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!