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The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classic Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded
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The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classic Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  683 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Now in print for the first time in almost 40 years, The New Lifetime Reading Plan provides readers with brief, informative and entertaining introductions to more than 130 classics of world literature. From Homer to Hawthorne, Plato to Pascal, and Shakespeare to Solzhenitsyn, the great writers of Western civilization can be found in its pages. In addition, this new edition ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published June 2nd 1999 by Collins Reference (first published 1960)
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Roy Lotz
Oct 24, 2014 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
There’s something extremely comforting about a list of ‘great’ books. The world of books, after all, often seems like a vast, imposing, and orderless wasteland. There is simply no way to read even a large fraction of the total books in print. Furthermore, there are books written on every topic imaginable; if I wanted to, I could lose myself for years in the literature of East African choir music, of Medieval French history, of Parisian graffiti, of the metabolism of Asian flying beetles, of chai ...more
Mar 16, 2012 Lindsey rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-on-book
Not quite what I was expecting but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Think of all those terrible 101 books you have to read in your life that you've seen. The boring mundane lists of classics no one wants to read or have heard you should read but don't want to tackle. But now take it to the next level with two intellectuals whose writing is just plain captivating to give not only a synopsis of specific author's literature but recommendations of how to read them, think about them, ingest them, or even vie ...more
Eric Kibler
Jul 18, 2010 Eric Kibler rated it it was amazing
I have a "reading challenge" I've been working on for 22 years or so. It's the "Lifetime Reading Plan" compiled by scholar and author Clifton Fadiman. He wrote a book of that title around thirty years ago that's been revised a couple of times. It's kind of the original "Beowulf on the Beach", in that it takes over 100 authors who have contributed great writings over the past 3000 years or so, gives a profile, defines the flavor, and gives a rationale is to why it would behoove you to read it. Th ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Marcus is currently reading it
Amazon should ship this book free to new customers because it's practically impossible to read without buying some of the books Fadiman and Major recommend.
Jan 09, 2017 ade_reads rated it really liked it
I thought, many of us are at a loss for reading because we don't know what to read. Oftentimes we mistaken this with the dislike for reading. But if only we knew what to read, we would run out of time to read it all.

This book solves a great deal of that problem. It gives tens of summaries and reviews of books, commenting on what to skip, what to focus on, and what books are essential in your lifetime reading plan. Also, the variety of selections is excellent: everything from literature to histor
Jan 23, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
Reading Fadiman is like listening to your well-read, solidly 20th-Century great-grandfather give you book recommendations from his vast, plaid- and leather-filled library. The decor is a bit dated, but the rolling library ladder is still charming -- and you can tell he genuinely loves this place.

When he died in 1997 at the age of 95, The New York Times called Fadiman "a bookworm's bookworm." In addition to being a "witty intellectual" guest/host on various mid-century radio and television shows,
Jan 02, 2014 Cleo rated it did not like it
This book contains chronological summaries of the classic writers from Homer to Chinua Achebe, touching on their lives and some of their works. I bought this book hoping that would act as a guide on my journey reading the classics. What a mistake!

The authors' flip style, their liberal use of ad hominem and their complete lack of effort to understand the works they were reviewing in their context, left me frustrated and angry. Their judgemental assessment of the author's life and works reveal min
Sep 14, 2011 Alex rated it really liked it
Contains decent essays about the basic works of the canon, along with capsule essays on many more. Old-fashioned and Bloomian, though: "Though Proust loved women as well as men," says Fadiman, "there is little doubt that his later homosexuality was caused partly by his relationship to his mother."
Len Feder
May 20, 2013 Len Feder rated it it was amazing
Years ago I read the 3rd edition of this book. This website didn't list that edition. This is the 4th edition, and I recently bought it. But I'm not ready to review it. I want to review the one I'm familiar with.

Clifton Fadiman is Mr. Book of the Month Club and Mr. Encyclopedia Brittanica. I think he has a good pedigree for writing a book like this, a lifetime reading plan.

I read every single novel mentioned in his third edition and I liked most of them. The only novels I remember not enjoying a
Jan 13, 2014 Sunny rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
OK book overall. the author talks about his favorite 100 books. starts off with the greeks, then middle ages then into the Pascals, Nietzsches, Humes, James', of the 17-19th centuries then the last few are contemporary ones on various subjects. its a small book and the descriptions he gives of each book are short and easy to read. clifton speaks his mind in all cases and comes across brutally honest. he gives his take on what the book was about and why you should read it. id read about 25 of the ...more
Oct 31, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-books
One of my goodread friends Michael turned me on to this book about 5 years ago and it is excellent. For a bibliophile it will have you licking your lips because many of these books are at the library or free on line so for little monetary outlay you can read for a lifetime. It is laid out from the birth date of the authors from Homer to Marquez choosing the authors best works (Fadimans opinion)and commenting on them in a few paragraphs. It would take a lifetime to finish all the works listed but ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Dayla rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it included literature from Japan, China, India, and the Middle East. Sometimes, we (Americans) need to be exposed to worlds, other than our own.
One of my absolute favorite books...A reading list for life.
May 31, 2008 Alcornell rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
companionable, sometimes quirky reading, and much more interesting than you'd think.
Elias Vasilis Kontaxakis
May 15, 2014 Elias Vasilis Kontaxakis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: criticism
“Socrates called himself a midwife of ideas. A great book is often such a midwife, delivering to full existence what has been coiled like an embryo in the dark, silent depths of the brain.”

I cannot overstate the effect this book has had on my life. It’s one of my bibles, alongside Manvotationals. I’ve read and reread it so many times and yet it never ceases to move me. Move me in heart—it fuels my passion for literature; move me in mind—it greases my mental cogs; and move me in body—it gets me
Jul 13, 2011 DC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(My copy is that of the Third Edition, which was printed in 1988.)

This book is an amazing guide to some (if not all) of the greatest books in history. I will not say "best" because, as Fadiman mentions in his Preliminary Talk with the Reader, "There are no best books." The guide here mentions authors of repute, mostly of Western origins. It tackles plays, narratives, non-fiction, poetry and some history books of these aforementioned authors. Note that not every great writer, poet or dramatist ma
Adam Nelson
Dec 14, 2014 Adam Nelson rated it it was amazing
I love reading Fadiman. This is the second book of his as a literary critic (and not just an editor of an anthology) that I've read. Well, actually, that other one was an anthology, too, but with far more criticism than the World Treasury of Children's Literature. Anyway, I'm digressing. Fadiman has this very confident way of asserting that you SHOULD be reading the classics and the works of higher literature he's writing about in such a way that makes you feel responsible to go out and do it. H ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Lili rated it it was ok
Dad once read a statement by Winston Churchill, saying something like "Quote books are good for people who don't read." I kept thinking about that as I read this book--it's a great book for those who are not (and may not be planning to be) well-read. Daunting, in many respects, but I did appreciate the exposure to--and justification for--the selections Fadiman and Major consider to be "the books to read." I had read a fair number, and was acquainted with more, but there were many that were new t ...more
Hieronymus Murphy
Apr 27, 2014 Hieronymus Murphy rated it it was amazing
Not nearly as ponderous as the title suggests, the LTRP is a list of suggestions, and each entry is accompanied by a page to a page-and-a-half of exposition about why that entry is worth a reader's time. In his introduction, Fadiman makes clear he doesn't want readers to feel the LTRP is "required" reading that must be gone through in order. In fact, he encourages skipping around to find something that might be engaging. Yes, it's made up of books that comprise much of the dreaded (in some quart ...more
Mke McKeel
Dec 03, 2015 Mke McKeel rated it it was amazing
I love book lists. This one has a broader scope than most, in that it includes all time periods and cultures, and most genres (fiction, poetry, drama, philosophy, history, spirituality, etc.).

I have previously read many of the books on this list (about 30%) but thought it would be interesting to start at the beginning and work my way through, recording my impressions here on Goodreads as I go.

We'll see how far I get.

I would love to hear from anyone who has embarked on a similar path with this or
Jun 02, 2014 Aimee rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of, what should I read books, but this one I found the most useful and engaging. I love his honesty. He makes a point of saying "taboo" things like, everything Shakespeare wrote wasn't good or the fact that you should still try to read William Faulkner even though the author has tried and failed to appreciate him. I just find that refreshing. I know I'm supposed to read Moby Dick and War and Peace. It is nice when someone says straight out that these books are hard. But like any ...more
This is one of those books you can look over and browse as you see fit. Fadiman, now with help from Major, lay out a plan for the educated reader. As they state, this is not meant per se for those who already have a fairly extensive education. It is more for those who need to read more, or feel they have gaps in their reading, or wish to challenge themselves a bit. The book is basically a collection of short essays on the books they list. I was happy to see I have read a good number of them, but ...more
Nov 27, 2010 James rated it it was amazing
An updated version of Fadiman's great guide to reading the classics and beyond. Almost four decades after the original, the original author and John S. Major expanded the plan with the addition of literature from throughout World literature. This edition also removed some works and added new authors that had not been included in the original plan. Also, the organization of the works was changed from topical to chronological. I do not believe the resulting changes diminished the value of the book ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-65-books
I have no idea of how to review this or how to rate it. It's a rather extensive list and I would never be able to read all of the recommendations so while I tagged many books to add to my own "to be read" list, there were some I have no intention of reading. I'm 46 years old and I read a fair amount, but sometimes I just want to read for fun. There are a few I've read before but still added again because after reading why the piece was in the collection, think I may appreciate the books more as ...more
Sep 10, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
I did some searching for books that could be resources on the question "What books should I read and why?" This is the one that looked best. I added it to a wishlist, but didn't buy it until I read a reference to Clifton Fadiman in the beginning of Kavalier and Clay.

This book was worthwhile and I'm sure I'll consult it in the years to come when I can't find something to read by poaching peoples lists on GoodReads.

It's helpful to get a one page explanation from some guy why I should read, say,
George Heidemark
Mar 29, 2016 George Heidemark rated it really liked it
A first rate introduction to books that will change your life. This is a true introduction to the classics from Plato, to Dante,Shakespeare, Woofe, Dickens,etc. As Fadiman states this is a conversation that the essential authors have been having across the ages.There is a short preface,then the book features chapters on the Ancients, the Middle Ages, Narratives, poetry,politics, history, etc. This book is meant to spur on a lifelong quest of reading and ideas. This book has made me want to read ...more
Michael Miller
Feb 08, 2014 Michael Miller rated it really liked it
Reading this book won't make you well read, but that's not its purpose. Like a travel guide to an exotic city, it recommends sites of interest and what to expect when you get there. The point is to entice you to go, or in this case, to read. It worked for me. Although I have read several of these works, I now intend to read (most of) the rest, or die trying. I'm glad it was revised to include great books of the non-Western world.
Rebecca Hecking
I am sloowwwwly working my way though the LRP list of books, which I suppose is appropriate given that the word "lifetime" is right in the title. The LRP offers some structure and guidance for really digging in to the great works of world (admittedly with a western bias) literature. Learning never ends, and I love reading these works slowly, without the time pressure of reading them in college for a class. There's no rush now, and the world awaits. How lovely is that?
Apr 30, 2013 Pam rated it really liked it
I have read through The New Lifetime Reading Plan over the last six weeks. It had so much more in it than an opinion about what books make the best reading. What kept me going was the chronological essays about each author, describing their personality, telling about their family or how they knew another author of their time, and what historical events influenced their writing. I think insight into an author's life makes reading their books all the more interesting.
Dec 14, 2007 Kate marked it as lost-interest-didn-t-finish
Shelves: bibliophilia
I'm reading this as a refresher course on the history of literature, mainly so that I can beat my sister at Trival Pursuit: Booklovers' Edition. The authors say some preposterous things in the introduction, but the Cliffs Notes-esque synopses of books I have / should have read make for strangely entertaining reading.
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The New Lifetime Reading Plan 1 2 Jan 04, 2017 02:29PM  
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Clifton P. "Kip" Fadiman was an American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality.
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