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The Reading List

The Heart of Our Work

In Torrey Honors, we have the opportunity to step into a great conversation that stretches from the writers of the Old Testament and the ancient philosophers to the thinkers and authors of the modern day. We read and discuss enduring works that push us to think harder, grow in humility, deepen our faith and practice love.

  • The majority of the Old Testament and the entirety of the New Testament

  • The Iliad and The Odyssey


  • The Oresteia


  • Antigone and Oedipus the King


  • The Bacchae


  • History of the Peloponnesian War


  • Meno, Phaedo, Republic and Symposium


  • Nicomachean Ethics and Physics


  • On the Good Life


  • The Aeneid


  • Metamorphoses


  • Roman Lives


  • Apologies

    Justin Martyr

  • Second Treatise on Government

    John Locke

  • Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

    David Hume

  • The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

    Samuel Johnson

  • The Federalist Papers

    James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay

  • The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States of America

  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics

    Immanuel Kant

  • Reflections on the Revolution in France

    Edmund Burke

  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    Mary Wollstonecraft

  • Selected Poems of William Wordsworth

  • Pride and Prejudice

    Jane Austen

  • Frankenstein

    Mary Shelley

  • Meditations

    Marcus Aurelius

  • On the Apostolic Preaching


  • History of the Christian Church


  • Various Creeds of the Church

  • On the Incarnation


  • On God and Christ

    Gregory of Nazianzus

  • The City of God Against the Pagans, Confessions, and On Christian Teaching


  • The Complete Works of Pseudo-Dionysius

  • Consolation of Philosophy


  • Why God Became Man

    Anselm of Canterbury

  • On Loving God

    Bernard of Clairvaux

  • Nature and Grace and Treatise on Law

    Thomas Aquinas

  • Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise


  • Democracy in America

    Alexis de Tocqueville

  • Nature

    Ralph Waldo Emerso

  • Fear and Trembling

    Sören Kierkegaard

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Selected Speeches

    Frederick Douglass

  • Jane Eyre

    Charlotte Bronte

  • Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti

  • Moby-Dick

    Herman Melville

  • Idea of a University

    John Henry Newman

  • On the Origin of Species

    Charles Darwin

  • Selected Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln

  • Fathers and Sons

    Ivan Turgenev

  • The Canterbury Tales

    Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Basic Theological Writings

    Martin Luther

  • The Institutes of Christian Religion

    John Calvin

  • The Heidelberg Catechism

  • The Faerie Queene

    Edmund Spenser

  • As You Like It, Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, and The Tempest

    William Shakespeare

  • The New Organon

    Francis Bacon

  • Selected Poems of John Donne

  • The Temple

    George Herbert

  • Meditations of First Philosophy

    Rene Descartes

  • Paradise Lost

    John Milton

  • Centuries of Meditations

    Thomas Traherne

  • Pensés

    Blaise Pascal

  • Selected Poems

    Gerard Manley Hopkins

  • Anna Karenina

    Leo Tolstoy

  • The Brothers Karamazov

    Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • On the Genealogy of Morals

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Souls of Black Folk

    W.E.B. Du Bois

  • Orthodoxy

    G.K. Chesterton

  • Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot

  • Nausea

    Jean-Paul Sartre

  • Selected Stories of Flannery O’Connor

  • Abolition of Man

    C.S. Lewis

  • A Raisin in the Sun

    Lorraine Hansberry

  • Selected Speeches and Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read Beyond the Curriculum

With hundreds of great books to choose from, we know we can’t fit in everything we want to read. That’s why we developed other academic opportunities for students to study books outside the curriculum. Upperclassmen in Torrey Honors can take an elective course, called a “Meta-Torrey,” to study ideas, authors, and genres in greater depth. Here are examples of past Meta-Torrey classes:

Global Greats

In this course, students read and discuss great books that typically fall outside the Western tradition—from South and East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. In addition to cultivating the virtue of cultural humility, we come to appreciate the global character of the Christian tradition, its riches and complexity.

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  • Confucius: The Analects
  • Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • Shūsaku Endō: Silence
  • Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns on Paradise
  • Al-Ghazali: Deliverance from Error
  • Ibn Tufayl: Hayy Ibn Yaqzan
  • Bartolomé de las Casas: A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected writings
  • Gabriel García Márquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Athanasius: The Life of Antony
  • Olaudah Equiano: The Interesting Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African
  • Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart

Living Traditions

In this course, students read contemporary literature alongside classic literature. By juxtaposing the old and the new, we see how the enduring questions and conversations still pertain to contemporary American culture.

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  • Cormac McCarthy: The Road
  • Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
  • The Royal Ballet: Romeo and Juliet
  • Augustine: Confessions
  • Wendell Berry: Jayber Crow
  • Psuedo-Dionysius: Complete Works
  • Annie Dillard: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Bible: Genesis
  • Film: Tree of Life
  • Douglass: Narrative of the Life
  • Coltrane: A Love Supreme
  • Marilynne Robinson: Gilead

American Literary Renaissance

This class centers on the American Literary Renaissance, featuring nationally formative American literature of the nineteenth century. These works signify a period of intense transformation and identity formation in the United States, during which the country’s literature became distinctly American.

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  • Edgar Allan Poe: Selections
  • Emerson: Nature & Selected Essays
  • Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  • Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Brown: Clotel; or, The President's Daughter
  • Thoreau: Walden
  • Greenberg: The Confessions of Nat Turner
  • Whitman: Leaves of Grass
  • Douglass: My Bondage and My Freedom
  • Melville: Bartleby and Benito Cereno
  • Dickinson: Final Harvest: Poems
  • Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Christianity & The Qur'an

Traditionally, Muslim commentators have ignored the Qur'an’s debt to biblical literature and Christian culture, but this class explores how the Qur'an grew out of the rich Christian tradition of the Middle East and also worked to separate itself from that same tradition.

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  • St. Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns of Paradise
  • St. Cyril of Alexandria: On the Unity of Christ
  • Brock and Harvey, ed: Holy Women of the Syrian Orient
  • St. Isaac of Nineveh: On Ascetical Life
  • The Qu'ran
  • Timothy I and Al-Mahdi: The Patriarch and the Caliph: An Eighth-Century Dialogue between Timothy I and al-Mahdi
  • Theodore Abu Qurrah: Theodore Abu Qurrah
  • Abd al-Jabbar: A Critique of Christian Origins
  • Tarif Khalidi: The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature

Dive Deep into the Entire Bible

Torrey Total Bible is an extracurricular opportunity for students to read the entire Bible, cover to cover. Torrey Total Bible sessions are led by Torrey Honors faculty and allow students to build community with students outside of their cohort and year.