The Great Books Reader by Book

"In this volume you will be guided by esteemed professors and writers who have selected excerpts from the most important books in Western Civilization. A brief essay illuminates each excerpt and puts the work in context. Take your education to the next level by letting some of the best thinkers of today walk you through the most influential books in history."

  1. The Odyssey by Homer

    Image of The Odyssey

    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m...


  2. The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

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    The Nicomachean Ethics (/nɪˌkɒmæˈkiːən/) is the name normally given to Aristotle's best-known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of t...

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  3. The Republic by Plato

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    The Republic is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written c. 380 B.C.E.. It is one of the most influential works of philosophy and political theory, and Plato's best known work. In Plato's fictional di...


  4. The Aeneid by Virgil

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    The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29–19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the...


  5. Confessions by Augustine

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    Confessions is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine of Hippo, written between AD 397 and AD 398. Modern English translations of it are sometimes published ...


  6. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

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    The Consolation of Philosophy is considered widely to be the single most important work from the West during Medieval and early Renaissance Christianity. Often called the last great Classical work,...

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  7. Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas

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    The Summa Theologica (Latin: "Summary of Theology" or "Highest Theology") or the Summa Theologiæ or simply the Summa, written 1265–1274) is the most famous work of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274), al...


  8. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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    With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a mo...


  9. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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    Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the ...


  10. The Praise of Folly by Erasmus

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    The Praise of Folly (Greek title: Morias Enkomion (Μωρίας Εγκώμιον), Latin: Stultitiae Laus, sometimes translated as In Praise of Folly, Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid) is an essay written in 1509 by...


  11. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

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    Institutes of the Christian Religion (Institutio Christianae religionis) is John Calvin's seminal work on Protestant systematic theology. Highly influential in the Western world and still widely re...


  12. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

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    The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its fo...


  13. Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare

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    Shakespeare's comedy play "Much Ado About Nothing" pivots around the impediments to love for young betrothed Hero and Claudio when Hero is falsely accused of infidelity and the "lover's trap" set f...

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  14. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

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    Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th...


  15. Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes

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    Meditations on First Philosophy (subtitled In which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated) is a philosophical treatise by René Descartes first published in 1641 (in ...

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  16. Paradise Lost by John Milton

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    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve...


  17. Pensées by Blaise Pascal


  18. Principia Mathematica by Issac Newton


  19. Two Treatises of Government by John Locke

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    Two Treatises of Government (or "Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is...


  20. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke

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    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is one of John Locke's two most famous works, the other being his Second Treatise on Civil Government. First appearing in 1690, the essay concerns the founda...


  21. John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology by Albert C. Outler

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    Adapted from Albert Outler's 4-volume text The Works of John Wesley, this anthology of 50 of Wesley's finest sermons. Arranged chronologically with introductory commentary by Richard Heitzenrater.

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  22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic socie...


  23. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

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    De la démocratie en Amérique (published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville on the United States in the 1830s and its strengt...


  24. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

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    Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), often referred to as The Communist Manifesto, was published on February 21, 1848, and is one of the world's most infl...


  25. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

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    Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on Thursday 24 November 1859, is a seminal work of scientific literature considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title...


  26. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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    Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu...


  27. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur...


  28. On the Genealogy of Morality by Friedrich Nietzsche

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    On the Genealogy of Morality, or On the Genealogy of Morals (German: Zur Genealogie der Moral), subtitled "A Polemic" (Eine Streitschrift), is a book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, comp...


  29. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

    Image of Orthodoxy

    Orthodoxy is a book by G. K. Chesterton that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. Chesterton considered this book a companion to his other work, Heretics. In the book's preface Chesterton...