5 novels that changed the world and can change you

5 Novels That Changed the World [And Can Change You]

Books have a strong effect on the mind – whether positive or negative.

And when novels are written about the social, political and economic status of the world – as most of them are – the message resonates very deeply in the audience, far more than any speech or newspaper report.

There have been a lot of wonderful novels over the years, but some have struck the world much more deeply than others.

In today’s Literary Renaissance post, we’ll give our take on 5 insightful and life-changing novels that changed the perspective of the world, and can change you.


1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee


novels that can change you - to kill a mockingbird


Published in 1960, author Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of racism and prejudice in the American south during the 1930s.

A young girl watches her father, Atticus Finch, strive – to the annoyance of the entire white community – to defend a black man who has been accused of raping a young white girl.

The novel made many of its readers in the 1960s United States very aware of the racism around the country and how awful the hatred toward the black community was.

Aside from being one of the first American novels to make people aware of the insanity behind treating others unfairly based on their colour instead of who they are, it also showed them an instance of the courage of one man who takes a stance against so many people for what he believes in.

Relevant in America in the 1960s, the novel continues to be so important today in the face of continued and persistent injustice in the world.



2. 1984 by George Orwell


novels that can change you - 1984-nineteen-eighty-four


1984 is George Orwell’s conception of a totalitarian dystopia.

What that means is that it is a world where nothing works for the average individual. There is great suffering in the land and the government is in control of nearly everything in human existence, including the way people are supposed to think.

Orwell wrote this novel to show the world the evils of total government, mass surveillance and repressive organization of people. It particularly mocks the Nazi regime in Germany, the Fascist regime in Italy and the Socialist government in Russia under Stalin, all of which rose and fell in the ‘90s.

In the novel, Winston Smith works with the government and helps falsify information to keep the masses under an illusion of good governance. When he eventually gets tired of the repressive government he tries to fight it by staging a revolution.


3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


novels that can change you - things fall apart


Chinua Achebe’s maiden novel speaks to the struggle between the peoples of Africa and the European imperialists.

Written in 1958, it illustrates the pre-colonial life of a West African ethnic group called the Igbos, with the overall goal of showing the world that Africa had a civilized and working culture before the invasion of the Europeans.

Through this novel, Achebe succeeded in dispelling the illusion that Africans were a savage people who needed to be “civilized” by the invaders.

The story revolves around Okonkwo, a man of local fame. The first part describes his family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo. The second and third sections depict the influence of European colonialism and Christian missionaries on Okonkwo, his family, and the wider Igbo community. It is notably with their arrival that “things fall apart”.


4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


uncle tom's cabin


Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel that was written to influence American attitude to slavery by revealing the full gist of its horrors to the general public.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an active abolitionist (a person who supported the abolition of slavery in the 19th century) and she wrote this novel to be a vital anti-slavery tool.

The story depicts the life of Uncle Tom, a black slave with strong Christian morals who endures long suffering.


5. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


all quiet on the western front


This 1929 novel captures the harsh realities of the then Great War (now First World War) on the German soldiers. One of the first novels to depict the war from a German perspective, it shows their motivation for joining the army, their disappointment upon their discovery of the true nature of war, and ultimately, the toll that the war takes on them.

The protagonist in the book, Paul Bäumer, volunteered for the war out of love for his country, with an “open mind and a kind heart”. The book reveals the costly effect of the war on Paul and how it changes him beyond measure.

As a testament to its strong influence, All Quiet on the Western Front was one of the books that were banned and publicly burnt by the Nazi regime upon their rise to power in the 1930s.


Which one of these do you plan to read first?


Discover more from Literary Renaissance Foundation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Discover more from Literary Renaissance Foundation

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading