What books would you take?This question was inspired by dbello's question about the 10 most important events in history.  Here's the scenario: The world as we know it is about to be destroyed; but...

What books would you take?

This question was inspired by dbello's question about the 10 most important events in history.  Here's the scenario:

The world as we know it is about to be destroyed; but a small group of people will be saved and it will be your task to introduce them and the future generations to the history of their culture.  But you only have a few minutes and can only carry 10 books with you.  Which 10 books would you pick?

Asked on by timbrady

16 Answers | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Soooo many good books! If I was in this scenario though it would be the following:

1) The Bible

2) Shakespeare's Complete Works

3) Norton Poetry Anthology

4) The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

5) Room with a View by E. M. Forster

6) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

7) Great Expectations by Dickens

8) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

9) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

litchick2011's profile pic

litchick2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Personally, here is what I deem the most culturally important texts:

1. The collected works of Mark Twain

2. The complete works of William Shakespeare

3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

4. The Declaration of Independence

5. A complete medical reference book

6. All Quiet on the Western Front

7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

8. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

9. The collected works of Walt Whitman

10. Jubilee by Margaret Walker

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

1.  The Bible (Saul Bellows calls it "The Greatest Work of Literature ever")

2.  An encyclopedia of art

3.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

4.  The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos

5. Anthology of best loved English and American Poems

6.  Les Miserables by Victoro Hugo

7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

8.  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

10.  Encyclopedia of operas.

 

 

timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

funny how alot of people are posting "the bible" as on of the top 10 books you would take with you. you would think that if "God" chose to destroy the world as we know it leaving only a few survivors we might become a little bit hostile towards the guy if he was to exist. From what I know of bible studies, after God flooded the earth killing loads people he made a promice (the rainbow) never to resort to such a punishment of mankind again. If these survivors were to read this they would see that God went against his promice. They would also see that one of the comandments is not to lie so the book would become a lie and also useless. Religion has cause many wars in the past so maybe put in that situation we could get rid of the argument and choose to forget to bring the bible with us....

  I think it is more likely that WE will destory the earth, not God.  But people selecting the Bible does tell us a lot about where people are.

 

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

1. Common Sense by Thomas Paine

2. Works of Shakespeare

3. Works of Miguel de Cervantes

4. Dictionary/Thesaurus

5. Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body

6. An Almanac

7. World Atlas

8. A sample of devotionals from different religious not only the Bible

9. History of the Universe

10.A linguistics book on protolanguages

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is an amazing question, and I fear that I will change my mind many times over once I've submitted my list.  I think it's difficult to limit this to one's own culture since the media and technology have shrunk the world so much.  However, here goes:

1. The Bible

2. Shakespeare--the entire collection

3.  A collection of Mark Twain

4. Alas, Babylon! by Pat Frank

5. I would need to choose some book on basic survival skills--preferably with information on plants and medicinal herbs, how to find food, water, and how to decide what is edible.

6.  I would choose some form of record of technology of ancient and modern civilizations so that this knowledge might be used by me and any other survivors as well as be preserved for those who come along afterward.

7.  A book of art from the world--photos of paintings, maps, sculptures, etchings, etc. and the explanations of the meanings and cultures from which they came.

8.  A Hymnal

9.  A book of music (lyrics and sheet music) with collections of the most popular songs from all over the world.

10.  A collection of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories.  Don't ask me why...entertainment value?  Character education?  Feel good moments?  Laughter, tears, and bonding?

timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

This has gotten much more confusing that I intended :)  The culture intended was the one you happen to find yourself in, wherever that is.  My intent was that all the survivors would be in the same (your) culture since that's where you are.

timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Western culture, please.  I think it's the one we're most familiar with ... but you can do any culture you would like if you think enough of us would be familiar with it :)

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

A very interesting and challenging question, but whose culture? Western culture? Various world cultures? Makes a difference!

 

brinsdad's profile pic

brinsdad | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I believe that this question is inspired by H.G Wells, The Time Machine. The Inventor travels back to the future to help the Eloi rebuild civilization and brings with him three books, but which ones? The reader is left to ponder that very question. Anyone responding to these post's should take the question seriously and make sure you have your (10 or 3) chosen books in your library, because you never know...

My three books would be:

1) Current Atlas

2) Condensed Encyclopedia (good ones usually include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution)

3) Frank Herbert's Dune

Thanks for the question

nicoabb's profile pic

nicoabb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

funny how alot of people are posting "the bible" as on of the top 10 books you would take with you. you would think that if "God" chose to destroy the world as we know it leaving only a few survivors we might become a little bit hostile towards the guy if he was to exist. From what I know of bible studies, after God flooded the earth killing loads people he made a promice (the rainbow) never to resort to such a punishment of mankind again. If these survivors were to read this they would see that God went against his promice. They would also see that one of the comandments is not to lie so the book would become a lie and also useless. Religion has cause many wars in the past so maybe put in that situation we could get rid of the argument and choose to forget to bring the bible with us....

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

1) bible

2) Shakespeare

3) history book

4) math book

5) a book on medicine

6) an art book

7) a book of physics

8) a book on electricity

9) a cookbook

10) a humanities book

 

boryung's profile pic

boryung | Middle School Teacher

Posted on

1. The Completed Works of William Shakespeare

2. War and Peace

3. The Bible

4. The Qu'ran

5. A survival handbook

6. The most comprehensive world history book I can find

7. Gone with the Wind, just because it's long and entertaining

8. The most comprehensive medical text I can find

9. The longest comic book I can find, for entertainment

10. A comprehensive history of philosophy book

jhutchin's profile pic

jhutchin | Student, Undergraduate

Posted on

The general theme is surviving or social philosophy, or entertainment.

1. The Ultimate Survivor's Guide Handbook

2. The Aeneid, because in the end, Vergil wins. Vergil always wins.

3. Plato's Allegory of the Cave

4. Paradise Lost, in case one of the other survivors brings a GRE Lit prep book.  You'd be lost without this one.

5. Gone with the Wind

6. the book I'm currently working on, because when the world comes to an end, I'm sure I'll still be working on it

7. Robinson Crusoe

8. Candide

9. Joyce's Ulysses

10. Machiavelli's The Prince

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

In response to Post #3, I believe we need to be clear about who these "we" are, who are most familiar with Western culture, and is their familiarity reason enough to give western culture priority over all others. I would like to suggest a few more criteria.

  1. Select the best parts from all the cultures of the World.
  2. Select the culture that will be most useful to the survivors. It is worthwhile noting that cultures change over time in response to the changing requirements of different times. Therefore the current best culture may not be most suitable for the survivors.
  3. Let the survivors decide. We do not know who the survivors will be, but it will be right to assume that one selecting the books is one of the survivors. So let the person selecting the books decide.
  4. Why bother about past history and culture. Why not be more practical and select book that will help the survivors most in surviving and, hopefully, restarting the human development activities with as much more advantage from our prehistoric ancestors as possible. By the way, as defined by behavior scientists, the way a society functions - which includes the technology it uses - is the major part of its culture. So why not concentrate on this part of the culture.

Finally, one more thought, what if survivors are from many different cultures? Should we continue to divide the survivor group in different cultures, as many people today try to divide the humanity in name of culture, race, religion, class, and so many other things?

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