A collation of recommended reading
1926 on< 1901-1925< 1876-1900< 1851-1875< 1826-1850< 1801-1825< 1751-1800< 1701-1750< 1601-1700< 1401-1600< 1101-1400< 301-1100< 300 B.C.-A.D. 300< through 301 B.C.
Index of Authors:A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Most recent additions, revisions, and annotations, to authors and works: Barzun, Levi, Milosz, Rosten, Vonnegut, Warren, and Wilbur; Kipling, Masters, Russell, Unamuno, Weber, Wells, and Yeats; Akhmatova, Celine, Christie, Hasek, Lovecraft, Pound, and Toomer; Reading Rat December 2012; Most recent format revisions: Notes which formerly displayed only when your cursor is over this graphic have been changed to be visible text.
Format revision in progress:The Wikipedia entry is being added for each Author, and Author and Title names are generally being conformed to it.
This list of recommended reading is in reverse chronological order by the year of the author's birth, or of the work's publication when there are multiple or unknown authors. In other words, it starts with the latest recommended author and then goes back in time.
To create the list, I consulted books that consisted of or included book lists for the general reader. These were also consulted for rating works as shown by the star graphics
tothat precede some works.
Authors and works are sometimes also annotated as indicated by these graphics.
(etexts) (bookseller) (study guides) (references) (criticism) (Humor) (note) (comment)
that are found either with the author or work.
The major sources of recommended works and annotations, to date, are listed in the Bibliography.
Authors and works preceded by "also" are my additional selections, including the works which were major sources of recommendations.
Some annotations, particularly if numerous, have been moved to a post on my weblog linked from that author's name in the chronological list or from that category or categories of annotations at the author's entry. Some newer annotations are in other posts on my weblog.
Considering so many sources can lead to what some think anomalous results. For example, some of Shakespeare's plays are rated lower than Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. This results from the lack of consensus over which of Shakespeare's works to recommend. Almost everyone recommended Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
Given that the authors of the works consulted for ratings were published in English, works not widely available in English are rarely recommended. The recommending works include some older ones that lean toward English-language writers, and some others specifically indicated they confined their recommendations to European (Western) works. Later authors and editions generally included works from Eastern civilizations. The net effect is that there are more Western works and they include the highest-rated works.
You can review the development of this list at the Internet Archive, March 16, 2004 to date and October 3, 2002 to February 16, 2004.
The title comes from Peter Drucker's collection of autobiographical essays, Adventures of a Bystander. Miss Elsa, one of his fourth grade teachers in Vienna, called him a "reading rat." (In Drucker's native German, leseratte [readingrat] is a synonym for buchenwurm [bookworm].) "You're reading under the desk when you think I'm not looking," she observed. I may be inventing a distinction, but we reading rats are in more of a hurry than bookworms. That is why we do not just browse, we take a list.
P.S. Coincidentally, there's a Reading Rat bookseller, and other vendors offering a Reading Rat T-shirt, wall decal, and mouse pad.
Hypertext by Terrence Berres.
Dedicated to the memory of George Berres (1901-1974).
Revised January 20, 2013.