Andrew Taylor – Your Invisible Mentor
I am interested in ancient wisdom and constantly looking for books written centuries ago to explore my idea that we can use yesterday’s concepts to solve today’s problems. I wanted a source where an author distilled the works of others. And that’s why I bought and read Books That Changed The World: The 50 Most Influential Books in Human History by Andrew Taylor. I appreciate that most of the books he focused on were published over five decades ago – only three books were written less that five decades ago: Silent Spring (1962), Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book) (1964), and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
(1997). And the earliest work is The Iliad (8th Century BC).
Andrew Taylor introduces readers to many books that they probably would not know about. In Books That Changed The World, he presents a summary of the work he is discussing, but he also talks about other major works by the author, who influenced them, what was happening in society when the book was written, in other words he provides context for the book. After reading the summaries you can easily determine which book you’d actually want to read, and for me that was very important. And in many of the works presented, if you are paying attention, you discover new processes and systems that you can use in your life.
In How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book), Mortimer Adler says there are three reasons to read a book: for entertainment, information and to further knowledge. I had two objectives for reading Books That Changed the World, for information and to further my knowledge, and I was not disappointed. If you haven’t done so already, please read yesterday’s post, Three Steps to Claim Legitimacy for Your Work which uses this book to demonstrate a point.
I was surprised to find The Telephone Directory (1878) included among the 50 books, but after you read the summary you clearly understand why. “The telephone also created an occasion for the technology of communication to join with a much old[er] technology – print. Subscribers to the new telephone services needed to know how to contact other subscribers – otherwise the new invention would be little more than a toy. Hence the publication of the first telephone directory, called simply The Telephone Directory [by New Haven District Telephone Company].”
I enjoyed reading, and really appreciated Books That Changed The World because I learned who introduced or legitimized the fields of history, geography, medicine and so on and it was nice to be in-the-know with classics such as Canterbury Tales, Madame Bovary, Moby Dick… Based on what I learned after reading Books That Changed The World, some of the books I plan to scan or read (some of them are too long to read) are:
- The Histories, Herodotus (5th Century BC)
- Odes (The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace), Horace (23 – 13 BC)
- Geographia, Ptolemy (C.AD 100 – 170)
- Canon of Medicine, Avicenna (1025)
- Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1605 – 15)
- Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei (1632)
- Moby Dick; Or The Whale, Herman Melville (1851)
- Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (1857)
- The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes (1936)
I recommend Books That Changed The World: The 50 Most Influential Books in Human History by Andrew Taylor. Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. All book links are affiliate links