The Arthur Henry King list

books on a shelf

Since I mentioned this list in an earlier post, I figured I might as well share the list so you, too, can realize that you’ve been reading the wrong books! Here’s what I’m working on reading (taken from Arm the Children by Arthur Henry King)

Reading List for a Lifetime:

The Standard Works
Homer, The Iliad (translator Richmond A. Lattimore), The Odyssey (translator Emile V. Rieu)
The Bhagavad-Gita (The Song of God) (translator Christopher Isherwood)
Aeschylus, Aeschylus I — Oresteia (translator Richmond A. Lattimore)
Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle (translators Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald)
Plato, Phaedo, The Republic
Euripides, Euripides One (translator Richmond A. Lattimore)
Herodotus, The Persian Wars (translator George Rawlinson)
Virgil, The Aeneid (translator John Dryden or Robert Fitzgerald)
Livy, The Early History of Rome
Josephus, The Jewish War
Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans and Lives of the Noble Romans (editor Edmund Fuller)
Eusebius, The Essential Eusebius
Augustine, The City of God
Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Dante, The Divine Comedy (translators John D. Sinclair or Dorothy L. Sayers)
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (translator Nevill Coghill)
Niccole Machiavelli, The Prince
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Othello, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (translator Walter Starkie)
Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method (translator Wollaston)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes
George Fox, Journal (editor Rufus M. Jones)
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
Jean Baptiste Racine, Athaliah, Phaedra
Moliere, Tartuffe, The Would-Be Gentleman, The Precious Damsels, The Misanthrope (translators Morris Bishop or Kenneth Muir)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
Antoine Prevost, Manon Lescaut
Samuel Richardson, Pamela (Part I), Clarissa
Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (translator Thomas Nugent)
Voltaire, Candide
James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
John Woolman, Journal
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I, II (translators Walter Kaufmann or Charles E. Passage), Wilhelm Meister
William Wordsworth, The Prelude (Books I and II)
John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The Federalist Papers (editor A. Hacker)
John Keats, Letters (editor Robert Gittings)
Jane Austen, Persuasion, Emma
Stendhal, The Red and the Black
Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death (translator Walter Lowrie)
Honore de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet
Karl Marx, Early Writings
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Civil Disobedience
Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations
George Eliot, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda
Gustave Flaubert, A Sentimental Education (translator Robert Baldick)
Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (translator Rosemary Edmonds), Anna Karenina
Sarah Orne Jewett, Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (translator Walter, Kaufmann)
Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt (translator Michael Meyer), Rosmersholm, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler
Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge
Henry James, The Ambassadors, What Maisie Knew
Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters (translator David Magarshack)
Joseph Conrad, Nostromo
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (translator James Strachey)
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Joseph and His Brothers
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (translator C. K. Scott Moncrieff)
John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace
D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
Franz Kafka, The Trial
Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game (Chapter 7)
George Santayana, The Last Puritan
Montaigne, Essays (translator John Florio)

When I first saw the list, I had read only two. I’m now up to twelve. Follow how I’m doing over on the right!

Arthur Henry King’s reading list for a lifetime

Arthur Henry King portrait
Arthur Henry King by Nathan Florence


I’m a pretty good reader. I wouldn’t say that I am a huge reader (I know a few of those), but I like to consider myself pretty well-read. That’s one of the reasons that I love book lists! I stumble across lists like the NPR list of best fantasy novels or the 100 books that everyone should read before they die. I like to browse through these lists and see how many of them I’ve read. I generally hit about 25-50%. Considering just how much media to read is out there, I’m pretty satisfied with that number. Call it my little way of patting myself on the back.

At least until I heard about Arthur Henry King. King was an English professor at Brigham Young University (my Alma Mater) up until the mid-1990’s. I suppose just calling him a professor is a bit unjust considering his varied and impressive career. Among many other things, he was a poet, author and lecturer. I was first introduced to him through Ben Crowder’s blog and then quickly ordered his book Arm the Children: Faith’s Response to a Violent World. The book is a fascinating look into many different subjects. King rarely takes anything for granted and uses his vast experience to support many of his views.

In the back of this book, Arthur Henry King gives his Reading List for a Lifetime. He states that the reading list was originally generated for a BYU Honors Program seminar, an intensive eight-week course in reading the great literature of Western civilization. He goes on to say that ideally, students should read these books before going to college, but better late than never.

That struck my pride and I sallied over to that list determined to show Dr. King that he wasn’t dealing with an entitled, green-horn here. I was a sophisticated lover of books!

My result? Two books.

TWO BOOKS!! Granted, that was if you included the LDS Standard Works as one book and even then, I wasn’t confident that I had actually read all of the Standard Works. Wow, was I taken aback. Ever since that day, I have determined to read every single book on that list. I’m a slow reader, so I’ve never been able to read the 300 pages a day that he recommended to his honors students, but I’ve already made some good progress and have been introduced to some good books!