Some years ago Melvyn Bragg wrote a book about books that changed the world. Now Bryan Appleyard has done an article in the UK Sunday Times (July 19, 2009) entitled 12 Books That Helped Change the World. (reprinted in the Weekend Australian on September 5, 2009).
It’s worth a look, if only to check if you have read them. For the record, the books are:
– The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952) – I admit to having read this one in my youth, recommended by my father
– The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard (1957) – not read
– Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) – I still carry my 32 year old copy around on my bookshelf. Environmental classic.
The Use of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono (1967). He invented the idea, for goodness sake.
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970) – I missed this one (wrong demographic), but read The Women’s Room (by Marilyn French) instead.
In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. (1982) – the first and possibly most popular of the management literature. If you had written it, you would be a multi-millionaire now.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988) – admit to not reading this one. Appleyard describes it as “usually bought but unread”. Have you read it?
The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fkuyama (1992) – an interesting and debatable choice.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (2006) – only an atheist would include this one. Not my choice.
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007) – an interesting choice. Has it changed the world? No, not yet. Read it anyway. I have only read parts but go to it frequently.
These are all, in Appleyard’s words, “big ideas” books. I suppose he wanted only non-fiction, but fiction can also be big ideas. Think about it – do any novels belong there, having “changed the world”? More on this, along with a few of my “best” lists, soon.