The following “great books” lists are among the most famous ones compiled for familiarizing a reader with the West’s most influential ideas. The first two, the Great Books of the Western World (GBWW) and The Harvard Classics are physical sets sold in various editions throughout the 20th century. Both cover a wide range of novels, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, though there are quite large differences in the particular works selected for each. For those desiring a detailed comparison of the two sets, I recommend checking out David Milliern’s article here.
The last two book lists here are those recommended by two influential professors, Jordan B. Peterson and Susan Wise Bauer. Dr. Peterson, known for his work in clinical psychology and his outspoken cultural and political ideas, compiled a list reflecting his background in psychology, mixed with potent philosophical, historical, and religious works. Bauer’s list is more inline with the GBWW and HC sets with the aim of providing a classical education to laymen, which she expounds with great effectiveness in her book The Well-Educated Mind (found here for those interested – a highly recommended read).
Also, a fine introduction to the “Great Conversation” (the same conversation any classical liberal education partakes in) is found in the first volume of the GBWW set, which can be found free in .pdf form here. It’s a short exposition on the importance of reading the Great Books as a means to education and how education more generally shapes society.