Monday 17 July 2017

Taylor, Andrew James "Books That Changed the World"

Taylor, Andrew James "Books That Changed the World" - 2008

What an interesting list of books! A list of important books that made a major impact on our present view of the world. I haven't read all of them but I am sure most people have heard the titles and the authors at some point in their life.

Whether Andrew Taylor mentions the Bible or the Qur'an, Marx's Communist Manifesto (Das kommunistische Manifest) or Mao's Little Red Book, you can be sure that millions of people have read and followed those writings.
Then there are the scientific books like Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", the writings by Galileo, Newton, Einstein and many others without them we would not have the understanding of our world what it is today.

But also novels feature in the list, i.a. one of my most favourite authors, Jane Austen, who could omit her?

In any case, a most interesting list of books that are worth looking at. The author himself mentions that whenever you make a list of any books, there will be people who disagree. I can only second that but it is interesting anyway.

From the back cover:

"Books That Changed the World tells the fascinating stories behind 50 books that, in ways great and small, have changed the course of human history. Andrew Taylor sets each text in its historical context and explores its wider influence and legacy. Whether he's discussing the incandescent effect of The Qu'ran, the enduring influence of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, of the way in which Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe galavanized the anti-slavery movement, Taylor has written a stirring and informative testament to human ingenuity and endeavour. Ranging from The Iliad to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Kama Sutra to Lady Chatterley's Lover, this is the ultimate, thought-provoking read for book-lovers everywhere."


"The Iliad, Homer; The Histories, Herodotus; The Analects, Confucius; The Republic, Plato; The Bible; Odes, Horace; Geographia, Ptolemy; Kama Sutra, Mallanaga Vatsyayana; The Qur'an; Canon of Medicine, Avicenna; The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer; The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli; Atlas, Gerard Mercator; Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes; First Folio, William Shakespeare; The Motion of the Heart and Blood, William Harvey; Two Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei; Principia mathematica, Isaac Newton; Dictionary, Samuel Johnson; The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith; Common Sense, Thomas Paine; Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen; A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens; The Communist Manifesto (Das kommunistische Manifest), Karl Marx; Moby-Dick, Herman Melville; Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert; On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin; On Liberty, John Stuart Mill; War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy; The Telephone Directory; The Thousand and One Nights, Sir Richard Burton; A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle; The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud; The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; Poems, Wilfred Owen; Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, Albert Einstein; Ulysses, James Joyce; Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence; The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes; If This is a Man, Primo Levi; Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell; The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir; The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger; Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe; Silent Spring, Rachel Carson; Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong; Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling."

So far, I have only read 15 of these. I wouldn't agree that they have all changed my world but a lot of them certainly had an impact.

The Bible" - 2nd century BC-2nd century AD
Cervantes, Miguel de "Don Quixote" - 1605-15
Shakespeare - 1594-1616
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "The Sorrows of Young Werther" - 1774
Austen, Jane "Pride and Prejudice" - 1813
Dickens, Charles "A Christmas Carol" - 1843
Marx, Karl "The Communist Manifesto" (Das kommunistische Manifest) - 1848
Melville, Hermann "Moby-Dick" - 1851
Beecher Stowe, Harriet "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" - 1852
Tolstoy, Leo "War and Peace" - 1869
Doyle, Arthur Conan "A Study in Scarlet" - 1887
Joyce, James "Ulysses" - 1922
Orwell, George "Nineteen Eighty-four" - 1949
Salinger, J.D. "The Catcher In The Rye" - 1951
Achebe, Chinua "Things Fall Apart" (The African Trilogy #1) - 1958
Rowling, J.K. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" - 1997


  1. I've read nine of them and don't think they've changed me at all.

    1. I think a lot books contribute to our education and maybe change us in a small way, at least start us thinking about different topics. Reading "The Sorrows of Young Werther" as a teenager certainly was an experience I will never forget, reading a lot of books about wars and slavery etc. has made me into the person I am today. I don't think I could make a list of fifty books that contributed most, I even have a hard time sorting my books into favourites and not-so-much favourites.

      Still, I love those kind of lists, they make me think even more.

      Happy Reading, Marianne

  2. Looking at the list from a historical perspective, I can see big changes. It is amazing to think of the power of ideas and books. And I thought that almost every book I have ever read has changed me. That is why I keep reading!!

    1. Exactly, I have not read all the books on that list and probably never will but I do see that many of them have made a change. And I keep reading for the same reason. And because I really enjoy it. ♥

  3. I've read 23 of them, mostly the fiction. I don't like to see the inclusion of the scurrilous Protocols of the Elders of Zion; there are still plenty of antiSemites of believe that garbage and having it in a list like this gives it air that it ought not to have.

    1. I thought I might have to update my list because I was sure I had read more since 2017. But no, none from his list.
      I doubt I would ever want to read the Protocols. But I suppose the reason he included it was that it had an influence. However, I totally agree, books like that should not be promoted in this way.