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 The Origin of Species
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 42,530 ratings
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2 Holy Bible: King James Version
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 114,446 ratings
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3 The Quran
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 28,045 ratings
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4 The Communist Manifesto
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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45 avg rating — 42,341 ratings
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5 The Republic
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 76,908 ratings
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6 The Complete Works
by
4.5 of 5 stars 4.50 avg rating — 33,555 ratings
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7 1984
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 1,269,916 ratings
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8 The Prince
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 110,092 ratings
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9 The Odyssey
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 544,493 ratings
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10 Declaration of Independence...
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4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 13,205 ratings
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11 The Book of Mormon
by
4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 55,422 ratings
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12 Spirit Filled Life Bible: A...
by
4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 79 ratings
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13 95 Theses
by
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 631 ratings
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14 The Art of War
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 108,957 ratings
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15 Common Sense, The Rights of...
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 10,006 ratings
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16 The Diary of a Young Girl
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,265,979 ratings
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17 The Iliad
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 179,749 ratings
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18 To Kill a Mockingbird
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 1,987,469 ratings
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19 The Lord of the Rings (The ...
by
4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 280,555 ratings
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20 The Principia: Mathematical...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 2,206 ratings
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21 Uncle Tom's Cabin
by
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 101,727 ratings
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22 The Wealth of Nations: An I...
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 13,452 ratings
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23 Animal Farm
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 1,300,759 ratings
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24 Relativity: The Special and...
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 7,549 ratings
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25 Mein Kampf
by
2.95 of 5 stars 2.95 avg rating — 11,534 ratings
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26 The Divine Comedy
by
4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 58,309 ratings
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27 Don Quixote
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 100,796 ratings
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28 The Interpretation of Dreams
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 28,951 ratings
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29 Atlas Shrugged
by
3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 202,707 ratings
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30 Les Misérables
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 403,681 ratings
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31 Harry Potter Boxset (Harry ...
by
4.73 of 5 stars 4.73 avg rating — 134,263 ratings
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32 Brave New World
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 720,002 ratings
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33 Romeo and Juliet
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 1,163,754 ratings
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34 Critique of Pure Reason
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 13,280 ratings
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35 Silent Spring
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 17,661 ratings
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36 The Social Contract
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 17,602 ratings
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37 The Jungle
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 77,358 ratings
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38 The Adventures of Huckleber...
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 801,125 ratings
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39 Two Treatises of Government
by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 8,551 ratings
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40 Pride and Prejudice
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 1,321,215 ratings
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41 Das Kapital
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 3,330 ratings
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42 Paradise Lost
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 75,005 ratings
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43 The Bhagavad Gita
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 30,167 ratings
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44 Utopia
by
3.46 of 5 stars 3.46 avg rating — 27,285 ratings
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45 The Canterbury Tales
by
3.45 of 5 stars 3.45 avg rating — 111,433 ratings
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46 Frankenstein
by
3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 603,207 ratings
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47 The Iliad/The Odyssey
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 32,705 ratings
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48 Civil Disobedience and Othe...
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 10,776 ratings
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49 The Gutenberg Bible
by
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 44 ratings
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50 Democracy in America
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 11,644 ratings
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51 The Epic of Gilgamesh
by
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 40,317 ratings
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52 The Federalist Papers
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 17,919 ratings
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53 The Catcher in the Rye
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 1,471,362 ratings
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54 Dialogue Concerning the Two...
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 375 ratings
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55 Thus Spoke Zarathustra
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 47,206 ratings
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56 On The Revolutions of Heave...
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 287 ratings
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57 On Liberty
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 13,589 ratings
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58 Euclid's Elements
by
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 1,548 ratings
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59 Crime and Punishment
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 279,010 ratings
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60 Holy Bible: New Internation...
by
4.58 of 5 stars 4.58 avg rating — 23,627 ratings
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61 The Hobbit
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 1,525,659 ratings
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62 Quotations From Chairman Ma...
by
3.15 of 5 stars 3.15 avg rating — 728 ratings
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63 Beyond Good and Evil
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 27,129 ratings
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64 A Christmas Carol
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 269,268 ratings
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65 The Rhetoric & The Poetics ...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 1,150 ratings
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66 The Feminine Mystique
by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 10,728 ratings
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67 The Second Sex
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 13,216 ratings
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68 Man's Search for Meaning
by
4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 86,692 ratings
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69 Hamlet
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 382,593 ratings
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70 The Aeneid
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 57,406 ratings
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71 Alice in Wonderland (Alice'...
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 198,938 ratings
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72 Candide
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 107,732 ratings
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73 Heart of Darkness and the C...
by
3.38 of 5 stars 3.38 avg rating — 161,685 ratings
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74 Confessions
by
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 20,714 ratings
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75 The I Ching, or Book of Cha...
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 10,001 ratings
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76 The Ego and the Id
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 4,865 ratings
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77 The General Theory of Emplo...
by
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 2,052 ratings
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78 Summa Theologica, 5 Vols
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 1,561 ratings
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79 Robinson Crusoe
by
3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 124,293 ratings
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80 Leviathan
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 17,890 ratings
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81 Lord of the Flies
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 1,192,699 ratings
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82 On War, Indexed Edition
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 5,142 ratings
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83 The Adventures of Sherlock ...
by
4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 111,117 ratings
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84 Little Women (Little Women,...
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 933,852 ratings
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85 Tao Te Ching
by
4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 53,609 ratings
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86 Selected Philosophical Writ...
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 329 ratings
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87 The Pilgrim's Progress
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 44,970 ratings
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88 Baby and Child Care
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 1,216 ratings
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89 Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomi...
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 1,943 ratings
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90 The Old Man and the Sea
by
3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 295,979 ratings
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91 Schindler's List
by
4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 80,111 ratings
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92 A Vindication of the Rights...
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 6,776 ratings
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93 Beowulf: A New Verse Transl...
by
3.37 of 5 stars 3.37 avg rating — 130,252 ratings
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94 Experiments in Plant Hybrid...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 44 ratings
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95 Introductory Lectures on Ps...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 3,276 ratings
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96 The Complete Grimm's Fairy ...
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 105,074 ratings
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97 Discourse on Method
by
3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 8,752 ratings
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98 Alcoholics Anonymous
by
4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 3,524 ratings
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99 The Analects
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 7,743 ratings
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100 The Satanic Verses
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 29,292 ratings
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flag this list (?)
751 books · 2,563 voters · list created November 15th, 2008 by Crazy Uncle Ryan (votes) .
379 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Crazy Uncle Ryan
Crazy Uncle Ryan
352 books
19 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
2391 books
459 friends
Alisa
Alisa
779 books
31 friends
Angel
Angel
1363 books
68 friends
Maren
Maren
58 books
15 friends
Ray
Ray
525 books
34 friends
Emily
Emily
300 books
21 friends
Emilytwo
Emilytwo
45 books
1 friend

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 84) (84 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 Amphy (new)

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

Really? I should love to hear your argument.


message 32: 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 33: 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 34: by Justin (new)

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


message 35: 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 36: 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 37: 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 38: by Ben (new)

Ben Good list!

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


message 39: by Miss Jimenez (new)

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


message 40: 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 42: 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 43: by M (new)

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


message 44: by Manray9 (new)

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


message 45: by Francisco (new)

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


message 46: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Ursenbach 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 47: by Talyn (new)

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


message 48: by Talyn (new)

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


message 49: by George (new)

George Eee Koran is number 3?!!!


message 50: by M (new)

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

yeah.?


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