Looking back at my educational experience, I sometimes wonder, "What did I do during all those years that I was in school?" Really, how did I receive a high school diploma without having ever read one scrap of authors like Dickens, Thoreau, Twain, or Hemingway? On top of that, my lack of historical knowledge is simply astounding. Historically I'm in even worse shape than I am in literature. I'm genuinely embarrassed about how little I know about past events.
Well, not being one to sit on my duff in the face of such dire circumstances, I've decided to embark on my own re-education. I'm going back and reading any great, classic, or important works of literature that I've missed, and I'm re-reading the few that I was fortunate enough to be exposed to in high school. I have a couple lists here and here that I'm using as a loose starting point for the building my literary knowledge. Many I will read, some I won't. Some I already have. Some I will re-read. (By the way, these lists come from a high school student I know. She's one intelligent and admirable young lady! I will be a happy mother indeed if Vivian has similar attributes to her when she's grown. This student has an amazing mom who I suspect has something to do with her daughter's excellent character . . . ) I may write out my own official list eventually, but for now I'm taking a more relaxed approach and just reading whatever I come across that fits into my idea of educating myself in important works of literature.
So, what about you? What are some of your favorite classics or even modern "must-reads" that I should add to my informal list? What is the one book (ok, or a few books if you're like me and too much of a book-lover to narrow it down to one) I absolutely must read? I'm also especially interested in books about historical events. Any recommendations there?
Update 11/10/12: Ok, so I made a list. I can't help it; I love lists! Link here or you can click on the "Re-Education Reading List" tab.