People have been telling stories as long as there have been people. Ever since the written word was invented, we’ve been writing them down. There are a few books, however, that have stood the test of time and captured the hearts of millions of people, books that have been some of the best books ever written, if the number of copies sold is any indicator. Here’s a list of the 25 best-selling books of all time. How many have you read?
1. Don Quixote
Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age. It’s a founding work of Western literature. Bukklubben World Literary Collection cites it as “the best literary work ever written”. It follows the adventures of Mr. Alonso Quixano, who is obsessed with romance novels and lives in a world entirely of his own imagination. It was immensely popular, selling over 500 million copies worldwide, making it the number one bestselling book of all time.
2. A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens’ famous classic, A Tale of Two Cities, has been capturing readers for a hundred and fifty years. Set during the French Revolution, it’s a story of the triumph of the human spirit and the beauty of ultimate sacrifice. It’s the second most bestselling book of all time, and has sold over 200 million copies worldwide.
3. The Alchemist
The Alchemist, or O Alquimista, is the third best-selling book of all time. It was written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, and first published in 1988. It chronicles the journey of an Adalusian shepherd who travels to Egypt in search of treasure. It’s been translated into over 56 languages, and has sold 150 million copies worldwide.
4. The Little Prince
This novella is the fourth most-translated book in the world and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. It’s been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, including Braille, and has sold 140 million copies worldwide. The story is about a young prince that has fallen to earth, and though it’s usually thought of as a children’s book, it deals with incredibly poignant themes about the meaning of life and human nature.
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
JK. Rowling’s first novel ranks among the top five bestselling books of all time, selling over 107 million copies worldwide. There was just something about the plight of young Harry Potter and his destiny to be a powerful wizard and his friendship with Ron and Hermione that captured the human heart from page one.
6. And Then There Were None
A tale of murder and mystery, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None ranks as the sixth bestselling book of all time. It tells the story of a group of strangers called to an island by a mysterious man for a weekend holiday. One by one, each person is murdered. It’s generally considered to be one of Agatha Christie’s great masterpieces of murder, selling 100 million copies worldwide.
7. Dream of the Red Chamber
This novel is considered to be one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels. It was written during the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel following the rise and fall of the author’s family and the Qing Dynasty. It has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
8. Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland was written in 1865, and follows the remarkable and fantastical story of a girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into the a peculiar world populated with strange creatures. The story stretches the reader’s suspension of belief and reasoning, questioning the reality of the world we live in. It’s considered to be the best example we have of the “literary nonsense” genre. It’s an immensely influential book, having sold 100 million copies worldwide.
9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Published in 1950, just shortly after the end of World War II, CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, has been a beloved classic for sixty years. It tells the story of four children who find a magical land by going through a wardrobe in an English country home during World War II. It’s a story of fantasy, sacrifice, redemption, and forgiveness, and has been a childhood favorite of many. It ranks as the 9th bestselling book of all time, selling 85 million copies worldwide.
10. She: A History of Adventure
She was written by H. Rider Haggard in 1886. It’s considered one of the classics of imaginative literature. The story is written in first-person and follows the amazing journey of Horace Holly and Leo Vincey to a lost African kingdom, where they meet a race governed by Queen Ayesha, who is practically worshiped as the all-powerful “She”. The book was serialized in The Graphic magazine, and was immensely popular, selling 83 million copies worldwide.
11. The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code, a 2003 mystery novel, follows the story of symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu who are trying to solve a murder committed in the Louvre. It follows an alternate religious history, whose main difference from real history is that the Merovingian kings of France were descended from a bloodline that began with Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. It was immensely popular, drawing interest in the legend of the Holy Grail and Mary Magdalene, selling 80 million copies worldwide.
12. Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. It was a personal development and self-improvement book. The idea is that the philosophy proposed in the book can help anyone succeed in any line at work, to be anything they want to be. It was published first during the Great Depression, and sold over 70 million copies.
13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
JK Rowling’s sixth novel in the Harry Potter series also makes this list. It sold 65 million copies worldwide, nine million of which were sold in the first 24 hours of its release. The book follows Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts, exploring Lord Voldemort’s past and the preparation for the final confrontation between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter.
14. The Catcher in the Rye
Written in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is the fourteenth best-selling book of all time. It has become a favorite with young people because it deals with themes of teenage angst and alienation. The book has been translated into every major world language and sells about 250,000 copies per year, totaling to 65 million copies sold worldwide to-date.
15. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring Sherlock Holmes, arguably the most famous fictional detective of all time. It was serialized in The Strand Magazine during 1891-92. So far, the book has sold over 60 million copies worldwide.
16. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a classic Science Fiction novel written by Jules Verne in 1870. It’s considered to be one of Jules Verne’s greatest works, and follows the story of the journey of the Nautilus and the United States Navy frigate Abraham Lincoln. It has sold over 60 million copies worldwide.
17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
JK Rowling’s second novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is the 17th best-selling book of all time. It was published in 1998 in the United Kingdom. Many critics praised it, but some thought the story too dark for children. It has sold 60 million copies worldwide.
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
JK Rowling’s third novel is the 18th best-selling book of all time, selling over 55 million copies worldwide. It follows Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, in which he investigates escaped prisoner Sirius Black, who may be a Death Eater. It was published in 1999 in the UK and United States. It sold 68,000 copies within three days of its release, and won the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
JK Rowling’s fourth novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is the 19th best-selling book of all time. It follows Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, and his entry into the Triwizard Tournament. It was published in the UK and US on July 8th, 2000. It won the Hugo Award in 2001, and has sold just under 55 million copies worldwide.
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
JK Rowling’s fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is the 20th best-selling book of all time. It follows Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, including the all-important O.W.L. exams and Lord Voldemort’s return to power. It was published in 2003 in the UK and the US. Over five million copies were sold in the first 24 hours after its release. It’s the longest book in the Harry Potter series, and has sold about 54 million copies worldwide.
21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Numbering as JK Rowling’s seventh book on this list, and 21st best selling novel of all time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the final novel in the Harry Potter series. It was a novel so action-packed and riveting that it had to be divided into a two-part movie adaption. It chronicles the final confrontation between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. The book sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
22. One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude was written in 1967 by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s a story that follows several generations of the Buendia family, who founded the fictional town of Macondo. It has been translated into thirty-seven languages and sold 30 million copies worldwide. It’s considered the most significant work of the Spanish literary canon.
Lolita was written first in 1955 by Vladmir Nabokov. It was published in France that year, and then later published in New York City in 1958, and 1959 in London. It’s a famous controversial book, written from the perspective of an unreliable narrator called Professor Humbert Humbert, who is absolutely obsessed with Dolores Haze, a 12-year-old girl. It’s considered one of the prime literary achievements of the 20th century, even though it’s definitely one of the most controversial works of the time. It has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
Heidi is a children’s book that was originally written and published in 1881 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It follows the childhood of a young, spunky girl named Heidi, who is sent to live with her crotchety grandfather in the Swiss Alps. It’s the 24th best-selling novel of all time, selling 50 million copies worldwide, and is one of the best-known works of Swiss literature.
25. Anne of Green Gables
Written in 1908 by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables is a coming-of-age story following young, imaginative orphan, Ann, who generally prefers to be called “Anne with an e”. From its first publication, readers have been laughing at the hilarious scrapes Ann got herself in to, crying at her heart-wrenching misfortunes, and growing with her through the years. The novel is the 25th best seller of all time, selling over 50 million copies worldwide.