Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.
It turns out I have managed to acquire seven of the one hundred great ideas that Penguin is selling at the cheap price of £4.99 without once realising their connection. Two things strike me as faintly absurd, firstly that I would own seven books in a set but owing to the vast distance between the corners of my amassed collection and a poor memory, that I wouldn’t have made the connection earlier.
Secondly the price which is a steal, it enables people to pick up a bite sized portion of a new author to see what all the fuss is about and it also brings the reader loads of fascinating essays at a ridiculously decent price as well. Who would not wish to dabble in such studies that have changed the way we view the world and in a good few instances how we actually live.
From tumultuous periods of history to thoughtful essays, the books empower the mind and allow us to read the key thoughts that defined past generations. These are of course extracts from other books so why pick these up when you can pick these plus more in a book? Well partly it is the need to know what texts these authors are famous for and also to gauge whose style I get on with so I can chart my reading to take the path of least resistance.
There are reasons why you may not plump for these books though, they are essentially what you see is what you get, there is no context and few notes but personally I enjoy researching any questions I have. Another reason is that they are very European male dominated, this isn’t really an issue for this series as it is purely on the ideas themselves though talk more but some people apparently have such principals.
There is something of the collecting bug going on as well, this is the literary version of a Panini sticker album (just without the blind luck of packets of stickers) and with five sets of 20 books containing some of the finest writers and thinkers of all time coupled with the sometime questionable placing in bookshops then it is an enticing challenge to seek them all out.
Although arguments will rage about what books would constitute an exhaustive top 100 list of Great ideas – which this isn’t by any means – it is no less a diverting pastime. It’s a worthwhile investment for the varied covers as well and they also look absolutely delightful when stacked together.