The Indispensible Blog

Sep 30

Written by: Tom Jackson
9/30/2012 10:45 AM 

Colleges and universities are fond of issuing summer reading lists to incoming students. I thought I might provide an alternative list, after this brief introduction.

Intending to spark a student's thinking toward higher themes that will thread through all of the educational experience, too often, modern collegiate lists devolve into mere indoctrination. Yet originally, these lists had a noble purpose of opening the 'Canon' or list of the noblest works of Western Civilization to new liberal arts students. While I'd argue there is plenty of room to expand the Canon, if a work withstood the tests of time, sadly, the tendancy among educators in these days is to waive off all "dead white male" writers who were once prevalent on the list, and replace them with "Anyone But."

This Mason disapproves of such a sheltered, and illiberal practice...

You see, Masonry endures.  And Masonry is, among other things, a repository of, in the words of my dear friend, Jason Berger, "the Awesome Inheritance of Western Civilization."  I think therefore that it would be a service to those young men or women who seek something to counterbalance their innocent indoctrination into anti-Western, anti-male, irreligious and anti-capitalistic tripe.  Oh yes, there is much to be retained in the Canon.  Further, I proudly note that these works stand on their own merits. These are the works that fire the mind, that have inspired centuries of explorers, leaders, scientists, and other thinkers.  In comparison to the alternatives, the original Canon will win any fair fight. And anyway, if a college is to be a marketplace of ideas, or a haven for "free inquiry," what are the indoctrination-supporters so afraid of, concerning these works?

Books to Read Before Graduating from College

NON-FICTION
 A Guide to Effective Study/Dr. Edwin A. Locke

HISTORY
 The Histories / by Herodotus
 The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire / by Edward Gibbons
 A World Lit Only By Fire / by William Manchester
 The Discoverers / by Daniel J. Boorstin
 A History of the United States and Its People / by Edward Eggleston
 Washington’s Crossing / by David Hackett Fisher
 In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson / by Noble E. Cunningham, Jr.
 Life & Times of Frederick Douglass / by Frederick Douglass
 The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich / by William Shire
 American Caesar / by William Manchester
 Ethnic America: A History / by Thomas Sowell
 Out of America / by Keith B. Richburg

POLITICAL & ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY
 A Familiar Exposition of The Constitution of the United States / by Joseph Story
 Political Writings of John Locke / by Editor: David Wooten
 Selected Essays on Political Economy / by Frederic Bastiat
 The Road to Serfdom / by F. A. Hayak
 Planned Chaos / by Ludwig Von Mises
 Economics In One Lesson / by Henry Hazlitt
 The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics / by Ann-ping Chin

EDUCATION/ENGLISH
 The Discovery of the Child / by Maria Montessori
 God and Man at Yale / By William F. Buckley (1951)
      and for comparison, Stover at Yale / by Owen Johnson (1911, public domain)
      and for even further comparison, Sex and God at Yale / by Nathan Harden (2012)
      read these along with I Am Charlotte Simmons / Tom Wolfe (2004 not great lit, but vivid,
      accurate themes depicting the decline of education at our formerly best schools.)
 How to Raise a Brighter Child / by Joan Beck
 Marva Collins’ Way / by Marva Collins
 The War Against Boys / by Christina Hoff Sommers
 Twice As Less / by Elizabeth Wilson Orr
 Less Than Words Can Say / by Richard Mitchell
 Woe Is I / by Patricia T. O’Conner

SCIENCE
 The Billion Dollar Molecule / by Barry Werth
 Longitude / by Dava Sobel
 An Endless Series of Hobgoblins / by Eric Hagen & James Worman
 Facts, Not Fear / by Michael Sanera & Jane S. Shaw
 The Blind Watchmaker / by Dr. Richard Dawkins
 A Modern Introduction to Ancient Indian Mathematics / by T. S. Bhanu Murthy

PSYCHOLOGY
 The Psychology of Self-Esteem
 Boys Adrift / by Dr. Leonard Sax (Especially for teachers and new parents)
 The Hero With a Thousand Faces / by Joseph Campbell

PHILOSOPHY & RELIGION
 The Pocket Aristotle / by Aristotle
 The Pocket Aquinas / by Thomas Aquinas
 The Virtue of Selfishness & The Voice of Reason/Ayn Rand
 The Screwtape Letters / by C.S. Lewis
 Surprised by Joy / by C.S. Lewis
 A Grief Observed / C.S. Lewis
 The Ominous Parallels / by Dr. Leonard Peikoff

BIOGRAPHICAL
 The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes / by John Dickson Carr
 All Creatures Great and Small / by James Herriot
 Brunelleschi’s Dome / by Ross King
 Longitude / by Dava Sobel
 Flight / by Chris Kraft

FICTION

NOVELS

 The Sketch Book / by /Washington Irving
 The Scarlet Letter & Selected Tales and Sketches / by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 The Count of Monte Cristo / by Alexander Dumas
 I Am Charlotte Simmons / by Tom Wolfe (because you are in college)
 Tales of Hoffman / by E.T.A. Hoffman
 Ninety-Three, Notre Dame de Paris, The Man Who Laughs & Toilers of the Sea / by Victor Hugo
 The Brothers Karamazov & The Possessed / by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court & The Prince and the Pauper / by Mark Twain
 Around the World in Eighty Days / by Jules Verne
 Scaramouche / by Rafael Sabatini
 The Secret Garden / by Frances Hodgson Burnett
 The Nerve of Foley / by Frank Spearman
 The Scarlet Pimpernel / by Baroness Orczy
 The Four Feathers / by A.E.W. Mason
 Captains Courageous & The Days Work / by Rudyard Kipling
 Sherlock Holmes / by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 Calumet K / by Merwin-Webster
 Collected Stories of O. Henry / by O. Henry
 Riders of the Purple Sage / by Zane Grey
 It Can’t Happen Here & Babbit / by Sinclair Lewis
 The Best Western Stories / by Ernest Haycox
 A Separate Peace / by John Knowles
 Quo Vadis / by Henryk Sienkiewicz
 Anthem & The Fountainhead, & Atlas Shrugged / by Ayn Rand
 Shane / by Jack Shaeffer
 Big Red / by Jim Kjelgaard
 National Velvet / by Enid Bagnold
 The Lord of the Rings / by J.R.R. Tolkien (the books are better)
 The Heart of Princess Osra / by Anthony Hope
 Strong Poison / by Dorothy Sayers
 A Town Like Alice, Trustee from the Toolroom & The Far Country / by Nevil Shute
 I, the Jury / by Mickey Spillane
 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / by Agatha Christie
 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest / by Ken Kesey
 Barometer Rising / by Hugh MacLennan
 Advise and Consent / by Allen Drury
 Exodus / by Leon Uris
 This Perfect Day / by Ira Levin

 PLAYS
 Antigone / by Sophocles
 Othello / by William Shakespeare
 Monna Vanna / by Maurice Maeterlinck
 Cyrano / by Edmond Rostand
 The Importance of Being Earnest & A Woman of No Importance / by Oscar Wilde
 The Miracle Worker / by William Gibson
 Inherit The Wind / by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee
 Night of January 16th / by Ayn Rand
 Who’s Life Is It, Anyway? / by Brian Clark

Some are 'high Canon', and others are more recent, in response to current trends.  Any other suggestions? Add them to the comments!

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