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message 1: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments I've posted this in a couple of other groups and am getting some interesting responses. I thought I'd try it out here:

I thought this would be an interesting question. I realize that most of the people who are members of this group are likely to have gone to college, but what about those who haven't? More people *don't* go to college in the United States than do. Why don't we make a list of the books that you think would give you the equivalent of a decent college education? I wouldn't worry too much about what degree, what university, possible masters/doctorate after the baccalaureate, just what books do we think would give a person a good, well-rounded education?


message 2: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments I like this options, BlueMoon. Thank you!


Petra X has the munchies (petra-x) Brave New World
Lord of the Flies

and another book I can't recall right now for a basic education in political systems.

message 4: by Michelle (last edited Aug 18, 2010 08:25PM) (new)

Michelle Gilmore | 510 comments I was thinking of Brave New World as well! I'd also like to add The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho by Paul Coelho, A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck by Robert Newton Peck, and The Count of Monte Cristo (Oxford World's Classics) by Alexandre Dumas père by Alexandre Dumas.

Petra X has the munchies (petra-x) Couldn't get through the Alchemist.

message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Gilmore | 510 comments Petra X wrote: "Couldn't get through the Alchemist."

After I read it, I bought copies for some friends and family members because I enjoyed it so much. Unfortunately, most of them didn't care for it. Where I read it in one sitting, they either took days to read it, or couldn't finish it at all. I guess its one of those where you either love it or hate it.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

A Room With a View by EM Forster also gives you a nice look into the lives of the English upper-middle class around the turn of the previous century.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking gives a good and easy to read summing up of Science and how the Universe is put together.

The other suggestions I also agree with, they definitely should be part of any well-read individuals bookshelve!

message 8: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments How about Mathematics for the Nonmathematician for math? I also like Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economicsfor economics, and The Iliad & The Odyssey just because they're fantastic stories.

What about Biology and Zoology?


message 9: by Joseph (new)

Joseph  (bluemanticore) | 1864 comments Mod
Just to confirm, are we looking for a list of fiction read in college or nonfiction to learn things you would in college? Or am I completely wrong? :-)

message 10: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments Joseph,

We're looking for a list of books which we feel would give an equivalent education to a gen Ed or liberal arts degree at a 4 year college. Fiction or non-fiction doesn't really matter. All that matters is that the book have something to add to the "self-education" that is the purpose of this exercise. There will be some non-fiction and some fiction on the list, with a heavier lean toward non-fiction, I believe.


Petra X has the munchies (petra-x) Well, you can scrap my books then, because I thought you meant a general college education not a specific American college degree. I know very little about American degrees.

message 12: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments Petra,

Your suggestions are perfectly legitimate. I think they are great and would absolutely reccomend them to anyone seeking a well-rounded education. An American Liberal Arts degree is simply a degree that gives you a little bit of exposure to most fields of study. You get a little bit of math, a little bit of science, a little bit of literature, etc, etc. Your suggestions are both welcomed and appreciated.


Petra X has the munchies (petra-x) Thanks Kristopher. Ah, I was thinking it must just be literature. I didn't realise it included a bit of everything.

message 15: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 29 comments Those sound very interesting. I'll have to check them out.


message 16: by Paulfozz (last edited Nov 30, 2013 02:09PM) (new)

Paulfozz Holy thread resurrection Batman!

Not really sure what a US gen ed. degree would involve and I didn't go to university here in the UK (though I studied electronic engineering at a polytechnic below degree level), but I think these would be a good start:

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (agree with Fish Lips on that one)

Plus from the little I've read leafing through my copies (must read these soon), I would imagine these would be very applicable:

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker

The Herring Gull's World: A Study Of The Social Behaviour Of Birds by Nikolaas Tinbergen

message 17: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand I think American degrees are a lot more general and holistic than the kind I'm thinking of. :-(

message 18: by Thom (new)

Thom Swennes (Yorrick) | 592 comments I’ve attended universities in both the US and Europe. I think more than just reading is required to get a college-level education. If it was possible to attain this level of education, than students would only have to have their textbooks and further instruction would be unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, much can be learned from books and a well read person is better prepared and rounded as a non-reader.

message 19: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand I think a good part of a university education that you don't get from reading books is reading and learning about the uninteresting things and how accepted practice differs from all that book learnin'.

That, plus how to write essays and make information your own. And all the social stuff.

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