10 Best-selling Books of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Since humans learned to write, books have been a source of knowledge, entertainment and inspiration. The written word has the power to shape cultures and influence generations. Across the world, through history, numerous books have emerged as classics, selling millions of copies and becoming household names. Today, we will delve into the ten best-selling books of all time, examining why they became successful and what impact they have had on society. But first:

Honourable mentions

Honourable mentions go to J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine. The Harry Potter books have combined worldwide sales of over 500 million copies, 120 of which were for the first book alone. Also, R.L. Stine and his horror series Goosebumps have sold 400 million copies. This classic horror series began in 1992 and continues today. This whole list could just be comprised of those two series and nothing else.  So, for the sake of giving everyone else a chance, they are here. Now, on with the list:

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (200m+)

A Tale of Two Cities has garnered over 200 million sales since it was published in 1859 and is widely regarded as the best-selling book of all time. The novel tells the story of Dr. Manette, who was imprisoned in France for 18 years, and his life as a free man in London with his daughter Lucie.

This is the novel that started the line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” often repeated in literary introductions and speeches.

A Tale of Two Cities has been widely influential in popular culture, from its own over 1,000 adaptations, to inspiring stories and characters in film and TV. The Dark Knight Rises, the third of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, was famously inspired in large parts by the Dickensian classic, with direct references to characters and events in the book.

The Little Prince 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (200m)

Le Petit Prince, or The Little Prince as it is known in English, was first published in the United States in 1943. Though written as a children’s story, the novel shows several adult themes about life and human nature. This is the second most translated book in the world, only trumped by The Bible, having been translated to over 500 languages.

The story follows the eponymous prince, who travels around different planets, and the Narrator, an aircraft pilot that crashed his plane in Sahara.

The unconventional writing and surprisingly complex themes introduced to children has made The Little Prince extremely popular and immensely influential in the 80 years since its publication.

And Then There Were None

 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (100m)

Agatha Christie is known for her murder mystery novels, but none has been as popular as the 1939 And Then There Were None. The story revolves around the seemingly impossible murders on a small and isolated island of ten people accused of murder.

The story is unique among Christie’s works in that it telegraphs each death but gives no conclusive clue as to who the killer is until the very end. It is the best-selling crime novel of all time.

Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xeuqin (100m)

This 1791 story is considered the greatest classical novel of Chinese literature. It was compiled together from manuscripts found at the estate of Cao Xeuqin after his death in the mid-1760s.

The story is framed around a sentient stone left over from when a goddess created the Heavens, who wishes to enjoy the mundane world. It convinces a Taoist priest and a Buddhist monk to take it with them on their travels. The stone is then reborn as a member of a noble house during an indeterminate era, and the audience gets to see the rise and fall of this family over time.

To say Dream of the Red Chamber was influential is an understatement. It helped form the very language we hear in China today, with lexicographers using the novel to form the very vocabulary of the standardized language. It is no wonder this is the most sold written work from China.

The Hobbit

 The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (100m)

There and Back Again, now known as The Hobbit, is a children’s fantasy novel by English linguist and author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was first published in 1937 and tells the story of a rabbit-like man named Bilbo Baggins, who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf to accompany 13 dwarves to reclaim their grandfather’s kingdom from the dragon Smaug. On their travels, the group encounters many interesting characters, perilous situations and interesting interactions.

The story immediately captivated its audience and was released just as Britain entered its Escapist era, the perfect time for The Hobbit to get published. Its themes around the destructiveness of greedy people and its heavy themes around fire hit close to home for many of the adults, and the cheerful characters and fantastical adventures were a welcome sight for the children, propelling the novel into history as one of the best-selling books of all time.

She: A history of adventure

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard (83m)

She by H. Rider Haggard has been in continuous print since 1886 and is the longest-published fictional novel. The story centres around the narrator, Horace, and his adoptive son Leo, who travels to Africa to find a lost kingdom ruled by Ayesha, known locally as She-who-must-be-obeyed. Ayesha rules over the Amahagger tribes using ancient knowledge and mystical powers.

In She, H. Rider Haggard invents several tropes that have been used by countless authors since.

Vardi Wala Gunda

Vardi Wala Gunda by Ved Prakash Sharma (80m)

With over 170 novels under his name, Ved Prakash Sharma is one of the most prolific authors of Hindi fiction. His works have had great influence on Bollywood cinema. His 1992 thriller novel Vardi Wala Gunda broke all sales records on its very first day of release and has since sold over 80 million copies to become one of the best-selling books of all time.

The story revolves around Inspector Deshraaj, a morally ambiguous police officer, investigating the sudden assassination of a young political leader. It has been hailed as not just a gripping story, but a living commentary on the state of corruption within Indian law enforcement in the 1990s.

Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (80m)

Symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu uncover possible evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child. A man is murdered in the Louvre in Paris. Two religious orders are battling against each other. This is the premise of the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, the second instalment in Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series.

The book sold over 80 million copies and was so popular it revitalized interest in speculations around Mary Magdalene’s role in early Christianity and the search for the Holy Grail.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (65m)

The Alchemist is a 1988 Brazilian adventure novel by Paulo Coelho that takes us on a young shepherd’s quest to find a treasure he dreamed of located on another continent. On his journey, he meets a man seeking an alchemist, and the two travel together, helping each other find both their goals.

The Alchemist has been described as a modern folktale, and, despite being published by an obscure publishing house, it sold well. Over 65 million copies were sold worldwide. A film adaptation is currently in development. It has previously been adapted into a graphic novel and a symphony.

Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (65m)

The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age novel written by J.D. Salinger and published in 1951. The story follows the sixteen-year-old protagonist, Holden Caulfield, as he recounts his experiences and observations during a few days in New York City. Holden, who has been expelled from his prep school, navigates through various encounters and experiences, grappling with his feelings of alienation, disillusionment, and the loss of innocence.

Salinger has managed to catch a timeless feeling of teenage angst and loss of innocence, that has resonated with every generation of adolescents since its release in 1951. This, together with several countries having it on their school’s mandatory reading lists, helped propel The Catcher in the Rye to the list of best-selling novels, with over 65 million copies sold worldwide.

These are the best-selling books of all time as of 2023. Did we miss anything? Do you agree with the list? Do you think this list should have just been us talking about Harry Potter and Goosebumps? Comment below and let us know!

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6 thoughts on “10 Best-selling Books of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends”

  1. The DaVinci Code was appalling poor writing and was clearly structured as movie, with “chapters” written as 90 second movie scenes. Bleah. Perhaps a great seller, but certainly not remotely literature.

  2. I believe Jin Yong (Louis Cha) deserves mention here for his wuxia novels having solid between 300 million to 1 billion copies.

  3. Someone left a copy of the DaVinci Code lying around. I opened it at random and read two sentences and said “This is crap!”

  4. Am an old person (81), and have read all the books you list. “Catcher in the Rye” I read twice because I didn’t understand it the first time. Have to say, though, that it is difficult to believe any of these books were (are) best sellers. Perhaps “the Da Vinci Code” sold very well, but that was probably because it is inferior as literature: A improbable story, but little else.

    Perhaps you should have quoted sales figures for this strange collection, because I doubt that any of them could’ve been “best” sellers! Good try though. Thanks – this was entertaining.

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