This kind of useful reading list must, I think, begin with the great books from classical antiquity that shape our civilization. Without a first hand exposure to the literature of Israel, Greece and Rome, it’s extremely difficult to follow or participate meaningfully in the cultural and political life of our time. The ideas and values that emerge from this literature have influenced thinkers and actors in generation after generation ever since; American political institutions were developed by people who had been deeply educated in all three classical literatures, and the more modern commentators who also influenced the founding fathers (like Locke and Montesquieu) were also students of the ancients.

via Literary Saturday: The Foundations of a Lifetime Reading List – Walter Russell Mead’s Blog – The American Interest.