A book could be just a book. It could also be a work of art. However, we are here today to discuss the books that changed the world, started fights, discourse, and, nearly, revolutions. Here are three titles that made the world a different place than it was before them. Originally, there were supposed to be more, but there is a chance that we will expand the list in another piece.
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Natural selection and evolution are the themes of the book some still reject as, shall we say, devilish or diabolical. Charles Darwin observed the world around him and wrote down what he saw. Knowing it would raise a lot of racket, he urged his readers to come up with their own conclusions. The book is essential to the study of biology and our understanding of how life perseveres.
There are several reasons why some people were not overly enthusiastic about the book. First of all, people enjoyed what they perceived to be the ‘natural order’ of things, where some people were better than others and, secondly, God was the one that created humans, so they must be special and masters of all they see. Evolution as a concept throws the monkey wrench in that idea. To learn more about some the controversy, you can read up on the famous Monkey Trial, or watch the film Inherit the Wind.
1984 by George Orwell
A society where you are not allowed to turn your TV off, where you can’t have any privacy, where critical thinking is a crime, as is anything you might say, do, or think – such is the world of Orwell’s 1984. The individuals are only allowed to connect to have children, but, apart from that, they can only love Big Brother and no one else.
The dystopian genre of literature has been heavily influenced by this work that serves as a cautionary tale. While we do not live in that world, there are some elements present here that should concern us, like the information we share unwittingly through social media or the Chinese social score system. It makes you think.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
There is really not much one can say about this one. It presents a first-hand experience of the horrors of World War II. If you are unfamiliar with the title, Anne Frank was a real person, the diary was really hers, and the book was published by her father after her death. It deals with the occupation of the Netherlands by the Nazis and the inhumane conditions in which the families lived while in hiding, which was still infinitely better than what awaited them outside.
While the events were moving and unsettling, as well as an important reminder of the tragedy that lasted for too long, not everyone was willing to acknowledge the book. In 2014, several hundred copies of the book were vandalized in Japan’s public libraries, and an armed Islamist group demanded the book be banned in schools as it was perceived to pander the Jews. Some people in Michigan and Virginia wanted the book banned because of sexual feelings listed and explored in it because, well, it was Michigan and Virginia. Still, a fine read and a powerful message.