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Joseph Kaminski

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June 17, 2018

The most influential books in history


What do you consider the most influential books in history?  As simple as that question may sound, it can be a rather controversial one. Are you interested in the sciences, the humanities, or a mixture of both? Personally, good philosophic or historical reads trump any other – although I do enjoy the occasional science fiction novel (don’t tell my colleagues). But, if you had to pick a handful of books that symbolized the intellectual progress and legacy of mankind, which books would you choose? According to the Balamand University in Lebanon, these following books mattered enough to symbolize the so-called staircase to knowledge:

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • The Republic – Plato
  • Diwān – Abul Tayyeb Al-Mutanabbi
  • Resalat – Abdul Alaa Al-Maarri
  • The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
  • Muqaddemat – Ibn Khaldun
  • The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Discourse on Method – Rene Descartes
  • The Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
  • Faust – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin*
  • The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche 
  • The Meaning of Relativity – Albert Einstein
  • The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
  • The Days – Taha Hussein
  • A Study of History – Arnold J. Toynbee
  • Cosmos – Carl Sagan
  • A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
  • Les Désorientés – Amin Maalouf
  • The Road Ahead – Bill Gates

*obscured in photo due to perspective of shot

What do you think? If you had to add any books to your own staircase of knowledge, what would you choose? I’d make the case for the additions of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Arrian’s The Anabasis of Alexander, Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, and George Orwell’s 1984. 

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4 Responses “The most influential books in history”

  1. May 26, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Aristotle Politics
    Analects of Confucius
    Das Kapital/Communist Manifesto Marx
    The Bible
    The Qur’an
    The Bhagavad Gita
    The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
    Main Kampf
    Gibbons Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
    Cervantes Don Quixote
    The Social Contract Jean Jacques Rousseau
    Homer Illiad and The Odyssey

    • May 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Really surprised you didn’t take the chance to type “Revelations of Herman Smiley and Stone Is Not Forever by Michael Andoscia” on your list.

  2. May 26, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex
    Copernicus Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs
    Newton’s Principia
    Thoreau On Civil Disobedience
    John Stewart Mill On Liberty
    Harriet Beacher Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    Cicero’s Dialogues

  3. May 26, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Here’s a few more. Just off the top of my head

    Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex
    Copernicus Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs
    Newton’s Principia
    Thoreau On Civil Disobedience
    John Stewart Mill On Liberty
    Harriet Beacher Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    Cicero’s Dialogues

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