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Reading Rat

A collation of recommended reading

link problems,

Read Me What to read: (reverse chronological order by author's birth) 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

New! Most recent additions, revisions, and annotations, to authors and works: Richard Adams, Yves Bonnefoy, William H. Gass, A Guide to Oriental Classics, Gerald Holton and Katherine Sopka, William H. McNeill, Gabriel Okara, Michel Tournier, and Richard Wilbur; Lady Nijo, Troubadours of Provence, Linji Yixuan, Fujiwara no Nagako, Quran, The Romance of Antar, and Yamato Monogatari; E. L. Doctorow, Alan Moore, Betty Friedan, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Mead, and James Salter.

New! Newest feature: Per a reader's suggestion, authors whose highest-rated work has five, four, or three stars are listed below.

In progress: Features undergoing revision: Bibliography.

In progress: Features in progress: The Online Books Page entry is being added for any Etext: etexts for each Author; and the Wikipedia entry is being added for each Author, as either a Note: note or a Reference: reference, and Author and Title names are generally being conformed to it.

The beginnings of this list go back to 1988. It has changed over the years, such as by going online in the late 1990s.

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 that precede some works: One star: - Two stars: - Three stars: - Four stars: - Five stars:

Authors and works are sometimes also annotated as indicated by these graphics Etext: (etexts) Bookseller: (bookseller) Study: (study guides) Reference: (references) Criticism: (criticism) Humor: (Humor) Note: (note) Comment: (comment) that are found either with the author or work.

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.

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.

Here are Authors whose highest-rated work is at these levels:
Five stars: Leo Tolstoy, Edward Gibbon, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, Michel de Montaigne, Niccolo Machiavelli, Geoffrey Chaucer, Plutarch, Virgil, Lucretius, Plato, Thucydides, Herodotus, Aeschylus, and Homer.
Four stars: Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov, Mark Twain, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, George Eliot, Charles Darwin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Henry Fielding, Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, Blaise Pascal, John Milton, Rene Descartes, Francois Rabelais, Thomas More, Desiderius Erasmus, Dante Alighieri, Quran, Augustine of Hippo, Bible, Aristotle, Euripides, and Sophocles.
Three stars: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Albert Camus, William Faulkner, Eugene O'Neill, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Sigmund Freud, George Bernard Shaw, Henrik Ibsen, Gustave Flaubert, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Karl Marx, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mill, Honore de Balzac, Stendhal, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Federalist Papers, James Boswell, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Baruch Spinoza, Moliere, Thomas Hobbes, John Donne, Thomas Aquinas, One Thousand and One Nights, Bhagavad Gita, Marcus Aurelius, Tacitus, Analects, Aristophanes, and Aesop.
It might serve as a short classics, greats, masterpieces list.

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" (leseratte in Drucker's native German). "You're reading under the desk when you think I'm not looking," she observed. Ulrich Flemming elaborates, "a Leseratte is a person who loves to read. In distinction to a Bücherwurm, though, there is no implication that this person has no life outside of books—an 'avid reader' comes close in English, but doesn't conjure up the image of a voraciously reading rat". So with a life outside of reading, we reading rats do not just browse, we take a list.

P.S. Coincidentally, there's an unrelated Reading Rat weblog, 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 18, 2018.