Top 10 books

Arniv Sharda (CA Final) (3006 Points)

02 February 2012  

This topic is a very subjective one, and I realise that there will be many disagreements with my selected 10 books. Feel free to add any additional books with a reason, to the comments field.


1. The Bible – Various Authors (circa 30AD – 90AD)-The Bible comprises two books – the Old Testament (taken from the Greek edition used by Christ and the apostles) and the New Testament (written by some of the Apostles of Jesus after his death – including St Paul who did not meet Christ during His lifetime).

The Gutenberg bible (a copy of the Latin Vulgate) was the first book ever published on the printing press. The Bible is the most purchased book in the world.

2. The Qur’an – Various Authors (650AD to 656AD)-The Qur’an is the holy book of the Islamic religion. The founder of Islam, Mohammed told his followers that he was given revelations by the Angel Gabriel. These revelations (spanning 23 years) form the basis of the Qur’an. After Mohammed’s death in 632 the Qur’an was recorded by word of mouth only; it was not for another 20 years that the various memories of his words were collected and combined.

3. The Summa Theologica – St. Thomas Aquinas (1265 – 1274)-The Summa Theologica is a multi-volume set of books which outlines in the most precise manner, the doctrines and beliefs of Christianity. It was held in such high regard, that second to the Bible, it was the book most used for reference at the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563). Its influence was felt all across the Christian World as the reforms of the Council of Trent were implemented.

4. The Rights of Man – Thomas Paine (1791)-Paine, an English writer, influenced American Democracy and Democracy in general with his writings. According to Paine, the sole purpose of the government is to protect the irrefutable rights inherent to every human being. Thus all institutions which do not benefit a nation are illegitimate, including the monarchy (and the nobility) and the military establishment.

5. Either/Or – Søren Kierkegaard (1843)-This book, by the father of existentialism has been highly influential with other existentialists. Despite its great popularity, it was not published in English until 1944. Existentialism is a philosophical movement that claims that individual human beings have full responsibility for creating the meanings of their own lives. It is a reaction against more traditional philosophies, such as rationalism and empiricism.

6. Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels-This tract, written by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the behest of the Communist League, has become one of the most influential political tracts in history. The Manifesto suggested a course of action for a proletarian (working class) revolution to overthrow the bourgeois social order and to eventually bring about a classless and stateless society.

7. Experimental Research in Electricity – Michael Faraday (1855)-Faraday was an English chemist and physicist whose many experiments with electricity ultimately lead to his invention of electromagnetic rotary devices which formed the foundation of electric motor technology. Although he received little formal education and thus higher mathematics like calculus were always out of his reach, he went on to become one of the most influential scientists in history.

8. On the Origin of Species – Charles Darwin (1859)-This book by Darwin is considered a seminal work in the field of evolutionary biology. It proposes that over time, through natural selection, species evolve. It was a highly controversial book as it contradicted many religious views on biology at the time. Darwin’s book was the culmination of evidence he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s and expanded through continuing investigations and experiments since his return to England.

9. The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir (1949)-The Second Sex is the best known work of Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir wrote the book after attempting to write about herself. The first thing she wrote was that she was a woman, but she realized that she needed to define what a woman was, which became the intent of the book. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major feminist work. In it she argues that women throughout history have been defined as the “other” s*x, an aberration from the “normal” male s*x.

10. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand (1957) -Atlas Shrugged was Rand’s last work before she devoted her time exclusively to philosophical writing. This book contains a variety of themes that would later become the core of her philosophy Objectivism. She considered it to be her magnum opus and is it the most popular of her non-fiction work.