Friday, May 27, 2016


As the month of May draws to a close, I have now read through 18 pieces from the Great Books 10 year reading plan.  This is the regular number of works for each year in the plan.  As you might remember, I took their reading list apart and decided to use it in a more ala carte manner.  I took out nearly half of the remaining selections for years 5 - 10, paring the whole thing down to 59 remaining pieces. 
At the time, I thought it would take me about three years to get through it all, but I now think it will be two years or less.  As I mentioned, I've covered nearly a third of the works in five months.  When I first decided to tackle the list, I charted each piece by page number so that I could balance the months out.  Because of that, I can tell you that I've read 1299 pages so far this year, which would be a regular amount from a full year. 
This isn't because I'm awesome. It's because my schedule has allowed me to put in time each day towards reading goals.  I don't know if that will continue, but I've lightly planned out the rest of the year in hopes that it will.  If that schedule changes, then so be it.  I'll adjust.
The plan is to work on two separate tracks.  One of those tracks will work on finishing the group that I think of as the Enlightenment philosophers.  Those works:
  • Hobbes - Leviathan (Part II)
  • Milton - Samson Agonistes
  • Pascal - The Provincial Letters
  • Montesquieu - The Spirit of Laws (Books I-V, VIII, XI-XII)
  • Rousseau - Discourse on Political Economy
  • Locke - Letter Concerning Toleration
  • Mill - Utilitarianism
There are also four pieces of Spinoza, basically Ethics (Parts 1-5), but I have a reason for holding those back.  If it turns out that these go faster than expected, I may cover Spinoza as well.
While working on these, I'm also going to work on some of the pieces of longer fiction.  The remaining ones:
  • Cervantes - Don Quixote (2, broken in two pieces in the 10 year reading plan, though I'll read as one)
  • Sterne - Tristam Shandy
  • Fielding - Tom Jones
  • Goethe - Faust (2)
  • Tolstoy - War and Peace (2)
  • Boswell - Life of Johnson (various parts, 2 pieces in the plan)
I very much doubt that I'll get through all of these this year.  I'm going to start with 'Don Quixote' and I've mentally tagged November and December for 'War and Peace'.  If I get through half of them and the seven Enlightenment pieces from above, then I'll be more than half way through the remaining works and in good shape to finish up next year. 

I'm also rounding out the work on Shakespeare.  I've currently read 28 of the 38 plays.  I aim to be done with the whole set by the end of July.  Maybe earlier.  I've done two a week for most of May.
I'm going to miss them when they're done, though I'll write about that in more depth when it happens. 
I've thought about trying to fit the 100 Best Plays project back in to fill that gap, but I'm not sure if I will or not.  There is some crossover between that project and the Great Books project so I've actively blogged more than a quarter of the full hundred.  Maybe I'll fill in more gaps later in the year.

It looks like a busy year of reading but I've greatly enjoyed what I've gotten out of the first five months of it.  I can only hope that the next seven are as good!

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