Friday, January 10, 2014

Books That Have Changed the Course of History

I was once serious about learning how to consult the I Ching. I had read a few memoirs written by members of the 1960s counterculture in which they talked about turning to the I Ching before making any serious decisions...or at least before leaving the house. So I figured I would try to unlock this ancient book's wisdom, even going as far as concurrently buying the I Ching for Beginners by Brandon Yusuf Toropov to help me along the way.
Image via the interwebs

After a while, however, the I Ching, the I Ching for Beginners, and three pennies began to gather dust on my bedside table. A few years later, I gave both books to a friend who had expressed interest in them. Still, I understood and respected the influence of this "Book of Changes," which has guided countless many throughout the centuries. "The importance of I Ching is phenomenal," stated Megan Willett, in an article for Business Insider. "Not only do Confucianism and Taoism have common roots here, but people around the world still use it for divination and fortune telling purposes to this day." For this reason, the I Ching has been recognized as one of the "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," according to Willett, who worked with Miriam Tuliao, assistant director of central collection at the New York Public Library, in compiling the list.

Among the "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," I was not surprised to see The Jungle by Upton Sinclair ("It galvanized public opinion and led to a forced government investigation that eventually caused the passage of pure food law"); Silent Spring by Rachel Carson ("The book is widely credited with helping launch the contemporary American environmental movement, spurring revolutionary changes in laws affecting our air, land, and water"); How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis ("Riis made it his mission to show the upper and middle class the dangerous conditions the poor faced every day with graphic descriptions, sketches, statistics, and his photographs"); and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ("The book helped spark second-wave feminism by encouraging women to look beyond marriage and motherhood for their fulfillment, and challenging traditional patriarchal expectations").

Other books on the list are On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin ("Not only was On the Origin of Species the foundation of evolutionary biology, but the concept of evolution and natural selection continues to have a major impact on modern scientific theories, politics, and religious discourse, particularly in the United States"); The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx ("the manifesto resonated with industrial workers across Europe, the U.S., and Russia with its rallying cry: 'Working men of all countries, unite!'"); and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass ("The book was fundamentally influential on the American abolitionist movement, as well as politics in the U.K. and Ireland, where Douglass later spoke publicly about his narrative"). Also on the list is Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (a "philosophical text about living life simplistically and working for the greater good"), which I want to read because of my interest in Taoism.

To see all "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," go to THIS LINK.

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