We are used to polls and votes, where we are asked to tell our favorite books, favorite Italian restaurant in town, favorite politician. Our opinion and experience seems to be interesting to others. Some apps and channels on social media like foursquare, qype or yelp are mainly designed to satisfy our curiosity, what others like and also, the nice side effect, that we are asked about our own opinion.
We feel a certain pressure to check of some of those highly recommended things of our lists. Either the good Italian restaurant, that was recommended to us on foursquare, we still want to go to and eat the (quote) “best pizza in the world” or the impressive theatre production in the local theatre , we read about in the newspaper.
There is even a market of books, that satisfies our hunger for new lists. There is a publishing house only for lists, that provide info on new things you wanna tick of, before you bite the dust. On http://www.1001beforeyoudie.com you can get new inspirations on the newest collections of expectations: 1001 movies, 1001 albums, 1001 books, 1001 children’s cooks, 1001 video games, 1001 comics, 1001 classical, 1001 ideas and 1001 guitars that want to be watched, played, read, listened to, before you die.
These endeavors are very individual: “before YOU die.” It is about the individual completion of a personal life performance and achievement.
This week I read “12 books that changed the world. How words and wisdom have shaped our lives” by Melvyn Bragg. The author lives up to that promise.
Bragg lists 12 books, which – in his opinion – changed the world:
• Principia Mathematica (1687) — Isaac Newton
• Married Love (1918) — Marie Stopes
• Magna Carta (1215)
• Book of Rules of Association Football (1863)
• On the Origin of Species (1859) — Charles Darwin
• On the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1789) — William Wilberforce in Parliament, immediately printed in several versions
• A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) — Mary Wollstonecraft
• Experimental Researches in Electricity (three volumes, 1839, 1844, 1855) by Michael Faraday
• Patent Specification for Arkwright’s Spinning Machine (1769) — Richard Arkwright
• The King James Bible (1611) — William Tyndale and 54 scholars appointed by the king
• An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) — Adam Smith
• The First Folio (1623) — William Shakespeare
Every book is enfolded with a small introduction to the book itself. But the brief synopsis of the work is always interwoven with its place in history and the explanation of the period of the times. In his collection Bragg lists interesting insights to famous literature benchmarks, accompanied by stories behind some less well-known works.
Collective world culture heritage in literature?
In what way is this book different form the 1001beforeyoudie books?
Bragg does not dictate a canon of books as the required reading list. It is more his personal reading list. But he does not remain at a individual point. His list is not called “My favorite books” he calls it “12 books that changed the world.” This includes the possibility, that the books, Bragg is fond about, also might have changed others lives, counties, history or even the world. And this also includes the fact that the list is not exhausted yet (since he also didn’t write “THE 12 books that changed the world.”).
We don’t need to agree with Braggs choice, but the way he introduces to books, he likes and the way he debates why they changed the world is informative and inspirational.
Show, what you love
The German theologian Fulbert Steffensky ones said:
what you love.”
Bragg showed us the literature, he loves and the books, that made the most sense to him. He didn’t only mention the titles; he introduced us to the history and the background. This covered not only the study of literature and history, but also his personal reflection of the book.
I wish we, as Christians would be more able “to share, what we love”. Not in a 1001beforeyoudie way, but in a way, that attempts a personal testimony, which is meant as an inspiration to others.
Lets share, what we love and what changed our world!