Of making books, declares Ecclesiastes, there is no end. But, in a finite life, which books should one read? With almost 50,000 new titles published in the United States alone every year, even the most voracious reader cannot keep up with all of contemporary publishing, let alone the libraries of what has already been published. Readers are obliged to make choices, to set priorities among the vast supply of texts competing for attention. The canon is the body of writings endorsed as most worth reading. It is a weighty response to the question: Which ten (one hundred, one thousand) books would one take to an uninhabited island? More serious forms of this question include: Which books merit humanity’s most immediate and enduring interest? Behind such a question lie two more questions: Who makes that decision? On what basis?