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2021 Reading List

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Published : January 03rd, 2022
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Category : Editorials

During 2021, I continued with the Harvard Classics and a survey of major European novels. Last year, I completed a number of ambitions. This included a survey of poetry in English, contained in HC#40-42. I read one volume a year for three years, at a pace of about two pages a day. Also, I completed a survey of ballet and opera, finishing with the four-opera Ring series, which was very good. I recommend shorter, easier operas (basically, any opera not written by Wagner) before trying the Ring. For one thing, these are mammoth operas just in terms of time: 4.5 hours of continuous music, plus two intermissions. If you are considering the Ring, I recommend the 2012 Metropolitan Opera production. Many — maybe, most — productions of the Ring are very bad, actually antithetical to the content of the opera. So, try this one first, and if you want to try others later, then go ahead.

I got tired of audiobooks during 2021, beginning with Tristram Shandy whose language was too difficult to follow on audiobook while running. (It might be OK while driving.) So, I read it in print, and continued in this manner afterwards, with The Brothers Karamazov. This leaves only one book in my original list of novels, so that project is also mostly complete although I will continue in a more casual way with classic fiction afterwards. I should also finish the Harvard Classics in 2022, after six years at about an eight-books-a-year pace.

Martin Amis and Julian Barnes, two heavyweight contemporary British novelists, have called Middlemarch the “greatest novel in the English language.” It is generally regarded as the best of the nineteenth-century British novels, notably because it breaks from the unfortunate pattern of British novels being almost children’s literature, with all the major characters under the age of 25. In Dickens, including Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, much of the novel may be about actual children under 12. If you want novels about grownups, look to the Russians and French. This comment is useful especially because it implicitly gives a roundup of 20th century literature in English (degenerate and not very good), which is why I wanted to undertake this survey of 19th century literature in the first place.

Most people don’t really have the time to undertake something like this. It has been recommended, in the homeschool circles that I participate in, that parents should aim to educate themselves to the level that they also wish for their children. There is an educational deficit that needs to be remedied. This is expected to take about ten years, which you can do while the children are younger. (This is recommended, essentially, to the stay-at-home Moms that are primarily responsible for homeschooling.) The ten-year figure is just about right, actually. Also, it seems that retirees often have ambitions to explore these things that they couldn’t as working adults. But, if you are interested in something like this, I can say that it is definitely worthwhile, and also a lot of fun. These works are very meaty and demanding, but also very satisfying and enjoyable.

Salome (opera), by Richard Strauss
Krol Roger (opera), by Karol Szymanowski
Gloriana (opera), by Benjamin Britten
Written on Skin (opera), by George Benjamin
A Patriot’s History of the United States, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
Give Me Liberty, by Rose Wilder Lane
Cause and Control of the Business Cycle, by E. C. Harwood
Middlemarch (audiobook), by George Eliot
Harvard Classics #33: Voyages and Travels
The Discovery of Freedom, by Rose Wilder Lane
The 1776 Report
Das Rheingold (opera), by Richard Wagner
Hillsdale College Constitution 201 course. Uses the same Constitution Reader as the 101 course.
Die Walkure (opera), by Richard Wagner
Siegfried (opera), by Richard Wagner
Rediscovering Americanism, by Mark Levin
Gotterdammerung (opera), by Richard Wagner
Harvard Classics #34: French and English Philosophers: Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne
Harvard Classics #35: Chronicle and Romance: Froissart, Malory, Holinshead
Harvard Classics #36: Machiavelli, More, Luther
The Maker and the Takers, by Jerry Boyer
Harvard Classics #42: English Poetry #3
Harvard Classics #37: English Philosophers of the 17th and 18th Century: Locke, Berkeley, Hume
Harvard Classics #38: Scientific Papers: Harvey, Jenner, Lister, Pasteur
Harvard Classics #39: Prefaces and Prologues to Famous Books
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Nathan Lewis was formerly the chief international economist of a firm that provided investment research for institutions. He now works for an asset management company based in New York. Lewis has written for the Financial Times, Asian Wall Street Journal, Japan Times, Pravda, and other publications. He has appeared on financial television in the United States, Japan, and the Middle East.
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