Rebuilding The Future: What book would you bring?

An ongoing dinner table discussion has been the question of “what three books would you take to help rebuild the future?” This discussion was prompted by a final scene in the 1960 film The Time Machine, based on the novel by H.G. Wells, where the hero returns to the future taking three books from his shelves with him to help rebuild civilisation. 1

Some may argue that we live in a post-literate world, but this can be easily discarded as a concern when it becomes increasingly obvious that communication is key to everything. Author Neil Gaiman argues that “we navigate the world with words” and “people who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate.” 2 Communication still is the center node of our civilisation, and whether it be physical or e- books, literature still holds a valuable place. Reading is about freedom: freedom to read, freedom of ideas, and a freedom to communicate: “It is about education, about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.” 3 Information can come in many forms, but it always has value for someone. It could be simply when to plant crops, or where to find things, or how to make things, or how to understand people. As such, when pondering the opening question we need to begin to consider: what information is most important?

If the future is similar to where we are already heading with generations that are increasingly less literate, then the value of books cannot be underestimated. New generations may be even less able to navigate the world, to understand and solve problems. They may be easily misled and misinformed. If we are responsible to the future then we cannot overlook the importance of books. 4 As Gaiman wrote:

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

Books affect people in different ways and can help us share knowledge, inspiration and discoveries in many fields. 5 Throughout time some books have had a greater impact than others, even changing the face of history and people’s understandings forever. 6 So the question remains: what is most important for the rebuilding of the future?

Encyclopaedias and Dictionaries

The first category is one that to a degree needs to be seriously considered. Before even considering any other texts, is not the requirement of basic literacy to be able to read those texts? Both dictionaries and encyclopaedias have always held central importance in the learning of basic literacy skills. (I will note that as English is my first language I have prioritised this language, however, this entire argument and list of texts could be in any language – I actually don’t believe it necessarily matters which language, as long as it meets the needs of the future you are attempting to rebuild.)

A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson. Considered the most influential dictionary of the English language, Johnson compiled this book over seven years independently. Despite being credited as the foundational text for the study of the English language and lexicography, Johnson’s dictionary was not the first of its kind, but it was the most comprehensive and well-researched. 7 Quite frankly any comprehensive dictionary could be placed here, but when considering Gaiman’s stance that books are a way to speak with the dead it seems fitting to select a foundational dictionary.

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. One volume of general information presented in bite sized chunks to get one started reeducating the world. 8 This is a difficult selection, as obviously a full set of encyclopedias could be very helpful, yet we are restricted to only three books in total, so a condensed works could be very useful. Encyclopedias collect a wealth of facts and general information, however, it is important to perhaps consider the framework of the one being selected as they tend to privilege the society and time in which they are produced.

Manuals

This is an incredibly broad category and would include functional texts belonging to science and history. They include any text that can be used to help people understand how something functions. Since the question was originally prompted by Wells’ novel it is often believed that the hero would have taken scientific texts due to Wells’ own interest in speculative science. However, the selection of manuals can be as dangerous as selecting religious texts. Not all scientific knowledge has led to the betterment of humankind. 9

Pocket Ref or its big brother Desk Ref. All the essential formulas and mechanical information for basic essentials of modern life and even such things as flight. The foundations that underlie modern technology can be found in this tiny little book.

Gray’s Anatomy. You are going to need a head start on the field of medicine. This is the classic source that covers many of the basics and can be extrapolated upon. 10

Elements by Euclid. Written in Alexandria around 300BC, Elements is a 13-book treatise whose 465 theorems lay down what the Greeks knew about geometry at that time. Highlights include a proof of Pythagoras’s theorem, and proof that there are an infinite number of prime numbers. 11

These are only three suggestions. There are a plethora of basic manuals on agriculture, engineering, mechanics, medicine, and more that would also be important in a developing society. In many ways this category fits the “need” of the future as they are practical texts that would help in daily life. If the primary concern would be the actual “rebuilding” of science and technology, then this category would be very important.

Classic Literature

One of the hardest questions to address is if we should prioritise ancient and classic literature over modern. After all, this was the literature that shaped our own future, so does it not too have great value for shaping a new future? A number of texts in this category also offer insight to aspects of civilisation concerning ethics, morals, and philosophy. Here are some texts that could support a preference for this area:

The Republic by Plato. Written around 380 BCE, this text is considered to be one of the most influential pieces ever written. The Republic observes justice in man and politics and discusses the role of the philosopher in society. Many of the intellectual concepts contained in The Republic are still discussed today, but the text is also an important historical document that provides historians with a snapshot of Greece at the time of its writing.

Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy is an epic poem that details a journey through the realms of the afterlife and, allegorically, the soul’s discovery of God. Long considered to be the greatest piece of Italian literature, the Divine Comedy also provides us with a closer view of medieval Christian theology and philosophy.

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. These two ancient Greek epic poems are not only the preeminent works in ancient Greek literature, but they are also incredibly influential texts for all forms of art, thought, and music in Western civilisation. The Iliad details a few weeks during the end of the Trojan War and the Odyssey describes Odysseus’ ten-year journey home from the Trojan War. These two works are important for their detail of Greek history and legend, the composition of story, and the development of themes.

Geographia by Ptolemy. Ptolemy wrote and mapped the world according to the knowledge he had available to him in the 2nd century. His maps and methodologies were used for hundreds of years afterward. Today’s cartography is directly descended from Ptolemy’s work. 12 An interesting addition that could be coupled with a modern Atlas to help people with the remapping of their world.

Aesop’s Fables. Aesop’s Fables are a collection of fables and tales credited to Aesop, a slave in ancient Greece who is purported to have either written them or collected them sometime during his life between between 620 and 560 BCE. The fact that these tales written in ancient Greece by a slave are still well known to this day is astounding. Fables like The Tortoise and the Hare and The Ant and the Grasshopper are still taught to young children around the world and reinterpreted in various forms. The stories use animal characters in funny and often fantastic situations to illustrate simple life lessons such as “slow and steady wins the race” and “to work today is to eat tomorrow.” The fables can probably continue to be used to teach simple moral lessons for a long time to come. 13

Religious Texts

One area of great discontent in this argument is the inclusion of religious texts. 14 Many people raise the point that such texts include guidance for morals, ethics, and social construction. Their stories can offer answers to moral dilemmas and provide an understanding to the background of the world that came before. However, many others point out, fairly, the numerous wars, discontent and death that has been tied to an over emphasis on religion in our world. After all many dystopian stories have already reflected the dangers of letting such books continue into the future. A good reason to either ignore this category or to at least choose carefully.

The Bible. This sacred text brought Christianity to the world and has continued to serve as a source of inspiration for millions of people. It is the most translated and the most frequently purchased book in the world.

The Qur’an. The sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an is believed to be the last word of God told to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years. This book is the cornerstone of the Islamic religion.

The Torah. The written laws and teachings that are contained in the Tanakh have offered a way of life for those of the Jewish faith. The text provides teaching and methods of practice for daily living and has influenced art and literature in countless ways.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Perhaps the most well-known Tibetan text, this book was written by a Tibetan monk and discusses what happens during death, the time between death and rebirth, and rebirth.

The Analects by Confucius. The Analects is a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. The text has been read and studied in China for the last 2,000 years and has had a monumental impact on Chinese culture, values, art, and thought. 15

General Fiction

As Gaiman argues, fiction is more than just a way to develop literacy skills. It is a way to learn about the world, to look through the eyes of other people, to see that others too have struggled, experienced and loved as you do. 16 Fiction is a way to build empathy, a value that is often seen too little in our world, and would be a vital value for the future. Empathy is a tool that can be used to build people into groups, rather than being simply self-obsessed individuals. 17 More than this too, it can offer a vision for new futures, new hopes and a path forward.

Often a key complaint levelled against general fiction is that it is nothing more than escapism. Yet, not everyone shares the same level of a content life, and who knows what the future will be. Gaiman offered that the strength of fiction is that it can offer an avenue to carry one beyond the terrible situation one is currently trapped within. He asks “if you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn’t you take it?” 18 Fiction can open a door, it can shine sunshine on a dark day, or provide a place to go when one has no exit. 19 It can also provide knowledge: knowledge about the world and your predicament, and it can provide “weapons and armor” to escape for real.

However, within fiction is a plethora of range. A plethora of ever expanding genres and sub-genres that meet the needs of a variety of readers. We select certain books because something in the story resonates within us. Reading these particular novels gives us a sense of belonging, of being on familiar ground. 20 It fulfills a human need for old-fashioned storytelling that helps blunt the harsh realities of life. 21 As such I have offered a very narrow range taken not only from a love of such literature, but instead an acknowledgement of the important messages such stories have to share.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The novel written in 1960 deals with issues of race and class discrimination, but in a way which is almost uniquely accessible to younger and older readers alike.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Though Tolstoy was hesitant to call this a novel, War and Peace is often included in the discussion of the best novels of all time. Chronicling the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the book looks at the psychological effects of the war and the philosophical discussions that it created. 22

The complete works of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is not only an influential source for many modern writers, and could be used as such in the future, it is also in itself based on many older stories. The complete works provides stories of tragedy, comedy and histories, all of which offer a view to understanding human nature.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Written in 1957 it helped found and sustain the new economics, which rejects ethical altruism in favour of unfettered capitalism, and puts the concept of self, before society. Rand termed her philosophy “Objectivism”, describing its essence as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life.” 23

Non-fiction

Information itself is important to any society. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. But we don’t know what information our future will need, as such it is difficult to gauge what type of texts in this enormous category would be of the most use. I have added this section as separate to manuals to allow for the inclusion of theoretical texts that have both reflected and shaped modern society.

The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. The Rights of Man argues that political revolution is acceptable and permissible when a government fails to perform its duty of protecting the natural rights of its citizens. Written as a defense of the French Revolution, Paine’s 1791 book was widely circulated and challenged all societal institutions that don’t benefit the nation overall, including institutions such as monarchies and aristocracies.

The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft. Considered the first great treatise on feminism, Wollstonecraft’s text was written in response to those who felt that women should not be educated. She argued that women are deserving of an education that is proportionate to their position in society, that of educators and companions. Wollstonecraft demonstrated that inequality is not only morally and ethically wrong, but is also economically and socially irresponsible.

Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton. Written while Cambridge was closed because of the plague, Newton’s Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica details the principles of gravity, mechanics, calculus, and light and color. This book set the stage for modern studies of both math and physics.

The Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein. The Meaning of Relativity is a collection of the Stafford Little Lectures made by Albert Einstein in 1921 at Princeton University. Delivered five years after Einstein’s groundbreaking paper on general relativity was published, these lectures sum up the man’s work.

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. This work by Darwin laid out the foundation for the theory of evolution. Since its publication, the book’s theories and observations have helped make life sciences what they are today. Darwin’s adaptation and evolutionary model still aid modern scientists as they build a better understanding of all Earth’s species, including our own. 24

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. A Sand County Almanac, first published in 1949, a year after its author’s death, is one of the most influential books about the natural world ever published. It helped to transform what had been an essentially conservative, utilitarian conservation movement into the first stirrings of an ecologically centred green movement in the west. 25


There are obviously arguments that can be made for many different texts, and even for ignoring or privileging particular categories. There is even the discussion of what will the future look like? Without seeing it in advance how is one to know what to take? Will we need instructional basics more than social and ethical texts? Or is the future a soulless place that needs empathy and storytelling? Without knowing what future lies ahead it becomes about the texts you believe will make the best future. Personally I would attempt to take a mix: Grey’s Anatomy, because I think of all things we need medical knowledge and an understanding of the human body is always important; an agricultural guide since I know nothing about farming and think that is true of many people, so something along the lines of A Hobby Farmer’s Guide for Dummies; and finally I would take the Collected Works of Shakespeare, for if this was the only literature to survive it is a great source for inspiration, an interesting selection of language and if I could reshape the future where everyone speaks in iambic pentameter I think that would be awesome.

The question remains: what would you take to help rebuild the future?

Works Cited

  1. Michael. (2011). “Which three books would you have taken?” People’s Library. Retrieved from https://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/which-three-books-would-you-have-taken/
  2. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  3. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  4. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  5. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  6. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  7. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  8. Michael. (2011). “Which three books would you have taken?” People’s Library. Retrieved from https://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/which-three-books-would-you-have-taken/
  9. Chimes Freedom. (2015). What are your 3 books to build civilization. Chimes Freedom. Retrieved from http://www.chimesfreedom.com/2015/03/10/what-are-your-3-books-to-build-civilization/
  10. Michael. (2011). “Which three books would you have taken?” People’s Library. Retrieved from https://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/which-three-books-would-you-have-taken/
  11. Ten books that changed the world. (2015). The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/07/10-books-that-shaped-the-world
  12. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  13. Sahagian, J. (2017). The top 25 books that changed the world. Cheat Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/the-top-25-books-that-changed-the-world.html/?a=viewall
  14. Chimes Freedom. (2015). What are your 3 books to build civilization. Chimes Freedom. Retrieved from http://www.chimesfreedom.com/2015/03/10/what-are-your-3-books-to-build-civilization/
  15. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  16. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  17. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  18. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  19. Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
  20. Patterson, A. (2016). The 17 most popular genres in fiction – and why they matter. Writers Write. Retrieved from https://writerswrite.co.za/the-17-most-popular-genres-in-fiction-and-why-they-matter/
  21. Patterson, A. (2016). The 17 most popular genres in fiction – and why they matter. Writers Write. Retrieved from https://writerswrite.co.za/the-17-most-popular-genres-in-fiction-and-why-they-matter/
  22. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  23. 20 novels that changed the world. (2012). Unpublished Writer Blog. Retrieved from https://unpublishedwriterblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/20-novels-that-changed-the-world/
  24. The 50 most influential books of all time. (2018). OEDB. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/50_books_that_changed_the_world/
  25. Ten books that changed the world. (2015). The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/07/10-books-that-shaped-the-world

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Sarai is a free-lance literature enthusiast who current works as a sessional academic. An avid horror and fantasy reader she is an advocate for its cultural importance.

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53 Comments

  1. Scot
    0

    “Biggles Buries The Hatchet”. Reconciliation and forgiveness are at the heart of this text. The scene where Biggles and Erich von Stalhein shake hands over a glass of schnapps is such a reaffirmation of human values.

    • Ray
      0

      The Biggles books changed my life when I was a kid and helped set me in the direction of world literature. I have great affection for them still, and Biggles Buries the Hatchet is certainly one of the best. My personal favourite is Biggles in the Orient.

  2. Jeramy
    0

    The Lord of the Rings for it’s pre-empting of the Green movement and its radical unconscious secularisation of catholic values.

  3. westfall
    1

    Douglas Adams, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    • Montero
      1

      Indeed, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s parochial style changed forever our way of looking at the universe. The prosaic forever replaced the numinous. Good choice

  4. Kym
    0

    In my first years in university, I was headed into a life of a jazz musician until a short summer course wherein I had to read Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.” I had three weeks to read them and hand in a paper discussing the three. I did it, got a good mark, and shortly after, wrote my first short fiction. I have been writing ever since.

    And teaching writing at several universities. Talk about what books can do!

  5. Michale
    0

    Oh, I do love an article containing lists!

    It’s guaranteed to get us worked up about who’s in, who’s been left out, how did that no-talent mediocrity get in while my favourite entries were overlooked.

    One thing for sure – whether you agree with the list, as posted here, or whether you want to offer your own alternate list, all the proposed texts will have something of value and will be worth further investigation.

  6. Nakita
    0

    Beloved by Toni Morrison.

  7. palm
    0

    A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

  8. An Custer
    0

    Collapse, By Professor Jared Diamond

    the most important book in the world
    its ommission shows hoe deep in denial we are

  9. Sean Gadus

    This is a really interesting idea for an article! Awesome job! 🙂

  10. A good essay. Just going through the books discussed here gets me thinking about what I would remove from those discussed here and replace with others. But, then, we can all do that, which is, perhaps, the point of an essay like this. It is difficult to establish which books really matter more than others and why.

  11. Novak
    0

    We should occasionally acknowledge the downside of reading.

    People who are literate- but not well educated are very vulnerable to propaganda.

  12. Corine
    0

    I don’t know where I’d be without libraries in my youth – they were an escape. A treasure trove of endless wonder.

    • Treva
      0

      Libraries were a great model for the last centuries. I’m not so sure of that, now that everything is on the internet. People don’t go to libraries for information any more. They go to Google. It’s quicker and offers a wider range of information.

  13. Micah
    0

    Good to see Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687) on this list… key to the idea of a mathematical and logical view of the world. The foundation of modern physical sciences and hence most of our modern world.

    • Khadijah
      0

      There is always a problem with Newton in that he was not only a physicist (although he would never have called himself that); he was something of a magus or, at least, a Neo-Platonist. At the tercentenary of Newton’s birth, John Maynard Keynes described him as the last of the magicians, ‘Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.’

  14. omid
    0

    1984.

    • kinaah
      0

      It would be in my list, but I fear rather than influencing the world, 1984 merely made some quite accurate predictions..

  15. Schwarz
    0

    Lord. Of. The. Rings.

    • Wend
      0

      Indeed. Since that was published the number of people who speak Elvish and/or are 4 foot tall with massive hairy feet has skyrocketed.

    • Everette
      1

      Nothing even comes close to Lord of the Rings in terms of number of people alive today who have read it, enjoyed it and would consider it a positive experience and influence on their lives.

  16. hazz
    0

    Fifty Shades of Gray?

    • Wes Wu
      0

      I wish I could say he’s joking, but its actual impact on the world is probably greater than several of the books on the author’s list.

      • Edris
        0

        There is no real long term impact – it is cheap porn, but people read so little, any book is thought to be ‘literature’ and any porn book ‘erotica’.

        We all know the best book to tug off to is The Delta of Venus. Who will be reading Fifty Shades of Grey in 40 years time?

  17. CASE
    0

    What about Rousseau and The Social Contract?

  18. mikajh
    0

    The Writings of Mao Zedong and the Writings of Deng Xiaoping: the former resulted in the creation of modern China, and the latter prompted the reform of China such that it is now transforming the whole world.

    • assmemes
      0

      I would forget Deng’s revisionist stuff – that’s about roading capitalism back to capitalism and the past. It really has nothing to offer in comparison to Mao’s ideas.

  19. lizz
    1

    Machiavelli – The Prince
    Thomas More – Utopia
    William Tynedale – translator of The Bible into English
    Richard Overton – Leveller pamphleteer
    John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
    Mary Wollstonecraft – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

  20. Le Bolling
    0

    What? None from the Harry Potter series? Get out of here!

  21. Bale
    0

    The Great Terror by Robert Conquest. Or Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn.

    • Maddie
      0

      Thank you for mentioning Solzhenitsyn . I was thinking either Gulag or “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, which was bravely distributed in the Soviet Union. Let’s also not forget Eric Arthur Blair’s “1984” either.

  22. Lai
    0

    A New Voyage Around the World by William Dampier. It inspired a great deal of exploration and a fair few book writers.

  23. Salgado
    0

    Janet and Johnl books changed my life.

    Made me strive for better reading skills to get away from that shite.

  24. Salina
    0

    Two thumbs up to this article – in fact I may grow another arm just to give the additional thumb up this deserves.

    • Edie Beeler
      0

      Now there’s fiction talking! – Three thumbs up!

  25. nice article

  26. Matson
    0

    Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Sirens of Titan” tells you why these books were written.

  27. Starzinger
    0

    Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. No greater love story had been told. Probably.

  28. Definitely think classic literature is important for future civilisation!

  29. Amyus

    Hi Sarai. When you took this topic I was intrigued to see how you would approach it, so I’m pleased with what you’ve produced. Thought provoking indeed and it’s certainly generated a healthy discussion; even if some of the comments were somewhat off topic and seemed to miss the point of the article. The only comment I can really add is then when considering the original topic suggestion, the one subject I would steer clear of when attempting to rebuild the future would be religion. Any developing culture must be permitted to create its own belief system with regard to its place in the great scheme of life, the universe and everything and not be overly influenced by dogma from another mindset. After all, who is to say whether the teachings of *insert name of religion here* is the ‘right’ one and indeed if it is even relevant? Anyway, great article and an enjoyable read. Thank you.

    • Munjeera

      Hi Amyus,

      I read your response with great interest and understand concerns about back door proselytization. I think it could form a topic of its own. Can religious texts be considered great literature? There is poetry, story telling and character development. If notions of morality are to be found in religion then the religious writings may have relevance for humanity’s past, present and future.

      What do you think?

  30. beywater
    0

    I definitely recommend The Road Back Down.

  31. Judd
    0

    The Interpretation of Dreams.

    • liiicha
      0

      I don’t think the book belongs here, but surely it has been enormously influential both in the Arts during the C20th and in our everyday beliefs about human motivations etc. A lot of Freud’s terms and concepts have drifted into common usage even if they have no scientific validity.

  32. An important question, and I love the way you approached answering it! Great article; I give it three thumbs up! And thanks for this, now I know what books to read.

  33. Reatha
    0

    Joyce’s Ulysses changed my reading for the rest of my life. We need it.

  34. Shoshana
    1

    Kant and The Critique of Pure a Reason!

  35. I think you’re right: it totally depends on what we’re looking at in this hypothetical future. But, I think I know which books I would wanna bring for myself Horns by Joe Hill, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Dare Me by Megan Abbott.

  36. tclaytor

    Excellent article! As an English teacher, I often stress the importance of books in the past and in the future. What we read shapes us in ways we don’t usually appreciate and this article does a great job asking the reader to contemplate this effect. Well done!

  37. Munjeera

    A good way to advocate for reading in the future.

  38. assmemes
    0

    The quotations of Mao Tse Tung. Many of the political books mentioned here are hideously out of date, there are more modern writers (Marx for example lol) whose writing formed a continuation of these works and develops ideas much further. Plato’s republic is a lovely fantasy idea but not reputable as anything more than a work of fiction. A historical book on Athenian democracy would be more usful than this. A philosopher king is an entirely subjective concept.

  39. Although I agree on the use of a medical reference and a guide to agriculture (as food will always be a priority), I would place a more contemporary author over Shakespeare. As much as a future spoken only in iambic pentameter would be amazing, there are new forms of those divisive social issues that Shakespeare wrote about and so I think a text that relates to these changes would be more helpful. I’m still considering which text that might be but a few that come to mind are Fences (August Wilson), Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes), or the play The Ferryman (Jez Butterworth)

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