The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written

Book review by Deane Barker tags: books

I didn’t love this book. Note that the author is claiming the 100 “most influential” books, not the best (which is subjective anyway).

I got annoyed with the arrogance of the author. He writes with a palpable disdain for anything he doesn’t like, particularly religion. (I mean, we get it – you’re an atheist and you think religion is stupid. Thanks for mentioning that, often.)

Be prepared for a lot of very old books that you probably don’t know. It turns out that older books that survived long enough to be canonized were usually about philosophy or religion (see The Lindy Effect). It makes you wonder if they had tabloids or trash fiction back then. This is probably why we have such a serious view of old writing – we assume it’s about serious topics, because of the natural survivor bias of the books people still talk about.

They’re in the chronological order, so if you want to start with books you know or that relate to your generation, then read the chapters in reverse (they all seem self-contained, so this is fine). the later books are just as much about the author as the work – each chapter is as much a biography as literary critique.

Book Info

Martin Seymour-Smith
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A hardcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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