The 10 Year Reading Plan for the Great Books of the Western World

Approaching the Great Books of the Western World can be quite daunting. Luckily the editors of the set provided a reading plan spanning 10 years. Although a decade of study sounds terrifying, know that this is simply a suggestion for those serious in studying the GBWW set. Casual readers can further down-select from the following reading plan. A good goal (perhaps a New Year’s resolution) would be to complete just the first year to test the waters.

In the following reading plan, the works are listed in terms of AUTHOR, Title of Work, (Volume and pages where it is found). Even if you don’t have the full GBWW set, there’s sufficient information provided to hunt down each book separately. This list is for the original 1952 GBWW list, as opposed to later versions.

Year 1

  1. PLATO: Apology, Crito (Vol. 7, pp 200-219)
  2. ARISTOPHANES: Clouds, Lysistrata (Vol. 5, pp. 488-506, 583-599)
  3. PLATO: Republic [Book I-II] (Vol. 7, pp. 295-324)
  4. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book I] (Vol. 9, pp. 339-348)
  5. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book I] (Vol. 9, pp. 445-455)
  6. PLUTARCH: The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans [Lycurgus, Numa
    Pompilius, Lycurgus and Numa Compared, Alexander, Caesar] (Vol. 14, pp. 32-64, 540-604)
  7. NEW TESTAMENT: [The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, The Acts of the
    Apostles]
  8. ST. AUGUSTINE: Confessions [Book I-VIII] (Vol. 18, pp. 1-61)
  9. MACHIAVELLI: The Prince (Vol. 23, pp. 1-37)
  10. RABELAIS: Gargantua and Pantagruel [Book I-II] (Vol. 24, pp. 1-126)
  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] (Vol. 25, pp. 42-51, 55-82, 91-98, 115-125, 406-434)
  12. SHAKESPEARE: Hamlet (Vol. 27, pp. 29-72)
  13. LOCKE: Concerning Civil Government [Second Essay] (Vol. 35, pp. 25-81)
  14. ROUSSEAU: The Social Contract [Book I-II] (Vol. 38, pp. 387-406)
  15. GIBBON: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Ch. 15-16] (Vol. 40, pp. 179-234)
  16. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The
    Federalist [Numbers 1-10, 15, 31, 47, 51, 68-71] (Vol. 43, pp. 1-3, 11-20, 29-53, 62-66, 103-105, 153-156, 162-165, 205-216)
  17. SMITH: The Wealth of Nations [Introduction—Book I, Ch. 9] (Vol. 39, pp. 1-41)
  18. MARX—ENGELS: Manifesto of the Communist Party (Vol. 50, pp. 415-434)

Year 2

  1. HOMER: The Iliad (Vol. 4, pp. 3-179)
  2. AESCHYLUS: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides (Vol. 5, 52-91)
  3. SOPHOCLES: Oedipus the King, Antigone (Vol. 5, pp. 99-113, 131-142)
  4. HERODOTUS: The History [Book I-II] (Vol. 6, pp. 1-88)
  5. PLATO: Meno (Vol. 7, pp. 174-190)
  6. ARISTOTLE: Poetics (Vol. 9, pp. 681-699)
  7. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book II; Book III, Ch. 5-12; Book VI, Ch. 8-13] (Vol. 9, pp. 348-355, 359-366, 390-394)
  8. NICOMACHUS: Introduction to Arithmetic (Vol. 11, p. 811-848)
  9. LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things [Book I-IV] (Vol. 12, pp. 1-61)
  10. MARCUS AURELIUS: Meditations (Vol. 12, pp. 253-310)
  11. HOBBES: Leviathan [Part I] (Vol. 23, pp. 45-98)
  12. MILTON: Areopagitica (Vol. 32, pp. 381-412)
  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] (Vol. 33, pp. 181-184, 186-189, 191-192, 195-200, 203, 205-210, 212-218, 222-225, 227, 229-232, 237-251, 255, 259, 264-275, 277-287, 290-291, 296-302, 318, 321-322, , 326-327)
  14. PASCAL: Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle (Vol. 33, pp. 447-473)
  15. SWIFT: Gulliver’s Travels (Vol. 36, pp. xv-184)
  16. ROUSSEAU: A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (Vol. 38, pp. 323-366)
  17. KANT: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals (Vol. 42, pp. 253-287)
  18. MILL: On Liberty (Vol. 43, pp. 267-323)

Year 3

  1. AESCHYLUS: Prometheus Bound (Vol. 5, pp. 40-51)
  2. HERODOTUS: The History [Book VII-IX] (Vol. 6, pp. 214-314)
  3. THUCYDIDES: The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book I-II, V] (Vol. 6, pp. 349416, 482-508)
  4. PLATO: Statesman (Vol. 7, pp. 580-608)
  5. ARISTOTLE: On Interpretation [Ch. 1-10] (Vol. 8, pp. 25-31)
  6. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book III-V] (Vol. 9, pp. 471-519)
  7. EUCLID: Elements [Book I] (Vol. 11, pp. 1-29)
  8. TACITUS: The Annals (Vol. 15, pp. 1-184)
  9. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 90-97] (Vol. 20, pp. 205-239)
  10. CHAUCER: Troilus and Cressida (Vol. 22, pp. 1-155)
  11. SHAKESPEARE: Macbeth (Vol. 27, pp. 284-310)
  12. MILTON: Paradise Lost (Vol. 32, pp. 93-333)
  13. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book III, Ch. 1-3, 9-11] (Vol. 35, pp. 251-260, 285-306)
  14. KANT: Science of Right (Vol. 42, pp. 397-458)
  15. MILL: Representative Government [Ch. 1-6] (Vol. 43, pp. 327-370)
  16. LAVOISIER: Elements of Chemistry [Part I] (Vol. 45, pp. 1-52)
  17. DOSTOEVSKY: The Brothers Karamazov [Part I-II] (Vol. 52, pp. 1-170)
  18. FREUD: The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis (Vol. 54, pp. 1-20)

Year 4

  1. EURIPIDES: Medea, Hippolytus, Trojan Women, The Bacchantes (Vol. 5, pp. 212-236, 270-281, 340-352)
  2. PLATO: Republic [Book VI-VII] (Vol. 7, pp. 373-401)
  3. PLATO: Theaetetus (Vol. 7, pp. 512-550)
  4. ARISTOTLE: Physics [Book IV, Ch. 1-5, 10-14] (Vol. 8, pp. 287-292, 297-304)
  5. ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics [Book I, Ch. 1-2; Book IV; Book VI, Ch. 1; Book XI, Ch.
    1-4] (Vol. 8, pp. 499-501, 522-532, 547-548, 587-590)
  6. ST. AUGUSTINE: Confessions [Book IX-XIII] (Vol. 18, pp. 61-125)
  7. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88] (Vol. 19, pp. 94-104, 440-473)
  8. MONTAIGNE: Apology for Raymond de Sebonde (Vol. 25, pp. 208-294)
  9. GALILEO: Two New Sciences [Third Day, through Scholium of Theorem II] (Vol. 28, pp. 197-210)
  10. BACON: Novum Organum [Preface, Book I] (Vol. 30, pp. 105-136)
  11. DESCARTES: Discourse on the Method (Vol. 31, pp. 41-67)
  12. NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Prefaces,
    Definitions, Axioms, General Scholium] (Vol. 34, pp. 1-24, 369-372)
  13. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book II] (Vol. 35, pp. 121-251)
  14. HUME: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Vol. 35, pp. 450-509)
  15. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Prefaces, Introduction, Transcendental
    Aesthetic] (Vol. 42, pp. 1-33)
  16. MELVILLE: Moby Dick (Vol. 48)
  17. DOSTOEVSKY: The Brothers Karamazov [Part III-IV] (Vol. 52, pp. 171-412)
  18. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. XV, XX] (Vol. 53, pp. 396-420, 540-635)

Year 5

  1. PLATO: Phaedo (Vol. 7, pp. 220-251)
  2. ARISTOTLE: Categories (Vol. 8, pp. 5-21)
  3. ARISTOTLE: On the Soul [Book II, Ch. 1-3; Book III] (Vol. 8, pp. 642-645, 656-668)
  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 (Vol. 10, pp. xiii-26, 44-63, 144, 154-160)
  5. GALEN: On the Natural Faculties (Vol. 10, pp. 167-215)
  6. VIRGIL: The Aeneid (Vol. 13, pp. 103-379)
  7. PTOLEMY: The Almagest [Book I, Ch. 1-8]; COPERNICUS: Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres [Introduction—Book I, Ch. 11]; KEPLER: Epitome of Copernican Astronomy [Book IV, Part II, Ch. 1-2] (Vol. 16, pp. 5-14, 505-532, 887-895)
  8. PLOTINUS: Sixth Ennead (Vol. 17, pp. 252-360)
  9. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 75-76, 78-79] (Vol. 19, pp. 378-399, 407-427)
  10. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Hell] (Vol. 21, pp. 1-52)
  11. HARVEY: The Motion of the Heart and Blood (Vol. 28, pp. 267-304)
  12. CERVANTES: Don Quixote [Part I] (Vol. 29, pp. xi-204)
  13. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part II] (Vol. 31, pp. 373-394)
  14. BERKELEY: The Principles of Human Knowledge (Vol. 35, pp. 403-444)
  15. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Analytic] (Vol. 42, pp. 34-108)
  16. DARWIN: The Origin of Species [Introduction—Ch. 6, Ch. 15] (Vol. 49, pp. 6-98)
  17. TOLSTOY: War and Peace [Book I-VIII] (Vol. 51, pp. 1-341)
  18. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. XXVIII] (Vol. 53, pp. 851-897)

Year 6

  1. OLD TESTAMENT [Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy]
  2. HOMER: The Odyssey (Vol. 4, pp. 183-322)
  3. PLATO: Laws [Book X] (Vol. 7, pp. 757-771)
  4. ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics [Book XII] (Vol. 8, pp. 598-606)
  5. TACITUS: The Histories (Vol. 15, pp. 189-302)
  6. PLOTINUS: Fifth Ennead (Vol. 17, pp. 208-251)
  7. ST. AUGUSTINE: The City of God [Book XV-XVIII] (Vol. 18, pp. 397-507)
  8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 1-13] (Vol. 19, pp. 3-75)
  9. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Purgatory] (Vol. 21, pp. 53-105)
  10. SHAKESPEARE: Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It,
    Twelfth Night (Vol. 26, pp. 149-169, 199-228, 597-626; Vol. 27, pp. 1-28)
  11. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part I] (Vol. 31, pp. 355-372)
  12. MILTON: Samson Agonistes (Vol. 32, pp. 337-378)
  13. PASCAL: The Provincial Letters (Vol. 33, pp. 1-167)
  14. LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book IV] (Vol. 35, pp. 307-395)
  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] (Vol. 40, pp. 1-51, 630-634)
  16. KANT: Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Dialectic] (Vol. 42, pp. 108-209)
  17. HEGEL: Philosophy of History [Introduction] (Vol. 46, pp. 153-206)
  18. TOLSTOY: War and Peace [Book IX-XV, Epilogues] (Vol. 51, pp. 342-696)

Year 7

  1. OLD TESTAMENT [Job, Isaiah, Amos]
  2. PLATO: Symposium (Vol. 7, pp. 149-173)
  3. PLATO: Philebus (Vol. 7, pp. 609-639)
  4. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book VIII-X] (Vol. 9, pp. 406-436)
  5. ARCHIMEDES: Measurement of a Circle, The Equilibrium of Planes [Book I],
    The Sand-Reckoner, On Floating Bodies [Book I] (Vol. 11, pp. 447-451, 502-509, 520-526, 538-542)
  6. EPICTETUS: Discourses (Vol. 12, pp. 105-245)
  7. PLOTINUS: First Ennead (Vol. 17, pp. 1-34)
  8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 1-5] (Vol. 19, pp. 609-643)
  9. DANTE: The Divine Comedy [Paradise] (Vol. 21, pp. 106-157)
  10. RABELAIS: Gargantual and Pantagruel [Book III-IV] (Vol. 24, pp. 127-312)
  11. SHAKESPEARE: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus (Vol. 26, pp. 568-596; Vol. 27, pp. 311-392)
  12. GALILEO: Two New Sciences [First Day] (Vol. 28, pp. 131-177)
  13. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part IV-V] (Vol. 31, pp. 422-463)
  14. NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Book III, Rules],
    Optics [Book I, Part I; Book III, Queries] (Vol. 34, pp. 270-271, 379-423, 516-544)
  15. HUYGENS: Treatise on Light (Vol. 34, pp. 551-619)
  16. KANT: Critique of Practical Reason (Vol. 42, pp. 291-361)
  17. KANT: Critique of Judgment [Critique of Aesthetic Judgment] (Vol. 42, pp. 461-549)
  18. MILL: Utilitarianism (Vol. 43, pp. 445-476)

Year 8

  1. ARISTOPHANES: Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus (Vol. 5, pp. 600-642)
  2. PLATO: Gorgias (Vol. 7, pp. 252-294)
  3. ARISTOTLE: Ethics [Book V] (Vol. 9, pp. 376-387)
  4. ARISTOTLE: Rhetoric [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 1; Book II, Ch. 20—Book III,
    Ch. 1; Book III, Ch. 13-19] (Vol. 9, pp. 593-623, 640-654, 667-675)
  5. ST. AUGUSTINE: On Christian Doctrine (Vol. 18, pp. 619-698)
  6. HOBBES: Leviathan [Part II] (Vol. 23, pp. 99-164)
  7. SHAKESPEARE: Othello, King Lear (Vol. 27, pp. 205-283)
  8. BACON: Advancement of Learning [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 11] (Vol. 30, pp. 1-55)
  9. DESCARTES: Meditations on the First Philosophy (Vol. 31, pp. 69-103)
  10. SPINOZA: Ethics [Part III] (Vol. 31, pp. 395-422)
  11. LOCKE: A Letter Concerning Toleration (Vol. 35, pp. 1-22)
  12. STERNE: Tristam Shandy (Vol. 36, pp. 190-556)
  13. ROUSSEAU: A Discourse on Political Economy (Vol. 38, pp. 367-385)
  14. ADAM SMITH: The Wealth of Nations [Book II] (Vol. 39, pp. 117-162)
  15. BOSWELL: The Life of Samuel Johnson (Vol. 44, pp. 49-55, 104-139, 159-173, 247-262, 281-322)
  16. MARX: Capital [Prefaces, Part I-II] (Vol. 50, pp. 1-84)
  17. GOETHE: Faust [Part I] (Vol. 47, pp. 1-114)
  18. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. VIII-X] (Vol. 53, pp. 130-259)

Year 9

  1. PLATO: The Sophist (Vol. 7, pp. 551-579)
  2. THUCYDIDES: The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book VII-VIII] (Vol. 6, pp. 538-593)
  3. ARISTOTLE: Politics [Book VII-VIII] (Vol. 9, pp. 527-548)
  4. APOLLONIUS: On Conic Sections [Book I, Prop. 1-15; Book III, Prop. 42-55] (Vol. 11, pp. 603-624, 780-797)
  5. 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]
  6. ST. AUGUSTINE: The City of God [Book V, XIX] (Vol. 18, pp. 207-230, 507-530)
  7. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part II-II, QQ 1-7] (Vol. 20, pp. 380-416)
  8. GILBERT: On the Loadstone (Vol. 28, pp. 1-121)
  9. DESCARTES: Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Vol. 31, pp. 1-40)
  10. DESCARTES: Geometry (Vol. 31, pp. 295-353)
  11. PASCAL: The Great Experiment Concerning the Equilibrium of Fluids, On
    Geometrical Demonstration
    (Vol. 33, pp. 382-389, 430-446)
  12. FIELDING: Tom Jones (Vol.. 37)
  13. MONTESQUIEU: The Spirit of Laws [Book I-V, VIII, XI-XII] (Vol. 38, pp. 1-33, 51-58, 68-96)
  14. FOURIER: Analytical Theory of Heat [Preliminary Discourse, Ch. 1-2] (Vol. 45, pp. 169-251)
  15. FARADAY: Experimental Researches in Electricity [Series I-II], A Speculation
    Touching Electric Conduction and the Nature of Matter
    (Vol. 45, pp. 265-302, 850-855)
  16. HEGEL: Philosophy of Right [Part III] (Vol. 46, pp. 55-114)
  17. MARX: Capital [Part III-IV] (Vol. 50, pp. 85-250)
  18. FREUD: Civilization and Its Discontents (Vol. 54, pp. 767-802)

Year 10

  1. SOPHOCLES: Ajax, Electra (Vol. 5, pp. 143-169)
  2. PLATO: Timaeus (Vol. 7, pp. 442-477)
  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] (Vol. 9, pp. 161-171, 255-256, 261-266, 268-271)
  4. LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things [Book V-VI] (Vol. 12, pp. 61-97)
  5. VIRGIL: The Eclogues, The Georgics (Vol. 13, pp. 3-99)
  6. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 65-74] (Vol. 19, pp. 339-377)
  7. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 90-102] (Vol. 19, pp. 480-527)
  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] (Vol. 22, pp. 159-232, 256-295, 372-382)
  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 (Vol. 26, pp. 320-351, 434-502, 532-567)
  10. HARVEY: On the Generation of Animals [Introduction—Exercise 62] (Vol. 28, pp. 331-470)
  11. CERVANTES: Don Quixote [Part II] (Vol. 29, pp. 203-429)
  12. KANT: Critique of Judgement [Critique of Teleological Judgement] (Vol. 42, pp. 550-613)
  13. BOSWELL: The Life of Samuel Johnson (Vol. 44, pp. 354-364, 373-384, 391-407, 498-515, 584-587)
  14. GOETHE: Faust [Part II] (Vol. 47, pp. 115-294)
  15. DARWIN: The Descent of Man [Part I; Part III, Ch. 21] (Vol. 49, pp. 255-363, 590-597)
  16. MARX: Capital [Part VII-VIII] (Vol. 50, pp. 279-383)
  17. JAMES: Principles of Psychology [Ch. I, V-VII] (Vol. 53, pp. 1-7, 84-129)
  18. FREUD: A General Introduction to Psycho-analysis (Vol. 54, pp. 449-638)

The full list of works and authors represented in the Great Books of the Western World set can be found here.

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