I doubt everyone will agree with the books on this list, but that’s just life. However, none of us can deny that each and every one of these books, although controversial, has influenced more of us than we are willing to admit. It may be that these books have already influenced individuals and changed the world or it may be that they still are influencing readers and providing the potential for change in the world in some way. Who can tell?
One thing’s for sure: these books will get you thinking, and probably start off some unending debates. Many of these books are studied and become recommended reading for Universities and Colleges, entire courses might revolve around a single book and what the content conveys. But, let’s focus on what’s important and go down the list.
10. The Art of War by Sun Tzu | Most Influential Books Ever
The Art of War guides readers on the winning of conflicts by offering advice on warfare designed to assist the reader in triumphing over his enemies. Originally intended for a military audience, advising on strategy and principles of battle, the book has been used way beyond its original military significance. Besides military leaders, it’s also business people that draw inspiration from it.
9. The Republic by Plato
Plato attempted to answer the question of what motivates man to behave in a just manner. He set about defining what justice is, which was a first; he breaks down society into classes and explains the need for people to fulfill the roles they were meant for. Long story short, Plato defines the modern society way ahead of its time. Although difficult to summarize in just a few words, The Republic attempts to offer a path for those wishing to acquire knowledge and move toward the greater good. It continues to this day to have tremendous influence on modern day philosophers.
8. The Bible by Various Authors | Most Influential Book
The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,500 years, by over 40 different authors. The writing started about 1600 B.C. and continued to approximately 100 A.D. The Bible has possibly done more to change the world than any other book; it contains two books, the Old Testament and the New Testament. I’m not gonna comment on its value, historical accuracy or beliefs. But we all have to admit that 9 out of 10 people own a Bible; it’s been translated into more than 600 languages, including Klingon and Ancient Elvish.
7. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
First published after his death, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince is his most famous work, probably because it’s about politics. Sadly, its content is as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago.; Machiavelli attempts to offer guidance to politicians of time on how to obtain power and the best way to keep it. The ideas and suggestions stated in the book were so crude and disturbing that his name, “Machiavellian” is used today to describe those that have adopted them, ruthlessly pursuing power. Enough said!
6. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Published in 1776, Adam Smith’s book took about ten years to compile, but it did have a significant impact in the United States, as well as Europe. The Wealth of Nations served as the groundwork for modern economics, advocating the practice of free markets. It’s a must-read!
5. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
The Rights of Man written in 1791 was Thomas Paine’s assessment of the French Revolution. The book took two years to write and looks at the rights that should be granted to every human being including the right to adopt government that benefits their nation as a whole. Paine participated in the French Revolution as a member of the French National Assembly, and his book got him convicted of libel against the crown in his home country, England.
4. A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
Written in 1792, when women had little or no rights whatsoever, A Vindication of the Rights of Women argued that women are human beings and should be given the same respect that men are given. Basically, Mary Wollstonecraft wanted equality between genders, although nowadays women complain when they get just that. She wrote largely from her own experiences, believing that education could enlighten women and save them from an existence of near slavery, owned by their husbands.
3. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels | Most Influential Books Ever
This work written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1847 was published in 1848; it explained the principles of Communists. It calls for the revolutionary process necessary to overthrow social order and advocates a classless society, suggesting working men in all countries unite. This book was published during a time when workers lived in poverty and had terrible working conditions, so there’s no surprise why it had such a major impact.
2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Written in 1851 and published in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin depicts the true picture of slavery in the South and changed the way Americans, especially those in the North, viewed slavery. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a call for Americans to live by the principles on which the country was formed, including equality for all. Not sure how much that worked, though. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a best-seller, it sold over 10,000 copies in the first week of publication and over 300,000 in its first year in the United States alone.
1. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Published in 1859, this book had such impact that ripples are still being felt through the scientific and theological communities. Darwin attempts to answer the question of why there is so much diversity of life, without going down the religious path. Natural selection, common factors and evolution – this is what it’s all about. From Darwin’s work comes new emphasis on the study of nature and the importance of finding a way to share the planet with all species. Top that!