Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne of the National Association of Scholars have compiled an absolutely great list of 37 books (plus a second list of six more difficult books) that they recommend for college “common reading” programs. The list follows up on the June 2010 NAS report on common reading programs. The NAS list of recommended books is included in “Read these instead: Better books for next year’s beaches.”
The list is not only outstanding for its intended purpose, but also for adults seeking to round out their education. Here, to take only one example, is the entry for a book that is particularly close to my heart, edited by the late Don Fehrenbacher of Stanford University:
21. Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1832-1858. (1832-1858, published in this volume in 1989) (Selections) It was the Great Emancipator who held the United States together during the Civil War. His strength of character, sharp wit, and quest for peace made him one of our nation’s greatest presidents. Of all Lincoln’s speeches, our strongest recommendations for students are these three: the speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act at Peoria (October 16, 1854); the address to the Washington Temperance Society of Springfield, Illinois (February 22, 1842); and the second inaugural address (March 4, 1865, not included in the book). And one of the best ways to learn the power of persuasive argument is to read some of the Lincoln-Douglas debates on slavery.
In additon to the speeches cited by Wood and Thorne, you wouldn’t want to miss Lincoln’s great “Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois,” of January 1838, also included in the recommended volume. Please check out the whole list.