Books I’ve Read: Because Schooling Is Not An Education

Current read: Capital In The Twenty-First Century

Having attended an American high school, I read far less than any person should actually have read in his life. In America, all that matters are the sciences and maths. If you study anything else, you will become homeless, and you will die. Thus, there’s not a lot of great literature on the reading list. I know, everyone complains on other blogs about how much better reading lists were a hundred years ago in our schools, which is true, but this won’t be one of those posts. Yet.

I decided at some point after my first year at Uni that I hadn’t read anywhere near enough to consider myself well-read. I always thought of myself as decently intelligent, and as an avid reader. Then I had a Socratian moment and realised how little I know. Therefore, I hunkered down and got reading. As someone who’s interested in anything, I made sure to read as much as I could about as much as I could. But where to begin?

I first thought I should start with literature. I went with the greatest books I could think of, with the help of a BBC site entitled “How Many of the Greatest Books Have You Read” or something to that extent. I had read three out of fifty. Three. So I wrote those books down.

I then looked at for more inspiration. I grabbed a few and got reading.

Then a compulsion began. I have a problem of buying books on a whim, and then stashing them somewhere since I have no time at the moment. My apartment in Montréal housed a sizeable library of 346 books at one point, all categorised and listed in one large Excel sheet. Because I’m a bit obsessive.

Naturally, I had to read books on other subjects, and those I read as they came to me. Non-fiction books are always highlighted and written in for reference later, and some have notebooks full of notes in my beautiful cursive for my own benefit.

To be perfectly honest, reading is one of the cheapest ways to make yourself more interesting to others, discover new ideas, travel without leaving, and improve your own speech and vocabulary. Having read the same book as someone else instantly gives you something to discuss and something to chat about. For example, I am currently reading Kafka am Strand, the Murakami book, in German. One of my tandem partners read the same book in English, and when we met, she was listening to his 1Q84 as an audiobook. Murakami is her favourite author. So we discussed that for a bit and came to understand each other’s intellectual level more accurately.

I’m going to write what I remember now and keep adding things as I remember them or as I read them. This won’t be exhaustive but I’ll try my best. I read them in the language the title is in, and if the title is the same in multiple languages, I’ll clarify.

Without further ado, let’s get this going:

Books my parents read me:

  • A Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
  • Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis
  • Charlotte’s Web, White
  • Wizard of Oz, Baum
  • Tom Sawyer, Twain
  • Huckleberry Finn, Twain
  • David Copperfield, Dickens
  • A ton of books on American history, including one on yellow fever in the 1790s
  • All the Star Wars novels, and lots of the EU books which are now worthless thanks to the new trilogy
  • Lots of books about Vikings and Sweden, for some reason I was obsessed with Sweden

Books and pieces I read in school:

  • Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
  • Selections from Canterbury Tales, Chaucer
  • The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald
  • The Awakening, Chopin
  • Ishmael, Quinn
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston
  • Frankenstein, Shelly
  • The Wind in the Willows, Grahame
  • Hatchet, Paulsen
  • Secret Garden, Burnett
  • Le malade imaginaire, Molière
  • Rhinocéros, Ionesco
  • Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury
  • Aeneid, Vergil (Latin)
  • De bello gallico, Caesar (Latin)
  • The Alchemist, Coelho
  • The White Tiger, Aravind
  • Animal Farm, Orwell
  • A Christmas Carol, Dickens
  • Selections from The Divine Comedy, Dante
  • Robin Hood, Sir Lancelyn Green
  • Selections from 1001 Nights
  • Le Horla, de Maupassant
  • Night, Wiesel
  • Brave New World, Huxley
  • Selections from the Shah-Namah
  • Crispin: The Cross of Lead

Literature and Fiction:

  • Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky
  • The Idiot, Dostoevsky
  • Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky
  • Pride and Prejudice, Austen
  • Wuthering HeightsBrontë
  • Jane Eyre, Brontë
  • À la recherche du temps perdu, Proust (This came in really handy, because I could quote it at my ex as she left for the last time; more on that later, maybe; also I’ve only read parts of it but will read the rest eventually)
  • Le Colonel Chabert, Balzac
  • Der Mantel, Gogol
  • Die Nase, Gogol
  • Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
  • La Nausée, Sartre
  • L’étranger, Camus
  • Schachnovelle, Zweig
  • Dracula, Stoker
  • Beowulf, trans. O’Heaney
  • Lolita, Nabokov
  • Verses and Versions, Nabokov (collection of Russian poems he’s translated)
  • Ревизор, Гогол
  • The Invisible Man, Ellison
  • Mephisto, Mann (once in English, once in German)
  • Faust, Goethe
  • Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki, Murakami
  • Tale of Genji, Murasaki
  • Julius Caesar, Shakespeare
  • Macbeth, Shakespeare
  • Millenium Trilogy, Larsson
  • The Laughing Policeman, Sjöwall and Wahlöö
  • War and Peace, Tolstoy
  • Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
  • Der Besuch der alten Dame, Dürrenmatt
  • The Trial, Kafka
  • The Metamorphosis, Kafka
  • The Lord of the Flies, Goulding
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway
  • Look Who’s Back, Vermes
  • Ibsen’s Greatest Plays, Ibsen
  • Six Plays by Strindberg, Strindberg
  • Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, Chekhov
  • Great Expectations, Dickens
  • Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, Rostand
  • Dr Zhivago, Pasternak (all-time favourite)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger
  • Catch 22, Heller
  • Bel-Ami, de Maupassant
  • Les fleurs du mal, Baudelaire
  • Puddn’head Wilson, Twain
  • Ivanhoe, Scott
  • Rob Roy, Scott
  • James Bond Series, Fleming
  • Paradise Lost, Milton
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde
  • La terrasse des ombres, Guy-Lussac
  • Le passe-muraille, Aymé
  • L’immoraliste, Gide
  • Ces enfants de ma vie, Roy
  • L’enfant chargé des songes, Hébert
  • The Leopard, di Lampedusa
  • Imperium, Kracht
  • Siddartha, Hesse
  • Steppenwolf, Hesse
  • The Niebelungenlied
  • Parzifal
  • Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn
  • We, Zamyatin
  • The Genius and the Goddess, Huxley
  • Kafka am Strand, Murakami
  • The Kreutzer Sonata, Tolstoy
  • Einige Gedichte von Schiller
  • Die Verwandlung, Kafka
  • Moby Dick, Melville

History, Art History, and Politics:

  • Berlin 1961, Kempe
  • Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Shirer
  • The World Was Going Our Way and Inside the Mitrokhin Archives, Andrew and Mitrokhin
  • Russia and the Russians, Hosking
  • A History of Modern Russia, Service
  • The Soviet Experiment, Suny
  • The Third Reich, Hildebrand
  • The Weimar Republic,
  • A History of Venice, Madden
  • A Short History of Florence, Cardini
  • A History of Hungary, Kontler
  • Paris 1919, MacMillan
  • The Return, Treisman
  • Japan From Prehistory to 1334, Sansom (I’ll read the other volumes eventually)
  • Art in History, Kemp
  • The Stones of Venice, Ruskin
  • Hitler’s 30 Days to Power, Turner
  • Kosovo, Malcolm
  • China’s Middle Empires, Lewis
  • Russian Politics and Society, Sakwa
  • Maus, Spiegelmann (in Italian)
  • Sharaku, Grilli
  • Hiroshige, Suzuki
  • Futurism, Humphreys
  • SMERSH, Birstein
  • Stalin’s Secret Agents, Evans, Romerstein
  • How the Allies Won, Overy
  • The Origins of the Second World War, Taylor
  • The Second World War, Parker
  • The Birth of Britain, Churchill
  • In Pursuit of Italy, Gilmour
  • Albanian Assignment, Smiley
  • Russian Tsars
  • India After Gandhi, Guha
  • Modern India, Sarkar
  • Democratisation and Revolution in the USSR, Hough
  • Capitalizing on Crisis, Krippner
  • What We Say Goes, Chomsky


  • This Elegant Universe, Greene
  • The Crowd, le Bon
  • Rocket Propulsion, a long .pdf I found online and have since lost
  • Chaos, Gleick
  • Jung, Very Short Introductions


  • What Is To Be Done?, Lenin
  • Le mythe de Sisyphe, Camus
  • What is Art?, Tolstoy
  • Anthem, Rand
  • Atlas Shrugged, Rand (sorry on both accounts)
  • A Fascist Reader, Gibbon
  • Candide, Voltaire (French)
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche
  • The Prince
  • Dao De Ching
  • Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky
  • Political Theology, Schmitt
  • Two Treatises of Government, Locke
  • The Road to Serfdom, Hayek
  • On Liberty, J.S. Mill
  • Fear And Trembling, Kierkegaard
  • In Defence of Lost Causes, Žižek
  • Two Types of Liberty, Berlin

Things I Want To Read Very Soon:

  • Critique of Practical Reason and Pure Reason, Kant
  • Red Victory
  • Er ist wieder da
  • King Lear
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Ulysses (I’ve only tried ten times to get past page three)
  • Soumission, Houellebecq
  • Don Quixote

What are your favourite books? I always need more suggestions for my ever-growing reading list.


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