In order to expand your mind and your horizons, you need to occasionally force yourself out of your comfort zone, and this applies to your reading material as much as anything else. By perhaps picking up something you wouldn't usually touch, you open yourself up to new ideas and styles of writing that can affect the mind greatly and influence your thinking. Here are 24 books we think can really change your life.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The American classic and winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, takes a stark look at race and parenting as a rape trial stirs up the small Southern town of Maycomb and local lawyer Atticus Finch is left to defend the man accused while explaining proceedings and people's anger to his young daughter Scout. Beautifully written and summing up the innocence of childhood as well as the absurdities of racism in a touching a timeless novel that, to date, has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
A warning about what can happen when governments are given too much power, 1984 takes a stance an anti-authoritarian rule and, worryingly, seems to have predicted certain technological advances that have come to fruition. Especially poignant what with the current zeitgeist of security and information sharing this book is a worse-case scenario of a future that we are not in control of.
3. Harry Potter - J.K Rowling
Yes, they are essentially children's books and no, they do not match up to the moral fortitude of other outstanding literary works of yesteryear but as a pop-culture phenomenon, the Harry Potter series is arguably the biggest thing to happen to literature since...well, I don't know. The point is that, you are going to see so many films and stories influenced by this series already in the public sphere, let alone in the future, so you may as well see where it all began. Epic stories of friendship and trust and coming of age culminate in a fantasy battle of wizardry and magic.
4. The Lord of The Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Another epic fantasy series that has entered the public consciousness with such vivacity that it has become almost impossible to not notice its fingerprints in any sort of pop culture. A story of such grand scale of the ongoing fight between good and evil that takes place in magical realms with intricately worked and detailed characters.
5. A People's History of The United States by Howard Zinn
A hectic ride through American history that opens up the reader to other possible interpretations of the nation's formative moments as well as filling in the gaps that you didn't learn in school. Intriguing and thought-provoking on how to view history it has been referenced in pop culture quite heavily as an influential think piece on America.
6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Touching, frightful, illuminating and devastating. The Diary of Anne Frank is an important insight into the world at war as these diaries of a young Jewish girl who fled her native Germany and tried to hide from the Nazi's in the Netherlands show us the horrors of the past and the indomitable human spirit. Bittersweet in her depictions of the world around her, this book brings history to life and shows us the mistakes of the past that must never be repeated.
7. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
An expertly crafted insight into the rise of one of America's most significant leaders from his roots in law to becoming the great emancipator. Looking at how Lincoln understood the mindset of other people it delves deep into the man who shaped a nation and offers historical context to important moments.
8. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
From two political reporters who followed presidential hopefuls on the 2008 campaign trail, this gives an insight into modern American politics and how politicians go about getting your vote and climbing the slippery ladder towards power. Intriguing, revealing and sometimes a little bit scary.
9. On The Origin of The Species by Charles Darwin
We all know that Darwin came up with the theory of evolution but how many of us have actually read his theory and are well acquainted with it? Now a little dated, it still revolutionized science and is a cornerstone of our belief in where we came from.
10. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
A clear and concise explanation of some of the most groundbreaking scientific theories that we take for granted today such as time travel to general relativity to the creation of the universe. It focuses on Hawking's revelations that pushed the big bang theory forward to the fore of scientific thought.
11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
What makes this book stand out from others on Science and the universe is that it is not written by a scientist. More well known for his travel writing, Bryson took an interest in wanting to know more about the universe he inhabits and did the research himself, thus the book reads in a clear and entertaining manner.
12. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
A classical grammar book may not sound like the most entertaining read but it actually walks you through common mistakes and English language rules in a compact and easy to digest manner that makes it a great way to brush up on your writing skills.
13. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Written in the fifth century about the philosophy of war, its contents actually have strangely relevant applications today in everyday trials and tribulations. Probably a testament to how good it is that it still is read today by athletes, coaches, lawyers, and people from all walks of life.
14. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Following a father and son journeying across the United States, this is more than just a bonding trip or story of cross-country riding in America, it offers up philosophical thoughts on how to make the most of life and enjoy yourself on the way.
15. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
Philosophical musings on how to live your life to its fullest and what you want your legacy to be. Written by a man who was told he had between three to six months left to live it is poignant in its telling of how to seize the day.
16. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Almost all of us now own at least one Apple product thanks to the design and tech innovation of Steve Jobs. This in-depth biography that came about after 150 interviews with the man, colleagues, and close family members, it looks at what drove the man to the heights of success and what made him such an imposing, and sometimes intimidating, character.
17. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy
Charting how society has gone from the pen and paper to being computer-centric, this book is about how computer technology evolved and impacted upon our society. Almost like a modern history book it also tells us a lot about the technology we use every day.
18. You are not so smart by David McRaney
Working on the tenet that 'Every “rational” decision you make in your life is based on an underlying bias' this book shows us how we are affected by psychological influences on us and how we perhaps aren't as open-minded as we think we are.
19. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Episodes of Allie Brosh's life that give clear and honest depictions of depression and childhood guilt in an amusing and touching manner that open your eyes to the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.
20. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Tips on how to be a leader and how to come across in a more pleasant and genial manner have both business and general life applications and has seen this book become a best seller.
21. Good to Great by Jim Collins
A study of several businesses and how they either went on to become massive success stories or fell from their perch. Drawing links in how and why these businesses ended up where they did it gives valuable knowledge to anyone running a business.
22. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy' by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
A study on how the wealthy accumulate their money and manage to maintain it over time. Interesting reading for anyone wishing to become a successful entrepreneur and draws common links between the most successful people successful.
23. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Written by the mentor Billionaire Warren Buffett, this is an essential reading for anyone who wants to try their hand at investing at any level.
24. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's is revered across the globe and this play on impetuousness, forbidden love and family pride encompasses the best of the bard in all its gory glory.