The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time: List and Plots

These Books Have Been Bestsellers For Hundreds of Years!

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The 21 Best Selling Books of All Time / best selling books ever

One of the most common questions that boggle the minds of readers the world over has to do with the best selling books of all time.

We just want to know the identity of these special books. We wonder what they look like, what they’re about, and how many copies were ever sold?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not to be found on the bestseller list of your local bookstore, but no worries. In this article, we answer these questions for you.

The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

Now, we’ll take a look at a list and summary of the 31 of the best selling books of all time. Some of these books have been bestsellers for hundreds of years and almost all have been made into world-famous movies!

The list was originally ranked by lovereading.co.uk based on the number of known editions, number of translations, and number of unit copies sold around the world regardless of time or period. However, we modified a few things and added the summaries for each book based on our own reserch.

Our list now begins from the greatest to the least best selling book of all time.

1. The Holy Quran

The Quran

Strangely enough, the holy book of Islam, “The Holy Quran“, pipes its Christain counterpart, The Christain Bible, to the top spot on this list for the first time in more than 500 years. The Holy Quran secured this position after selling over 3 billion copies worldwide.

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31 Best Selling Books Of All Time / Best selling books ever.

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2. The King James Version Of The Holy Bible

The King James Version of the Holy Bible

The problem with the Holy Bible and why it has lost the first position on this list is that there are too many versions of it, hence, statistics are split in too many directions.

Combined, the Holy Bible outsells the Quran like it has done for centuries, but split, only The King James Version Of the Holy Bible, the earliest translation of the Holy Bible into English, makes it to this list and it comes in second with a staggering 2.5 billion figure in sales worldwide.

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3. The Malleus Maleficarum

The Malleus Maleficarum, translation: The Hammer of Witches, is the most renowned and most thorough theory on witchcraft. First published in Speyer, Germany, in 1487 by the German Catholic priest Heinrich Kramer (using the Latin version of his name Henricus Institoris), this book promotes the extermination of witches and was published at a time when witchcraft was epidemic in Catholic-controlled Europe. It spent over 200 years at the top of the bestseller list of all bookstores throughout Europe and was second only to the Holy Bible in sales. Unfortunately, the Inquisition condemned this book as not being in line with Catholic principles and disgraced its author. The book subsequently went into oblivion.

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best selling books of all time

4. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung.

This book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) may not be known to many in western lands today, but it was something of a bible to more than a billion Asians, most of whom lived in China.

Chairman Mao Tes-Tung was the leader of the Chinese communist party that ruled China around the middle part of the 20th century and his word was law to the Chinese. That law started with this little red book which has sold over 800 million registered copies.

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5. Don Quixote

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

This book, Don Quixote, published by the Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes in 1604, has been hailed as the first modern novel for centuries. It revolves around the life of a Spanish knight who lived centuries ago when the military might of Spain was a force to be reckoned with.

This book put an end to the funny (kind of poetic) way in whcih novels were written in the past and brought realism to characters.

Total number of copies sold, 500 million.


The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

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6. Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling is a novel and movie series that needs no introduction, that’s if you are a kid living in the US or the UK. The story is all about the magic and sorcery which revolves around an 11-year-old boy with two dead wizards as parents and magical powers of his own.

This novel series has sold over 450 million copies.

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7. A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities, by the great Charles Dickens, comes in at 6th position with no less than 200 million copies sold worldwide.

This novel has to do with the famous French Revolution, an event that saw the French people kill off their king and nobles to gain freedom and France become a republic.To know a bit more about this revolution and France read the article here.

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13 best selling books of all time

8. The Lord of the Rings

The Lords of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien, is all bout magic and adventure in a world very much different from ours.

The future of that world depends on one ring which has been missing for centuries and powerful forces will stop at nothing to find it. Fate lies with young Frodo Baggins and to him, legend becomes.

This book has sold over 150 million copies.

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9. Le Petit Prince

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, translated into English as The Little Prince is yet another children’s book on this list.

It’s a story about a man who learned adults were not that smart as a kid and grew up to become a pilot who crash-lands his plane in a desert and, there, meets a boy who asks for some childish things including the drawing of a sheep. This is the sort of book kids love and it’s sold over 140 million copies till date.

31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

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10. Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is another children’s book on the list. It’s about a little girl, Alice, who has vague memories of visiting a magical land as she grows into teenage-hood. One day, at her engagement party, she spots a funny looking rabbit and goes after him only to fall down a mysterious hole into magical undersland where she meets old friends.

Total sales worldwide – 100 million copies.

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11. Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber, a Chines novel published by Cao Xueqin in 1791, was a hit from day one.

Divided into episodes, this is a record of the lives of two different branches of the Jia clan, a vastly wealthy aristocratic family in 18th century China.

Number of copies sold – 100 million.

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31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

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12. And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None, published in the 1930s by British author Agatha Christie, this book ranks as the #1 bestselling mystery novel of all time.

Eight different people are invited to an isolated island by mysterious hosts and there, each gets accused of murder in the most bizarre manner. Then comes the killing; they are killed one after the other.

There eight guests and then there were none.

This novel has sold over 100 million copies.

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13. The Hobbit

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, is one of my favorite novels when it comes to magic and adventure.

A hobbit living a simple life in the shire gets convinced by a wizard to join some dwarves on a quest to reclaim a lost kingdom. The journey takes them into treacherous lands swarming with all kinds of terrible creatures. At the heart of the whole thing is a gold ring that is connected to the fate of Middle Earth in strange ways.

This wonderful book has sold over 100 million copies. It’s also a top movie series.

The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

14. She

She: A History Of Adventure, is a thrilling novel by H. Rider Haggard published in 1887.


The story, which is in the first-person narrative, sees three Englishmen journey into the interior of prehistoric Africa, where they discover a lost kingdom of cave dwellers ruled over by a mysterious white queen with magical powers who is the all-powerful “She-who-must-be-obeyed” or simply “She”. One of the strangest love stories you will ever read is found in this book.

This novel takes its place here with a sales figure of 83 million copies.

Also Read: Ruthless Betrayals (supernatural/strange love story)

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15. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, by CS Lewis. The title alone should give all lovers of children’s books an alert!

It is the middle of World War II and the bombing of London is in full force. Four English siblings get sent off to a country house for safety, but there, they discover a magical wardrobe that transports them to a magical world where they meet a magical lion battling a powerful witch.

This book has sold 85 million copies.

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16. The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown is another thrilling mystery novel on the list.

A murder in a French museum and mysterious clues in some of the famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci leads to the discovery of a 2000-year-old religious mystery that is closely guarded by a secret society. The information could rock the foundations of Christianity if let out.

This book has sold 80 million copies.

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best selling books of all time

17. The Catcher In The Rye

The Catcher In The Rye, a novel by JD Salinger, is especially for teens. The narrator is a half-crazy 16-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield in the setting of the 1950s USA. From failing prep school 4 times, expulsion and running away from home to roaming the streets and brushes with sex, then, finally, a mental institution, that’s what he talks about. It may sound boring, but this novel has sold 65 million copies.

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18. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle, is the #1 bestselling detective novel of all time.

A man is murdered and his son is jailed for the crime. His fiance is the only one who believes in his innocence and hires the best detective to dig up the truth. Enters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who travel to Herefordshire to assist Scotland Yard to solve the impossible case.

Number of copies sold, 60 million.

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The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

19. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

This book was written by Jules Verne in 1870, the first real science fiction novel. It’s about the adventures of three men, Professor Aronnax, his personal servant Conseil, and Ned Land aboard the mysterious vessel, the Nautilus. A submarine with technology better than anything our world can build presently in the 21st century.

Number of copies sold: 60 million.

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20. Millennium Trilogy

Millennium Trilogy is a thrilling Swedish crime novel series written by Stieg Larsson.

The novels are both bestsellers and award winners, but the author never lived to complete the series. Of the 10 installments planned, only 3 were ever completed and published before his death in 2004.

Total number of copies sold: 50 million.

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21. Watership Down

Another children’s book makes the cut,Watership Down by Richard Adams.

After getting a prophetic vision about the impending doom of his clan, a young rabbit persuades seven other kin-rabbits to leave with him and search of a new home. The group goes through difficult trials on their journey to a hill called Watership Down. But when they finally get there, it’s just more trouble.

This story has an emotional bearing that often affects kids deeply and this has seen it sell over 50 million copies.

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22. The Odyssey

The Odyssey, by Homer, is an epic Greek poem turned novel.

It is ten years since the fall of Troy and Greek hero King Odysseus is still to return to his kingdom, Ithaca. Believing Odysseus was dead, a band of rowdy suitors descended on his palace and his queen in a bid to take them over. Odysseus soon passes his trials by the gods in strange lands and is allowed to go home. On his return, it is vengeance against all.

This book has sold more than 45 million copies.

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31 Best Selling Books Of All Time Best selling books ever

23. The Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book for smart young thinkers by Eric Carle.

The story is about a young caterpillar that goes eating so much he gets sick and turns into a big butterfly. Eric Carle then digs into the relationship between that young Caterpillar and the insatiable greed of modern society.

This book comes in with a sales figure of 30 million copies.

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24. To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

This story is narrated by a rebellious little girl living in a small town in Alabama, U.S.A during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It’s about her family, judgment, justice, and racism, all connected to a strange event that rocked the town.

This book has sold 30 million copies.

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25. Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind, an Epic American Civil War novel by Margaret Mitchell.

The story revolves around the life of a petulant young lady living on a sprawling plantation; her survival through the terrible times that prevailed in the South during the American Civil War and then the Reconstruction. Embedded in is a facinating love story.

This book has sold over 30 million copies.

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26. Nineteen Eight-Four

It’s political, its romance, its corruption, oppression, and murder, it’s Nineteen Eight-Four a novel George Orwell.

Living and working under a tyrannical government see a man loses his identity. His job for the government is to rewrite history in a way that portrays the leaders of his fictional country in a charitable light. When he starts an affair with a lovely woman, some lawmakers frown and he must bear the consequence.

This story may seem boring to you, but it’s sold 25 million copies.

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The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

27. The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, a novel by F Scott Fitzgerald.

A powerful story of impossible love, dreams, pain, and tragedy, woven around the life of a man who came to New York in the 1920s in search of the American dream and gets involved with a group of wealthy people.

This book comes in at 27th with over 25 million copies sold.

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Best selling books ever.

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28. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, published in the United States on February 18, 1885, by author Mark Twain, is a book with two faces or fronts.

On one front, it is the fascinating story of a white boy and a runaway black slave floating down the Mississippi River. But a deeper analysis shows that the book is a clear confrontation of racism and slavery. Either way, it has sold over 20 million copies.

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29. Anderson’s Fairy Tales

Anderson’s Fairy Tales, by Hans Christian Anderson. This is yet another children’s book on the list and it’s a collection of plots not a single plot.

It teaches children about the deeper path of life. We live, we work hard and succeed, but we can die at any time. This is the pattern of the characters in the different plots, they are people, flowers, trees, animals and things that all talk to each other and later die. This may sound boring, but this book has sold over 20 million copies.

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The 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time

30. Pride And Prejudice

Pride And Prejudice, a novel by British author Jane Austen.

Humor, romance, and life all rolled into one good story about some English upper-class folks who lived during the Georgian era (1714-1837). Set in Hartfordshire, England, the story revolves around the Bennet family and their 5 lovely daughters.

A staggering 20 million copies sold!

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31. Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, a novel by Daniel Defoe tells of the astonishing adventures of young man in the days when the world was young.

Robinson Crusoe, a British seaman from York, hungry for the economic benefits of the slave trade, embarks on a journey to West Africa to gather slaves cheaply. He ends up shipwrecked somewhere off the South American coast, the sole survivor of the ship and spends 28 years alone on an uninhabited island.

The book has sold over 9 million copies worldwide.

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Best selling books ever

Conclusion

The list of 31 Best Selling Books Of All Time is now complete. These books are referred to as classics and have their own section in bookstores.

Now you understand why you never find some of these books on the bestseller lists of modern bookstores. Some have been rebranded while others are so popular the levels at which they are being pirated is so high. You’ll most likely find them listed in the public domain works section rather than the bestsellers section.

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