100 Most Influential Books of the Century by Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library's list of "The 100 Most Influential Books of the Century". A booklist for Adults.

  1. The Golden Bough by James George Frazer

    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). It first was ...


  2. How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis


  3. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

    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...


  4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  5. The History of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell


  6. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov


  7. Creatures that Once Were Men by Maksim Gorky


  8. The School and the Child by John Dewey

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  9. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

    1906 best-seller shockingly reveals intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards as it tells the brutally grim story of a Slavic family that emigrates to ...


  10. Pragmatism by William James


  11. The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori

    The Montessori method is a child-centered, alternative educational method based on the child development theories originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952) in the late nineteenth ...


  12. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

    Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...


  13. Psychology of the Unconscious by C.G. Jung

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  14. A Critique of the Theory of Evolution by Thomas Hunt Morgan


  15. Relativity by Albert Einstein

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


  16. Prufrock and Other Observations by T.S. Eliot


  17. Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

    Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 Blankenburg am Harz – 8 May 1936, Munich) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is bes...


  18. Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed

    Ten Days that Shook the World (1919) is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of ...


  19. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

    Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore) is the most famous and celebrated play by the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. The play is a satirical tragicomedy. It was ...


  20. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

    When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Spar...


  21. Ulysses by James Joyce

    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  22. I and Thou by Martin Buber

    Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937. Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two...


  23. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

    The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.


  24. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


  25. The Trial by Franz Kafka

    Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...


  26. Happiness in Marriage by Margaret Sanger


  27. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

    The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...


  28. Conditioned Reflexes by Ivan Pavlov


  29. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

    Being and Time is a book by German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although written quickly, and despite the fact that Heidegger never completed the project outlined in the introduction, it remains h...


  30. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

    Steppenwolf (orig. German Der Steppenwolf) is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining ...


  31. Judgement and Reasoning in the Child by Jean Piaget


  32. Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead

    Coming of Age in Samoa is a book by Margaret Mead based upon youth in Samoa and lightly relating to youth in America, first published in 1928. In the foreword to Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead's advi...


  33. Satyagraha in South Africa by Gandhi

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

    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...


  35. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

    All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and men...


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

    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 ...


  37. Behaviorism by John Watson


  38. The Masters and the Slaves by Gilberto Freyre

    Gilberto de Mello Freyre (March 15, 1900 – July 18, 1987) was a Brazilian sociologist, cultural anthropologist, historian, journalist and congressman. His best-known work is a sociological treatise...


  39. Man's Fate by Andre Malraux

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  40. Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict


  41. Uncertainty Principle by Werner Heisenberg


  42. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (originally Carnagey until 1922 and possibly somewhat later) (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous course...


  43. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

    The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was written by the English economist John Maynard Keynes. The book, generally considered to be his magnum opus, is largely credited with creatin...


  44. Genetics and the Origin of Species by Theodosius Dobzhansky

    Genetics and the Origin of Species (ISBN 0-231-05475-0) is a 1937 book by the Ukrainian-American evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky and one of the important books of the modern evolutiona...


  45. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  46. AA Big Book by Bill W

    The history of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been documented in books, movies, and AA literature from its founding in 1935 as a solution for alcoholism by Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.) and Dr. Rob...


  47. Native Son by Richard Wright

    The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl...


  48. Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

    Darkness At Noon stands as an unequaled fictional portrayal of the nightmare politics of our time. Its hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which ...


  49. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  50. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

    Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, is a 1943 philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre. Its main purpose was to...


  51. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

    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...


  52. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John Von Neumann

    Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944 by Princeton University Press, is a book by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern which is widely considered the gr...


  53. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  54. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock

    The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (often referred to simply as Baby and Child Care), written by Benjamin Spock, was first published on 14 July 1946, and is one of the biggest best-seller...


  55. The Stranger by Albert Camus

    Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story ...


  56. The Engineering of Consent by Edward Bernays

    "The Engineering of Consent" is an essay by Edward Bernays first published in 1947. He defines "engineering consent" as the art of manipulating people; specifically, the American citizen, who are d...


  57. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey


  58. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

    The Seven Storey Mountain is the autobiography of Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk and a noted author of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Merton finished the book in 1946 at the age of 31, five years afte...


  59. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

    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...


  60. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

    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...


  61. Cybernetics by Norbert Wiener

    Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to control theory and systems theory. Both in its origins and in its evolution in t...


  62. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. The story...


  63. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

    The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more...


  64. Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow


  65. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  66. Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

    Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published November 1, 1956. It contains Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl", which is considered to be one of the principal works of...


  67. The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

    The Power Elite is a book written by the sociologist, C. Wright Mills, in 1956. In it Mills called attention to the interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political ele...


  68. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Ayn Rand's epochal novel, first published in 1957, has been a bestseller for more than four decades as well as an intellectual landmark. It is the story of a man who said that he would stop the mot...


  69. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...


  70. Syntactic Structures by Noam Chomsky

    Syntactic Structures is an influential book by American linguist Noam Chomsky, first published in 1957. Widely regarded as one of the most important texts in the field of linguistics, this work lai...


  71. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...


  72. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume French cookbook written by American Julia Child, and Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle both of France. The book was written for the American ma...


  73. Art and Culture: Critical Essays by Clement Greenberg

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  74. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm...


  75. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

    This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing's "inner space fiction", her work that ...


  76. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange" and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co...


  77. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

    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...


  78. Smoking and Health by Surgeon General


  79. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

    The Feminine Mystique, published 25 February 1963, is a book written by Betty Friedan which brought to light the lack of fulfillment in many women's lives, which was generally kept hidden[citation ...


  80. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao

    Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (simplified Chinese: 毛主席语录; pinyin: Máo zhǔxí yǔlù), better known in the West as The Little Red Book, was published by the Government of the People's Republic of...


  81. Encyclicals of Pope John XXIII by Pope John XXIII

    Pope John XXIII issued eight Papal Encyclicals during his five-year reign as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, from his election on October 28, 1958 until his death on June 3, 1963. Two of his enc...


  82. On Aggression by Konrad Lorenz

    On Aggression (1966) is a book by ethologist Konrad Lorenz. As he writes in the prologue, "the subject of this book is aggression, that is to say the fighting instinct in beast and man which is dir...


  83. Intelligent Life in the Universe by Carl Sagan


  84. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...


  85. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson

    The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA written by James D. Watson and pub...


  86. The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Levi-Strauss


  87. In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall


  88. Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner

    In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner suggests that a technology of behavior could help to make a better society. We would, however, have to accept that an autonomous agent is not the driving forc...


  89. The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort

    The Joy of Sex is an illustrated sex manual by Alex Comfort, M.B., Ph.D., first published in 1972. An updated edition was released in September, 2008.


  90. Looking at Dance by Edwin Denby

    Edwin Orr Denby (February 4, 1903 – July 12, 1983) was one of the most important and influential American dance critics of the 20th century, as well as a poet and novelist. His dance reviews and es...


  91. Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich

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  92. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a massive narrative relying on eyewitness testimon...


  93. Philosophy of Modern Music by Theodor Adorno

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  94. Our Bodies, Ourselves by Our Bodies, Ourselves

    Our Bodies, Ourselves is a book about women's health and sexuality produced by the nonprofit organization Our Bodies Ourselves (originally called the Boston Women's Health Book Collective). First p...


  95. Roots by Alex Haley


  96. Reflections from Captivity by Ho Chi Minn

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  97. Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

    Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. According to Fra...


  98. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

    Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (published in May 1992) is a book by John Gray offering many suggestions for improving men-women relationships in couples by understanding the communication ...


  99. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

    Mein Kampf, in English: My Struggle, is a book by Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925...