I noted yesterday that Human Events made a list of most harmful books from the last two centuries. World Magazine’s blog followed up that report by asking their readers to list the most beneficial books from that time period. Editor Marvin Olasky also throws out some thoughts in a couple posts. He writes, “I come out of it thinking there’s a big different between ‘greatest’ (or ‘best’) and ‘most beneficial.’ For example, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm aren’t great novels, but they were certainly beneficial as the Cold War began in helping people see the dangers of totalitarianism and strengthing opposition to the Soviet Union. Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ, is also not great writing, but in the late 19th century it helped lots of people to come to Christ.”
I agree with commenter dad dog in nominating Richard Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences.” This should be required reading in the Ivy League; but then they would deconstruct it into meaninglessness.