The Educated Person's Bookshelf: 100 (or so) books you must read

By LHBooks

By LHBooks

How to Read a Book (Revised and Updated)

Charles Van Doren and Mortimer J. Adler

$18.00 $16.56

Before setting out to become educated, you should have a plan for approaching major works. This book will help.

ABC of Reading

Ezra Pound

$15.95 $14.67

This will too. Pay no attention to the author's misguided politics.

The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play

Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas

$17.00 $15.64

Early work on memory systems by memory pioneer Lorayne and pro basketballer Lucas.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Joshua Foer

$18.00 $16.56

How a young journalist won the US Memory Championship, along the way discovering how much we have all lost our memories since Plato, since Gutenberg, since Google. And, what we can do about it!

The Oxford Book of English Verse

$45.00 $41.40

You have to know at least a smattering of the great and lesser poets. The third major edition of this book focusses on England, omitting former colonies. The 1972 edition was more wide-ranging.

The Great Code the Bible and Literature

Northrop Frye

$16.99 $15.63

One of many works by this major literary critic; puts the Bible into the context of its influence on Western society.

Chronicles of the Vikings

R. I. Page


Factual, non-Hollywood, histories of the Norsemen who spread across Europe via Iceland, Greenland and (briefly) Newfoundland.

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Sir Winston S. Churchill


History of the English nation from prehistory to the end of WW2, told by the man who led England through parts of that terrible, terrible war.

A Treatise of Human Nature

David Hume


A foundational work in philosophy.

Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life

Jane Jacobs

$16.00 $14.72

Jane Jacobs' studies of life in North America are spread over several books.

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character

Richard P. Feynman

$15.95 $14.67

Feynman was one of history's best explainers of physics to the general public. He has multiple books in print.


Carl Sagan

$18.00 $16.56

Sagan was a wonderful popularizer of scientific facts and wonders.

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

Stephen Jay Gould

$17.95 $16.51

And Gould's many other works on natural history.

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Douglas R. Hofstadter

$24.99 $22.99

Philosophy and Mathematics and Music - what do they have in common? Read this book and you'll know the answer in detail.

The Physics of Climate Change

Lawrence M. Krauss

$28.00 $25.76

"The first book to briefly and clearly present the science of climate change in a way that is accessible to laypeople, providing the perspective needed to understand and assess the foundations and predictions of climate change." -- from the book's own promo.

The Long Tail

Chris Anderson

$15.99 $14.71

Why Jeff Bezos is really really rich, and how/why others can prosper.

The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival

Wendy McElroy


Just what the title says: a guide for half the world to be able to stand up to the other half.

J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, the Return of the King

J. R. R. Tolkien

$35.96 $33.08

Massive in its sweep of fictional history; made into a franchise of full-length movies. Inspired many, including The Taran series (Lloyd Alexander), The Dark Crystal(), The Narnia series (Christian apologist Clive Staples ('C.S.') Lewis), and more.

Cyrano De Bergerac

Edmond Rostand


Famous French play, inspired a movie or two.

Fahrenheit 451

Ray D. Bradbury

$17.00 $15.64

What happens when a government bans private ownership, not of guns, but of books? The results are, well, incendiary...

The Oppenheimer Alternative

Robert J. Sawyer

$16.99 $15.63

This novel tells the factual story of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during WWII - with many interesting characters along the way - and a fictional story pitting the same scientists against a threat that would destroy the entire world.

Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age

Michael A. Hiltzik

$17.98 $16.54

One of the few computer books that is approachable to those with no knowledge of computer programming; tells the story of the under-appreciated people who created the earliest version of Silicon Valley, the personal computer, and the Internet, before Gates & Jobs came along and marked these things up for sale.

Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee

$15.99 $14.71

The internet was around for years before the web. This approachable book details the invention of web technologies like HTML and HTTP, by the person who invented them both.

The Act of Creation

Arthur Koestler


A look at how we create new ideas. Koestler has several other books worth reading.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families

James Agee and Walker Evans

$22.99 $21.15

Early photojournalism on the working underclass of America.

Democracy in America: The Complete and Unabridged Volumes I and II

Alexis de Tocqueville


De Tocqueville's classic study of early US politics.

Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Robert Nozick


A prominent philosopher endorses libertarianism, a position he held for much of his life, partly recanted at the end of days.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Robert T. Kiyosaki

$8.99 $8.27

You should educate yourself about how the rich get richer. The "Rich Dad" series of books will do it; this is the first in the series.