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Required Reading: Visitors


Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library

Visitors' Required Reading

A major exhibition, Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library, showcases and interprets the King’s Chapel Library Collection, one of the surviving treasures of 17th century Boston. The exhibition tells the story of some colonial Bostonians’ intellectual and spiritual quests, and invites visitors to reflect on their own “must-read” lists, along with those of ten community partners.


Review our visitors' submissions here and visit the exhibition in person to submit your own required reading.

Books in the Boston Athenæum's Collections


Religious Texts


Book of Mormon


Eddy, Mary Baker. Science and Health. Boston: A.V. Stewart, 1917.


Secular Texts

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. London: Picador, 2002.

Albright, Madeleine. Fascism: A Warning. New York: Harper, 2018.

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013.

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow. New York: New Press, 2010.

Amis, Kingsley. Lucky Jim. New York: Doubleday, 1954.

Anderson, M.T. Feed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2002.

Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. United Kingdom: Penguin Classics, 2017.

Ariely, Dan. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions. New York: Harper, 2008.

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1986.

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Modern Library, 1995.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1892.

Bach, Richard. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. New York: Macmillan, 1970.

Barker, Meg-John and Julia Scheele. Queer: A Graphic History. London: Icon Books Ltd, 2016.

Beagle, Peter S. The Last Unicorn. New York: Viking Press, 1968.

Bolt, Robert. A Man for All Seasons. London: Heinemann, 1961.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Random House, 1943.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. New York: Random House, 1943.

Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth. New York: Grossett & Dunlap Publishers, 1931.

Burton, Virginia Lee. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939.

Burton, Virginia Lee. The Little House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.

Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Translated by William Weaver. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1974.

Caro, Robert A. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf, 1974.

Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Norton, 1976.

Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1940.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiege & Grau, 2015.

Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Translated by Alan R. Clarke. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

Cohen, Lizabeth. Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.

Conrad, Joseph. Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1904.

Dazai, Osamu. Ningen-Shikkaku [No Longer Human]. Translated by Donald Keene. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1958.

Deledda, Grazia. Canne al vento. Milan: Fratelli Treves, 1913.

Deloria, Philip Joseph. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. New York, London: Macmillan & Co., 1895.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1903.

Du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1938.

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. Indigenous People's History of the U.S. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.

Eliot, George. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. Boston: Jefferson Press, 1912.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, 1952.

Faust, Drew Gilpin. This Republic of Suffering. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

Galeano, Eduardo. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. Translated by Cedric Belfrage. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997.

Galsworthy, John. The Forsyte Saga. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926.

García Márquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, 1994.

Gilio-Whitaker, Dina. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019.

Gorey, Edward. The Doubtful Guest. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1978.

Hayek, Friedrich A. von. The Road to Serfdom. London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1944.

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner, 1958.

Hesse, Hermann. Steppenwolf. Translated by Basil Creighton. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961.

Hesse, Hermann. Narcissus and Goldmund. Translated by Ursule Molinaro. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heresy in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Library, 1990.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1932.

Immerwahr, Daniel. How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2019.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Modern Library, 1993.

Joyce, James. The Dubliners. New York: Knopf, Distributed by Random House, 1991.

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler. New York: Athenaeum, 1967.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960.

L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Ariel Books, 1962.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation. New York: Library of America, 2013.

Lepore, Jill. These Truths. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.

Longinus. On the Sublime. Translated by H.L. Havell. London and New York: Macmillan and Co., 1890.

Lorde, Audre. Zami. Watertown, MA: Persephone Press, 1982.

Lukas, J. Anthony. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. New York: Knopf, 1985.

Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2012.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels (ed.). Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production. Translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. London: S. Sonnenschein, Lowrey, 1887.

Matar, Hisham. The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between. New York: Random House, 2016.

McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings. New York: The Viking Press, 1941.

McCloskey, Robert. Time of Wonder. New York: Viking Press, 1957.

McPherson, James M. The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: Scribner, 1964.

Montgomery, L.M. Anne's House of Dreams. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1917.

Morante, Elsa. History: A Novel. Translated by William Weaver. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus. New York: Doubleday, 2011.

Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Speak, Memory: A Memoir. London: Gollancz, 1951.

Nicolson, Adam. God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Okakura, Kakuzo. The Book of Tea. New York: Duffield, 1906.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Pearson, David. Books as History: The Importance of Books beyond Their Texts. London: British Library, 2008.

Plant, Richard. The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals. New York: H. Holt, 1986.

Pollan, Michael. Botany of Desire. New York: Random House, 2001.

Post, Emily. Etiquette: "The Blue Book of Social Usage". New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1937.

Powers, Richard. The Overstory. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2006.

Pullman, Philip. The Subtle Knife. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Pullman, Philip. The Amber Spyglass. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2000.

Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017.

Sacks, Oliver. Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2001.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of Childhood. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003.

Seasholes, Nancy S. The Atlas of Boston History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Kenneth Muir. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957.

Shakespeare, William. Complete Works. Edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. New York: Modern Library, 2007.

Shapiro, Ian (editor). The Federalist Papers: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Solomon, Andrew. Far from the Tree. London: Vintage Books, 2014.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor's Tale. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.

Sprawson, Charles. Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2009.

Steinbeck, John. Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking Press, 1939.

Süskind, Patrick. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Translated by John E. Woods. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1986.

Tanizaki, Jun'ichiro. In Praise of Shadows. Translated by Tomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker. New Haven, CT: Leete's Island Books, 0.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. London: W. Scott, 1886.

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Translated by Constance Garnett. New York: Modern Library, 1994.

Trollope, Joanna. Other People's Children. New York: Viking, 1999.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2019.

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. London: W. Heinemann, 1895.

Westover, Tara. Educated. New York: Random House, 2018.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston: A Topographical History. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1963.

Wiesel, Elie. Night; Dawn; Day. New York: Aronson, 1985.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. London: Methuen & Co., 1951.

Wilson, Edward O. Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. London: Hogarth Press, 1967.

Zuboff, Shoshana. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. New York: PublicAffairs, 2019.

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Additional Titles

Albom, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Bachelard, Gaston. Poetics of Space

Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing

Blume, Judy. Freckle Juice

Butcher, Jim. The Aeronaut's Windlass

Duggan, Lisa. "Queering the State." Social Text, no. 39 (1994).

Feynman, Richard P. Lectures on Physics

Gibbs, Stuart. Spy School

Ginsberg, Allen. The Complete Works

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies

Hannah-Jones, Nikole. "The 1619 Project," New York Times Magazine

Kendi, Ibram X. How to be an Antiracist

Love, Bettina. We Want to Do More than Survive

MacKinnon, Catherine. Only Words

Maclean, Norman. Young Men and Fire

Mod Sun. Did I Ever Wake Up?

Natsume, Soseki. Kokoro

O'Hara, Frank. Lunch Poems

Okamoto, Nadya. Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement

Perry, Robert and Don W. Green. Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook

Pfohl, Stephen. Images of Deviance & Social Control

Ramsey, Edwin Price. Lieutenant Ramsey's War: From Horse Soldier to Guerilla Commander

Robinson, Robert. Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union

Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies

Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.

Vagnone, Frank. The Anarchist's Guide to House Museums

Watterson, Bill. Calvin & Hobbes: The Days Are Just Packed.

Weiss-Wendt, Anton. Nazi Genocide of the Roma

White, T.H. The Once and Future King

Wright, C.D. One with Others

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