10 Most Influential Books

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(www.pixabay.com)

I recently had a request from a man who is my cousin but much more–my brother–about what books I consider to be the most influential, in terms of literature.

As a professor, I could not simply answer without considering several possibilities. Today I will post what I consider to be the ten most influential texts to the world of literature. Of course, this is my opinion and open to debate.

Here they are, in no particular order:

The Collected Works of Shakespeare. William Shakespeare.

The Illiad and The Odyssey. Homer.

The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer.

Le Morte d’ Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory.

Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes.

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley.

To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee.

Beloved. Toni Morrison.

Moby Dick. Herman Melville.

1984. George Orwell.

What do you think of this selection?

In another post,  I will offer ten books that have been personally influential.

Quotations From Writers From Earlier Times

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Today I will offer a few quotations from writers from earlier eras about creativity, learning, and teaching.

Geoffrey_Chaucer_-_Illustration_from_Cassell's_History_of_England_-_Century_Edition_-_published_circa_1902

(illustration from Cassell’s History Of England – Century Edition – published circa 1902)

“And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche”

“And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”

These are the Middle English and the Modern English versions of this quotation from “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This idea is of enormous importance to me, because I am both a teacher and a life-long student.  All people should try to continue to learn throughout their lives and to teach someone else the wisdom they have amassed.

shakespeare

(Portrait of William Shakespeare, attributed to John Taylor
NPG London)

“Suit the action to the word, the

word to the action, with this special observance, that you

o’erstep not the modesty of of nature. For anything so over-

done is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at

the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror

up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her

own image, and the very age and body of the time his

form and pressure.”

                                William Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 3. Scene2. lines 16-23)

Shakespeare speaks to the importance of representing life and humanity as it is and to examine the world in its complexities; it can also be an injunction for all creative efforts. I do not mean we should eliminate abstraction, metaphor, or altered forms, but that, at our core, we are creating art about humanity and our world.

Keep learning and keep sharing what you know.