Books That Shaped the World




While personal preferences in literature vary widely, certain books emerge that profoundly influence society. These works may achieve critical acclaim, garner prestigious awards, bring historical events to vivid life, cultivate a dedicated following, or provoke significant debate—often achieving all these feats simultaneously.

Most Important Books to Read

1. The Analects by Confucius

What is the greatest book ever written? (We’re talking about fiction.) It’s hard to define, but based on the number of quotes and mentions, it’s The Analects. To truly grasp the essence of China, it is essential to delve into Confucius’s Analects. Composed over 2,400 years ago, this text forms the bedrock of Chinese cultural norms.

For a Chinese individual, biblical passages like “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” might seem perplexing, as Confucius conveyed a starkly different perspective: “It is only the truly virtuous man who can love and hate others.” In Chinese culture, hate is considered a necessary moral position.

2. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

In his 1906 novel, investigative journalist Upton Sinclair exposes the grueling working conditions, severe poverty, and exploitation endured by predominantly immigrant workers in Chicago’s meatpacking industry.

While Sinclair’s primary intention was to shed light on the struggles of the working poor and the entrenched corruption among the powerful, the book also incited widespread concern about food safety. As Sinclair famously remarked, “I aimed for the public’s heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach.”

3. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

In “The Rights of Man,” Thomas Paine asserts that political revolution is justifiable and necessary when a government neglects its duty to safeguard the natural rights of its citizens. As a robust defense of the French Revolution, Paine’s 1791 publication gained widespread circulation and contested any societal institutions that failed to serve the nation’s best interests, notably targeting monarchies and aristocracies.

It’s hard to say which book will have the most transformative impact on you. This is why it is advisable to have a story-reading app, like FictionMe, with a large selection of books. In FictionMe you will find that life-transforming book sooner or later. At least the novel app will help you have a good time.

4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe’s most famous novel paints a vivid picture of a tribal community unraveling due to the influence of Christian missionaries. First published in 1958, this impactful book has achieved worldwide acclaim, selling over 10 million copies and being translated into approximately 50 languages. Today, it remains an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the profound effects of colonialism on African societies and their cultural identities.

5. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Darwin wasn’t the first to suggest that species have changed over time; the concept of evolution has existed in various forms since the ancient Greeks. However, it was Darwin—and, at the same time, Alfred Russel Wallace—who identified natural selection as the mechanism driving evolution.

Which book has the greatest influence on world history? “The Origin of Species” stirred controversy and challenged established beliefs. Darwin anticipated this reaction, which is why the book is composed in a calm, methodical, and rational manner, building its case incrementally.

He described it as “just one long argument,” using everyday examples to appeal to the common sense of his readers. He captured the essence of evolution with his words: “There is grandeur in this view of life…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It’s a widely accepted truth that a wealthy single man is bound to be looking for a wife. In Pride And Prejudice, we witness a sharp look at how social rules shaped relationships in Georgian Britain while following Lizzy Bennet as she navigates her feelings for Mr.Darcy amidst family pressures & society’s watchful eye.

If you get inspired by the book, you can find similar works in the FictionMe app or even create them using AI. Even though it’s not picking up where we left off, you can immerse yourself even more in all that defines this fascinating genre.

7. 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, depicting life under a totalitarian regime, has inspired an entire subgenre of literature. Works like Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange similarly imagine the future as a nightmarish realm devoid of freedoms and rights.

Terms from 1984—such as “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” and “thoughtcrime”—remain prevalent in contemporary discourse. The novel serves as a powerful reminder of the critical importance of freedom of thought and speech.


The books listed have already influenced society, but they do not lose relevance even for their contemporaries. If you are not familiar with any of the jobs listed, now is the time to correct that knowledge gap.

Claire S. Allen
Claire S. Allen
Hi there! I'm Claire S. Allen, a vibrant Gemini who's as bold as my favorite color, red. I'm a fan of two cool things: strolling the streets in a red jacket and crafting articles that connect with readers. With my warm and friendly personality, Claire is sure to brighten up your day!
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