"The 'Western Canon' (a highly controversial term) as listed by critics like Harold Bloom, runs to thousands of books. I don't think even Harold Bloom has had the time to read them all. So here I will give a list of what I consider the 'essential' works.
A few notes. First, not everyone will agree with my list. No two such lists are the same, and this short list must necessarily exclude many great works. Second, following Mr. Bloom's example, I have excluded many religious or philosophical books, unless they are also important books of literature. Third, I have chosen books largely for their cultural and literary influence. These are books which have changed the way later authors wrote, or had an important impact on western culture. Finally, I have not included any poems, unless they are book-length, with the exception of the 'Leaves of Grass' collection."