The plan includes the reading projects that I’ve already posted here on the blog (check the pages) along with teaching myself Latin and Greek, to begin with, then other languages as said further on in this post. My ideal schedule will be 1-2 hours of writing, a walk, then studying and fun reading.

I’ve always thought of myself as an autodidact, a self-taught learner, and this plan has been an off-and-on project that I pick up every so often. There is a rather large spreadsheet in Google Drive with various book lists along with the Harvard Classics (HC), The Gateway to Great Books (GGB), and The Great Books of the Western World (GBWW) 1st & 2nd editions. I already have copies of all the listed sets, except for the GBWW 2nd edition, and I’m keeping my eyes out for a good deal.

The main part of the plan involves reading each volume of the above sets, one per week. For the first ten weeks of 2023, I will be reading a volume of the Harvard Classics and a volume of the Gateway to Great Books, then start the Great Books of the Western World while still reading all 51 volumes of the Harvard Classics and 20 volumes of the Shelf of Fiction until finished. Gateway is only ten volumes and is meant to be read before the main GBWW set, even though it was released after the 1st edition. There is also the Great Ideas Program, which is basically meant for the solo reader to give them a way into the Great Books without having to depend on a discussion group. It is a list of selected readings from the 1st edition in ten subject areas to give the reader a broad introduction. I’ve located a physical set since I have no other way to read the prefaces, which look to be interesting.

brown wooden desk
Photo by Pixabay on

Plan & Method

  1. Set up Google Calendar and Todoist with the schedule: as an All-Day Event in GCal, and as part of a project with due dates in Todoist. I love ticking off things in Todoist, and GCal gives me an agenda/schedule view on my phone, perfect to keep track of when and where I should be.
  2. Read through and take notes from How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. I have a physical copy as well as a digital copy, and I can use Moon+ Pro (Android e-book manager & reader) to do highlights and notes. Readwise will get a copy of the highlights. Readwise is the service I use to collate all my highlights and notes from Kindle, Moon+, Twitter, and other places. I’d like it if they offered Reddit as an option, for I have loads of saved posts (mostly recipes and recommended books).
  3. Read through The Well-Educated Mind, taking notes. I have the list on the blog and that list is in my spreadsheet of doom as I said above. I have a digital version which I will be using to take notes.
  4. Create a template in Evernote to hold all my collected highlights and notes per book/volume I read during my project. I’m also testing out Obsidian for book notes.
  5. Create a page on this blog with a running list of works I’ve read while reading the Harvard Classics, Gateway, and GBWW sets. A second page for books on the consolidated reading list I have collected from the various Great Books lists and other reading lists. This and the above items to be done by Dec 31, 2022.
  6. Starting in January, read 1 volume of the Harvard Classics Five Foot Shelf & Shelf of Fiction per week (71 volumes)
  7. Also in January, start reading The Gateway to Great Books, 1 volume per week, 10 volumes in total.
  8. Once done with Gateway, begin reading Great Books of the Western World, 1 volume a week. I have the 1st Edition as stated above, will be looking for the 2nd edition published in 1990.
  9. Not directly related to this, but keep a list of books that I’ve read, even if they aren’t part of the program. Also, include other forms of media if possible.
  10. Post notes & commentaries here once finished with the book/volume.

Per my spreadsheet, if I spend a week per volume (I’ve read thicker books in a day), and have the first volumes read by Jan 7, 2023, I will be done on May 11, 2024. Super reasonable to me, since I’ve seen others say 7-10 years to get through just one set (The GBWW).

Part Two: The Extended Reading List

Part Two