100 Most Influential Books Ever Written
by Martin Seymour-Smith

Note: This list is in chronological order. I've gotten e-mails from people who complain that there are too many religious books on the list. Say what you want, but you cannot deny that religion has been influential in human history. I'm sure that's what Seymour-Smith had in mind

Frequently Asked Questions

Who wrote this list?

See the heading above and the credit below to find out who wrote this list. If you don't like the selections in this list or the arrangement, take it up with the author(s).

Why isn't my favorite author listed here?

This list may not include your favorite author, but he or she may be on other Great Books lists. Check the author index to see.

See the Great Books FAQ for more about the Great Books and these lists of them.

  1. The I Ching
  2. The Old Testament
  3. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
  4. The Upanishads
  5. The Way and Its Power, Lao-tzu
  6. The Avesta
  7. Analects, Confucius
  8. History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
  9. Works, Hippocrates
  10. Works, Aristotle
  11. History, Herodotus
  12. The Republic, Plato
  13. Elements, Euclid
  14. The Dhammapada
  15. Aeneid, Virgil
  16. On the Nature of Reality, Lucretius
  17. Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws, Philo of Alexandria
  18. The New Testament
  19. Lives, Plutarch
  20. Annals, from the Death of the Divine Augustus, Cornelius Tacitus
  21. The Gospel of Truth
  22. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
  23. Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Sextus Empiricus
  24. Enneads, Plotinus
  25. Confessions, Augustine of Hippo
  26. The Koran
  27. Guide for the Perplexed, Moses Maimonides
  28. The Kabbalah
  29. Summa Theologicae, Thomas Aquinas
  30. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
  31. In Praise of Folly, Desiderius Erasmus
  32. The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
  33. On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Martin Luther
  34. Gargantua and Pantagruel, François Rabelais
  35. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin
  36. On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs, Nicolaus Copernicus
  37. Essays, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
  38. Don Quixote, Parts I and II, Miguel de Cervantes
  39. The Harmony of the World, Johannes Kepler
  40. Novum Organum, Francis Bacon
  41. The First Folio [Works], William Shakespeare
  42. Dialogue Concerning Two New Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei
  43. Discourse on Method, René Descartes
  44. Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes
  45. Works, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
  46. Pensées, Blaise Pascal
  47. Ethics, Baruch de Spinoza
  48. Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
  49. Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton
  50. Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke
  51. The Principles of Human Knowledge, George Berkeley
  52. The New Science, Giambattista Vico
  53. A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume
  54. The Encyclopedia, Denis Diderot, ed
  55. A Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson
  56. Candide, François-Marie de Voltaire
  57. Common Sense, Thomas Paine
  58. An Enquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
  59. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
  60. Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant
  61. Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  62. Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke
  63. Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft
  64. An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, William Godwin
  65. An Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Robert Malthus
  66. Phenomenology of Spirit, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  67. The World as Will and Idea, Arthur Schopenhauer
  68. Course in the Positivist Philosophy, Auguste Comte
  69. On War, Carl Marie von Clausewitz
  70. Either/Or, Søren Kierkegaard
  71. The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  72. "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau
  73. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin
  74. On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
  75. First Principles, Herbert Spencer
  76. "Experiments with Plant Hybrids," Gregor Mendel
  77. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  78. Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, James Clerk Maxwell
  79. Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
  80. The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud
  81. Pragmatism, William James
  82. Relativity, Albert Einstein
  83. The Mind and Society, Vilfredo Pareto
  84. Psychological Types, Carl Gustav Jung
  85. I and Thou, Martin Buber
  86. The Trial, Franz Kafka
  87. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Karl Popper
  88. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes
  89. Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre
  90. The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek
  91. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  92. Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener
  93. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  94. Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
  95. Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein
  96. Syntactic Structures, Noam Chomsky
  97. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, T. S. Kuhn
  98. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
  99. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung [The Little Red Book], Mao Zedong
  100. Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B. F. Skinner

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First posted: December 2002