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“Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.”

Barack Obama

In our previous pages on (how you think & how do you become more creative), we saw that gaining new knowledge is super important for us to learn from the experience of others (especially in areas we haven't tried), understand our reality, think better and more creatively, and develop more ideas. 

But what should we read? And what happens if we can't read for extended periods, at least at the beginning. Enter Charles Eliot, the longest-serving president of Havard University. Eliot, a voracious reader, came up with the Havard Classics, a selection of books covering a number of topics, which can substitute for a liberal education to anyone who reads them, even if he/she can only spare 15 mins a day for reading. 

In his own words:

"My aim was not to select the best fifty, or best hundred, books in the world, but to give, in twenty-three thousand pages or thereabouts, a picture of the progress of the human race within historical times, so far as that progress can be depicted in books. The purpose of The Harvard Classics is, therefore, one different from that of collections in which the editor’s aim has been to select a number of best books; it is nothing less than the purpose to present so ample and characteristic a record of the stream of the world’s thought that the observant reader’s mind shall be enriched, refined and fertilized.

Within the limits of fifty volumes, containing about twenty-three thousand pages, my task was to provide the means of obtaining such knowledge of ancient and modern literature as seemed essential to the twentieth-century idea of a cultivated man. The best acquisition of a cultivated man is a liberal frame of mind or way of thinking; but there must be added to that possession acquaintance with the prodigious store of recorded discoveries, experiences, and reflections which humanity in its intermittent and irregular progress from barbarism to civilization has acquired and laid up."


You can find the Harvard Classics here.

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