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Books for a classical education. These were chosen primarily for their combination of historical/literary/worldview value.


1. Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Volume 1, by James Montgomery Boice

2. Epic of Gilgamesh ancient flood story, extra-biblical source

3. Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson (flood stories from long ago, the world over).



4. Bullfinches Mythology for understanding of Greek gods

5.Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (Christian take on Greek mythology) See also article on Man and Mythology in

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

6. The Iliad by Homer (Greek idea of glory=individual heroism/nobility).

7. The Odyssey by Homer (Greek idea of epic=battle of cosmic significance, interaction with divine beings, journey

to home, family and faithful wife, overcoming many obstacles—focus on the individual).

8. The Republic and selected dialogues by Plato—enough to find out about cave, forms, philosopher king, his ideas

of education, including music, etc.

9. Nichomachean Ethics and Poetics by Aristotle, excerpts enough to find out about his idea of virtue, comedy and

tragedy. (Aristotle makes for tedious reading).

10. The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles—note Greek idea of fate and man’s sin as victim of circumstances outside

his control leading to tragedy, anti-biblical notion of personal responsibility. Reference Freud later re: Oedipus


11. Herodotus and Thucydides and Plutarch’s Lives—all for Grecian history.



12. Early History of Rome by Livy—early ideals of patriotism, statesmanship, representative government.

13. Julius Caesar by Shakespeare—note Christian idea of tragedy based on hubris: man’s sin of pride leads to his

downfall, biblical notion of personal responsibility.

14. Caesar’s Gallic Wars

15. The Aeneid by Virgil(Roman idea of epic= battle of cosmic significance, interaction with divine beings, journey

to found a city for future generations, sacrificial hero overcoming many obstacles for the collective good

(patriotism, patriarchal mindset of sacrificial founding father—focus on the society).



16. Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley

17. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (for sometimes legendary, but also historical accounts showing that the church

will not have rest in this life—she will always battle one of two foes: the one within, heresy, or the one without,


18. On the Incarnation by Athanasius—tarry over the introduction by C.S. Lewis

19. Confessions and City of God by Augustine—the first showing original sin, total depravity, and God’s pursuing

grace, the second discussing the dual citizenship of the Christian, on earth and in heaven. Reference later to

Kingdoms in Conflict (God and Government) by Charles Colson.

20. The Creeds

21. The Rule of St. Benedict

22. The Ecclesiastical History of Britain by Bede



23. Beowulf—note old ideas of fatalism crumbling, being replaced in English culture by Christian perspective.

24. The Song of Roland—talk about Islam here.

25. The Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante (Christian idea of epic=battle of cosmic importance: the soul, interaction

with divine beings, journey of soul through proper understanding of sin and redemption to heaven)

26. The Canterbury Tales (selected from a few) by G. Chaucer, a contemporary of John Wycliff, exposes

corruption of Roman Catholic church

27. Henry V by Shakespeare (discuss model Christian king—see if you can bring Alfred the Great and Charlemagne

into this discussion)



28. Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

29. Here I Stand (biography of Luther) by Roland Bainton

30. In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

31. The Prince by Machiavelli

32. Utopia by Thomas More

33. Lex Rex by Samuel Rutherford (Learn the hymn composed honoring the memory of this contributor to the

Westminster Confession: The Sands of Time are Sinking.

34. The Obedience of A Christian Man by William Tyndale—compare views on civil disobedience to The Hiding

Place by Corrie ten Boom later, and contrast with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Social Contract, Lex Rex and the

Hugenot thinker Lucius Junius Brutus (?)

35. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

36. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (epic journey to peaceful celestial home after redemption by Christ, terrible

spiritual battles, character growth and noble exploits).

37. Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken

38. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (or the simplified version from Grace

Publications Learning to be Happy, for those who need to cut their teeth gradually on the puritans)

39. The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

40. Poetry of John Donne and George Herbert

41. Paradise Lost by John Milton

Early American and Revolutionary Age:

42. Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford

43. Jonathan Edwards—biography by Iain Murray

44. Religious Affections and Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards

45. Autobiography of Charles Finney (or his lectures on revival)

46. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin—father of American pragmatism

47. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

48. Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke—note his emphasis on particulars and see how

Colson alludes to Burke later in God and Government (Kingdoms in Conflict)

49. The Federalist and Anti-federalist Papers—written for literacy level of average American farmer (!)


Romantic Era (roughly):

50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, one of the novels that impacted the course of history; note

Uncle Tom as Christ figure.

51. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

52. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

53. Bleak House by Charles Dickens—also interacted with history.

54. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—true literary comedy, in which the human character is redeemable and

able to grow out of pride and into mature understanding; C.S. Lewis read this book every year.

55. Emma by Jane Austen—she is a master of redemptive comedy and character growth.

56. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte—note the changing social structure which opened opportunities to break out of

the castes of nobility and common, the respect for woman, and one of the greatest apologetics on moral purity

ever related in a work of fiction.

57. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte—a darker view of redemption, tragicomic/ Gothic.

58. Silas Marner by George Eliot

59. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo—classic story of redemption, sacrificial Christ figure.


Modern Mindset:

60. The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin—for the modern mind’s alternative to the biblical creation story.

No one should have to read this book all the way through—just the two most critical chapters.

61. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx—for another modern alternative to the biblical account of the fall (due

to capitalism, rather than sin, and to the biblical source of redemption: socialism as savior as opposed to Christ)

62. The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud—for the modern alternative to the biblical pattern for how to live daily

life and get rid of guilt and relate to family. See also ____ by Armand Niccoli

63. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley—Romantic idea of the individual, alienated from society (probably should be

listed under Romantic Era).

64. Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen, for why we have no truly great art today: music is shallow,

art is bizarre and great epics and poetry are absent, because we have replaced biblical Christianity with material

mindset of Darwin, Marx and Freud.

65. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, fall of man through capitalism, redemption through socialism.

66. Carry a Big Stick, biography of Teddy Roosevelt by George Grant

67. Grand Illusions by George Grant (see also his biography of Margaret Sanger)

68. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—one of the most beautiful novels ever written.

69. Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

70. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (note in this book and the previous, Christian responses to a tyrannical

government and views of civil disobedience)

71. Night by Elie Weisel (contrast to two previous Christian books the loss of faith, despair during same time


72. Animal Farm by George Orwell

73. 1984 by George Orwell

74. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (response of human spirit to oppression)

75. The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky

76. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

77. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (Which classic author is right, Huxley or Orwell? Will we lose our

freedoms due to totalitarian oppression or due to addiction to entertainment? Or is it a combination? See

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury).

78. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

79. Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

80. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis—the minimum Lewis read—it speaks on all that the classics talk about.

81. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

82. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

83. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

84. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (another great Christian epic; note epic ingredients above)

85. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (another great Christian epic)

86. Watership Down by Richard Adams—a noble epic replete with cosmic battles, interaction with divine beings, a

hero who sacrifices for the lives of those under his care, a long journey to a new home of peace and security—all

in the lives of a colony (?) of rabbits. A GREAT read!

87. Born Again and Kingdoms in Conflict (note allusions to City of God and Edmund Burke) by Charles Colson

88. The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

89. The Closing of the American Heart by Ronald Nash

90. The Best Things in Life by Peter Kreeft

91. Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft

92. Postmodern Times by Gene Edward Veith

93. All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers


Booklist compiled from personal reading, Veritas Press sources, and the Classical Christian Education Network. Above reading would be enhanced by a careful study of epic and Leland Ryken’s explanations of tragedy, comedy, and the monomyth cycle.

So Many Books, So Little Time . . .

I am a committed reader of John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was born in the Salinas Valley of California, and many of his novels concern the working people - the fruit and vegetable pickers of that fertile growing area. Though he has written many classic books, THE GRAPES OF WRATH is a “must read”.


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