The Most Influential Books in History

Holy books, political books, fiction, whatever. Which books do you think have had the greatest impact and influence (positive or negative) on our world? Please only add books, not documents or essays.
1

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8

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3.76 avg rating — 157,808 ratings
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9

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3.71 avg rating — 657,065 ratings
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10

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4.44 avg rating — 15,835 ratings
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11

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3.95 avg rating — 171,275 ratings
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12

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3.82 avg rating — 1,079 ratings
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13

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4.05 avg rating — 79,431 ratings
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14

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4.08 avg rating — 1,791,314 ratings
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15

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4.24 avg rating — 2,894,229 ratings
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16

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3.81 avg rating — 240,783 ratings
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17

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4.18 avg rating — 3,509 ratings
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18

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4.38 avg rating — 63,357 ratings
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19

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4.16 avg rating — 11,593 ratings
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20

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3.85 avg rating — 17,766 ratings
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21

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4.12 avg rating — 12,533 ratings
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22

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4.46 avg rating — 388,655 ratings
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23

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3.84 avg rating — 1,759,217 ratings
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24

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4.27 avg rating — 129 ratings
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25

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3.84 avg rating — 143,150 ratings
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26

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3.73 avg rating — 1,506,657 ratings
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27

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3.81 avg rating — 140,262 ratings
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28

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3.89 avg rating — 18,684 ratings
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29

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3.06 avg rating — 19,147 ratings
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30

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3.82 avg rating — 4,952 ratings
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31

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4.73 avg rating — 182,502 ratings
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32

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3.79 avg rating — 37,963 ratings
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33

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4.12 avg rating — 512,304 ratings
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34

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3.82 avg rating — 11,564 ratings
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35

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3.99 avg rating — 517,105 ratings
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36

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3.67 avg rating — 267,934 ratings
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37

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3.95 avg rating — 944,086 ratings
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38

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4.24 avg rating — 1,893,481 ratings
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39

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3.74 avg rating — 24,159 ratings
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40

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3.93 avg rating — 22,558 ratings
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41

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3.79 avg rating — 919,249 ratings
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42

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3.98 avg rating — 13,450 ratings
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43

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4.40 avg rating — 1,936 ratings
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44

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3.75 avg rating — 151,916 ratings
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45

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3.48 avg rating — 37,692 ratings
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46

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3.97 avg rating — 363,575 ratings
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47

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4.09 avg rating — 38,869 ratings
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48

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4.31 avg rating — 119,821 ratings
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49

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3.90 avg rating — 11,084 ratings
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50

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4.04 avg rating — 67,990 ratings
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51

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3.70 avg rating — 100,829 ratings
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52

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4.02 avg rating — 44,599 ratings
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53

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4.05 avg rating — 13,438 ratings
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54

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3.73 avg rating — 788,674 ratings
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55

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3.79 avg rating — 96,099 ratings
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56

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3.47 avg rating — 146,549 ratings
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57

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3.80 avg rating — 11,942 ratings
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58

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3.62 avg rating — 51,994 ratings
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59

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4.02 avg rating — 24,952 ratings
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60

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4.17 avg rating — 384,668 ratings
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61

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3.78 avg rating — 1,883,141 ratings
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62

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3.65 avg rating — 65 ratings
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63

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3.97 avg rating — 15,489 ratings
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64

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4.07 avg rating — 541 ratings
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65

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3.92 avg rating — 19,144 ratings
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66

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4.23 avg rating — 1,945,883 ratings
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67

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 381,267 ratings
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68

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4.09 avg rating — 704 ratings
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69

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4.07 avg rating — 18,410 ratings
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70

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4.26 avg rating — 2,269 ratings
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71

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72

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3.99 avg rating — 1,600 ratings
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73

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 37,824 ratings
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74

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3.79 avg rating — 76,490 ratings
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75

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3.86 avg rating — 29,563 ratings
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76

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4.60 avg rating — 37,750 ratings
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77

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4.01 avg rating — 352,904 ratings
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78

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3.62 avg rating — 1,482,704 ratings
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79

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4.32 avg rating — 145,872 ratings
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80

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3.64 avg rating — 25,282 ratings
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81

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3.75 avg rating — 472 ratings
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81

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3.83 avg rating — 14,543 ratings
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83

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3.40 avg rating — 267,600 ratings
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84

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3.87 avg rating — 474,986 ratings
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85

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3.17 avg rating — 1,089 ratings
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86

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3.80 avg rating — 3,227 ratings
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87

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4.29 avg rating — 157,869 ratings
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88

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3.80 avg rating — 6,945 ratings
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89

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3.89 avg rating — 10,027 ratings
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90

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3.69 avg rating — 474,081 ratings
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91

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3.41 avg rating — 165,490 ratings
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92

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3.65 avg rating — 176,936 ratings
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93

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4.02 avg rating — 1,175,094 ratings
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94

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3.96 avg rating — 65,603 ratings
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95

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4.17 avg rating — 13,690 ratings
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96

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4.31 avg rating — 72,960 ratings
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97

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4.34 avg rating — 107,653 ratings
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98

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3.94 avg rating — 7,700 ratings
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99

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3.71 avg rating — 38,315 ratings
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100

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3.96 avg rating — 84 ratings
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flag this list (?)
950 books · 3,794 voters · list created November 15th, 2008 by Crazy Uncle Ryan (votes) .
1079 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Crazy Uncle Ryan 371 books
19 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2756 books
621 friends
Alisa 945 books
32 friends
Angel 1452 books
79 friends
Ray 784 books
41 friends
Emily 301 books
21 friends
Emilytwo 45 books
1 friend
Shon 31 books
1 friend

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 112) (112 new)


message 1: by JoAnn (new)

JoAnn OK!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Carol wrote: "My computer went crazy when I tried to do this. So, I have voted twice. The first one is the Bible on my "real" list. "

I think this is one of the few lists that I didn't add any books but going to check yours out. This is a good list.




message 3: by Mukesh (new)

Mukesh The bible isn't the most influential book ever!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Mukesh wrote: "The bible isn't the most influential book ever!"


What is?



message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel The use of the word ever is what is causing the problem - ever is infinite
Also, the level of influence will be determined by the demographic of the survey population and the survey is opinion, if an individual who "reads" the survey doesn't agree with the survey response, say so once share your opinion and then shutup.
Everyone has an opinion and it probably does not agree completely with yours, accept it and move on.


message 6: by Daniel (new)

Daniel I agree


message 7: by Donna (new)

Donna Goode Your list is so limited. I could add just a few: The Wealth of Nations: Adam Smith, The Spirit of Laws: de Montesquieu, Analects of Confuscius, Rights of Man, Politics and Poetics: Aristotle, The Republic: Plato, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: A.T. Mahan...the list goes on and on. Why did you stop where you did?


message 8: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Donna wrote: "Your list is so limited. I could add just a few: The Wealth of Nations: Adam Smith, The Spirit of Laws: de Montesquieu, Analects of Confuscius, Rights of Man, Politics and Poetics: Aristotle, The ..."

Wealth of Nations is on the list already, as is Plato's Republic, and Aristotle's Poetics.


message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna Goode Thank you for pointing it out.


message 10: by Katherine (new)

Katherine I love that Harry Potter is on this list!


message 11: by Donna (new)

Donna Goode Well, I'm fond of a few modern pieces of literature to be sure! This isn't an exhaustive list of the books I've read. The list now runs into the hundreds of thousands of books. People write for all kinds of reasons--but mostly to tell a good story...me included!


message 12: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix My least predictable choice is Statistical Methods for Research Workers by R.A. Fisher, but it is an extremely important book in the methodology of twentieth century science. It's the book that either directly or indirectly taught most non-math-jock scientists how to evaluate their experiments, at least according to The Lady Tasting Tea by David Salsburg, a history of statistics.


message 13: by Courtney (last edited Jan 21, 2010 04:18PM) (new)

Courtney Whether you believe in them or not, the Bible and the Koran are two of the most influential books ever. if you know much about history you can see all of the wars fought over them, and those are just the tip of the influence iceberg. This is a great list. I didn't add much that wasn't already on there.

About Harry Potter: I don't know about that one. Certainly it has been influential in recent years as it has brought reading back to the Nintendo generation, but influential in the way that these others are in actually shaping a culture? Eh.


message 14: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix Harry Potter: it's hard to say that something that so many people have read hasn't been influential. It's easy to question whether it belongs in the top one hundred.

If HP follows the example of The Lord of the Rings and becomes as embedded in our culture as firmly as King Arthur, it might be possible to declare it to be in the top one thousand.


message 15: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I can see that. Maybe in the top one thousand. I would even say perhaps top one hundred in the century, two hundred for sure.


message 16: by Defaceo (new)

Defaceo Who the hell voted the Koran?


message 17: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix Gglast wrote: "Who the hell voted the Koran?"

108 people as of this writing. Don't you think the Koran has been extremely influential?




message 18: by Defaceo (new)

Defaceo On what and how?
Amount is not quality, and it does not point on influence of future writing.




message 19: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix The question didn't ask for quality; it asked for influence. Raw numbers of people matter. Islam is the religion of over a billion persons, and given birthrates and migratory patterns, it's spreading.


message 20: by M (last edited Feb 14, 2010 03:05AM) (new)

M here's my (short) list of books which have had the greatest impact and influence (positive or negative) on our world's cultures and civilizations until the 21th century


message 21: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Hansbrough So many books, so much influence - in my world+ - Western, European - The Bible is the most influential book at least for the last 1500 years. The Koran has increasing influence. But many books are not in the list. IE - a Wrinkle in Time - almost any woman of thought will list this in her top ten.


message 22: by Emily (new)

Emily  O You know, I'm going to have to agree with The Bible, The Koran, and The Origin of the Species being the top 3. I may not like the fact that the Bible and Koran have gained this much influence, but it's very clear that they influence everyday life in more ways than just about any other books. Look at every war being fought right now, and tell me that those two holy books are not at least tangentially involved in them. Look at the American political and legal system, and tell me that Christianity has not infiltrated it to the highest levels (sadly for those of us ho are non-Christian). The same can be said for The Koran and the Middle East and Northern Africa. Those two books govern, for good or for bad, the lives and deaths of millions.

And as for the Origin of the Species, well, all I need to say is that evolution is the foundation of modern Biology. Taking evolution out of biology undermines everything, from the classification system on down. That, to me, is a pretty influential book.


message 23: by Aoife (new)

Aoife I'm really amazed "To Killa Mocking-bird" isn't up higher!


message 24: by Xenophon (last edited Mar 06, 2010 05:36PM) (new)

Xenophon Hendrix To Kill a Mockingbird has been influential for the last fifty years. There are other books that have been influential world wide for centuries or even millennia. Getting a book into the top thousand most influential in history is a great achievement.


message 25: by C-tim (new)

C-tim Frankenstein? Really?
Who thinks the novel Frankenstein is more influential than any other book on the list (except maybe Old Man and the Sea)?


message 26: by Ardis (new)

Ardis Carol wrote: "My computer went crazy when I tried to do this. So, I have voted twice. The first one is the Bible on my "real" list. "


message 27: by Ardis (new)

Ardis Carol wrote: "My computer went crazy when I tried to do this. So, I have voted twice. The first one is the Bible on my "real" list. "

The Bible is the basis of everything--would like to share with you. www.goodreads.com/ardisa


message 28: by Linda (new)

Linda This list doesn't make any sense to me. Best loved, sure, but INFLUENTIAL? To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankenstein, LOTR, Pride and Prejudice, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Paradise Lost and Shakespeare -- over the BIBLE, Really?? I love all of the above mentioned, but I don't think people understand what is meant by Influential. The Bible has influenced each of those and many other books, not to mention other aspects of life and thought through the centuries.


message 29: by Javier (new)

Javier Courtney wrote: "Whether you believe in them or not, the Bible and the Koran are two of the most influential books ever. if you know much about history you can see all of the wars fought over them, and those are ju..."

Certainly many people have bought the books, but i dont think they read them. When the bible was first written it was so in Greek. Greek was the universal language of the time. St Paul wrote it or put it together. Now I wont swear to this, i wasnt there.

The book is more of a symbol of moral authority, it empowers those who claim to know....the thoughts of God.

When the books were written illiteracy was the rule. Heck even now we have places that dont have high literacy rates. There is a tale in the bible about how people were bldg a stairway to the sky. God got upset and gave them all different languages. So they couldnt continue with their ambition. Apparently he didnt want to hear from us then.

Story tellers roamed the country and told stories for money. Stories are something you make up, they didnt have copyright laws then. Books were rare and people would pay to go have someone read to them.

You may remember "deux ex machina" something like that. So anytime the story was about to end up with the bad guys winning, the hero would show up in a white hat to say the day.

I could never read the bible...it didnt taste good. I started the Koran and was pleasantly surprised. Still I dont believe in magic, vodoo, and things like that. But many people do....and they call it faith. My god is better than your god. Want to make something out of it.


message 30: by Javier (new)

Javier Ardis wrote: "Carol wrote: "My computer went crazy when I tried to do this. So, I have voted twice. The first one is the Bible on my "real" list. ""

Watch out Carol...I believe I see a bible thumper heading your way.

It occurs to me that the Bible and the Koran are two sides of the same coin. Heads your good, tails your bad.
Or one side can have Mohamed and the other side Jesus. Now this coin would look good in my collection.


message 31: by Justin (new)

Justin Wow, this list seems to have started out as a list of most influential books, and then deteriorated to a list of "classics". A classic book does not equal an influential book.


message 32: by Julie (new)

Julie S. Why are people turning this into some random flame war? Books, even those that you have not read/read and did not like, can have a profound influence on others. I think that most peopl are voting with the idea of what was influential in their life personally, not what they think was influential for everyone else.


message 33: by Justin (new)

Justin Okay Julie, that makes more sense. You are absolutely right.


message 34: by Brian (new)

Brian Fleming What the heck is the Spirit Filled Life Bible, and why is it ranked so high on a list of "most influential" books? As I'm posting this the King James Bible is 23rd on the list. I think that's slightly more influesntial than some book I never heard of...


message 35: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix Rather than confuse things by nominating their favorite translation, most persons are voting for the first translation of the Bible on the list, which happens to be the Spirit Filled Life translation.


message 36: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Reyes Mukesh wrote: "The bible isn't the most influential book ever!"

No matter what religion you practice (I'm not a catholic by the way), Guttenberg's edition of the Bible IS the most influential book ever, after all it was the first printed Book in the world, and that has made all the difference. If Guttemberg had decided to print his memoirs instead of the Bible, then that would be a very influential book, but not as much as a book that had been around for over a thousand years by the time it was printed


message 37: by Ben (new)

Ben Good list!

Surprised Twilight and Harry Potter haven't made their way to the top 100 yet! :o)


message 38: by Miss Jimenez (new)

Miss Jimenez Nice. Books to keep me busy this year.


message 39: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Ugh. I'm deleting my vote for the Bible, because it somehow became "The Spirit Filled Life Bible," which I most certainly did not vote for.

People voting for "The Gutenberg Bible" by Martin Davies might want to know that it is 64 pages and is described thus: "This book reproduces many illustrations from the Bible, and discusses how it was created and published, and its role in the early spread of printing in Europe."


ღ Carol jinx~☆~ I had to change mine to the King James Version.
My husband always says not to bring up religion or politics because it gets heated and it looks like it can happen online too.


message 41: by Paul (new)

Paul Retarded that the spirit filled life is #2. Do people have no sense of history? These lists are so bad sometimes.


message 42: by Amarice (new)

Amarice Where's Hrzel's The Jewish State? It was THE book!


message 43: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 The list doesn't include Adam Smith or Mahan's "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History."


message 44: by Francisco (new)

Francisco newton's book not in the top 3? objection, your honor!


message 45: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Francisco wrote: "newton's book not in the top 3? objection, your honor!"

Paul wrote: "Retarded that the spirit filled life is #2. Do people have no sense of history? These lists are so bad sometimes."

"Retarded?" You choice of words to express your dislike in this list is suspect. I understand your concern but you choice of descriptive values negates the value of your objection. Use your literary mind and use words that don't undermine an unfortunate group of individuals in our society.


message 46: by Loveliest (new)

Loveliest Evaris Aah, these books make me feel nostalgic, in a "in-a-past-life-I-was-alive-when-this-was-written" kind of way..


message 47: by Loveliest (new)

Loveliest Evaris Oh and why is the book Kittens by Carey Scott on this list? O_O


message 48: by George (new)

George Eee Koran is number 3?!!!


message 49: by Amarice (new)

Amarice George wrote: "Koran is number 3?!!!"

yeah.?


message 50: by Francisco (new)

Francisco Danna wrote: "George wrote: "Koran is number 3?!!!"

yeah.?"


If you ask me this poll is very inflamable... dont get me wrong, if it were inflable AND had a point id be happy, but books are so subjective that this is rather pointless task

lets keep religious war to where they belong: medieval europe.


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