Carl Sagan was one of the greatest minds of his generation, who managed to inspire a whole new generation of science lovers with his books and the seminal 1980s TV series Cosmos.
The astrophysicist passed away almost 20 years ago, but his legacy lives on - last year, Neil deGrasse Tyson won over a whole new audience when he hosted a remake of Cosmos. And now we can all get inspired once more by Sagan's ambitious college reading list.
Back in 1954, Sagan was a 20-year-old studying at the University of Chicago, and he sketched up a handwritten list of all the books he was planning to read outside of study - either wholly or in part - or for his course.
Luckily that list of more than 40 titles - including The Bible, lots of philosophy, and Shakespeare - has now been released to the public, thanks to the Library of Congress' Carl Sagan Archive.
You can see it the original list below:
Notably, the list also contains what appears to be the first volume of Star Science Fiction Stories (1953), which included stories by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke.
Sagan went on to write his own science-fiction novel, Contact, which was made into a film starring Jodie Foster in 1997.
Henry Horowitz over on Reddit has helpfully transcribed the list, with links to all the books we can still access today.
"Here is a transcript I made of his 1954 reading list along with links to the books he was reading and the authors," Horowitz wrote on Reddit.
"I've omitted the textbook authors, since they were rather uninteresting, and I cannot find some of the items (e.g. "Several Scientific Americans") so they have also been omitted."
You can see the full list, updated and hyperlinked by Open Culture:
- The Immoralist – Andre Gide
- Death, Be Not Proud – John Gunther
- Outline of Abnormal Psychology – Gardner Murphy
- Who Speaks For Man – Norman Cousins
- Astronomy – Robert Baker
- Observational Approach to Cosmology – Robert Hubble
- Quantitative Aspects of Carcinogenic Radiation – Harold Thayer Davis
- Star Short Science Fiction Novels #1
- New Biology #15
- Young Archimedes – Aldous Huxley
- Julius Caesar – Shakespeare
- Symposium – Plato
- Autobiography of An Uneducated Man – Hutchins
- Timaeus – Plato
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions – Charles MacKay
- But We Were Born Free – Elmer Davis
- Readings In Philosophy
- History of Western Philosophy – W.T. Jones
- The Greek Reader – W.H. Auden
- In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer
- The Berlitz German Self-Teacher
- Sigma Galaxies
- The Uses of the Past – Herbert J. Muller
- Short Stories for Study
- The Republic – Plato
- The Bible – Anonymous
- Several Scientific Americans
- Heat and Thermodynamics – Mark Waldo Zemansky
- Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, Statistical Theory – Francis W. Sears
- Kinetic Theory of Gases – E.H. Kennard
- Thermodynamics: An Advanced Treatment – E.A. Guggenheim
- Electricity and Electromagnetism – Hornwell
- Theory of Functions (5 Volumes) – Konrad Knopp
- Advanced Calculus (in part) – Wilfred Kaplan
- Complex Analysis – Lars Ahlfors
- Vol. II, Differential and Integral Calculus – Richard Courant (Author)
- Electric Fields – Rugers
- Electromagnetics – John Daniel Kraus
- Communication Circuit Fundamentals – Carl Edwin Smith
That's a pretty ambitious list for a 20-year-old.
But if that's not impressive enough, a decade earlier, Sagan had already sketched out his ideas for humanity's future in space, which you can see below:
Well, we know what we're doing these holidays now, because if this reading list is good enough for Sagan, it's definitely good enough for us.
And if you want a slightly less lengthy less to tackle, here are the eight books that Sagan's successor deGrasse Tyson thinks everyone should read.
How many have you read?