A Charlois Book Review

The last time we spoke I was talking about being a well-read person.  I spoke of Clifton Fadimon’s “Lifetime Reading Plan,” and Britannica’s “Great Books,” as well as references to websites of lists to read.  Today I want to touch on my personal reading plan for this year and beyond.

If you read my posts at all you have probably figured out that reading is a big deal to me.  In fact, on many days, I’ll read between 2-3 hours of various materials.  But for most of my life I’ve just read, without any real plan.  That’s all well and good but if I am to grow into my best self, I’ll need some direction.

That is what I’ve been working on this year; a comprehensive plan that includes: reading instruction, great literature, non-fiction, and popular titles.  It is my goal to continue reading the 2-3 hours I’ve been doing, but in a more focused way.

The reading instruction part is a self-study approach based on “How To Read A Book,” by Mortimer Adler, and several books on reading fundamentals and speed improvement.  The goal being to get to 1200 words per minute with 80% comprehension.

For the Great Literature portion I’ve chosen Britannica’s, Great Books of the Western World; a collection of 74 of western civilization’s greatest authors, put together in a 54-volume set.  Volume 1 is the great conversation, an essay by Robert Hutchinson, as well as a 10-year reading plan and other important information.  Volumes 2-3 are the index of ideas, or syntopicon.  The rest of the set contains the works of 74 authors, some entire works others just the most significant.  While there is a 10-year reading plan in volume 1 I’m choosing to use another plan to get started.

In 1959, Britannica released a set of books called “The Great Ideas Program.”  This 10-volume set consists of 10 separate reading plans that are designed so that each one can be completed in a typical school year.  The focus varies from volume to volume but each one covers an area specific to an idea: literature, science, law, politics, philosophy, etc.  I plan on using volume 1 for the next year to start my 10-year reading program. It is titled, “An Introduction To The Great Books And To A Liberal Education.”  There are 15 readings covering the spectrum of works included in the 54-volume set.  This will give me a good start to the whole set.   Along with the assigned readings there is commentary and self-study questions to guide things.

Finally, the last category of reading direction consists of two genres: non-fiction and popular fiction.  During the course of my reading, I’ll have one or the other of these two areas open.  The way that will be decided is if I’m working on a project I’ll go online and search out the best titles with that focus.  Example, I recently was doing research for a book I want to write on Time Management; so, I looked up “best books on time management,” and came up with a list of 15 books that I proceeded to read.  When I’m not working on a specific project I’ll go to “Good Reads,” and check out their list of “100 books to read in your lifetime,” and choose something from that list. That selection keeps my reading plate full.

This may seem like a lot of reading, however, by reading a minimum of 20 minutes at a time I can cover my reading in under 2 hours.  That is about what I’ve read previous to starting this program; it also leaves time to anything I run across that sparks my interest.  And I am getting in some quality reading.

Whatever you are interested in I suggest you read about it, it doesn’t have to take up your life and it’s well worth it.

Happy reading,

Robert A. Charlois III

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