On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin voted as most influential


Darwin On the Origin of SpeciesCharles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has been voted the most influential academic book. It was one of the 20 academic books that have changed the world, as voted for by leading academic booksellers, librarians and publishers. See the complete short list below.

Spanning subject areas as varied as science, feminism, politics, evolution and philosophy, the top 20 list of academic books that changed the world includes titles by authors as diverse as Stephen Hawking, Germaine Greer, Plato and Charles Darwin, as well as more surprising inclusions like William Shakespeare and George Orwell.

Chosen from 200 titles submitted by publishers across the UK, the top 20 list was selected by a committee of experts invited to take part by the Booksellers Association and The Academic Book of the Future project.

The top 20 academic books that changed the world:


  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  • Orientalism by Edward Said
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
  • The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson
  • The Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein
  • The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
  • The Republic by Plato
  • The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
  • The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger





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13 thoughts on “#20ABCWorld

    Propagandum said:
    October 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Aren’t these just *books* (not academic) that changed the world? 1984 isn’t academic, nor The Communist Manifesto, nor Shakespeare’s plays, nor …

    Liked by 3 people

      ken wilson said:
      October 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

      re:just “books” is correct. It’s a shallow popularity contest, I suspect many voters will vote without having actually read their choice..and who(m) reduced or produced “this” list?


      Reader said:
      October 18, 2015 at 11:42 am

      This is exactly the proposition that one of the organizers has asked earlier to challenge your own criteria for academic books/literature.

      Liked by 1 person

    Gerald Carter said:
    October 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I think Issac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” deserves this title, more so than most of these selections

    Liked by 2 people

      Steve Savitt said:
      October 16, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      I think this comment is correct. When it comes to changing the world, I do not see how Newton’s Principia has a rival, aside possibly for Einstein.


    Richard S. Tompkins said:
    October 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Seems odd that Principia Mathematica is not on the list: Maybe books written in Latin didn’t qualify even if published in UK.


      ? said:
      October 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Principal Mathematica wasn’t written in Latin, bruh.


      Hugh Penfold said:
      October 20, 2015 at 8:21 am

      100% agree


    Connie said:
    October 17, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Tough choice. There are so many other books which could have gone on this list. However, with the exception of Kant, Plato, and and Said, most are not academic books in the strictest sense of the word. Yes, all of them have been read by students and academics alike but, as great as they all are, are also frequently read by non-academics. If you want really academics books, you could have gone a bit deeper.


    Bryan said:
    October 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    In my opinion Tom Paine deserves the award. His Rights of Man, along with the American Constitution and the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French) cemented our idea of irrevokable human rights which we still respect today, the Geneva convention and many other norms of how to treat human beings. This also led to the civil rights and animal rights movements and much more.


    Daniel Winocour said:
    October 30, 2015 at 12:02 am

    What about Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?


    Gonzalo Munevar said:
    October 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Einstein’s work certainly changed the world. But he did that mostly with his original papers, rather than with his books (although I like his books). In terms of books, I don’t think any book changed our view of ourselves and our place in nature as much as Darwin’s Origin of Species.


    Barbara M Ford said:
    November 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Tough choice between Einstein and Darwin … my question is that these are (for the most part) English-language books and whether or not they have been read far and wide is the real question with regards to the one with the greatest impact. For example, Orwell’s 1984 is a grand book but how many people in Poland or Polynesia have read it … likewise the Shakespeare’s collected works. I’m not as upset as others regarding the use of “academic” as many if not all of the above are assigned readings for students depending on their grade level and courses. No matter what, it brings attention to these books and makes one think. Thinking is a good thing.


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