Significant Summary Writing Collections -- Selected by Harvey Bingham

The following summarize the writings that their authors feel have shaped our collective knowledge. I am impressed by the care the authors have taken to distill so many significant writings and present them lucidly for their reader's benefit.

Ideas that Changed the World
Best-Loved Short Stories of Nineteenth-Century America
Gems of the World's Best Classics
They Made America
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
This is My Best
The Tyranny of Words
Comma Sense
The Theory of Everything
The Meaning of Everything
A Short History of Everything
The New York Times Big Book of Science Questions and Answers
The New York Public Library Literature Companion
The Scientific 100
Literature -- The Evolving Canon
The Well-Educated Mind
The Well-Trained Mind
The Book of the Mind
Books That Changed The World
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written
A Handbook to Literature, sixth edition
Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus
Dictionary of American Writers
The Granta Book of the American Short Story
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume One
Anthology of American Literature, Volume Two
Great Americans In Their Own Words
Engineering and the Liberal Arts

Ideas that Changed the World

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, DK, New York 2003
ISBN 0-7894-9941-X
390 pp +8
[from the back cover] Authoritative, compelling, provokative: this book reveals how ideas have shaped humankind from the dawn of civilization to the present day. From warfare to time, magic to the afterlife, and canabalizm to genetic modifications, no radical theme escapes the attention of [the author.]

This fascinating, well-illustrated summary of several hundred topics includes links showing relationships.

Best-Loved Short Stories of Nineteenth-Century America

ISBN 0-7607-3479-8
Compilation copyright © 2003 by Barnes & Knoble, Inc.
33 short stories from many authors.

Gems of the World's Best Classics

A collection of over 100 stories from 15 nations, selected from the works of 1200 recognized masters
Approved and Presented by Lowell Thomas
Copyright © 1931, 1937 and 1948 By
The Geographical Publishing Company
1949 Edition
Essays and Short Stories, about 160 from many nations.

They Made America

From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovation
Copyright © 2004 by Harold Evans Associates LLC
ISBN 0-316-27766-5
Little, Brown and Company

"Terrific and inspiring stories about the dreamers and doers who dared
to create the modern face of this great nation." -- Jack Welch

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

Selections from the 1755 work that defined the English Language
Edited by Jack Lynch
Copyright © 2002 Jack Lynch
First published in Great Britan in Hardback in 2004 by Atlantic Books
an imprint of Grove Atlantic Ltd.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

E.D.Hirsch Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company 2002
Third Edition
ISBN 0-619-22647-8
608pp +index
What Every American Needs to Know
Twenty-three chapters: The Bible; Mythology and Folklore; Proverbs; Idioms; World Literature, Philosophy, and Religion; Literature in English; Conventions of Written English; Fine Arts; World History to 1550; World History since 1550; American History to 1865; American History since 1865; World Politics; American Politics; Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology; Business and Economics; Physical Sciences and Mathematics; Earth Sciences; Life Sciences; Medicine and Health; and Technology.

This is My Best

Copyright © 2004 by Bookspan
ISBN 1=59299=157-X
Edited by Retha Powers
and Kathy Kiernan

Fifty-six Acclaimed QPB Authors Share Their Favorite Works
Fascinating compilation, most enjoyable

The Tyranny of Words

Copyright © 1938 by Stuart Chase
ISBN 01556923947
This book is an experiment. Is it possible to explain
words with words? Can some of the reasons why it is
so difficult for us to communicate with one another
by means of language be set forth in that same faulty
medium? It is for the reader to judge.

Comma Sense

A FUNdamental guide to punctuation
Copyright © 2005 by Richard Leder and John Shore
ISBN 0-312-34254-3
A thorough field guide to the pesky little critters of the
punctuation forest. Lederer and Shore hit the marks! -- Bill Walsh

A Brief History of Time

Copyright © 1988 by Stephen W. Hawking
from the big bang to black holes
ISBN 0-553-34614-8
198 pages

The Theory of Everything

Stephen W. Hawking
Copyright © 2002 New Millennium Press
ISBN 1-893224-54-6
176 pages
The origin and fate of the universe

[from the back cover] clearly possesses a natural teacher's gifts
-- easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex
propositions with analogies plucked from daily life. -- The New York Times

Chapter titles:

  1. Ideas about the universe
  2. The expandinig universe
  3. black holes
  4. black holes ain't so black
  5. the origin and fate of the universe
  6. the direction of time
  7. the theory of everything

The Meaning of Everything

The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
Copyright © Simon Winchester 2003 Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-860702-4

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson, Broadway Books, 2003
ISBN 0-7679-0817-1
478pp +76
[Author]"I didn't know what a proton was, or a protein ...
So I decided that I would devote a portion of my life -- three years, as it turns out, -- to reading widely and devotedly and, as necessary, finding saintly, patient experts prepared to answer a lot of outstandingly dumb questions. The idea was to see if it isn't possible to understand and appreciate -- marvel at, enjoy even -- the wonder and accomplishments of science at a level that isn't too technical or demanding, but isn't entirely superficial either.
That was my idea and hope, and that is what the book that follows is intended to be. .." from the introduction.

The book has six parts: Lost in the Cosmos, The Size of the Earth, A New Age Dawns, Dangerous Planet, Life Itself, and The Road to Us. Those parts contain thirty chapters.

The New York Times Big Book of Science Questions and Answers, Vols 1 and 2

Copyright © 1997 by the New York Times
ISBN 0-965-07347-5

The New York Public Library Literature Companion

Copyright © 2001 by The Stonesong Press, Inc.
and The New York Public Library
ISBN 0-684-86890-3 Editor in chief Anne Skillion


  1. Creators: authors; other influential figures; authors/awards,
    sources in Literary Biography
  2. Works of Literature
    Novels, Plays, Poems, Stories, Essays;
    Book Awards
    Influential Liteary Periodicals;
    Varations: adaptations into other media
    Recommended Reading: great book lists Landmarks in Leterary Censorship;
    Additional Sources of Information: General Literary Sources
  3. Literary Facts and Resources
    Characters; Dictionary of Literature -- terms, styles, movements, genres;
    Chronology of World Literature
    from the invention of writing to the year 2000; Additional sources of information
    websites for literature
    Libraries with significant literary holdings
    Literary factbooks and handbooks

The Scientific 100

Copyright © 1996 John Simmons
ISBN 0-80650209409
504 pages

A ranking of the most influential scientists, past and present


A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds
Harold Bloom, Warner Books, 2002
ISBN 0-446-52717-3
814pp +18
"Our most valuable critic...Harold Bloom reminds us what matters -- Boston Globe"
Shakespeare comes first; Ralph Waldo Emerson is last.

Literature -- The Evolving Canon

Sven P. Birkerts
Copyright © 1993 by Allyn and Bacon
ISBN 0-205-14222-2
1617 pages

The Well-Educated Mind

Copyright © 2003 by Susan Wise Bauer
W.W.Norton & Company
ISBN 0-393-05094-7
A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

Some books are to be tasted,
others are to be swallowed,
and some few are to be chewed and digested. -- Francis Bacon

The Well-Trained Mind

A guide to the Classical Education at Home
Revised and Updated
Copyright © 2004, 1999 by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
Prologue: The story of a classical home education -- 2 topics
Part I. The grammar stage: Kindergarten through fourth grade -- 10 parts + epilogue
Part II. The Logic Stage: fifth grade through eighth grade -- 10 parts + epilogue
Part III. The Rhetorical S6age: Ninth grade through twelfth grade -- 11 parts + epilogue
Part IV. Coming Home: How to educate your child at home -- 13 parts
Appendices: Taking an oral history, Home-Educatin Organizations,
National Science Competitions, Sources, Selected Biography, Index

The Book of the Mind

Key writings on the mind form Plato and the Buddha
through Shakespeare, Descartes, and Freud to the latest
discoveries of neuroscience.
Copyright © 2003 by Stephen Wilson
ISBN 1-59234-258-X
"Perhaps there is nothing in Nature mroe pleasing than the
study of the human mind..." Sections on:
Perception: 8 sections
Memory: 8 sections
Emotion: 13 sections
Thought: 11 sections
Consciousness: 11 sections
Self: 11 sections
Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Index

Books That Changed The World

Robert B. Downs 1953, a Mentor Book revised 1983
Library of Congress 83-61330 336 pp +16
From ancient times to the twentieth century, a brilliant examination of the great works that revolutionized our ideas about the universe and ourselves.

There are twenty-seven subject selections, some with examples from several authors.

A most engaging book -- I so enjoyed it that I have given seven copies to family and friends.

The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written

The History of Thought From Ancient Times to Today
Martin Seymour-Smith, copyright 1998, Citadel Press
ISBN 0-8056-2192-9
480pp +38

"These are the books that have most shaped our political, economic, and social lives -- for better or for worse. .. All of these entries are a testament to the genuine power of the written word."

This book shares just 20 choices with Books that Changed the World.

A Handbook to Literature, sixth edition

William Harmon
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
Earlier editions copyright © 1936 and 1960 by Odyssey Press, Inc
copyright © 1972 and 1980 by Bobbs-Merrill Company, inc.
ISBN 0-02-553440-8

Contains an alphabetical list of literary terms.
Outline of Literary History -- world and from the sixteenth centurary separate British and American in separate columns


  1. Nobel Prizes for Literature
  2. Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction
  3. Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry
  4. Pulitzer Prizes for Drama

Index of Proper Names

Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus

For the writer in everyone; more than 200 mini-essays by noted writers. Includes more than 300,000 synonymns and 10,000 antonyms, This should be the first book you turn to when you need the right word at the right time.

Dictionary of American Writers

Merriam-Websters compilation of over 1600 articles on writers, literary works and movements.
Copyright © 2001 by Merram-Webster, Inc.
ISBN 0-87779-022-1

The companion volume to "American Writers: A Journey Through History
The C-Span program.

The Granta Book of the American Short Story

Richard Ford, Editor
First published in Great Britain by Granta Books © 1992
ISBN 1-86207-109-8
A selection of the best works of American short fiction
published in the last fifty years.

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume One

Copyright © 1994 D.C.Heath and Company
Prior edition copyright © 1990 by D.C.Heath and Company
Paul Lauter, General Editor
ISBN 0-669-32972-X
Colonial Period to Emergence of the American Poetic Voices
2965 pages

Anthology of American Literature, Volume Two

Copyright © 1989 Macmillan Publishing Company
Fourth Edition,
Earlier editons © 1974, 1980 by George McMichael
ISBN 0-02-379622-7
Realism to the Present
2150 pages

Great Americans In Their Own Words

Copyright © 1990
Arrangement by The Octopus Goup Limited
ISBN 0 702 45359 X

Extracts by 20 Heroic Men and Women
Contents: pages
Benjamin Franklin 18
George Washington 10
John Adams 18
Ethan Allen 18
Abigail Adams 22
David Crockett 25
Ralph Waldo Emerson 13
Robert E. Lee 13
Abraham Lincoln 26
Margaret Fuller 10
Horace Greeley 8
Harriet Beecher Stowe 15
Louisa May Alcott 12
Mark Twain 14
Frances E. Willard 6
Henry James 13
Booker T. Washington 11
Theodore Roosevelt 7
Stephen Crane 11
Helen Keller 9

Engineering and the Liberal Arts

A technologist's guide to history, literature, philosophy, art, and music
Samuel C. Florman, P.E.
Copyright © 1968 by McGraw-Hill

Summaries on Special Subjects

I have recently gained much insight from what I have read and continue to read. I summarize my readings in Book Reviews on many subjects.