The World's Best Selling Novels

Few books manage to sell over 100 million copies.
Few books manage to sell over 100 million copies.

Although there are millions of authors globally, few manage to write books that sell millions of copies and reach a global audience. Pronouncing the exact figures of the books sold is usually difficult because of uncoordinated information among publishers and re-releasing issues. Below are examples of some bestsellers without considering comic and textbooks. These books have sold over 100 million copies.

Best Selling Books

Don Quixote

Don Quixote, originally named El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, is the best-selling individual book ever made with approximately 500 million sales. Miguel de Cervantes authored this Spanish book after which Francisco de Robles printed it in two volumes; first in 1605 and second one in 1615. The release of the first and second English versions came in 1612 and 1620 respectively. The plot of the novel revolves around the adventures of a noble named Alonso Quixano. People consider this book as the best ever work of fiction, consequently, the book has had a major influence on many classical literary works.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is one of the best-selling books with more than 120 million sales to date. J. K. Rowling wrote this English fantasy book which Bloomsbury published in 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone’s plot revolves around a young wizard, Harry Potter, who has magical powers that he explores in a wizardry school. The book is the first in the series, and has won numerous awards in the UK and the US and continues to enjoy a fanatical global audience. In 1999 and 2000, the New York Times listed this book with the best-selling fiction books. Together, the Harry Potter book series is the best-selling book series in history with the sales of over 500 million copies.

A Tale of Two Cities

The third best selling book is A Tale of Two Cities having sold over 200 million copies. This novel, well-known by its famous opening line. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” is the work of author Charles Dickens and publisher Chapman & Hall produced 1859. The historical fiction is set in London and Paris around the period leading to the French Revolution and the atrocities thereafter. The story is of the French Doctor Manette, who was a prisoner in Paris and released to live in London, together with his daughter Lucie and her husband both of whom he had never met.

Lord of the Rings

So far, the book, Lord of the Rings, boasts of over 150 million sales thus becoming one of the all-time best sellers. J. R. R. Tolkien wrote this fantasy novel and entrusted it to Allen & Unwin who published the three volumes between 1954 and 1955. Thereafter, in 1968, the publishers released the first single edition that combined two volumes. Lord of the Rings revolves around Sauron, the Dark Lord and supposed Lord of Rings who earlier created one Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in order to rule all of Middle-earth. This novel has had a great influence on modern fantasy works. J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is also on the list, having sold 100 million copies. The Hobbit, written as a children's novel, was a type of prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

Other Notable Top Sellers

The Bible

According to Christians, the Bible is the word of God. It was written by several authors inspired by the Holy Spirit over a period of time. It is categorized into the Old Testament and the New Testament. Genesis, written by Moses, is the first book, while Revelation, written by John the Apostle, is the last book. It has been translated into several languages and distributed all over the world. There are several version of the bible, but in general, it is estimated that it has sold more than five billion copies.

Little Red Book

Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), former chairman of the Communist Party of China, wrote a book entitled Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The book contained speeches, statements, and writings by the author and was published from 1964 to 1976. The book became popular with readers, and a smaller, more portable version was published, which was bright red, and therefore was referred to in the West as the Little Red Book. It is believed that more than a billion copies have been sold, although the exact figure is disputed.

Best Selling Books

RankBook TitleAuthor(s)Original LanguageFirst PublishedApproximate Sales
1Don QuixoteMiguel de CervantesSpanish1605500 million
2A Tale of Two CitiesCharles DickensEnglish1859200 million
3The Lord of the RingsJ. R. R. TolkienEnglish1954-55150 million
4Scouting for BoysRobert Baden-PowellEnglish1908100–150 million
5Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)Antoine de Saint-ExupéryFrench1943140 million
6Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneJ. K. RowlingEnglish1997120 million
7The McGuffey ReadersWilliam Holmes McGuffeyEnglish1853125 million
8The HobbitJ. R. R. TolkienEnglish1937100 million
9And Then There Were NoneAgatha ChristieEnglish1939100 million
10紅樓夢/红楼梦 (Dream of the Red Chamber)Cao XueqinChinese1791100 million
11Alice in WonderlandLewis CarrollEnglish1865100 million

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