Last week at the seaside, while I was browsing in my favourite second-hand bookshop, the owner said to me “If I was going to create a shelf called ‘Change the World’, what books would you recommend to go on it?” I started reeling off the books that have most influenced me, soon realised that this could take quite a long time, then decided that it would be far more fun to ask Twitter. So I tweeted:
Within a week, thanks to the Twitterati, 300 fantastic recommendations came pouring in. Amongst all the tweets and replies, I was really lucky to meet Lucy Feibusch who very generously offered to compile the long stream of suggestions into one incredibly valuable list by clustering them into broad thematic categories – and she even topped off each one with a one-line summary and link (wow, thank you Lucy!)
So here’s a hive-mind response to the bookshop-keeper’s question.
You can download the complete list here as pdf or as a Googlesheet. Lucy and I stopped when we reached 300 books and we are not going to add any more to it here – but do feel free to download and start curating your own version. Better still, the clever folks at 7Vortex have since turned it into a fabulous ecosystem of ideas, which can be continually added to so do add more if you think something essential is missing.
Of course it doesn’t include everything (only what Twitter suggested last week) and, like any quirky second-hand bookshop, it does include a few anomalies (you can decide which ones they are). Many of the books could have been put under different categories – but remember this is a seaside list, not a library catalogue, so we hope you enjoy, use, and share it in that spirit.
And if you are wondering where this particular seaside bookshop is, well the owner is social-media shy so I promised not to tell. If you happen to know it, keep it to yourself. If you don’t, why not head to your own favourite bookshop (secondhand or new) or your local library, share the list, and suggest they create their own ‘Change the World’ shelf. Who knows what that might lead to…
Here’s to the power of books and the inspiration of the crowd. Get browsing.
Kate and Lucy