1 September

Jesse Lee Bennett's What Books Can Do for You [1923], split into two parts, A Sketch Map of the Frontiers of Knowledge and Selected Book Lists, is excluded from this project, but it is definitely worthy of review for those interested in the history of "great books" lists. The first part begins with the topics of reading, books, and literary education generally, not far removed from Adler's How to Read a Book or Baldwin's Book Lover, then quickly proceeds to broad discussions of science, art, life, everything.

Bennett places himself in a continuum begun by Lubbock: "Many of these lists [of the "best" books] are excellent. One which has stood the test of many years and been discussed and praised by many men of many minds is that prepared by Sir John Lubbock." However, he does not seek to follow Lubbock's example. Throughout the first-ninth chapters of the book's first part, he does recommend good introductory works useful for general education. Those works constitute the following list; a few other works are mentioned, but only as examples. The tenth chapter, on literature, gets into the distinction between romances and novels (the latter "seeks to depice life as it really is", while the romance exists for entertainment) among other topics; thus the works mentioned, again, are given as examples, not necessarily recommended readings.

H G Wells - Outline of History
J Arthur Thomson - The Outline of Science
Faure - History of Art
William Orpen - Outline of Art
Hendrik Willem Van Loon - The Story of Mankind
H F Osborn - The Origin and Evolution of Life
C W Saleeby - Evolution--The Master Key
Carl Snyder - The World Machine
N R Campbell - What Is Science?
Frederick Soddy - Science and Life
Sedgwick and Tyler - A Short History of Science
G H Lewes - A Biographical History of Philosophy
A K Rogers - A Student's History of Philosophy
G Lowes Dickinson - A Modern Symposium
Bertrand Russell - The Faith of a Free Man
Henry David Thoreau - Walden
Richard Jefferies - The Story of My Heart
J J Rousseau - Confessions
Edward Carpenter - The Drama of Love and Death
Henri Frederic Amiel - Journal
The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
Ludwig Lewisohn - Upstream
Harry Kemp - Tramping on Life

In his Foreword to the book's second section, Bennett gives a "minimum reading course" that includes the Wells, Osborn, Sedgwick/ Tyler, Dickinson, and Russell books, plus the following:

J Arthur Thomson - What Is Man?
M B Synge - A Book of Discoveries
A A Brill - Psycho-analysis--Its Theories and Applications
G S Dow - Society and Its Problems
J K Hart - Democracy in Education

Bennett then provides lists of books by category, namely: Discovery, Exploration and Adventure; History; Biography; Science; Philosophy, Religion and Mysticism; Sociology and the Social Sciences; Current Problems and Affairs; Prose Fiction; Drama and Poetry; Essays and Belles-Lettres; Art; and Books for Children. The lists for each include not only great literary works, but also histories, bibliographies, and directories, as well as many contemporary works obviously not seen by Bennett as works for the ages, but rather as merely timely introductions to the topic at hand.