Some books are so powerful that they can actually change the world, in one way or another. Here’s a list of 10 of the best world-changers…
1984 by George Orwell
Because now we know that Big Brother is always watching, 2+2=5, and there is only one person we can ever truly love (read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin for Orwell’s inspiration).
Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes
Because true adventure in novel form owes it all to Cervantes. We all wish we could be a little more like Quijote, especially around windmills.
The Odyssey/The Iliad by Homer
Because they’re so gosh darned epic. These books and Gilgamesh inspire many, many young folks to dig into old school, epic poetics.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Because it analyzed class struggle and continues to inspire the discourse on how problematic capitalism tends to be.
Everything and anything by William Shakespeare
Because the theater owes a great deal to the language, poetics, and epic stories of this particular bard (I especially like Hamlet and Othello).
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Because common understanding of evolution owes many thanks to this dude who studied little island birds.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
Because it’s sweepingly gorgeous and inspired other paths to immerse themselves in the power of nothingness.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Because all the trials and tribulations of being a teenager do, in fact, fit inside one slim volume. Not my favorite novel by any means, but incredibly important and brutal. We all wonder where the ducks are now.
The Bible/The Torah/The Qur’an
Because each of them has a crazy powerful hold over the consciousness of massive sections of society and possess some epic tales.
And the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Because it made an entire generation want to read again and profoundly augmented the imaginations of every person reading it. J.K. Rowling, we thank you, but ask you to stop writing novels for adults.