Books that changed the world. Can you give me "ten books that changed the world"?

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Outside of the novels which have been mentioned, I would add Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, and Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I am sure that I do not have to explain the first two, but the final suggestion may seem a little confusing. As a parent and teacher, the Harry Potter series ignited a fire for reading under many young and more mature readers alike. As far as I can remember, no other book has gotten so many people to read.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first book that comes to mind is one that often gets credit for helping to end slavery in the United States - Uncle Tom's Cabin. 

Though the actual impact of the book is difficult to measure (and may be exaggerated to some extent), this novel is credited with helping to popularize the abolitionist movement by humanizing all the figures in the debate/slavery system.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would suggest that Paradise Lost is one of the books that changed the world, because it so strongly influences how we view Heaven, Hell, morality and life.  Along those lines, I would also suggest some of the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain and Steinbeck for having influences in their own countries in terms of social justice and views.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One might be the Koran.  It's not so much the book itself as the message of Islam, but the rise of Islam surely changed the world.  

A second would be The Communist Manifesto.  By inspiring communism, Marx and Engels created the system that would help lead to the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Bible. It is still influencing people today, 2000 years after most it's historical references occurred.

The Origin of Species, which started the whole evolution debate that is still going on today.

Mein Kampf, which preceeded Hitler's rise to power.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great discussion topic, and great answers. I would add Silent Spring by Rachel Carson for its role in encouraging the environmentalist movement. Two others might be De Revolutionibus by Copernicus and Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton for obvious reasons. 

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would select Fielding's "Tom Jones' as strategically important to the development and success of the novel form. I also think 'To Kill a Mockingbird' has had a tremendous impact internationally.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair certainly put a spot-light on the meat packing industry and made the country question their food supply and its sanitation practices.

thewanderlust878 | Student

I would have to say that anything by Plato, Dante, or even someone like Edgar Allan Poe changed the world. It's one of those subjects that you can kind of look at objectively, in terms of how history was altered by it (the Bible is a great example... We as a society still face many problems today because of it), but for the most part it is subjective. I think that Edgar Allan Poe changed the face of horror and mystery, and set the stage for many others to come, but someone else might not view it that way. 

Hope this helps!

sandyyy2012 | Student

really, Great discussion topic


sandyyy2012 | Student

I agree with #3 "Koran."

frizzyperm | Student
  1. All the major religious books, obviously.
  2. 'The Republic' (380BCE) - Plato
  3. 'The Wealth of Nations' (1776) - Adam Smith
  4. 'The Critique of Pure Reason' (1781) - Emmanuel Kant
  5. 'A Vindication of Women's Rights' (1792) - Mary Wollstonecroft
  6. 'The Communist Manifesto' (1848) and 'Das Kapital' (1867) by Marx and Engels.
  7. 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.' (1859) - Charles Darwin
  8. 'The Interpretation of Dreams' (1899) Sigmund Freud
  9. 'Relativity: The Special and General Theory.' (1917) Einstein, Albert.
  10. 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.' (1948) - Alfred Kinsey

There are obviously hundreds more that could considered as 'top 10'. These are just the ones that came to mind.


ammoorah123 | Student

definitly the Quraan it has changed many and still continues to change so many people for the better! the Quraan would be number 1 on your list the 2nd one could be khalil gibrans...The Prophet....To kill a mocking bird should also be there.