Waning of the Middle Ages [I – X]

21. SHAW – Saint Joan


1. OLD TESTAMENT [Job, Isaiah, Amos]

2. PLATO: Symposium

3. PLATO: Philebus

4. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book VIII-X]

5. ARCHIMEDES: Measurement of a Circle, The Equilibrium of Planes [Book I], The Sand-Reckoner, On Floating Bodies [Book I]

6. EPICTETUS: Discourses

7. PLOTINUS: First Ennead

8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 1-5]

9. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Paradise]

10. RABELAIS: Gargantual and Pantagruel [Book III-IV]

11. SHAKESPEARE: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus

12. GALILEO: Two New Sciences [First Day]

13. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part IV-V]

14. NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Book III, Rules], Optics [Book I, Part I; Book III, Queries]

15. HUYGENS: Treatise on Light

16. KANT: Critique of Practical Reason

17. KANT: Critique of Judgment [Critique of Aesthetic Judgment]

18. MILL: Utilitarianism

19. WEBER – Essays in Sociology [Part III]

20. PROUST – Swann in Love

21. BRECHT – Mother Courage and Her Children


1. ARISTOPHANES: Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus

2. PLATO: Gorgias

3. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book V]

4. ARISTOTLE: Rhetoric [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 1; Book II, Ch. 20—Book III, Ch. 1; Book III, Ch. 13-19]

5. ST. AUGUSTINE: On Christian Doctrine

6. HOBBES: Leviathan [Part II]

7. SHAKESPEARE: Othello, King Lear

8. BACON: Advancement of Learning [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 11]

9. DESCARTES: Meditations on the First Philosophy

10. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part III]

11. LOCKE: A Letter Concerning Toleration

12. ROUSSEAU: A Discourse on Political Economy

13. ADAM SMITH: The Wealth of Nations [Book II]

14. BOSWELL: The Life of Samuel Johnson

15. MARX: Capital [Prefaces, Part I-II]

16. GOETHE: Faust [Part I]

17. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. VIII-X]

18. BARTH – The Word of God and the Word of Man [I – IV]

19. BERGSON – An Introduction to Metaphysics

20. HARDY – A Mathematicians Apology

21. KAFKA – The Metamorphosis


1. PLATO: The Sophist

2. THUCYDIDES: The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book VII-VIII]

3. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book VII-VIII]

4. NEW TESTAMENT [The Gospel According to St. John, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians]

5. ST. AUGUSTINE: The City of God [Book V, XIX]

6. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part II-II, QQ 1-7]

7. GILBERT: On the Loadstone

8. DESCARTES: Rules for the Direction of the Mind

9. DESCARTES: Geometry

10. PASCAL: The Great Experiment Concerning the Equilibrium of Fluids, On Geometrical Demonstration

11. MONTESQUIEU: The Spirit of Laws [Book I-V, VIII, XI-XII]

12. FARADAY: Experimental Researches in Electricity [Series I-II], A Speculation Touching Electric Conduction and the Nature of Matter

13. HEGEL: Philosophy of Right [Part III

14. MARX: Capital [Part III-IV]

15. FREUD: Civilization and Its Discontents

16. MOLIÈRE – Tartuffe

17. AUSTEN – Emma

18. PLANCK – Scientific Autobiography

19. VEBLEN – The Theory of the Leisure Class

20. JOYCE – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

21. HEMINGWAY – The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber


1. SOPHOCLES: Ajax, Electra

2. PLATO: Timaeus

3. ARISTOTLE: On the Parts of Animals [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 1], On the Generation of Animals [Book I, Ch. 1, 17-18, 20-23]

4. LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things [Book V-VI]

5. VIRGIL: The Eclogues, The Georgics

6. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 65-74]

7. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 90-102]

8. CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales [Prologue, Knight’s Tale, Miller’s Prologue and Tale, Reeve’s Prologue and Tale, Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, Friar’s Prologue and Tale, Summoner’s Prologue and Tale, Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale]

9. SHAKESPEARE: The Tragedy of King Richard II, The First Part of King Henry IV, The Second Part of King Henry IV, The Life of King Henry V

10. HARVEY: On the Generation of Animals [Introduction—Exercise 62]

11. CERVANTES: Don Quixote [Part II]

12. KANT: Critique of Judgement [Critique of Teleological Judgement]

13. GOETHE: Faust [Part II]

14. DARWIN: The Descent of Man [Part I; Part III, Ch. 21]

15. MARX: Capital [Part VII-VIII]

16. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. I, V-VII]

17. FREUD: A General Introduction to Psycho-analysis

18. ERASMUS – In Praise of Folly

19. HUIZINGA – The Waning of the Middle Ages [XI – XXIII]

20. EDDINGTON – The Expanding Universe

21. T.S. ELIOT – The Waste Land


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