Personal Canon & Life Authors

My personal canon in chronological order:

  1. Homer, The Odyssey
  2. Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Hosea, Jonah
  3. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 
  4. New Testament: Matthew, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Hebrews, 1 John, Revelation
  5. Augustine, Confessions
  6. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  7. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
  8. George Herbert, The Temple 
  9. John Milton, Paradise Lost 
  10. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
  11. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, short stories
  12. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 
  13. Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love
  14. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment 
  15. Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Our Town
  16. Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, My ÁntoniaDeath Comes for the Archbishop
  17. C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism; Four Loves
  18. Flannery O’Connor, Complete StoriesWise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away
  19. Robert Frost, poems

My life authors are the 17th century English metaphysical poet, George Herbert, and the 19th century Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard.

Beyond my personal canon and life author, the list below indicates favorite works based on genre and some works that I plan to read, which are marked with an asterisk (*).

Works of the Bible

  • Old Testament: Genesis, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Hosea
  • New Testament: Matthew, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 John, Hebrews

Works of Theology and Spirituality

  • Athanasius, On the Incarnation*, The Life of Antony*
  • Augustine, Confessions
  • Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life
  • Thomas Aquinas, A Summa of the Summa (edited by Peter Kreeft)
  • Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings (edited by Timothy F. Lull)
  • John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion (abridged by Tony Lane or Donald K. McKim)
  • John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress*
  • William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life*
  • Jonathan Edwards, A Jonathan Edwards Reader (edited by John E. Smith et al.), The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards (edited by Wilson H. Kimnach et al.), Freedom of the Will*, Religious Affections*
  • G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy*, The Everlasting Man
  • C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves
  • Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, Evangelical Theology, Church Dogmatics *(abridged by Helmut Gollwitzer), The Epistle to the Romans*
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall*, Discipleship*, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Ethics*, Letters & Papers from Prison
  • Henri J. M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved, Reaching Out*, The Return of the Prodigal Son*

Works of Philosophy

  • Plato, Lysis; Euthyphro; Symposium
  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Poetics
  • Augustine, Confessions; City of God
  • Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
  • Blaise Pascal, Pensées
  • Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments, Works of Love, Sickness Unto Death, Training in Christianity
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols
  • Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Stranger, The Fall, The Plague*

Works of Poetry

  • Homer, The Odyssey
  • Dante, The Divine Comedy
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost
  • George Herbert, The English Poems of George Herbert (edited by Helen Wilcox)
  • Emily Dickinson, select poems
  • Thomas Hardy, select poems
  • Robert Frost, select poems

Works of Drama

  • Aeschylus, The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides)
  • Sophocles, The Theban Plays (Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus)
  • William Shakespeare, tragicomedy (Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice), tragedy (Othello, Hamlet, King Leer, Antony & Cleopatra, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth), comedy (Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing)
  • Molière, Tartuffe
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Part 1
  • Thornton Wilder, Our Town
  • Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

Works of Fiction

  • Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion*, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma*
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, short stories
  • Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House*, David Copperfield*, Oliver Twist*, Nicholas Nickleby*
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, The Adolescent*, The Brothers Karamazov*
  • Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd*, The Return of the Native, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure*
  • Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark*, My Ántonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby
  • Flannery O’Connor, Complete StoriesWise Blood
  • Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Eighth Day
  • Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Work of Non-Fiction

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Walking
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