It is important to stress first that this is not an anthology. It is simply what the title says:- a plan which views the great writings of the Western world as an important part of the whole life, offering far more than mere entertainment, - the larger dimensions of continuous internal growth. Mr. Fadiman, when he carried out a suggestion made to plan a list of 100 titles to appear under this heading for This Week, found that he had something bigger- and with minor changes and some additions, the book herewith grew out of that list. He sees, in the books and writers he has chosen, the tools not only of self-enhancement but of self-discovery. His aim is to avoid mental bankruptcy, too often the end towards which even supposedly well-educated people today are headed. This is not a reading plan for the scholar, but for ""everyman"" -- the high school student who can go no farther in formal education, the college graduate who has bypassed the treasures of literature, the average layman who is reasonably literate, but needs a refresher on things half experienced in the past. His introductory notes are designed to capture the interest, the curiosity of the reader; but unless that reader turns to the authors and the books suggested, the goal of this book is lost. At times the notes are largely biographical, to capture the interest in the author of whom he writes; at times they set the place, the times, the focus. Whatever the method, the purpose is the same for all- to start the reader, the planner, on his way to attempt the lifetime reading plan his suggestions will provide. From Homer to contemporary writing (only eight living authors are included) Fadiman ranges through almost every facet of literature of the Western world. It is a project that captures the imagination and fires the ambitions.