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10 More Books That Changed The World

Jamie Frater . . . Comments

Early on in the life of the site we did a list of books that changed the world. It is such a broad topic that we are finally revisiting it to produce a second list. Before complaining about books that you think are missing from here, be sure to check the original list as you may find it listed there instead. Feel free to tell us what books you think deserve a place on the next list of books that changed the world. This list is in no particular order – it is impossible to order such diverse books.


Principia Mathematica
Isaac Newton


Why it changed the world: Newton’s Principia, published in 1687, laid the foundation for much of modern physics and mathematics.

The Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (mathematical principles of natural philosophy) is a three-volume work by Isaac Newton published on 5 July 1687. It contains the statement of Newton’s laws of motion forming the foundation of classical mechanics, as well as his law of universal gravitation and a derivation of Kepler’s laws for the motion of the planets (which were first obtained empirically). The Principia is widely regarded as one of the most important scientific works ever written. It is in a supplement to the Principia, entitled General Scholium, that Newton expressed his famous Hypotheses non fingo (“I feign no hypotheses” or “I make no guesses”).


The Analects


Why it changed the world: A truly radical text in its time, the Analects have been the dominant influence on Chinese thought and culture.

The Analects, also known as the Analects of Confucius, are a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held. The Chinese title literally means “discussion over [Confucius’] words.” Written during the Spring and Autumn Period through the Warring States Period (ca. 479 BCE – 221 BCE), the Analects is the representative work of Confucianism and continues to have a tremendous influence on Chinese and East Asian thought and values today. The Analects were almost certainly penned and compiled by disciples and second-generation disciples of Confucius, albeit being mostly about Confucius himself and his thought.


The Interpretation Of Dreams
Sigmund Freud


Why it changed the world: While many of Freud’s theories have now been dismissed by modern specialists, his concept that the unconscious retains much that the conscious mind appears to have forgotten has changed and influenced the way that people think about themselves.

The Interpretation Of Dreams introduces the Ego, and describes Freud’s theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation. Dreams, in Freud’s view, were all forms of “wish-fulfillment” — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort, whether something recent or something from the recessess of the past. The initial print run of the book was very low — it took many years to sell out the first 600 copies. Freud revised the book at least eight times, and in the third edition added an extensive section which treated dream symbolism very literally. Later psychoanalysts have expressed frustration with this section, as it encouraged the notion that dream interpretation was a straightforward hunt for symbols of sex, penises, etc.


Canon Of Medicine


Why it changed the world: It brought together the knowledge and theories of Ancient Greek, Persian, and Indian medicine (largely forgotten otherwise) and combined it with contemporary 11th century understanding. It laid the foundations of modern medical science.

The Canon of Medicine is a 14-volume Arabic medical encyclopedia written by a Persian scientist and physician Avicenna (Ibn S?n?) and completed in 1025. It is considered the first pharmacopoeia, and among other things, the book is known for the introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology, the discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases, the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of contagious diseases, and the introduction of evidence-based medicine, experimental medicine, clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, efficacy tests, clinical pharmacology, neuropsychiatry, physiological psychology, risk factor analysis, and the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases.


The Histories


Why it changed the world: They are the source of much of our knowledge of the ancient world and the foundation of history in Western literature.

The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus is considered the first work of history in Western literature. Written about 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories tells the story of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus travelled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book.


On Liberty
John Stewart Mill


Why it changed the world: Most of Mill’s theories are now full integrated into modern democracies – particularly the need to protect the rights of the individual.

On Liberty is a philosophical work by 19th century English philosopher John Stuart Mill, first published in 1859. To the Victorian readers of the time it was a radical work, advocating moral and economic freedom of individuals from the state. Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, and his basis for liberty, is that “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign”. Mill is compelled to say this in opposition to what he calls the “tyranny of the majority”, wherein through control of etiquette and morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things.


The Republic

Plato Republic Manuscript.Jpg

Why it changed the world: Plato’s contrast between the imperfect world of mortals and the perfect forms of immortal souls had a great deal of influence over Christianity and Islam and Western philosophy in general.

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written in approximately 380 BC. It is one of the most influential works of philosophy and political theory, and Plato’s best known work. In Plato’s fictional dialogues the characters of Socrates as well as various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether the just man is happier than the unjust man by constructing an imaginary city ruled by philosopher-kings.


Lady Chatterley’s Lover
D H Lawrence


Why it changed the world: It brought the concept of book censorship to a head and eventually helped to overturn it.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a novel by D. H. Lawrence written in 1928. Printed privately in Florence, Italy in 1928, it was not printed in the United Kingdom until 1960 (other than in an underground edition issued by Inky Stephensen’s Mandrake Press in 1929). Lawrence considered calling this book Tenderness at one time and made significant alterations to the original manuscript in order to make it palatable to readers. It has been published in three different versions. The publication of the book caused a scandal due to its explicit sex scenes, including previously banned four-letter words and perhaps because the lovers were a working-class male and an aristocratic female.


The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer

Canterbury Tales 480.Jpg

Why it changed the world: Popularized the use of vernacular English as the dominant language in English literature (rather than Latin or French commonly used at the time) – the Canterbury Tales set the standard for future works of English literature.

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). The tales, some of which are originals and others not, are contained inside a frame tale and told by a collection of pilgrims on a pilgrimage from London Borough of Southwark to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The Canterbury Tales are written in Middle English. Although the tales are considered to be his magnum opus, some believe the structure of the tales is indebted to the works of The Decameron, which Chaucer is said to have read on an earlier visit to Italy.




Why it changed the world: It set practical standards in geography which lasted 1500 years, and is our best record of the state of geographic knowledge in the 2nd century.

The Geographia or Geography is Ptolemy’s main work besides the Almagest. It is a compilation of what was known about the world’s geography in the Roman Empire of the 2nd century. Ptolemy relied mainly on the work of an earlier geographer, Marinos of Tyre, and on gazetteers of the Roman and ancient Persian empire, but most of his sources beyond the perimeter of the Empire were unreliable. The original work included maps, but due to the difficulties involved in copying them by hand, they have fallen out of the manuscript transmission. The work has been discovered and used through the ages by several noted people around the world. Ptolemy also devised and provided instructions on how to create maps both of the whole inhabited world and of the Roman provinces. Ptolemy was well aware that he knew about only a quarter of the globe.

This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from Wikipedia.

Contributor: JFrater

Jamie Frater

Jamie is the owner and chief-editor of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and collecting oddities. He is fascinated with all things historic, creepy, and bizarre.

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  • akino

    i was wondering if newton’s should be first.

  • Jeremy

    I’d argue that Principia Mathematica ought to be higher on the list, but otherwise I totally agree with every one here ^_^

  • lindawn

    Interesting list!! I’ve never heard of some of these books and I always thought I was a prolific reader!! Never mind. Looks like I have a bit of catching up to do! I’ve read LCL and CT, however, look forward to reading the rest. Nice one!! Thanks. D

  • astraya

    Interesting list. I know about all of these, but I haven’t read any more than brief excerpts, let alone the whole book. I wonder how many people have read any of these in their entirety. Is there anyone who has read all of them?

  • Redcaboose

    This is a really great list, which contains most knowledge up tp a point. Kudos to you. JFrater

  • jhoyce07

    this is informative..thanks JFrat! ü

  • jhoyce07

    seven !

  • Eugene

    Humph. Really?

  • Carlos

    Neat list, but # 1 isnt technically a book is it? I mean, I dont know, I would have liked to have seen better book at #1.

  • astraya: like you I haven’t gone past excerpts – to be honest I always find these types of works very daunting, which is probably silly as when I have forced myself to read a book that I think I will find too dry, I generally enjoy it. I also forgot to mention (I will edit the list now) that there is not a particular order to this list – it is impossible to rank such diverse books.

  • Carlos

    Yeah, I agree with akino.

  • Carlos: book 1 of Geographia is a description of the methodologies used and books 2 – 5 are an atlas – so it technically is a book which spans multiple volumes.

  • ok – list is now edited to point out that the list is unordered :)

  • Carlos

    Jfrater, I love this site. I’ve been trying to turn all my friends onto this site. After my gf turned me onto it I’m on this site like a crack head on a peanut butter and crack sandwich. :D

  • Tommy

    The title of this list does not include “Top 10″…

    Because if it did, “Principia Mathematica” would definately defy the “Uncertainty Principle”. It has a definite position and momentum.

  • alb

    Great list! Although I think Thucydides rates higher (at least in the Classics world!) than Herodotus in terms of adhering to historical authenticity … Herodotus was quite a storyteller …

  • carlos: care to share the crack and PB sandwiches? :)

  • Blue

    Yep have to agree with most of the choices (except Freud)

    I would have probably picked The Politics by Aristotle over On Liberty for its relevance today, Mill really only expanded on Aristotle’s thoughts.

    I would also have probably added Cosmos by Carl Sagan instead of Fraud (that was not a Freudian Slip :) ) as this is one of the most important books on modern astrophysics and astronomy and our place in the universe. By using the question “what if”, it also allows a sense of wonder to come through which makes it accessible, far more so than A Brief History of Time by Hawkin. Sagan’s writings about science and its achievements are widely accepted as the most insightful and accessible modern scientific book and therefore one of the books that changed the world ad our perception of the universe, it has influenced many later writings and is still a great read. For all the people who are going to flame me about Freud, Sagan’s questioning about our place in the universe is far more important than questioning our place in society.

    I have read 6 of the books here for one reason or another, all are tough going but insightful. Great list, now I will wait for the flack about Freud :)

  • stevenh

    1) It is interesting that Avicenna’s book (Canon Of Medicine) is one that changed the world (by Jamie), yet he was not considered an influential scientist by Mongoose. Such is the beauty of listverse – the diverse views of the contributors.

    2) I think that I will be amused today by those people who cite a book from list one or complain about the order. (and by amused, I mean astounded).

    3) Thank you Jamie, for moving the byline.

    (my top 3 comments of the day)

  • Caz

    I really need to read these!

  • jesuswept

    Freud invented a science. It has become fashionable to discredit him just because a minority of his ideas have turned out to be rubbish, but his influence on modern thought and culture has been utterly profound. I think the problem may be that many ways of thinking about ourselves and our communities that Freud invented we now take for granted as “natural and self-evident”. He was revolutionary.

    I would’ve chosen “Civilisation and its Discontents” over The Interpretation of Dreams. If you haven’t read it I thoroughly recommend. It’s not dry either. Or bloated. In fact it’s quite short. Follow it up with “The Communist Manifesto” (which is also short; more of a long essay really), then “The Crisis of Our Age” by Sorokin and you’ll have a great base cocktail for mixing early twentieth century history into.


    Hmm, let me put down my Fantastic Four Comic Book and pickup one of these lovely little reads. As J Frater say’s, they always seem so daunting.

  • tinydancer

    alb: You’re definately right to point out that Thucydides is much more highly regarded in academia as an accurate and (almost) non-bias source (unless of course you study classics).

  • teapixie

    Carlos, I think you posted on the wrong list. Shouldn’t that be on the peanut butter list? Or that could just be my ice and jelly bagel talking.

    And to sgvaibhav, you are soooo totally funny dude. (Damn you bagel)

  • oouchan

    Glad to see Analects of Confucius on this list. I have read that along with The Canterbury Tales and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I did study Freud in school and found his works to be interesting but only on a high level. Good list.

  • w00tz

    I think you’re forgetting Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, by Galileo, it was a book supporting the heliocentrism concept completely, and it was extremely controversial.

  • STL Mo

    I love book lists.

    My step-dad gave me his complete collection of The great Books of the Western World. Used to be a big seller, put out by Encyclopedia Britanica. Most of the books on this and the previous list are included. The set has a 10-year reading plan that is designed to give the student a well-rounded classical education, drawing on history, philosophy, literature, science, mathematics and political theory.

    Maybe one of these decades I’ll get around to doing that study plan.

  • Callie

    I think I may have told this story already but I had a professor who was fluent (!!!) in Old English and wanted people to learn. We all memorized the prologue to the canterbury tales in old english, not just for memory’s sake but we actually had to know what the words meant. Throughout the semster, he would randomly ask questions in old english and if we could answer in english we got extra credit, and if we could answer in old english (that only happened to me one time, and I had him for three or four semesters) we got enormous extra credit points.

    When I graduated, I got the old english words for “think” and “dream” on either side of my ribs, and though I checked with him on the spelling, I knew the words off the top of my head. Good man.

  • Bob

    ” The first great work of literature written in the vernacular English”

    Now that’s just a silly claim. It ignores all Old English works, not to mention Piers Plowman (in Middle English), which predates the Tales by at least a couple of decades. And before that there’s Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century).

  • Bob

    Callie, the Tales were not written in Old English. They were written in Middle English. Are you sure you went to school? I would probably laugh to see what stupid tattoo you got – should have just gotten something in Japanese like everybody else. haha you messed up, I’m sure.

  • Haz

    I’ve read On Liberty, its pretty central to a few modules in my Philosophy degree, read fair amount of The Republic, its tough reading and understanding of the concepts, as well as the fact that there are some greek terms that cannot be fully translated into english, so the full understanding may still be missing some key parts

  • 4. astraya:… I wonder how many people have read any of these in their entirety. Is there anyone who has read all of them?
    Well, you can put me down for Canterbury Tales in both Middle English and the translation to modern English. I’ve also read all of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Mills On Liberty, Plato’s Republic, and Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.
    Now, in the interest of perfect honesty, a couple of these were school assignments, but the rest were read simply for pleasure, and the ones read for school were usually reread later under less duress. I read every book with the mindset of learning everything I can from the book (hence my preference for non-fiction), so I read with a different eye than some might. My library of “true” classics would astound most people, and the fact that they are all read through and through would further astound. For me it’s just a fact of life, like breathing.

  • Mortivore

    I have to admit, when it comes to books, I’m a swords and horses, modern day English kinda guy. I don’t get along with silly things likes symbolism and deeper meanings. And these books look kinda dry… T.T

    I read the Canterbury Tales not too long ago, and I didn’t mind some of the stories, mostly because Chaucer had a sense of humor. But these theories, and essays, and Analects… I don’t know a thing about them, but they seem kinda boring. I’ll have to give it a try. ^-^

  • Lexdian

    This is my first ever comment on the site, even though I have been reading from this site avidly for the past few months…

    I have noticed that many of the books from both lists lack fiction.

    Many peices of fiction that have changed the literary world include:

    -Nineteen Eighty Four
    -Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
    -Dune (series)

    However, apart from this, I liked this list.

  • STL Mo

    Lexdian – how did Dune change the lierary world? I’m not challenging your assertion, just asking.

  • Lexdian

    Well Dune was the first bestselling hardcover science fiction novel. It also has influenced films, such as Star Wars. In my opinion, this is how it changed the world. It is also considered by many to be the best science fiction novel ever written.

  • Lifeschool

    34: lexdian – I agree that the list lacks works of fiction but I don’t see how any of work could be as influential as the ones mentioned on the list. 1984 did further the fronteers of science fiction – but not half as much as the works of Jules Verne; which helped kickstart the movement. Oranges highlighted the plight of honosexual and repressed women, but only in so much as Colette and Germaine Greer had done before. As an interesting note, I live in the town in which Jeanette Winterson lived an wrote about in Oranges: Accrington, Lancashire.

  • Callie


    You’re entirely correct. They are in middle english and were the last part of a class that ran the gammut for Beowulf (which I can also quote from in its original form) to the Charter of Cnut (which is super fun for a bunch of immature college kids) to Chaucer. Yes, I’m quite sure I went to school, I’m even more sure I graduated with honors, and I’m 110% certain I didn’t mess up my tattoos.

    That said, “old english” is generally used as a catch all term even into the Shakespearian era. Excuse me for not being more precise and I’ll leave it up to you to uphold the stereotype that all English majors are pretentious assholes.

  • Lexdian

    Well, about Oranges, during the 1990’s it was made into a television series and the novel is also studied in many A-level English courses. Even though it had been highlighted before, Oranges pushed it further into the mainstream than many other books did. In fact, it still has an impact today.

    Nineteen Eighty Four- Apart from having an impact on science fiction, (meaning that nineteen eighty four also studied the social interactions between the oppressed) ‘big brother’ and ‘room 101’ have actually entered our language. While I respect Jules Verne’s works, I feel that he focused on the science, not the fiction. I mean, his stories don’t really make connect with the characters.

  • Kreachure

    Very nice choices! (Again! :P)

    But I would dare to say that you could easily come up with yet another list of books that changed the world, IMO. Don’t ask me, though, I’m no expert :D

  • Bob

    “That said, “old english” is generally used as a catch all term even into the Shakespearian era. ”

    By the ignorant, yes.

  • stevenh

    34: Lexdian
    To put Frank Herbert’s Dune in the same category as Issac Newton’s ‘Principa’ or Plato’s ‘Republic’ is absurd beyond belief.
    Are you really positing that Star Wars (or Dune) will influence intellectual thought for centuries as ‘The Canon of Medicine’ or ‘The Analectics’ have done?

    Please try to take a long range, world view, ok?
    The title is ‘Changed the World’, not ‘Changed my Piddling, Insignificant Life’.

  • El_Karlo

    How about a book by Friedrich Nietzsche?

    Perhaps “Thus spoke Zarathustra” or “Beyond Good and Evil”.

    His thought has influenced Freud, existentalist thought and pretty much every post-modern thinker.

    And he influenced Hitler, though Hitler perveted his philosophy to his own twisted ends, it’s hard to argue that any book that can lead to mass genocide hasn’t been influential.

  • Lexdian


    Wow…calling my life insignificant is somewhat mean. However, it is not just intellectual thought that changes the world.

    Imagine, that a child in 1980’s goes to see Star Wars. This gets them interested in science fiction and science in general. The child realises that while they may not be able to create a ‘warp drive’ they can contribute to it. The child studies hard and earns a doctorate. Insignificant?

    Also, isn’t culture a part of the world? Literary works can influence people as much as newtonian physics.

    While I know that the possibility of Dune lasting for centuries is somewhat unrealistic, it still influences culture in a major way.

  • Crimanon

    Neat! I guess It’s about time for me to finally read the Chaucer that’s just been collecting dust around my house. These lists are always a good reminder for me.

  • Callie

    Bob…I would not say such things if I were you.

    It’s bad form to call people you know nothing about ignorant. Yes, I used a general term, even though I knew the specific. If they had an edit comment box, I’d fix it. There’s no fixing your snobbish boorishness, but I’ll think of you the next time I use a generic tissue instead of Kleenex, a cotton swab instead of a Q-Tip, or go make copies on my non-Xerox copier. Thank you for that.

  • PlasmaTwa2

    What’s up with all the “More…” lists? Are people losing their creativity?

  • stevenh

    1) I did not say ‘your’ (targeting Lexdian). I said ‘my’, and thereby using a self-referential statement that can include anything from any and all readers to the very statement itself. It was only meant to be as personal as the reader chooses it to be.

    2) I am ready to imagine what you propose. And while I can also believe that my musings can influence the Universe, that scenario only existes in the current realm of possibilities. That is future influences, while this list is about past influences.

    3) Culture is, of course, a part of this world, and elements of ‘popular culture’ may, in fact, have a lasting influence, true. But the conceit of the contemporary – to equate Herbert with Chaucer – is impudent.

    Please note, Lexdian, that I am not attacking you personaly when condemning this conceit. I am addressing an unfortunate condition of the hoi polloi.

  • Lexdian

    I apologise for taking offence. I meant to note that I also value the books and non-fiction on this list, and also the many others that have not been mentioned. I merely felt the need to illustrate the point that fiction is somewhat influential in development of people.

  • DeBakey

    What about ‘Ardhashastra’ published in 350 BCE by Kautilya, on political economy, nation states and military strategy, when the rest of the world, still in the forests foraging :)

    This list is completely western centric… and then have the chutzpah to name it as the greatest books changed the world, hmm ..

    Avicenna is a good mention though .

  • eve

    Ahhh… what would we do without Freud? I think we’d still be reading romanticized babbling bull… Freud’s book “Civilization and it’s Discontents” came out before his “Interpretation of Dreams” I think, but had it not been for him I just wonder if writers and artists would have ever started asking questions of “Why?” and “How?” in their modern day works? Freud brought on not only the levels of consciousness, but self-awareness to everyone about delving into the human mind- memories, dreams, sexual desires and all. I love Freud, he might be a little nutty on some subjects, but at the time period he was really getting some major psychological breakthroughs.
    Oh, and Carlos? You know what originally turned me onto this site? I was curious and googled the top 10 evil people… and I found LISTVERSE! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!:)

  • psychosurfer

    “Das Kapital” Karl Marx.

  • Redcaboose

    I have enjoyed reading the conversation between Lexdian and stevenh. Perfect way to resolve a difference in opinion, without resorting to the snarky attacks that I have seen on this list lately. No one likes to be called an idiot, or worse, by a twelve year old that cannot formulate a coherent sentence.

    Rant over. :)

  • Bob

    “Bob…I would not say such things if I were you.

    It’s bad form to call people you know nothing about ignorant. Yes, I used a general term, even though I knew the specific. If they had an edit comment box, I’d fix it. There’s no fixing your snobbish boorishness, but I’ll think of you the next time I use a generic tissue instead of Kleenex, a cotton swab instead of a Q-Tip, or go make copies on my non-Xerox copier. Thank you for that.”

    Nice try, but “Old English” is not used as a general term in anything like the way any of your examples are. It’s a term that refers to a fairly specific time period in the history of the English language. People who use it to refer to Shakespeare and the like are typically not even aware that there is such a thing as actual Old English, nor that it is virtually nothing like Modern English, or that Shakespeare’s language is infinitely more like our language than either is like Old English. Besides, Shakespeare’s language is almost exactly like ours save for his vocabulary. Why can’t people see that?

    And when people demonstrate their ignornace, there’s nothing uncouth in calling them ignorant.

    Anyway, you’re obviously content to call me a boor instead of admitting that you don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s cool. It’s typical for the internet.

  • Bob (29): you are right – my wording was poorly chosen. I have modified the entry on Canterbury tales to make my intentions more obvious :)

  • Alex Waller

    Machiavelli “The Prince”

    16th century Italian writes a “how to” on running a country and politics at the time. Many modern politicians use it today as did many historical figures.

  • Baxter

    Good list, especially like the inclusion of The Interpretation of Dreams”…

    Lexdian – “Imagine, that a child in 1980’s goes to see Star Wars. This gets them interested in science fiction and science in general. The child realises that while they may not be able to create a ‘warp drive’ they can contribute to it. The child studies hard and earns a doctorate. Insignificant?”

    Insignificant, no; irrelevant yes as that hasn’t happened. Dune is nowhere near the levels of influence of the above books. And it influenced Star Wars? Wonderful, the film that ruined New Hollywood and drove us to the dreck we see on our screens today. If that is Dune’s influence on the world then it has done far more harm than good.

  • Baxter

    “Also, isn’t culture a part of the world? Literary works can influence people as much as newtonian physics.
    While I know that the possibility of Dune lasting for centuries is somewhat unrealistic, it still influences culture in a major way.”

    If Dune influenced Star Wars, then Dune killed film culture. At least, film culture with any artistic ambition or integrity. That’s not something to be proud of.

  • Callie


    You’re entirely correct. They are in middle english”

    Comment 38. You’re right, I won’t admit I don’t know what I’m talking about, because I do. I still fail to see how I’ve “demonstrated ignorance” at all. I’m a well read, smart young woman and I’ve already admitted you were right and I misspoke (mistyped? You’re very literal) I have a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and currently work at a newspaper that isn’t hemmoraging money like some others and has the fourth largest market in the nation. Explain to me my ignorance again? Or maybe my life is a lie and I just graduated and got a good job because of my boobs. It’s really a toss up.

  • Callie

    Oh and that last part? It’s sarcasm. I know you like your comments to be very precise and methodical, so I thought I’d let you know.

  • Robby

    A Great Book is “The History of GLUE”
    I can’t put it down.

  • psychosurfer

    The “Divine Comedy” should definitely be here, it is the best christian book of the whole middle ages.
    Dante´s concepts about God and afterlife are influenced by Aristotle and arab philosophers such as Al Farabi, Avicenas Averroes, etc., even Virgilio and Aquino are there.
    The “Comedy” raised poetry to the highest philosophical level and turned Italian into a major language among literature.

  • guy

    i think all of the dialogues from plato should be on here: the meno, the pheado, crito, euthyphro, and his other ones.

    also the alphabet of manliness changed my life.

  • Lexdian

    May I ask how Star Wars ruined hollywood and cinema in general?
    And that wasn’t the only thing Dune influenced; I was just using a well known example.

  • billyrules!

    wow, look at the picture of sri lanka for item 1, its huge!

  • Christiane

    Wow, looks like a pretty heavy (intellectual) list.
    Can’t say I’ve read any of them, but I’m at least aware of three of them.
    Here are two books(from modern times) that I believe deserve a mention:
    Permaculture 1 and Permaculture 2 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (and any subsequent books written on Permaculture by Bill Mollison eg. A Designer’s Manual.
    Permaculture principles are now practiced all over the world
    and has changed many peoples’lives.

  • Baxter

    How Star Wars ruined New Hollywood and destroyed the sanctity of artistic integrity in American cinema:

    The success of Star Wars, essentially a very shallow film (although highly enjoyable) with two-dimensional characters and a very linear plot, demonstrated to Hollywood producers that people would flock to films which required very little pre-production preparation; plots could be conceived and completed within the space of an hour. They no longer had to take risks on the artistic vision of the director, and the money-people were able to wrest power away from the writers and directors – the creative people. Star Wars validated Lucas’ friend Spielberg’s belief in the “story you can hold in your hands” – stock characters, clear-cut good and evil, special effects taking over from dialogue as the main vehicle for the film’s resolution. It enabled him to sell very simple ideas to studios while his erstwhile peers balked in disgust. Lucas was able to build the Skywalker Ranch, his vision for a new creative area free from Hollywood; the fact that he built it 100 miles from anywhere proved his undoing. A huge army of staff, acre after acre of empty land, empty studios, with Lucas at the centre. By the time he realised his mistake no one in Hollywood wanted his artistic vision, so he resigned himself to churning out Star Wars sequels ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Hence, the death of Lucas’ spirit. Spielberg carried on as a great director, albeit a formulaic, simplistic one; his film repertoire is amongst the most varied in modern cinema. However, he cannot match the scale or ambition of Coppola, Schrader, Ashby, Hopper, Beatty, Altman, Rafelson, Schneider or Friedkin, all of whom made fantastic fims in the period 1968 – 1980 but who couldn’t find backers for their art in the 1980s up until the present day. Only Scorcese really survived the Star Wars/Paramount/Eisner revolution with his integrity intact, and even that almost killed him.

    The short answer to your question: Star Wars handed power from the director to the producer, did away with the notion of the film-writer as an artist, and created a culture whereby studios can produce the same film over and over again and make a massive revenue each and every time. In that respect, if you want to argue Dune as a major influence for Star Wars, then Dune is for the New Hollywood movement what Mein Kampf was for German Jews.

  • Alana

    What about Twilight?

  • Maya

    Malleus Maleficarum? Slaughter of thousands? Anyone?

  • Carlos

    What about twilight? If you ask me its nothing more than an over rated fad. My biggest arguement,…. Vampires cant go into the sun because… THEY’RE SHINY?!!! Talk about lame, lol. By the way Jfrater. PEANUT BUTTER AND CRACK SANDWICHES FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!!! WHAHAHAHAA!!!!

  • If one more poster mentions “Twilight” on one more list, I am going to turn on my mic and scream and scream and scream.

  • okay, no, I won’t, but I’d sure love to.

  • freevariety

    How about the dictionary? Although it may not give the secrets to the soul, or explain the physical rules that bind us in this world; it allowed for any person interested in learning the language they speak to expand their vocabulary and allowed for a universal way of spelling and defining words.
    Without the humble dictionary many of the books in this list would not be able to be appreciated in their entirety, as even the most hardened reader can be perplexed by the meaning of a word they may never of come across.
    More recently, many famous rappers have been quoted to have ‘studied the dictionary’. Although not really into this type of music myself i’m aware of the importance it has it todays’ world, providing important social commentary and inspiring young and older minds a like to stand up for their beliefs.
    Also there would be hundreds, maybe thousands of serious injuries caused by scrabble without it:)

  • gabi319

    Have they really been talking about… *closes door, sets up partition and fingerspells book that must not be mentioned so segue doesn’t get angry* ? Eek…if that’s the ideal Book that Changed the World to ANY individual, then I think the educational system is in even direr straights than I originally thought!

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    JF! It really is time for that death metal list. You dont know how happy a certain General Tits will be if you give us your take on such a great music.

  • 74. gabi319: Thank you for considering my feelings.

  • gabi319

    76. segue
    no thanks necessary as it was more due to selfish reasons of cowardice and self preservation. :-)

  • jajdude

    Erudite guns on the list, g. These books belong on the table next to the phone book and penthouse forum, yo.

  • astraya

    I would support the right of anyone to suggest Twilight (or any other novel) as a book that changed the world as long as s/he provides a coherent explanation why. Simply naming a book isn’t going to convince anyone.

  • sgvaibhav

    lol my post deleted

  • eve

    Carlos, thanks… now you have started a wonderful debate about Twilight…

  • Suskis

    It’s embarassing not seeing in this list (and also in the 1st one) the “I’CHING”. Almost all of the above listed books haven’t been read by much peolpe for centuries. I’CHING, instead, is still widely used and read. Eternal live to Lao Tzu!

  • Lexdian

    Baxter, while I agree that the advent of Star Wars gave more power to the producer, many meaningful films have been made.
    The independant film industry thrives much more than it used to, bringing creative visions closer than thet could have been in the 1930’s. And hollywood has ALWAYS churned out remakes and such…look at the 30′ and 40’s film serials and sequels.
    And yet again, I wish to point out that I only cited Star
    Wars as it was well known.

    Twilight- The difference between the novels I pointed out and this is that it is poorly written and paced, has not benefitted our culture in any way, and is more faddy than Vanilla Ice…

  • Lexdian

    Btw, I won’t reply for a while because I’ll be at school…

  • Mohamed

    A more correct and humble title would have been: 10 books that changed the west (rather the world). oh yes i forgot about the two fig-leaves, Avicenna’s book and Confucius’ -hard and painful try of pseudo-objectivity..
    but thank u for making me smile again by another piece of western uncurable subjectivity :-).. [email protected]

  • Mohamed

    a realist and non-snobbish list must include the following books: Bible, Talmud, Coran, Ibn Haytham’s (an Medieval Arab scientist from whom Bacon copied “his” emperical methodology), Newton’s Principia, Keynes’s theory on economics, Ibn Khaldoon’s Introduction (the founder of sociology).. but my list concern only the Mediterranean civilsations -and a little bit further away.
    said that, any list (of the most or the least of whatever) is just a nonsense.. a silly game.. good for TV but bad for minds and truth… Spartacus and his followers did need have to to read Mills to sacrifice their lives for their freedom!

  • Randall


    BRAVO!!! Couldn’t have said it better myself–except that you left out certain economic issues which the catastrophe of Star Wars and the blockbuster “system” created in Hollywood… but that’s also tied up with the death of the old studio system.

    Well done though. If more people knew the difference between film prior to Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters, etc. and film AFTER those blockbusters, they’d be shocked. Once upon a time every studio made at least fifty movies a year, sometimes many more, and while not all of them were by any means great, most of them at least employed good storytelling and style, and for a time you could go to the movies on a weekly basis and have so many gems to choose from that you’d hardly be able to pick ONE without missing out on at least three or four others that were destined to be classics, both minor and major. Today, we’re lucky if we get two or three decent movies a YEAR.

  • Randall


    Come now, Mohamed, let’s not be snarky. Our Western and Eastern civilizations have heavily influenced *each other.* It goes both ways. Near Eastern, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cultures have influenced the west both prior to and after the ascent of Islam, and in turn Western culture and civilization has influenced the East, both in modern AND ancient times. It just happens that in the dissemination of modern science and certain aspects of philosophy–particularly political philosophy–the West has held the cards for quite some time. Economically and politically the West has been ascendant for the last few hundred years, and the East (until recently) has been headed in the opposite direction. But we must also face facts—in terms of a “global” community, the biggest impact in many areas has issued from the West in modern times. Doesn’t mean the West is superior, it’s simply in the nature of Western tradition and philosophy—the West being the home of democracy, liberalism, and the modern scientific method.

    You’re correct to point out the Western bias of lists like this to some extent, but then there’s some accuracy to the bias as well. Like it or not the West has pushed itself around the world, by both economic and political means, and so its influence is predominant.

  • Whatever … Nice list :-)

  • TEX

    I guess that’s why I only watch IFC & TCM

  • Rolo Tomasi

    I am surprised there have been two influential books list and Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” has not been even mentioned and neither has “Les Propheties” by Nostradamus or ” Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes even though “Rights of Man” appeared on the first list but was heavily influenced by Hobbes who published his (superior) book over a century earlier.

    Dune was a landmark book but has no place in this discussion.

  • Trying to decide between the 357 and a nice clean overdose of Oxy. I have the magnum out, cleaned and loaded. I have almost 200 tabs of 80MG Oxy at my disposal, so I know I can do the job.

  • Crimanon

    segue: How very Kurt Cobain. Did someone say the “T” word?

  • Yes, Crimanon, several someones…including astraya!

  • Crimanon

    Think Lost Boys thoughts and you should feel a little better. Knowing that those kids would Get Schooled should make anyone feel better. Buck the trend and beat the children.

  • Lost Boys as in Peter Pan, or Lost Boys as in the movie?
    Either way, it will do the job, thanks Crim!

  • Crimanon

    Happy Betty Bronson thoughts.

  • :-D

  • Rolo Tomasi

    By the way; next to the Holy Bible, The Republic is the greatest book of all time. Plato was God.

  • diogenes

    What did God become after he was Plato?

  • astraya

    segue: I mentioned “that” In the course of making what I thought was (and I still think is) a valid point.
    I seem to remember that the first time someone mentioned “that”, you didn’t know what “that” was, and thought it was the period sometime after sunset, and someone had to explain it to you.
    It’s not worth the .357 or the Oxy.

  • Rolo Tomasi


    100. diogenes – March 3rd, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    What did God become after he was Plato?

    Im pretty sure he became Joe Montana

  • 101. astraya: I know you were using it for a reason, I was simply pulling your leg! ;-)
    And your memory is correct. I had no idea, when it was first mentioned, what it was. I still only know because of what I’ve been told here, it just seems as if it’s what every other poster wants on the list, or doesn’t want on the list, but at least mentions…It’s like over on the Creationism list and the bible. Except that I know what the bible is. I’ve read it (13 years of Catholic school makes that inescapable).
    Anyway, you are known to be a bit of a wag, so it was just too perfect a comment for me to ignore.
    Sorry, astraya, I still like you.

  • gollum

    what…. no Harry Potter?

  • bigski

    I have not read any of these books. Im not bragging.

  • The new age/IQ test is so simple. It requires only two words from the unsuspecting testee: “what, no…?

  • Cernunnos

    i would like to suggest a overrated but much loved book: lord of the rings. i am very fond of videogames, among with books and music (i agree with general tits; making a list on some good music for once would be great.:) ) i can see that book’s influence and impact all around me.
    not only has it inspired many great musicians and bands (Burzum for one), it has also impacted the gaming community severly (in a negative way IMO).
    LoTR spawned such crap as WoW, everquest and a number of other stale games that seem to be very fond of coaxing people into the state of being dead. i guess you can imagine the bad rep games get for that kind of crap?

    if a book is the inspiration for something that has caused several people to sit themselves to death, one can certainly say that to some extent they changed the world…?

  • 107. Cernunnos:…i am very fond of videogames, among with books and music…
    No comment, just take a look at the above sentence and tell me that there isn’t something deeply wrong with today’s educational system.

  • Chronic

    Elements- Written by Euclid c. 300 BC

    According to wikipedia, the book contained a collection of mathematics present at the time and was used for 2000 years.

  • k1w1taxi

    segue (108) You just know the spelling police are going to be checking EVERY post you have made on LV don’t you? :)

    Rolo(102) NO. He was (and still must be Eric Clapton)


  • Commodianus

    Nice work.

  • 110. k1w1taxi: I expect so, Lee, but have you noticed any misspellings on my part so far, or any mistakes of grammar?
    I thought not.
    Nor will you. I had an excellent education, which I remember and use.


  • Smily

    I’m reading part 3 of The Republic now. It is actually sort of interesting if utterly boring for a high school student.

  • Simon George

    How can you not have Charles Darwins Origin of Species in this list? It’s a travesty.

  • tomatoxide

    Well..quite an interesting list..the choices are good but excepting a few none of the others have managed to’change’the world as you say,a few areas may have been affected..but no sir.. not the world

  • adpr08

    I skimmed the comments. The mention of Dune got me thinking. How about a list of fiction that set new standards in their category?

    Ideas off the top of my head in no particular order with no verifiable substantiation=

    -Hitchhikers Guide to the Galazy
    First widely accepted book to successfully blend comedy and Sci-fi

    -Harry Potter
    Most successful in getting kids to voluntarily read

    Stephen King’s “Eye of the Dragon”
    First modern horror for kids maybe? I heard he wrote if for his children.

    Obviously a stretch but any other ideas out there as long as the topic of books that changed…something?

  • ^night_viper^

    Books That Changed The World – No Bible? :)

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  • bookworm

    I have read everyone of these books on the list and in my opinion for what it is worth I feel that there is one more book that should be added to this list. The Art of War. Now there is probably quite a few authors, writers, editors, and publishers that don’t agree with me but just thinl about it for a moment.

  • Odeen

    Why hasn’t Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance made the list yet? Its certainly been involved in changing the mindset of people in the seventies.

  • Big Z

    Silent Spring- Written by Rachel Carson in 1962 A.D

    The outcry following its publication forced the banning of DDT and resulted in laws about the air, land, and water.

  • Lucy

    This list fails to mention how also the Canterbury tale’s also was political, social, and religious satire, mainly attacking corruption in the catholic church at the time.

  • padams

    i read some of freud for this last semester in philosophy. it was a lot of fun debating about his stuff with my professor

  • pau

    good list but where is the bible? should it not be included also.

  • Naser

    considering the list of the Jf frater, in listverse, we can say that Mr. Jf Frater was not a religious and even religion-read-man. Because there is not any religious book in the list (Bible, Koran, Veda…) these books have been ruling the world and the Great Civilizations.
    Mr. Sameul P. Huntington has brought 7-8 living civilizations in the world of which 5-6 are ruled by religion and the religion is ruled by these saint books.

  • powpow

    Mr. Naser,
    I believe that the title is 10 MORE books that changed the world. Thus there is another list with the actual 10 books that changed the world and for you information that list does have the religious texts.

  • Emily

    How about the Bible? Should that not be included in the 10 top books that changes history? The Bible created wars, killed billions of people, but also saved lives, inspired faith as well as hope. Is that not an important book?

  • Bruno

    And WHERE is the most important one, THE HOLY BIBLE, which without it we would never had Christianity spread around the world, and changed the face of the entire human civilization for centuries to come? Whether it was good or bad? A VERY STUPID POLITICALLY CORRECT LIST!
    P.S.: Anothe one missing: the HOLY QUORAN!!!

  • Bruno

    I always say “humanists” are bigoted and stupid. With the list I can see why I say it.

    • Jay

      It's nice that you finally found out.

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  • Reblogged this on leydicu and commented:
    nice list

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