Poor Finley. His very own blog series was created last year and yet he has not had the opportunity to share a single post. Until now.
If you love history, are cooped up inside because of the bitter cold, and looking for a good read that will fill in all the gaps from your long-ago high school history classes, well, Finley has the perfect recommendation for you:
The eleven volume set of The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant.
A true classic.
As you can see, these books have seen much wear and tear, having traveled with me from my tiny studio apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, all the way to the California desert. The covers are torn, moldy and stained from the years, but my eyes have rested on them for so long that their familiarity has become a comforting constant through so many of life’s changes.
I’d like to say that I’ve read all of them, but I’ve been fickle; picking and choosing certain time periods that are more interesting to me than others, or to refresh my memory about a particular even in history that I had forgotten. They’re very well-written, so a reader can jump around the centuries and still feel a sense of continuity.
Here you can see the full range of history covered by the books.
I’m missing a volume.
I love maps, and the books all have period maps that give a nice visual reference to the material covered in each volume.
When we were in grade school – 4th grade – my best friend and I decided that we would write a book. But what to write? Why, the history of the world, of course. But where to begin? Ancient Greece? The pyramids? Paleolithic times? The sheer enormity of the project suddenly hit us and we promptly decided to go play in the woods instead. So I have great admiration for this elegant couple, Will and Ariel Durant who actually did it.
After much deliberation, I finally did remove the dust jackets and I think the books are even more beautiful now, with their simple, cloth-bound covers.
I don’t know that I’ll ever finish reading the whole set, but I know I’ll always keep them with me. So, there it is. Finley’s first suggestion to lovers of reading and history that want something, um, substantial to curl up with during the long winter months, and snuggle with their dogs by the fire.
To the best of my knowledge, the books are still in print, and I’ve even seen complete used sets available on Amazon and eBay. Enjoy!