Excluded Lists

The lists that have been reviewed—and excluded—from Greater Books based on the criteria detailed on the Guidelines page are as follows.

  1. Frank Parsons - The World's Best Books: A Key to the Treasures of Literature [1889], a perplexing work, featuring elaborate tables, as well as lists, of recommended readings. His Preface and Introdcutory Remarks do not note Lubbock's list and its responses, so we can only assume that it was written and published with those lists in mind. The first table lists works in the following categories: Religion & Morals; Poetry & the Drama; Science; Biography; History; Philosophy; Essays; Fiction; Oratory; Wit & Humor; Fables & Fairy Tales; Travel Guides; and Miscellaneous. Those categories are ranked in order of importance, according to Parsons. The second table is in fact not a table, it's just a list: "a short special course, to gather ideas of practical importance to every life, and to make a beginning in the gaining of that breadth of mind which is of such vital value by reason of its influence on morals and the aid it gives in the attainment of truth" [original emphasis]. Similar to the "minimum reading course" in Jesse Lee Bennett's What Books Can Do for You [see below], this list is not one of the great, or best, books, but rather a vague set of basic texts for (American) readers, consisting mostly of works from table I.

    More confusing still, while the third table is indeed a table, Parsons's claim, that it is "a short course of the choicest literature from the whole field of general literature," is contradicted by its content. In fact, it is split into Poetry, Short Poetical Selections, Short Prose Selections, and Wit and Humor. Table IV is a supplement to the second and third (though it doesn't overlap entirely with the first table, so it could be considered supplemental to all three). Finally, there's the fifth table, "showing the distribution of the best literature in time and space, with a parallel reference to some of the world's great events." The works included here do not always correspond to those in table I or III.

    While a list derived from table V, and perhaps I and III, would meet the requirements of this project, it consists mostly of authors' names. So does table I. Table III, on the other hand, goes to the other extreme, focusing on individual poems, or speeches, and excerpts of works, or even particular sections. Whether just transcribing table V, or combining all three (or five, to the extent tables II and IV don't overlap with the others), this list would take up an excessive amount of time, and offer a surfeit of authors' names with no works attached.

  2. Charles Dudley Warner with Hamilton Wright Mabie, Lucia Gilbert Runkle, and George Henry Warner, eds. - Library of the World's Best Literature [1896]. Mabie has a list included in the Have You Read 100 Great Books? collection, but he was also involved in this project, a 30-volume set for which he served as a co-associate editor (with Runkle and G H Warner); C D Warner was the editor. The line separating this kind of project from Adler and Hutchins's Great Books of the Western World or Eliot's Harvard Classics is thin and blurry, some would say non-existent. For the purposes of this project, however, it's closer to literary anthologies commonly used in the classroom than to the "great books" sets. Still, it's only closer. For the time being, it's too large, with too many short readings and excerpts of works.

    The creators of the set present it in much the same way Eliot and Adler/ Hutchins would their own projects. In the 'Publishers' Preface' to the final volume, the Guide to Systematic Readings and General Index, the set is said to provide "an incalculable service to home-study and self-culture" of those at any educational level. "Year after year for any course of years, the eager student or the ordinary reader may take courses of acquisition or enjoyment, as in some vast university whose doors never close and whose resources of spiritual ministry are never exhausted."

    Of especial notice in that indexing volume are the Chronological Conspectuses of National Literatures. Once you see the myriad of names listed even under smaller nations, or languages/ ethnicities, you get a clear idea of how intricate this collection is. Besides a standard index, this book features a massive section called 'Outline Survey of the Principal Topics and Chief Lines of Interest', these topics being defined geographically, by subject, or by varied sorts of genres ('Sacred Books of the World', 'Medical Interest', and so on).

  3. Frederick W Farrar - Great Books [1898], the first instance, post-Lubbock (that I know of) of the "great books" list-makers using the term, great books. As W B Carnochan's article, 'Where Did the Great Books Come From Anyway?', notes, Farrar's 'Great Books' began as a series of articles for the Sunday Magazine. It's not much of a list at all: three authors and two works. Here it is, such as it is. It is excluded because it does not extend back to ancient times.

    John Bunyan


    Dante [discussing Divine Comedy only]


    The Imitation of Christ

    Farrar's essays prove to be of interest to contemporary readers almost immediately. The second paragraph of the introductory piece states: "The multiplication of books in these days is almost beyond calculation. [...] The output of fiction is so astonishingly large that we cannot but wonder who are the readers of the numberless ephemeral volumes that appear and 'perish like the summer fly'. [...] There are thousands of other books which, though they are useful and profitable for a time, and accomplish their intended purpose, are then naturally superseded. For such literary productions their authors never expected more than a brief existence. Yet they have not been published to no purpose. They fall like the dead leaves of autumn; but just as the dead leaves have not lived in vain, since they serve to enrich the soil into which they perish, so the thoughts of myriads of men, though they possess no germ of immortality, do in their limited degree furnish a contribution, however infinitesimal, to the intellectual life of each successive generation."

  4. Albert Ellery Bergh, Clarence Book, Timothy Dwight, Julian Hawthorne, Justin McCarthy, Richard Henry Stoddard, and Paul Van Dyke, eds. - The World's Great Classics [1902]. Another anthology that could fit into this project, created by a Library Committee (you don't say!) consisting of Dwight, McCarthy, Stoddard, Van Dyke, and Bergh, with the assistance of Hawthorne, the literary editor (they're not all literary editors?), and Book, the art editor. Bergh's apparently the managing editor, and writes a 'Special Introduction' to the set's index. Besides general, subject, and chronological indexes, the index features a handy Summary of the Series in table form.

    Though this sixty-volume (sixty-one if you count the index) series features fewer excerpts and shorter works, it includes a few histories, such as Leopold Von Ranke's History of the Popes, Edward Shepherd Creasy's Decisive Battles of the World, and Henry Hallam's History of Europe During the Middle Ages, that serve less as great works of literature and more as historical background to the other readings. The set is sure to impress even Twenty-First Century readers with its inclusion of a large number of non-Western works, with several Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and Malayan selections. Because of this, I'd like to include this set to a greater extent than the Library of the World's Best Literature.

    Bergh's Introduction to the Series, found in the first volume (which otherwise consists of George Rawlinson's Ancient History: From the Earliest Times to the Fall of the Western Empire) laments the glut of books found at the turn of the (Twentieth) century, much like we already heard from Farrar, and pointedly contrasts this set from encyclopedias of literature that feature few readings, as compared to excerpts of readings, of the literature being discussed. As Bergh argues, such works "are in the nature of anthologoies, and, while they may be very useful as literary scrap-books, they fail to satisfy those who wish to possess the classics in their entirety." Thus, The World's Great Classics, "a carefully selected library of the world's great classics."

  5. Arthur Mee, J A Hammerton, and S S McClure, eds. - The World's Greatest Books [1910] is another massive anthology of readings that for the time being presents an excess of works to collate with the other lists documented here.

  6. Jesse Lee Bennett - What Books Can Do for You [1923], split into two parts, A Sketch Map of the Frontiers of Knowledge and Selected Book Lists, definitely warrants review by those interested in the history of "great books" lists. The first part begins with the topics of reading, books, and literary education generally, not far removed from Adler's How to Read a Book or Baldwin's Book Lover, then quickly proceeds to broad discussions of science, art, life, everything.

    Bennett places himself in a continuum begun by Lubbock: "Many of these lists [of the "best" books] are excellent. One which has stood the test of many years and been discussed and praised by many men of many minds is that prepared by Sir John Lubbock." However, he does not seek to follow Lubbock's example. Throughout the first-ninth chapters of the book's first part, he does recommend good introductory works useful for general education. Those works constitute the following list; a few other works are mentioned, but only as examples. The tenth chapter, on literature, gets into the distinction between romances and novels (the latter "seeks to depict life as it really is", while the romance exists for entertainment, a distinction that sounds like the still-prevalent divide between "Literature" fiction and genre fiction) among other topics; thus the works mentioned, again, are given as examples, not necessarily recommended readings.

    H G Wells - Outline of History
    J Arthur Thomson - The Outline of Science
    Faure - History of Art
    William Orpen - Outline of Art
    Hendrik Willem Van Loon - The Story of Mankind
    H F Osborn - The Origin and Evolution of Life
    C W Saleeby - Evolution, The Master Key
    Carl Snyder - The World Machine
    N R Campbell - What Is Science?
    Frederick Soddy - Science and Life
    Sedgwick and Tyler - A Short History of Science
    G H Lewes - A Biographical History of Philosophy
    A K Rogers - A Student's History of Philosophy
    G Lowes Dickinson - A Modern Symposium
    Bertrand Russell - The Faith of a Free Man
    Henry David Thoreau - Walden
    Richard Jefferies - The Story of My Heart
    J J Rousseau - Confessions
    Edward Carpenter - The Drama of Love and Death
    Henri Frederic Amiel - Journal
    George Gissing - The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
    Ludwig Lewisohn - Upstream
    Harry Kemp - Tramping on Life

    In his Foreword to the book's second section, Bennett gives a "minimum reading course" that includes the Wells, Osborn, Sedgwick/ Tyler, Dickinson, and Russell books noted above, plus the following:

    J Arthur Thomson - What Is Man?
    M B Synge - A Book of Discoveries
    A A Brill - Psycho-analysis: Its Theories and Applications
    G S Dow - Society and Its Problems
    J K Hart - Democracy in Education

    Bennett then provides lists of books by category, namely: Discovery, Exploration and Adventure; History; Biography; Science; Philosophy, Religion and Mysticism; Sociology and the Social Sciences; Current Problems and Affairs; Prose Fiction; Drama and Poetry; Essays and Belles-Lettres; Art; and Books for Children. The lists for each include not only great literary works, but also histories, bibliographies, and directories, as well as many contemporary works obviously not seen by Bennett as works for the ages but rather as timely introductions to the topic at hand.

  7. John Erskine - The Delight of Great Books [1928]. John Erskine developed the General Honors course at Columbia out of which grew the Classics of Western Literature book, not to mention the entire "great books" movement. Charles Van Doren and Mortimer Adler also taught the course. Adler and Erskine both left for the University of Chicago around 1930, establishing that school as a second home for the "great books" movement. Erskine's book unfortunately does not include any ancient texts. It is more of a selection of essays on literary works (or, in one case, an author and, in another, a genre) that I'm making into a list here:

    Canterbury Tales;

    Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur;

    The Faerie Queen;

    Romeo and Juliet;

    The Tempest;

    Paradise Lost;

    Walter Scott (incl. Woodstock; Waverley; The Pirate; The Heart of Midlothian; Quentin Durward; The Bride of Lammermoor);

    Don Juan;


    The Ordeal of Richard Feverel;

    Huckleberry Finn;


    Modern Irish Poetry (incl. W B Yeats - 'The Wanderings of Oisin', 'The Sad Shepherd', 'Stolen Child', 'He Remembers Forgotten Beauty', 'The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water'; John Millington Synge; Douglas Hyde; Lady Gregory; A E (George W Russell) - 'Destiny'; Lord Dunsany; Padraic Colum; James Stephens - Collected Poems, 'Barbarians').

    Despite this last chapter's title, many of the works discussed are not poetry: W B Yeats - 'Dust Hath Closed Helen's Eye', included in The Celtic Twilight, The Land of Heart's Desire, Cathleen Ni Houlihan; Douglas Hyde - The Well at the End of the World translation; Lady Gregory - Cuchulain of Muirthemne; John Millington Synge - Aran Islands, Riders to the Sea, The Playboy of the Western World; James Stephens - Crock of Gold, The Charwoman's Daughter [published in the U S as Mary, Mary], Here Are Ladies; Irish fairy tales.

    The Have You Read 100 Great Books? collection includes this list, sans the "modern Irish poetry." Also, that later version includes "Waverley Novels" for Walter Scott instead of the specific novels noted in this book.

  8. Thomas H English and Willard B Pope - What to Read [1929], more of a reference work than a list of classics, comparable in our present day perhaps to the likes of Book Lust.

  9. Christopher Morley - Golden Florins, a list found at the end of the book Ex Libris Carissimis [1931], a collection of five lectures given at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1931, fails to include ancient or medieval literature. Morley explains the genesis of this list as such: Since Petrarch left Boccaccio fifty florins with which to purchase a warm dressing gown for winter evenings, Morley leaves the reader with some metaphorical currency, explaining, "I did take the trouble to think back over twenty years of mature reading and make up my mind, rightly or wrongly, as to the books and writers which had meant most to me." You can see the list in the full-text scan at the Internet Archive.

  10. A C Ward - Landmarks in Western Literature [1932] is intended for British readers of "foreign," but Western, literature; thus, it has sections on Greece, Rome, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, and America, but not Britain itself or places more "foreign."

  11. Asa Don Hutchinson - The World's Best Books, Homer to Hemingway: 3000 Books of 3000 Years, 1050 B.C to 1950 A.D, Selected on the Basis of a Consensus of Expert Opinion [1953], another directory of authors, more of a reference work than a curated list.

  12. John Canning, ed. - 100 Great Books: Masterpieces of All Time [1966] would be ideal for Greater Books, but inexplicably Canning excludes plays and "books of poems" (that is, some works of epic poetry are included); perhaps these are excluded because, unlike the rest of our listmakers, Canning takes the usage of the word, book, literally, with plays, though generally considered to be monographical works, not counting as whole books.

  13. Lionel Trilling - The Experience of Literature [1967]. The noteworthy literary critic Lionel Trilling crafted this anthology of 52 works; his introductory essays for each work have been published separately as Prefaces to the Experience of Literature [1979]. Divided into sections for Drama, Fiction, and Poetry, it doesn't quite fit our criteria because of its exclusion of non-fiction (several included lists have only a tiny number of non-fiction works, presumably because of the assumption that the reader doesn't expect topical works to be included among "great books" or "classics"). Trilling's Experience also shows another reason not to include anthologies: many of the fictional entries are short stories, in order to include enough authors without turning the anthology into a multi-volume work. This favoring of short stories gives anthologies a purpose quite distinct from that of "great books" lists, which is to cover the greatest literature of all time.

    Sophocles: Oedipus Rex
    William Shakespeare: The Tragedy of King Lear
    Henrik Ibsen: The Wild Duck
    Anton Chekhov: The Three Sisters
    George Bernard Shaw: The Doctor's Dilemma
    Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author: A Comedy in the Making
    William Butler Yeats: Purgatory
    Bertolt Brecht: Galileo

    Nathaniel Hawthorne: 'My Kinsman, Major Molineux'
    Herman Melville: 'Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street'
    Fedor Dostoevski: 'The Grand Inquisitor'
    Leo Tolstoi: The Death of Ivan Ilych
    William Somerset Maugham: 'The Treasure'
    Guy de Maupassant: 'Duchoux'
    Anton Chekhov: 'Enemies'
    Henry James: 'The Pupil'
    Joseph Conrad: 'The Secret Sharer'
    James Joyce: 'The Dead'
    Franz Kafka: 'The Hunter Gracchus'
    D H Lawrence: 'Tickets, Please'
    E M Forster: The Road From Colonus
    Thomas Mann: 'Disorder and Early Sorrow'
    Isaac Babel: 'Di Grasso: A Tale of Odessa'
    Isak Dinesen: 'The Sailor-Boy's Tale'
    Ernest Hemingway: 'Hills Like White Elephants'
    William Faulkner: 'Barn Burning'
    John O'Hara: 'Summer's Day'
    Lionel Trilling: 'Of This Time, of That Place'
    Albert Camus: 'The Guest'
    Bernard Malamud: 'The Magic Barrel'

    Anonymous: 'Edward'
    Sir Thomas Wyatt: 'They Flee From Me'
    John Donne: 'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning'
    John Milton: 'Lycidas'
    Andrew Marvell: 'To His Coy Mistress'
    Alexander Pope: 'An Essay on Main: Epistle 1'
    William Blake: 'Tyger! Tyger!'
    William Wordsworth: 'Resolution and Independence'
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 'Kubla Khan or A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment'
    George Gordon, Lord Byron: 'Don Juan: An Epistle from Canto II'
    Percy Bysshe Shelley: 'Ode to the West Wind'
    John Keats: 'Ode to a Nightingale'
    Matthew Arnold: 'Dover Beach'
    Walt Whitman: 'Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking'
    Gerard Manley Hopkins: 'The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo'
    Emily Dickinson: '"Go Tell It"—What a Message—'
    William Butler Yeats: 'Sailing to Byzantium'
    Thomas Stearns Eliot: 'The Waste Land'
    Robert Frost: 'Neither Out Far Nor in Deep'
    E E Cummings: 'My Father Moved Through Dooms of Love'
    W H Auden: 'In Memory of Sigmund Freud'
    Robert Lowell: 'For the Union Dead'

  14. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Tentative List of Representative Works of World Literature [1972]. In the Introduction to his A Lifetime's Reading, Philip Ward makes note of UNESCO's Tentative List of Representative Works of World Literature, including roughly 1,500 literary works, published in 1972. Ward pronounces it a failure, "due to the outrageous imbalance by which almost every language spoken by a Unesco member state had to be represented by a book. There were fewer books in Chinese than in Dutch, or Polish, or Portuguese." This critique is misleading; such a requirement would have ensured an imbalance only if it had mandated a single work for each language. As we've seen from the "great books" lists transcribed here, the presence of more works in European languages than in Chinese (or Arabic or whatever) is no surprise, even from the U N. Moreover, the UNESCO project leaders made the right choice in categorizing the works by language, not nation or ethnicity.

    This list is too massive for me to consider including in the project at this point. The document provided at UNESCO's Digital Library presents its own problems. The introductory portion asserts that the titles are given in their original languages, but many of them (perhaps those written in languages that don't use the Roman alphabet) are actually given in French.

  15. Die Zeit - Bibliothek der 100 Bücher [1978-1984]. The German weekly Die Zeit created a Library of 100 Books in the form of a series of essays, begun in 1978, lasting two years. The essays were compiled in a book. In 1984, an accompanying non-fiction list was published. Because it includes epic poetry, but not other poetry, and completely excludes theatre, these lists are not included. That said, they're certainly worthy of consultation. More recently, the same publication created a German-language canon of fifty works. A German-language Wikipedia page covers both of these projects.

  16. Ian P McGreal, ed. - Great Literature of the Eastern World: The Major Works of Prose, Poetry and Drama From China, India, Japan, Korea and the Middle East [1996]; and Great Thinkers of the Eastern World: The Major Thinkers and the Philosophical and Religious Classics of China, India, Japan, Korea, and the World of Islam [1995], together, offer us a list considerably longer than it might initially seem, because of the inclusion of a multitude of works under many of the entries, especially when you get to the entries of modern Japanese writers like 'The Novels of Mishima Yukio'. The inclusion of many obscure, at times inaccessible (to English speakers in the United States, that is) works also means that, while in the long run we would like to include it, for now these books being set aside. We would not be able to ensure for the list the modicum of accuracy currently maintained at this site. Also, if we cannot do the bibliographic research needed to collate this list with the others, to include it only partially would give users of Greater Books a misleading impression of the degree to which non-Western works are featured.

    McGreal, in 1995, considered the Thinkers volume to be a companion to his Great Thinkers of the Western World: The Major Ideas and Classic Works of More Than 100 Outstanding Western Philosophers, Physical and Social Scientists, Psychologists, Religious Writers, and Theologians [1992], but that latter work is not pertinent to Greater Books, being limited to non-fiction works. With the publication of the Literature volume, McGreal created a companion to Great Thinkers of the Eastern World that, with the two combined, allowed for a list to be derived from them. As he notes in the Preface to the former, "Some of the Eastern classics that one might expect to find in Great Literature of the Eastern World are not here only because they are philosophical/religious works prominently featured in this book's predecessor, Great Thinkers of the Eastern World [... which] emphasizes ideas and their place in philosophical and religious perspectives; the present volume concerns itself with expression of human experience through literature—through the use of images, recitals of significant events or moments, and reflection on what has happened in life" [original emphasis]. A few works are discussed in both books, but the essays in each discuss different aspects of those works.

    An extra page is devoted to a transcription of the works as they are presented in the two books.

  17. Thomas Craughwell - Great Books for Every Book Lover: 2002 Great Reading Suggestions for the Discriminating Bibliophile [1998] features lists of books for a wide variety of categories, some quite obvious, others vague, e.g. American Classics, The Book Is Always Better Than the Movie, Classics of the Stage, Fresh Translations, High Culture, Notable Biographies, Real-Life Disasters, Wise Guys; though this book could result in a single list that meets our criteria, again, for the time being, such directory-like reading lists are excluded.

  18. Kenneth McLeish and Nick Rennison - Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide, 5th ed. [2001], the most-recent edition of Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide to which I have access, edited by Rennison and co-authored by him and McLeish, the editor of the first-fourth editions, at first glance made me think that this series offers a conceivable "great books" list, because it designates certain books as Highly Recommended and a smaller number as Masterpieces. However, the introduction to the fifth edition seems to suggest that this feature only appeared with that edition, thus making those selections the choice of Rennison only. Moreover, the series, currently in its ninth edition doesn't take the reader back to ancient times. Moreover, Rennison does note that only works "written in English or [...] widely available in translation" are included. And excludes theatre. And has only a small, separate list of poetry.

  19. Ken Knabb - Gateway to Vast Realms [2004], published at Knabb's Bureau of Public Secrets, which, as noted at the page here for Kenneth Rexroth's Classics Revisited, includes copious information about Rexroth and a host of other topics, literary, political, and beyond.

  20. Jim Flynn - The Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 Books [2010] offers an impressive selection but the books discussed come from recent centuries, even as the subject matter of a few extends further back in time. The book is organized into sections, largely geographic (American History, America Broods, Britain and Its Empire, and so on) plus a few broader themes (The Human Condition, Science and Early Civilization). Scanning the list of works at the back of the book, it does not seem to include poetry.

  21. Peter Boxall, ed. - 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, 2nd ed. [2012], does not include any theatrical or non-fiction works. It professes only to cover novels; the question of whether certain works it includes are defined as novels is beyond my pay scale. Moreover, the second edition only includes one work from ancient times, The Golden Ass; the first edition included five. The next oldest in both editions is the Arabian Nights.

  22. Andy Miller - The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life [2014] nearly warrants inclusion, but The List of Betterment, consisting of the 50 works that are the main subject of the book, does not include any theatre.

  23. Barbara Krasner - The 12 Most Influential Books of All Time [2018], part of a series of books for a juvenile audience entitled the 12 Story Library (other titles being The 12 Most Influential Inventors... Speeches... Musicians... Photographs and so on) the list of 12 does not extend before Shakespeare, as seen in the chapter titles listed below:

    'The Essential Complete Works of William Shakespeare' (1623);
    'Democracy for Everyone in the Rights of Man' / by Thomas Paine (1791-1792);
    'Stand Up! A Vindication of the Rights of Women' / by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792);
    'Workers of the World Unite! The Communist Manifesto' / by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848);
    'Slavery Condemned in Uncle Tom's Cabin' / by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1851);
    'Human Evolution and the Origin of the Species' / by Charles Darwin (1859);
    'Sisters Grow Into little Women' / by Louisa May Alcott (1868-1869);
    'She's Big! She's Small! Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' / by Lewis Carroll (1862);
    'Big Brother Is Watching You in 1984' / by George Orwell (1949);
    'Environmental Damage Brings a Silent Spring' / by Rachel Carson (1962);
    'Letters to God in The Color Purple' / by Alice Walker (1982);
    'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' / by J K Rowling (1998).
  24. --

    Then there are the many "classics" publishing houses or larger firms' "classics" imprints. Potential lists at least come from series of books published by Easton Press and the Franklin Library. The former's 100 Greatest Books Ever Written is the most obvious of three of its series we could use to make a larger list, the others being the awkwardly-titled Collector's Library of Famous Editions and The Books That Changed the World. The Franklin Library also has three series that would warrant inclusion: 100 Greatest Books of All Time; World's Best Loved Books; and Greatest Books of the World's Greatest Writers.

    The problem with including the lists of these two publishers is that two other classics-publishing companies, of greater stature and showing stronger editorial control over their choice of books, do not offer, at least for now, potential lists for this project, precisely because they have been around longer than the leatherbound-book publishing companies (documented at Leather Bound Treasure). That is, for Penguin Classics and Oxford World's Classics, the two biggest names in this business, a complete list of said classics is not readily available; we know what's currently in print, but further research would be necessary to find how many, or if any, previous titles have gone out of print. The inclusion of books in the other series listed below, though a complete list of their classics is easier to construct, are thus put on hold for now. A similar lack of information, and want of avoiding inconsistency, is also why I am only including the final versions of lists that have gone through revisions: primarily because I do not have access to all of the editions of the Good Reading series. That said, some of these series are defined in such a way that they would not warrant inclusion at Greater Books: e.g. by nation (Library of America); by date (Loeb Classical Library, Hackett Classics, I Tatti, Library of America, and Modern Library). It is highly likely that several have not published any works of ancient literature and thus would also be excluded.

    Bantam Classics (now part of Modern Library)

    Barnes and Nobles Classics

    Classics Club (no longer extant, but here's an archived version of a page about it at the website Bookman's Answer, also no longer extant, sadly enough, as it was an excellent resource, worth perusing at the Internet Archive to the extent that it has been preserved there)

    Dorset Classic Reprints

    Dover Publications Thrift Editions

    Everyman's Library (currently under Random House)

    Farrar, Strauss and Giroux Classics does not have its own page; nor does Harper Perennial Modern Classics

    Hackett Classics

    I Tatti Renaissance Library (produced by Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, published by Harvard University Press)

    Library of America

    Macmillan's Pocket American, English Classics, and New Pocket Classics also seem to be long gone; The Bookman's Answer had a page about them

    Loeb Classical Library (now part of Harvard University Press)

    Modern Library

    Norton Critical Editions

    Oxford World's Classics

    Penguin Classics, including its Complete Annotated Listing from a few years back (also of note is the Penguin Archive Project at the University of Bristol); also the Viking Critical Library, comparatively a short list, is part of the Penguin operation now, unfortunately does not have its own page on their site; as is Signet Classics--previously all Signet series were part of New American Library, as was the varied Mentor series, which mostly consisted of non-fiction;

    Shambhala Publications has both Classics and Pocket Classics imprints

    Simon and Schuster Enriched Classics

    Tuttle Publishing has information about its Classics titles mixed in with others in its Literature category

    Wordsworth Editions

    There's some information here and there about Airmont Classics, which seem to be appreciated only for their covers;

    The Folio Society, like the "leatherbound" publishers, presents fancy versions of the classics, though with an emphasis on illustrations. Its predecessor of sorts, Golden Cockerel Press, is no longer extant, but the site, Books and Writers, provides some details.

    Some of the following series serve a function similar to Robert Kanigel's or Michael Dirda's books: they include works not commonly ranked as great or classic, or perhaps that once were but have not received as much attention in recent decades:

    Exact Change

    New York Review Books Classics

    Serpent's Tail Classics

    An extraordinary resource, Neglected Books, includes pages on a few other imprints no longer extant:

    - Time Reading Program

    - New Directions Classics

    - Ecco Neglected Classiccs

    - Common Reader Editions

    Also, an older series, Sacred Books of the East, has a Wikipedia page with links to full-text scans available at the Internet Sacred Text Archive and elsewhere.


    Some of the more popular of book lists obviously are limited by genre, language, or date, or more rarely nation or ethnic/ racial background.

  25. Modern Library - these lists, 100 Best Fiction and 100 Best Non-Fiction [1998], caused much debate; the subsequent readers' poll caused much embarrassment.

  26. Le Monde - Les Cent Livres du Siècle [1999] was determined by a poll based on an initial list of 200 works.

  27. British Broadcasting Corporation (B B C) - The Big Read [2003] was another poll, focusing on novels.

  28. Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo - Time's All-Time 100 Novels [2005] actually only lists novels published since 1923, when the magazine started.

  29. Newsweek - Top 100 Books: The Meta-List is a victim of the fundamental problem with online periodicals, at least given common practices emphasizing the constant feed of new information and de-emphasizing documentation of any sort of final product: disappearing content, or new versions of content not having all of the original material (or old addresses not redirecting to new ones). In this case an introductory essay is online, but not the deeper explanation of the methodology used to make the "meta-list" or the list itself, though a quick search will turn up plenty of reproductions of the list at other sites. Due to this lack of information, it is excluded for now. Because it is constructed out of other lists, including at least one (the Telegraph's) that is already part of Greater Books, it is not as significant. However, the source of one of our 47 lists, the pamphlet Have You Read 100 Great Books?, based its final list of 100 works in part on the contents of other lists, including four of those 47. So, being a meta-list is not in and of itself a criterion for being excluded. Some sort of editing needs to be done, though; the new list cannot merely combine selections directly taken from other lists.

  30. Greg Hickey - The 105 Best Philosophical Novels [2017] includes some non-fiction despite its name, but no theatre or poetry.

  31. Jessica Allen - The Book of Books [2018], a companion to the P B S series The Great American Read, lists 100 novels, mostly but not all by English-language writers, ranging from Don Quixote to the present. The novels were selected via a national survey, similar to the Le Monde and B B C projects noted above. Allen's essays on each book are accompanied by 18 shorter pieces on a goodly variety of topics, including writers' work habits, noteworthy archives, neologisms and portmanteaux, and famous literary characters.


A particular kind of list, excluded for now, comes from books about the manufacture, design, and illustration of books. These in rare cases have listed what their authors consider to be the finest editions. For example, Great Books in Great Editions [1954], by Roland Baughman and Robert D. Schad. Its introduction promises "twenty-eight works in the Huntington Library, chosen not alone because they represent textual content of prime importance, but also because their printers gave them monumental form in keeping with their significance as human contributions."

Two recent books of this ilk are The History of the Book in 100 Books: The Complete Story, From Egypt to E-Book [2014] by Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad; and Remarkable Books: A Celebration of the World's Most Beautiful and Artistic Works [2017], by Michael Collins. Cave and Ayad's book stretches the definition of "book" to new extremes. It is a rare work in the mini-genre of "books about books" that should genuinely surprise most readers; more accurately it would be called a history of printed media. It offers a wealth of information of remarkable broad scope and is highly recommended. However, several of the 100 entries are complex enough that collating the selections with other "great books" lists would be a fruitless task.

The promotional blurb for Remarkable Books calls it "a beautifully illustrated guide to more than 75 of the world's most celebrated, rare, and seminal books and handwritten manuscripts [...] chronologically ordered to demonstrate the synergies between the growth in human knowledge and the bookmaking process." Indeed, it features a copious amount of images from rare editions of books or highly-prized manuscripts. At times, full scans of pages truly give the reader a sense of what they would encounter if they had these rare items in their own hands. That is, such is the case for the 75 works noted in the title. In addition, at the end of each of five chronological sections into which the book is divided there are directories of five to ten other works. No explanation is given regarding why these works were selected, as the brief notes about them rarely refer to particular editions, and images from (at times unidentified) editions are provided for only two titles per each directory. One has difficulty believing that any edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, included in the last directory, has ever been considered an example of exceptional printmaking or featured remarkable illustrations. I cannot quite fathom the confusion and disorder among the publishers or editors that would have led to these distracting additions to an otherwise-commendable project.