50 Books That Changed the World by Open Education Database

"For centuries, books have been written in an attempt to share knowledge, inspiration, and discoveries. Sometimes those books make such an impact that they change the way the world thinks about things. The following books have done just that by providing readers an education in politics and government, literature, society, academic subjects such as science and math, and religion."

  1. I Ching by China

    Image of I Ching

    The I Ching, Classic of Changes or Book of Changes; also called Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or th...


  2. The Odyssey by Homer

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    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m...


  3. The Iliad by Homer

    Image of The Iliad

    The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and e...


  4. The Republic by Plato

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    The Republic is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written c. 380 B.C.E.. It is one of the most influential works of philosophy and political theory, and Plato's best known work. In Plato's fictional di...


  5. Analects by Confucius

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    Lunyu, also known as the Analects of Confucius, are considered a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions ...


  6. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu

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    The Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing, originally known as Laozi, a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China. The text's true authorship and date of composition o...


  7. Geography by Ptolemy

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    The Geography (Latin: Geographia, Cosmographia; Greek: Γεωγραφικὴ Ὑφήγησις Geographike Hyphegesis) is Ptolemy's main work besides the Almagest. It is a treatise on cartography and a compilation of ...


  8. Mahabharata by Vyasa

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    The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. The epic is part of the Hindu itihāsa (literally "history"), and forms an important part of Hi...


  9. The Quran by Various Authors

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    The Qur’an is the central religious text of Islam, also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Qur’ān, Koran, Alcoran or Al-Qur’ān. Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and dire...


  10. The Hebrew Bible by Jewish scripture

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    The Hebrew Bible is a term referring to the books of the Jewish Bible as originally written mostly in Biblical Hebrew with some Biblical Aramaic. The term closely corresponds to contents of the Jew...


  11. Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas

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    The Summa Theologica (Latin: "Summary of Theology" or "Highest Theology") or the Summa Theologiæ or simply the Summa, written 1265–1274) is the most famous work of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274), al...


  12. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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    With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a mo...


  13. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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    Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the ...


  14. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

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    Il Principe (The Prince) is a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. Originally called De Principatibus (About Principalities), it was origi...


  15. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

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    Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th...


  16. The Bible by Christian Church

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    The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 by the Church of England. Printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, the fi...


  17. First Folio by William Shakespeare

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    Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio. Printed in folio...


  18. Principia Mathematica by Issac Newton


  19. One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

    Image of One Thousand and One Nights

    One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Ni...


  20. A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson

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    Published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, sometimes published as Johnson's Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the histor...


  21. Common Sense by Thomas Paine


  22. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

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    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (generally referred to by the short title The Wealth of Nations) is the magnum opus written by Scottish economist and moral philosophe...


  23. Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

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    Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. It defen...


  24. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

    Image of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792), written by the eighteenth-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of...


  25. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

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    De la démocratie en Amérique (published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville on the United States in the 1830s and its strengt...


  26. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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    A Christmas Carol (originally, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas) is a novella by English author Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) about a curmudgeon and h...


  27. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

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    Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), often referred to as The Communist Manifesto, was published on February 21, 1848, and is one of the world's most infl...


  28. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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    First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...


  29. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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    Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African America...


  30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

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    Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.


  31. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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    For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shoc...


  32. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

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    Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on Thursday 24 November 1859, is a seminal work of scientific literature considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title...


  33. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

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    On Liberty is a philosophical work by 19th century English philosopher John Stuart Mill, first published in 1859. To the Victorian readers of the time it was a radical work, advocating moral and ec...


  34. Das Kapital by Karl Marx

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    Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (German pronunciation: [das kapiˈtaːl]) (Capital, in the English translation) is an extensive treatise on political economy written in German by Karl Ma...


  35. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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    Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi...


  36. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

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    This book introduces Freud's theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation. Dreams, in Freud's view, were all forms of "wish-fulfillment" — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a...


  37. Relativity by Albert Einstein

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    In clear, concise language that is accessible to all, Albert Einstein's brilliant theory is explained and its implications discussed.


  38. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Awakening Upon Dying by Padmasambhava, Karma Lingpa

    Image of The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Awakening Upon Dying

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Awakening Upon Dying, with introductory commentary by Dzogchen Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, is a new translation of the ancient text also known as The Great ...

    - Google

  39. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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    Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped i...


  40. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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    A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by . First published during 24 October 1929, it was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges ...


  41. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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    Set in the London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embod...


  42. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Since 1943, the wise little boy from Asteroid B-612 has led children and their adults to deeper understandings of love, friendship, and responsibility. The Little Prince is a cherished story, read ...

    - Google

  43. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the writings from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The...


  44. If This Is a Man by Primo Levi

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    If This Is a Man is a work of witness by the Italian author Primo Levi. It was influenced by his experiences in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during the Second World War. It can be described ...


  45. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  46. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

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    The Second Sex (French: Le Deuxième Sexe, June 1949) is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and of...


  47. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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    A novel of great power that turns the world upside down. The Nigerian novelist Achebe reached back to the early days of his people's encounter with colonialism, the 1890's, though the white man and...

    - Time

  48. Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara

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    Che Guevara, the larger-than-life hero of the 1959 revolutionary victory that overturned the Cuban dictatorship, believed that revolution would also topple the imperialist governments in Latin Amer...

    - Google

  49. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

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    Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin in September 1962. The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement. When Silent Spri...


  50. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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    "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky." Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering...

    - Google

  51. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling

    Image of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a ...