Reading the "Five-foot Shelf" of Harvard Classics

A new book documents a Princetonian’s year-long immersion in the Harvard Classics, the venerable "Five-foot Shelf" of Great Books.

Princeton alumnus Christopher Beha records the life-affecting experience of reading his way straight through the "Five-foot Shelf" of Harvard Classics, the Great Books famously published in 1909 under the editorship of Harvard's towering president, Charles W. Eliot. Harvard Magazine contributing editor Adam Kirsch guided readers on a witty and urbane tour through the collection in "The 'Five-foot Shelf' Reconsidered," published in these pages in 2001.

Beha's book, The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else (Grove Press), was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review on June 28.

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