5 most influential books you should get your hands on
It is no secret that books have been influencing our lives throughout history. Whether they narrate the enchanting stories of love, tragedy, and war, or include satirical humor and social commentary, books have helped shape our views on life over time. Here are five influential books that you must read from BBC Culture's exhaustive list of stories that shaped the world.
Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en (circa 1592)
The Journey to the West is one of the most beloved classics of Chinese literature. It recounts the sixteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Hsuan-Tsang, who was one of China's most illustrious religious heroes, who journeyed to India with four animal disciples in quest of Buddhist scriptures. It is a combination of religious allegory with romance, fantasy, humor, and satire.
Candide by Voltaire (1759)
Candide is a tale of a man who believed he lives in the best of all possible worlds, though the truth may be far from this. It is a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism that proclaims that all disaster and human suffering are part of a benevolent cosmic plan. Alive with wit, brilliance, and graceful storytelling, Candide is Voltaire's most celebrated work.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
Crime and Punishment is a story of a destitute and desperate former student, Raskolnikiov. He wanders through the slums of St. Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. Following the murder, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience as he finds the noose of his own guilt gradually tightening around his neck.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1865-1867)
War and Peace is a literary work on Russia's struggle with Napolean. More than being a historical chronicle, it is an affirmation of life itself - "a complete picture," as a contemporary reviewer put it, `of everything in which people find their happiness and greatness, their grief and humiliation. Leo Tolstoy mixed a fictional narrative with chapters on history and philosophy.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a classic in modern American literature. The novel also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It was praised for its sensitive treatment of a child's awakening to racism and prejudice in the US. The book has been translated into 40 languages and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. Check out more such book recommendations.