10 Best-Selling Books Of All Time

By Ellen Kershner on May 22 2020 in Literature & Languages

image source: Shutterstock
image source: Shutterstock
  • this Spanish novel was written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and published in two volumes in 1601 and 1615.
  • This famous work by Charles Dickens was originally published in 1859, in weekly installments in his “All the Year Round” literary periodical.
  • Written in French by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it is the most translated novel in the French language.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s second entry on this list was published in 1937, and is a precursor to Lord of the Rings.

Book discussion groups are more popular than ever, and members often choose books that are on current bestseller lists. Although countless ones are worthy of being discussed, some have their heyday and are not really heard of too much in subsequent years. Then there are the ones that almost everybody knows, and have sold millions upon millions of copies. Websites do not all agree on which ones are the 10 best-selling of all time, but certain ones appear on almost all of them. They are from different genres, ranging from historical fiction to fantasy to mystery. Here are 10 of the best-sellers of all time – aside from the Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao, and the Quran.

1. Don Quixote (500 million)

Pronounced Don ‘Key-Hoh-Tey,” this Spanish novel was written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and published in two volumes in 1601 and 1615. It often appears on lists that show the greatest works of fiction of all time. The story focuses on the protagonist, Don Quixote, who roams the world with his sidekick, Sancho Panza. Frequently called the first modern novel, it had a major influence in the literary world and was referred to by famous writers like Mark Twain and Alexandre Dumas.

2. A Tale of Two Cities (200 million)

A Tale of Two Cities (200 million)This famous work by Charles Dickens was originally published in 1859, in weekly installments in his “All the Year Round” literary periodical. It takes place in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution, following different characters as the story unfolds. A Tale of Two Cities compares how French peasantry’s difficult plight, how life was in London at the time, and the brutalities of the war.

3. The Lord of the Rings (150 million)

The Lord of the Rings (150 million)Author J.R.R. Tolkien was an Oxford professor with a pretty incredible imagination. His sweeping tale of the fictional, fantasy world of Middle-earth and characters like Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Arwen, and Aragorn captured the imaginations of millions of readers. The books were also made into three high-grossing movies, and won several Oscars, including one for Best Picture in 2004.

4. The Little Prince (142 million)

Published during World War II, this timeless classic appeals to both children and adults. Written in French by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it is the most translated novel in the French language. It is the story of a small boy who leaves his planet to explore the universe. This book is used in many classrooms, as it teaches important moral lessons like the importance of relationships with other people and caring for the environment.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (107 million)

J.K. Rowling’s first book was a game-change for the children’s book market – and the entire publishing industry. Its enchanting style and wonderfully creative tales had wide-ranging appeal for readers of all ages. This 1997 book was the first in a series of seven about its namesake hero, and weaved different tales of his magical exploits with his two friends, Hermione and Ron, along with fascinating characters like Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Severus Snape.

6. And Then There Were None (100 million)

Legendary mystery novel writer Agatha Christie, “The Queen of Mystery,” wrote this thriller in 1939. It tells the story of ten strangers who are invited separately to an isolated mansion. One after another mysteriously dies, at the hands of a killer who lurks amongst the group.

7. The Dream of the Red Chamber (100 million)

This classic Chinese book was published in 1791 by Cao Xueqin, and is hailed as one of the country’s Four Great Classical Novels. According to Amazon.com, this enticing read is described as a “Chinese Romeo-and-Juliet love story.”

8. The Hobbit (100 million copies sold)

J.R.R. Tolkien’s second entry on this list was published in 1937, and is a precursor to Lord of the Rings. Its central character, Bilbo Baggins, joins a dozen friends to search for a stolen treasure being guarded by a dragon named Smaug. The ring is introduced in this book, and becomes the central theme of the subsequent Lord of the Rings books.

9. She: A History of Adventure (100 million copies sold)

This fantasy novel was published in 1887, authored by H. Rider Haggard, and helped establish the “lost world” genre. The setting is a lost African kingdom, ruled by an enigmatic queen. Its story spans 2,000 years, following the two main characters Horace Holly and Leo Vincey.

10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (85 million copies sold)

This beloved children’s novel was written by C.S. Lewis, and published in 1950. It is part of a seven-novel series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The books are all about four siblings, the Pevensie children. They walk through a wardrobe door and enter the mythical land of Narnia, which is frozen in time. These books appeal especially to tweens, but readers of all ages are drawn into the magical adventures. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was also made into a movie, released in 2005.

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