Blogger: Rachel Kent
I found a list from the Boston Public Library of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century. You can view it here. It wasn’t put together through a study as far as I can tell, but someone clearly put a lot of thought into it and I’m impressed. I would have included the Bible, but that good book wasn’t written in the 20th century.
I’m not familiar with all of the books listed, but here are some I agree belong:
Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory — It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this one is on the list. 😉
Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness — I’ve read this book many times because it’s always assigned in English classes. Marlow, the main character, narrates his story as the men travel into the heart of the Congo to find Kurtz, a white man who has elevated himself in a society of natives. I think the exploration of the different cultures along with the unique ending (what Marlow tells Kurtz’s wife about his dying words) have put it up there as one of the most talked about books.
Anne Frank’s The Diary of Anne Frank — Anne’s story has touched many lives. Anne Frank’s story and Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place deserve the same amount of praise as top-notch, influential books.
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle — Often assigned to be read in high school, this book helped change the American labor movement in the early years of the 20th century. I also have a friend who became a vegetarian after she read this book. The spread of vegetarianism might not have been Upton Sinclair’s goal, but obviously people still respond to his words.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath — A history lesson for those in school now, Steinbeck’s novel has touched many lives with its depiction of life during the Great Depression.
Others that I’m familiar with that I feel belong:
Richard Wright’s Native Son–First revealed the appalling problem of systematic racism in our country. This novel gave me a glimpse into another life and made me more sympathetic to another culture.
Rainer Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front–Graphically describing the horrors of trench warfare, this novel gave us glimpses into what it means–rightly or wrongly– to be a patriot.
Arthur Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey–Of course most people have seen the movie, but it gave us a window into space exploration and a glimpse of the computer as not-our-friend.
Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams This book, along with all the writings of Freud, have strongly influenced psychology and our understanding of the human mind.
Are there any books on that list that you would take off?
Are there any you would add?
What are your favorites on the list?
How about the books on the list of books that didn’t quite make it? Are there some you think should be in the top 100?
I saw To Kill a Mockingbird on there. I know a lot of people think it is one of the best books ever written.
Wouldn’t it be so neat to have your book listed on the most influential books of the 21st century?
We can dream, right?