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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

Welcome to my own personal exploration of life through reading the great books of the world.

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Location: Spokane, Washington, United States

"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Friday, January 12, 2007

In Remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Watch a great American deliver one of America's greatest speeches:

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posted by Nick Senger at 4:01 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nick's Summary of Great Books Lists, Part II

Here is part two of Nick’s Summary of Great Books Lists. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

[Note: An L indicates that this title is available as a free, unabridged audio download from Librivox.org.]

Books that showed up on 7 of 13 lists:
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice - L1; L2
Geoffrey Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales - L
Dante Alighieri - The Divine Comedy - L
Edward Gibbon - Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Plato - Symposium
Plutarch - Lives
William Shakespeare - Complete Works
Murasaki Shikibu - The Tale of Genji
Vyasa - Mahabharata

Books that showed up on 6 of 13 lists
Jane Austen - Emma - L
James Boswell - The Life of Samuel Johnson
Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species
Daniel DeFoe - Robinson Crusoe - L
Fyodor Dostoyevski - Crime and Punishment
George Eliot - Middlemarch
Euripides - Bacchae, Hippolytus
Hamilton, Madison, Jay - The Federalist Papers
William James - Pragmatism
Franz Kafka - The Trial
John Locke - Second Treatise on Government
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels - The Communist Manifesto - L
Herman Melville - Moby Dick
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - Thus Spake Zarathustra
George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-four
Plato - Crito
Jean Jacques Rousseau - Confessions
Sai Shonagon - The Pillow Book
Baruch Spinoza - Ethics
Stendhal - The Red and the Black
Laurence Sterne - Tristram Shandy
Valmiki - The Ramayana
Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse
Cao Xeugin - The Story of the Stone

Books that showed up on 5 of 13 lists
Aristophanes - The Clouds
Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot
John Bunyan - Pilgrim's Progress - L
Albert Camus - The Stranger
Anton Chekhov - Uncle Vanya
Confucius - The Analects
Charles Dickens - Pickwick Papers
Desiderius Erasmus - In Praise of Folly
Euclid - Elements
William Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary
Sigmund Freud - The Interpretation of Dreams
James Joyce - Ulysses
Franz Kafka - The Castle
Kalidasa - Sakuntala
Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason
Lao-Tzu (Laozi) - Tao te Ching (Daodejing) - L
Mencius - The Book of Mencius
John Milton - Areopagitica
Moliere - Tartuffe
Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil - L
Plato - Meno
Plotinus - Enneads
Marcel Proust - Remembrance of Things Past
Sima Qian - Records of the Grand Historian
Sophocles - Oedipus at Colonnus
Ivan Turgenev - Fathers and Sons
Adam Smith - Wealth of Nations
Tacitus - Annals
St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica
Henry David Thoreau - Walden - L
Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America

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posted by Nick Senger at 11:03 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What I'm Reading Now

I know I have that little area to the left of this page where I post what I'm currently reading, but my reading life is much more complicated than that. I am reading Adler's How to Think About the Great Ideas, but I got sidetracked by an organization bug and read David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and Neil Fiore's The Now Habit. Allen's book is fantastic and using his ideas has worked wonders on my desks at school. I haven't really found Fiore's book to be that helpful.

Fortunately, Adler's book lends itself to being read in small chunks. The book is basically a transcription of some TV shows Adler made in the '50s on the Great Ideas. It's great stuff, and reading it gives me the opportunity to think about something other than "Has the dog been fed today?"

I'm also re-"reading" The Lord of the Rings, in a sense. I own the unabridged audio recording of the entire trilogy on CD, and two weeks ago I converted all 46 discs into mp3 format so I could listen to them in the car. It's the first time I've listened this far into the trilogy, and the first time I've "read" it since the Peter Jackson movies came out. Rob Inglis is a superb narrator, though narrator is too mild a word for what he has done. His different voices are perfect, and his narration does not impose a particular interpretation on the listener. I'm currently at "The Bridge of Khazad-dum" and I can't wait for my morning commute tomorrow to listen again.

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posted by Nick Senger at 7:41 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nick's Summary of Great Books, Part I

Here is part one of Nick’s Summary of Great Books. See this page for a further explanation of where this list came from.

[Note: An L indicates that this title is available as a free, unabridged audio download from Librivox.org.]

Books that showed up on 13 of 13 lists:
Thucydides - History of the Peloponnesian War - L

Books that showed up on 12 of 13 lists

Miguel de Cervantes — Don Quixote
Herodotus - The Histories
Homer - The Iliad
Michel de Montaigne - Complete Essays

Books that showed up on 11 of 13 lists
Lucretius - Of the Nature of the Universe
Rabelais - Gargantua and Pantagruel
Virgil - The Aeneid

Books that showed up on 10 of 13 lists

St. Augustine — Confessions
Homer - The Odyssey
Machiavelli - The Prince - L
Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels

Books that showed up on 9 of 13 lists:
Aeschylus - The Oresteia
Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics
Rene Descartes - Discourse on Method - L
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Faust
Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace
Voltaire - Candide

Books that showed up on 8 of 13 lists:

Aristotle - Poetics - L
Marcus Aurelius - Meditations
Fyodor Dostoyevski - The Brothers Karamazov
Henry Fielding - Tom Jones
Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
John Stuart Mill - On Liberty
John Milton - Paradise Lost
Blaise Pascal - Pensees
Plato - Republic
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex, Antigone
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - L

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:14 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Nick's Summary of Great Books Lists - Introduction

What I intend to do now is post the original list of great books I compiled from thirteen "greatest books" lists. You can read some of the background to this list in this post, which introduces my Catholic Classics list. Here are the thirteen lists used in the summary: I hope this list is helpful for those of you who are looking for great books to read. The next post will consist of part one of this list.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:04 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Classic Literature on Audio from Librivox

Now this is what the Internet is all about...common folks uniting in a noble cause, aided by modern technology. Librivox is a community of volunteers who record public domain books and make them available on the Librivox.org website. All of the texts are out of copyright, and every recording is free to download. As the Librivox website states:
"Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project."
If you've never visited Librivox.org, click there immediately and browse to your heart's content. Here is a sampling of some of the available titles (note: files are quite large):

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
Jane Austen's Emma: Chapter 1
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray: Chapter 1
G.K. Chesterton's The Wisdom of Father Brown: Chapter 1

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posted by Nick Senger at 10:37 PM 0 comments Links to this post