Jefferson spent a period of his young life – one that today is often reserved for social networking, blogging, and online gaming – immersing himself in a classical education which included reading the original texts in their native languages.
For those such as myself who are not quite so hardcore (read: determined), there are other resources which are not as taxing as learning a dead language. One of my favorite sources is the excellent tapes from The Teaching Company. I don’t want to sound like a shill, but I love these tapes. Most come in CD, DVD or direct download (perfect for your iPod).
They are not cheap, but they are an incredible value. I am fortunate to have a library system that carries several of the history series.
Good news: they have ongoing sales which cut the price by a fair chunk of change. They rotate the sale sets quite quickly, but with a little patience that $399 set will often show up for a lot less eventually.
Here are some topics that might have interested TJ:
Ancient Greece/Rome – is it showing off to read these in Ancient Greek and Latin? TJ placed a high emphasis on Classical Learning which he poured into his children’s and grandchildren’s education, and eventually into the University of Virginia.
Archeology – Jefferson is considered America’s first “scientific” archeologist. Try classical archeology.
Art and Architecture – TJ loved portraits of great men he admired and was an avid study of Palladio’s work
Michealangelo – don’t know if he ever saw it in person but always thought TJ might enjoy the sistine chapel. See also Art across the ages
Economics – maybe his interest in economics did not translate into personal finance success, but we do owe the system of money we use to him.
Was TJ versed in the Socratic method? I’d be suprised if he wasn’t.
Linguistics – Jefferson was well read in more foreign languages than your high school or college probably offers. Try the History of Language.
Some of a few of my TJ-related favorites that I have heard so far:
Ancient Greece/Rome -Great Romans; The Iliad and Odyssey; Shakespeare;Great Books
I have the cassette of the out-of-print Thomas Jefferson course, but have not listened to it as yet. There is a rumored CD of the course (which would mean I could listen to it at work), but I haven’t seen any evidence of it as yet.