Thursday, November 4, 2010

Extended Reading List

I've found myself in a predicament, as of late.  I have two lists of books I want to read.  The first one is the list I posted earlier; the second is a list of Medieval and classical works as well as works expounding upon the former period.  One could say the first list is my casual reading list, though to a casual reader--by most definitions--it would look rather academic.  The second would clearly appear entirely academic, though it's becoming a bit of an obsession of mine.  I have before me an untouched wealth of knowledge, which, in the words of Seneca the Younger, "were born for us and prepared for us a way of life."
I have been gathering up Medieval texts over the passed few months--over the passed year, actually.  Of these, I've only read selections from The Golden Legend.  I intend for this to change in the coming year.  Of the books I intend to read next year, here is a list.  By making a list, I can use it as a reference, as well as make it more definitive.

Books about the Medieval Period include:

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature by C.S. Lewis
Medieval Lives by Terry Jones, with Alan Ereira (The documentary was fantastic.)
Monarchy by David Starkey (Again, the documentary was fantastic.)

Actual Medieval (and going back to the Classical period and into the Renaissance) texts:

The Illiad and The Odyssey by Homer
Ethics by Aristotle
The Mabinogion
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
Confessions by Saint Augustine
City of God by Saint Augustine
Piers the Plowman
Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede
Alfred the Great by John Asser 
The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Inner Life by Thomas a Kempis
Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory (more thoroughly)
Utopia by Thomas Moore (again)
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

I'll be honest.  I don't think I can read all of those in one year, but I'm ambitious.  That's not including the books in my Amazon wishlist, like William of Newburgh's History of English Affairs or Lewis' Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.  I also want to find more books about Medieval literature and life.  That and hopefully I'll be able to find a cheap copy of some of Roger Bacon's works.  It may take some time, considering the other reading list I have, but I've become increasingly passionate about these studies.  I think the Medieval mindset contained something that we've lost in the last few hundred years that was beneficial, but for some reason we've been damning Medieval man as if he were lower than us.  It's chronological snobbery, as Lewis put it.


  1. Wow, you've got a great reading list here(I'm a Medieval nerd myself)!
    I must've read The Illiad and the Odissey some good 5 times, just as The Canterbury Tales and Le Morte d'Arthur. Bede's Ecclesiastical is pretty cool too, and I've always wanted to read Asser's Alfred the Great (king Alfred totally rocked)and Monmouth's Kings of Britain.
    I'm just really not a big fan of Piers the Plowman... I highly NOT recommend it...

  2. I don't really know much about Piers the Plowman except that it's supposed to be a good portrayal of the common man of the Medieval period, and most of the things I've read or want to read are about kings or saints. I've read some of Monmouth's work, and I think I'll start with that, though it might be best to start with Bede. Finding where to start is actually the hardest part. And Alfred is probably my favorite king of England and second favorite king of Medieval Europe. He was pretty awesome.

  3. Oh, he definitely was! I had to read up on him A LOT for my thesis, and I loved every second of it.
    Starting with Bede is a great idea - you could go chronologically, you know. Bede, then Asser, and so on.
    Just out of curiosity, if you don't mind my asking: who would be your favorite king of Medieval Europe, if Alfred's the 2nd?

  4. I think chronologically would be best, but I really want to read Geoffrey. But when it comes to Medieval literature, from what I've what read, starting from the earliest works is best.
    Charlemagne is my favorite Medieval king. It's hard to compete with him. Though, he and Alfred are quite similar. I'm also quite partial to Edward the Confessor.

  5. I think going chronologically will help you a lot. You'll get to Geoffrey in due time - I just love him!
    Funny, I rarely think of Charlemagne, don't know why... I should pay more attention to him! Edward the Confessor, huh? I've got a grudge with the guy - he left England in a total mess! No one knows what he wanted...
    I'm quite partial to Edward III, he totally knew what he was doing.
    I really like the French as well: Philip IV (the Fair), and his son Philip V (the Tall). I find The Valois somewhat boring, but the Bourbons are really interesting! (Although now we're getting into Modern History rather than Medieval...)

  6. I just find Edward the Confessor interesting. Edward III is pretty high on my list as well. I don't know much about French history until the Revolution and afterwords. My main focus has been England, while studying Europe in general, but I'm hoping to change that next year. I bought quite a few books a couple of days ago that should help with that. My reading list keeps getting longer.

  7. I started reading up on the French exactly because of England - their histories being intertwined and all.
    And YES, reading lists only get longer - they never get shorter... isn't it frustrating?...

  8. It doesn't help that I buy around thirty or forty books a month. This week alone I got fourteen.
    And that's why I want to learn about the French, to understand their parallel histories. Honestly, I think the two are due for a war. It's been almost two hundred years, which I think is the longest they've gone without conflict. Not that I think they should. I'm just surprised they haven't.

  9. Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about. I, too, buy books faster than I can read them...

    True enough, it's a miracle they haven't fought for so long! It may help that France doesn't have a throne anymore - so no more fight over that, for sure! But that comment may be the funniest thing I've read this week!

  10. I'm sure the lack of a throne is the reason for such prolonged peace. We'll see how the next century goes though.