by Daniel Smith
21 Jul 2022
The book has a unique status as an emblem of human culture and civilization. It is a vessel for sharing stories, dispersing knowledge, examining the nature of our extraordinary species and imagining what lies beyond our known world. Books ultimately provide an invaluable and comprehensive record of what it means to be human.
This volume takes a curated list of fifty of the most influential books of all time, putting each into its historical context. From ancient game-changers like the Epic of Gilgamesh, through sacred texts and works of philosophical rumination by the likes of Confucius and Plato, via scientific treatises, historic 'firsts' (like the first printed book) and cultural works of enduring impact (think Shakespeare, Cervantes and Joseph Heller), these are volumes that are at once both products of their societies and vital texts in moulding those same civilizations. It would take a lifetime and more to read and absorb all of them.
But this volume allows you to become ridiculously well read in just a fraction of the time. This isn't a celebration of the canon, it's about the books that have changed how we think and live - and which have changed the course of history.