What is a “Great Book”?
I started this project in 2014 to help track a great books reading plan that will, no doubt, take me the better part of the next few years. I plan to carefully and closely read the great books of both the Western and Eastern traditions in pursuit of my own cultural enrichment. My life-affirming hope is to check off a line on my bucket list. But apart from merely completing a list, I hope to better myself, and what better path to self-improvement than through an intimate exploration of the great books?
Primarily, I will proceed with the basic assumption that each text presents something vitally important for me to discover. These books have endured throughout the ages for a reason and they have consequently influenced the course of human events. They are, first and foremost, a three thousand year experiment in human inquiry.
As I read, I will write short essays or summaries of the texts to track my thoughts and they will be composed of many questions. Sometimes they will be thoughtful essays, other times they will be purely summaries.
“Under the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, have you persuaded yourself that there are knowledges and truths beyond your grasp, things that you simply cannot learn? Have you allowed adverse evidence to pile up and force you to conclude that you are not mathematical, not linguistic, not poetic, not scientific, not philosophical? If you have allowed this to happen, you have arbitrarily imposed limits on your intellectual freedom, and you have smothered the fires from which all other freedoms arise.”
-Scott Buchanan, “The Last Don Rag”