Top 20 Best Selling Books of All Times

This infographics shows the list of top 20 best selling books of all times.

Top20BestSellingBooks

A short summary of the top 20 best selling books of all time

  1. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, Copies Sold: 200 million
    A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris, and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. In the Introduction to the Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction, critic Don D’Ammassa argues that it is an adventure novel because the protagonists are in constant danger of being imprisoned or killed. [1]

  2. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien, Copies Sold: 150 million
    The Lord of the Rings, fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien initially published in three parts as The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1955), and The Return of the King (1955). The novel, set in the Third Age of Middle-earth, formed a sequel to Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) and was succeeded by his posthumous The Silmarillion (1977). The Lord of the Rings is the saga of a group of sometimes reluctant heroes who set forth to save their world from consummate evil. Its many worlds and creatures were drawn from Tolkien’s extensive knowledge of philology and folklore. [2]

  3. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Copies Sold: 140 million
    The Little Prince, French Le Petit Prince, fable and modern classic by French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that was published with his own illustrations in French as Le Petit Prince in 1943. The simple tale tells the story of a child, the little prince, who travels the universe gaining wisdom. The novella has been translated into hundreds of languages. [3]

  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling, Copies Sold: 120 million
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling. The first novel in the Harry Potter series and Rowling’s debut novel, it follows Harry Potter, a young wizard who discovers his magical heritage on his eleventh birthday, when he receives a letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry makes close friends and a few enemies during his first year at the school, and with the help of his friends, he faces an attempted comeback by the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, but failed to kill Harry when he was just 15 months old. The book was first published in the United Kingdom on 26 June 1997. It was published in the United States the following year under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It won most of the British book awards that were judged by children and other awards in the US. [4]

  5. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien, Copies Sold: 100 million
    The Hobbit, fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1937. The novel introduced Tolkien’s richly imagined world of Middle Earth in its Third Age and served as a prologue to his The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits, a race of small humanlike creatures, characteristically value peace, simplicity, and cozy homes yet are capable of incredible feats of courage and resourcefulness. The unwilling hero of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is persuaded to join Thorin and his 12 dwarfs to recover their stolen treasure, which is being guarded by the dragon Smaug. During the expedition, Bilbo finds a magical ring that renders the wearer invisible, which figures prominently in The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo’s maturing from a seeker of warmth and comforts to a fighter, however humble, for the greater good. [5]

  6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Copies Sold: 100 million
    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 English children’s novel by Lewis Carroll. A young girl named Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world of anthropomorphic creatures. It is seen as an example of the literary nonsense genre. One of the best-known works of Victorian literature, its narrative, structure, characters and imagery have had huge influence on popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into 174 languages. Its legacy covers adaptations for screen, radio, art, ballet, opera, musicals, theme parks, board games and video games. Carroll published a sequel in 1871 entitled Through the Looking-Glass and a shortened version for young children, The Nursery “Alice”, in 1890. [6]

  7. Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin, Copies Sold: 100 million
    Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou Meng) or The Story of the Stone (Shitou Ji) is a novel composed by Cao Xueqin in the middle of the 18th century. One of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, it is known for its psychological scope, and its observation of the world view, aesthetics, life-styles, and social relations of 18th-century China. The intricate strands of its plot depict the rise and decline of a family much like Cao’s own and, by extension, of the dynasty itself. Cao depicts the power of the father over the family, but the novel is intended to be a memorial to the women he knew in his youth: friends, relatives and servants. At a more profound level, the author explores religious and philosophical questions, and the writing style includes echoes of the plays and novels of the late Ming, as well as poetry from earlier periods. [7]

  8. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, Copies Sold: 100 million
    In 1939 Europe teeters on the brink of war. Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast. Cut off from the mainland, with their generous hosts Mr and Mrs U.N. Owen mysteriously absent, they are each accused of a terrible crime. When one of the party dies suddenly they realise they may be harbouring a murderer among their number. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…
    Agatha Christie, the author, described this book as the most difficult among all books she wrote. This book is the world’s best-selling mystery bool of all time. [8]

  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis, Copies Sold: 85 million
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published in 1950. It is the first published and best known of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–1956). Among all the author’s books, it is also the most widely held in libraries. Although it was originally the first of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is volume two in recent editions that are sequenced by the stories' chronology. Like the other Chronicles, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and her work has been retained in many later editions. Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that is ruled by the evil White Witch. In the frame story, four English children are relocated to a large, old country house following a wartime evacuation. The youngest, Lucy, visits Narnia three times via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room. Lucy’s three siblings are with her on her third visit to Narnia. In Narnia, the siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy and find themselves adventuring to save Narnia and their own lives. The lion Aslan gives his life to save one of the children; he later rises from the dead, vanquishes the White Witch, and crowns the children Kings and Queens of Narnia. [9]

  10. She: A History of Adventure, H. Rider Haggard, Copies Sold: 83 million
    She, subtitled A History of Adventure, is a novel by the English writer H. Rider Haggard, published in book form in 1887 following serialisation in The Graphic magazine between October 1886 and January 1887. She was extraordinarily popular upon its release and has never been out of print. The story is a first-person narrative which follows the journey of Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. They encounter a primitive race of natives and a mysterious white queen named Ayesha who reigns as the all-powerful “She” or “She-who-must-be-obeyed”. Haggard developed many of the conventions of the lost world genre which countless authors have emulated. [10]

  11. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, Copies Sold: 80 million
    The Da Vinci Code is a 2003 mystery thriller novel by Dan Brown. It is Brown’s second novel to include the character Robert Langdon: the first was his 2000 novel Angels & Demons. The Da Vinci Code follows “symbologist” Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu after a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris causes them to become involved in a battle between the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei over the possibility of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene having had a child together. The novel explores an alternative religious history, whose central plot point is that the Merovingian kings of France were descended from the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, ideas derived from Clive Prince’s The Templar Revelation (1997) and books by Margaret Starbird. The book also refers to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982) though Dan Brown has stated that it was not used as research material. [11]

  12. The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, Copies Sold: 80 million
    The Adventures of Pinocchio (commonly shortened to Pinocchio) is a novel for children by Italian author Carlo Collodi, written in Pescia. It is about the mischievous adventures of an animated marionette named Pinocchio and his father, a poor woodcarver named Geppetto. It was originally published in a serial form as The Story of a Puppet in the Giornale per i bambini, one of the earliest Italian weekly magazines for children, starting from 7 July 1881. The story stopped after nearly 4 months and 8 episodes at Chapter 15, but by popular demand from readers, the episodes were resumed on 16 February 1882. In February 1883, the story was published in a single book. Since then, the spread of Pinocchio on the main markets for children’s books of the time has been continuous and uninterrupted, and it was met with enthusiastic reviews worldwide. [12]

  13. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, Copies Sold: 65 million
    The Catcher in the Rye is a novel by J. D. Salinger, partially published in serial form in 1945–1946 and as a novel in 1951. It was originally intended for adults but is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst, alienation, and as a critique on superficiality in society. It has been translated widely. About one million copies are sold each year, with total sales of more than 65 million books. The novel’s protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, sex, and depression. The novel was included on Time Magazine’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, it was listed at number 15 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. [13]

  14. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, Copies Sold: 65 million
    Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Romany woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the right direction for his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or whether Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path; but what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of treasure within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts. [14]

  15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling, Copies Sold: 65 million
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling and the seventh and final novel of the main Harry Potter series. It was released on 14 July 2007 in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and in Canada. The novel chronicles the events directly following Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) and the final confrontation between the wizards Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Deathly Hallows shattered sales records upon release, surpassing marks set by previous titles of the Harry Potter series. It holds the Guinness World Record for most novels sold within 24 hours of release, with 8.3 million sold in the US and 2.65 million in the UK. Generally well received by critics, the book won the 2008 Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award, and the American Library Association named it the “Best Book for Young Adults”. [15]

  16. Steps to Christ, Ellen G. White, Copies Sold: 60 million
    Steps to Christ is a book written by Ellen G. White, pioneer and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was first published in 1892 by Fleming H. Revell Company. The copyright was purchased by Seventh-day Adventist publisher Review and Herald Publishing Association in 1892, and was first printed there in 1896. A new first chapter, “God’s Love for Man” was added per request of the Seventh-day Adventist publishing house in the United Kingdom (Stanborough Press) in 1893 in order to secure a copyright. This is perhaps the most popular and widely read book by the author, printed in more than 150 languages worldwide. Steps to Christ is considered to define what Seventh-day Adventists believe in subjects such as salvation, the nature of man, and what a Christian’s life should be. Steps to Christ discusses how to come to know Jesus Christ at a personal level. It covers the topics of repentance, confession, faith, acceptance, growing into Christ, and prayer. [16]

  17. Heidi’s Years of Wandering and Learning, Johanna Spyri, Copies Sold: 50 million
    Heidi is a work of children’s fiction published in 1881 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, originally published in two parts as Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning and Heidi: How She Used What She Learned. It is a novel about the events in the life of a 5-year-old girl in her paternal grandfather’s care in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book “for children and those who love children”. [17]

  18. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, Benjamin Spock, Copies Sold: 50 million
    The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care is a book by American pediatrician Benjamin Spock and one of the best-selling books of the twentieth century, selling 500,000 copies in the six months after its initial publication in 1946 and 50 million by the time of Spock’s death in 1998. As of 2011, the book had been translated into 39 languages. Spock and his manual helped revolutionize child-rearing methods for the post-World War II generation. Mothers heavily relied on Spock’s advice and appreciated his friendly, reassuring tone. Spock emphasizes in his book that, above all, parents should have confidence in their abilities and trust their instincts. The famous first line of the book reads, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” [18]

  19. Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Copies Sold: 50 million
    Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L. M. Montgomery). Written for all ages, it has been considered a classic children’s novel since the mid-20th century. Set in the late 19th century, the novel recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl, who is mistakenly sent to two middle-aged siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who had originally intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way through life with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town. Since its publication, Anne of Green Gables has been translated into at least 36 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies, making it one of the best selling books worldwide. It was the first of many novels; Montgomery wrote numerous sequels, and since her death another sequel has been published, as well as an authorized prequel. The original book is taught to students around the world. [19]

  20. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, Copies Sold: 50 million
    Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions, the Autobiography of a Horse is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she was bedridden and seriously ill. The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success. With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time. While forthrightly teaching animal welfare, it also teaches how to treat people with kindness, sympathy, and respect. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 58 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. It is seen as a forerunner of the pony book. [20]


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