88 Books That Have Shaped My Life


 I have to give Going for Gusto’s Joe Grace credit  for throwing down this literary gauntlet.  What are the 88 books that have shaped my life?   Why not 50 or 100?   It’s a spin off the Library of Congress’s list of 88 books that have shaped America, that’s why. Of course, like anyone else’s, my list is specific to me and certainly not exhaustive.  In any event, it’s a great introspective exercise into one’s intellectual formation to say the least.

88. “Invanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott (the first novel I ever read)

87. “The Greek Way” by Edith Hamilton

86. “The Roman Way” by Edith Hamilton

85. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

84. “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare (in high school, the first I read, and the 50s movie with Brando as Antony came with it)

83. “The Gettysburg Address” and other speeches of Abraham Lincoln

82. “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens

81. “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

80. “Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain

79. “Aristotle For Everybody” by Mortimer Adler

78. “Meeting of Minds” by Steve Allen (based on his PBS series)

77. “Life of Samuel Johnson” by James Boswell

76. “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift

75. “”The ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Book” by Jeanine Basinger(including the complete script and an introduction by Frank Capra)

74. “365 StarryNights” by Chet Raymo

73. “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown

72. “Sherlock Holmes” by A. Conan Doyle (56 short stories and 4 novels)

71. “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

70. ‘The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber (includes “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and the hilarious “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox”)

69.” A Citizen of the World” by Oliver Goldsmith

68.  “Profiles in Courage” by John F. Kennedy

67. “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow

66. “Apology” by Plato

65. “The Poetics” by Aristotle

64. “The Politics” by Aristotle

63. “The Vocabulary of Science” by Lancelot Hogben

62. “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris

61.”Plato And A Platypus Walk Into A Bar” by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

60.”Sea Wolf” by Jack London

59. “The Complete Father Brown Detective Stories” by G. K. Chesterton

58. “True Grit” by Charles Portis

57. “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” by Chris Matthews

56. “The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now” Edited with Coimmentary by Norman MacAfee

55. “Lincoln at Gettyburg” by Garry Wills

54. “Aesop’s Fables”

53. “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller

52.”The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer

51. “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles

50. “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan

49. “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain

48. “St. Francis of Assisi” by Morris Bishop

47. “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw

46. “Who’s Afraid of Schrodinger’s Cat” by Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar

45. “Herbs and the Earth” by Henry Beston

44. “The Divine Comedy” by Dante

43 “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer

42. “The Bible”

41. “The Aubrey-Maturin Series of Sea Novels” (20 in all, including “Master and Commander”)

40. “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold

39. “Uysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero” by Michael Korda

38. “Moby Dick” By Herman Melville

37. “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

36. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

35. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

34. “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky

33. “The Story of Civilization” by Will and Ariel Durant (11 volumes—I read in toto the first 5. My favorite “The Age of Faith”)

32. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

31. “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine

30. “The Federalist Papers” by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

29. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

28. “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane

27. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

26.  “The Story of Carbon” by Isaac Asimov (And all the rest  of his science books for the layman)

25. “All For Love” by John Dryden

24. “A Treasury of Great Poems”  Compile and Selected by Louis Untermeyer

23. “Liberty” by John Stuart Mill

22. “Collected Poems of Robert Frost”

21. “My Country, The Story of Modern Israel” by Abba Eban

20. “Claudius, the God” by Robert Graves

19. “Dangling Man” by Saul Bellow

18. “The Citadel” by A.J. Cronin

17. “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco

16. “Amusing Ourselves To Death” by Neil Postman

15. “The Chosen” by Chaim Potok

14. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth

13. “The Labors of Hercules” by Agatha Christie

12. “The Heart of the Matter” by Graham Greene

11. “The Sword in the Stone” by T.H. White

10. “Howard’s End” by E.M. Forster

9.  “The Dubliners” by James Joyce

8. “In Praise of Folly” by Erasmus

7. “The Confessions of St. Augustine”

6. “John Adams” by David McCullough

5. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

4. “The Civil War: A Narrative” by Shelby Foote

3. “Vanity Fair” by William Makepeace Thackery

2. “Dr. Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe

1. “The Apostle” by Sholem Asch


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