Not long ago I shared my thoughts on a list of literary works that the College Board recommends college-bound students read before leaving high school. In my opinion the list is unrealistic in scope, with too many titles and a number of selections that I consider to be more college than high school terrain.
Here's a better list, compiled by Bill Bennett a few years ago after he posed the question to a group of experts he selected. I have read either all or part of everything on the list except for the Communist Manifesto. (Must I?) I didn't finish War and Peace, I can't say that I have read every last word of Homer, and I've only read parts of Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics and Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Oh yes, and I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read every one of Shakespeare's plays (although I've read many). That's one of my goals before I die. But the rest of it I've got covered--even all of Paradise Lost (that is one great read, let me tell you). Do you think that means I could get back into college? What about you? Are you college material. Go and see. (To my teenagers: if you want to see what's coming in the next few years, this list will give you a good idea. And take note of what we've already read. We're making good progress!)
By the way, there is nothing on Bennett's list younger than 30 years old. I like that. Not that a work has to be old to be good. But I think it takes a little time to ascertain if something is a classic or not. The College Board list was, in my opinion, a bit too eager to open the door to modern literature.
(HT: Kathryn Lopez, The Corner at National Review)