The 51 Best Selling Books of All Time (So Far)

How well read are you? Check out our list and see how many of these 51 best selling books you recognize and whether you agree with what they teach us.

I once believed that novels became timeless when they were so revolutionary that they shocked the world into remembering them. I know now, that this isn’t true. As you will see from this list, the novels that clung to the fabrics of the world’s communal imagination are the ones that simply reminded us of ourselves.

These authors struck gold, but we will never know if they were trying to connect with the common person or strike the important individuals enough to instigate change. What we do know is that in every great book that has lived on through time we see our loved ones in the characters, ourselves in the failures, and our greatest triumphs and disparities regardless of the era the book was written in.

That is why we read, to remind ourselves that we are not so incredibly important in the scheme of our own narrow worlds. That every challenge we face has been faced by others many times before and will continue to plague more of us far into the future.

When we read, we know that every person who has read the same book has smudged the pages because they were anxious, and were embarrassed by the watery tear stains on the corners. And in that, we are connected to a web far greater than our own, beyond time periods, personal differences and barriers. We remember those writings that make us feel distinctly and all together human.

So without further ramblings, here are the 51 bestselling novels of all time, and what they’ve taught us.

1. A Tale of Two Cities: by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities book

Think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you.

2. The Little Prince: by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.

3. Lord of the Rings: by J.R.R. Tolkien

The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there in peace. War will make corpses of us all.

4. And Then There Were None: by Agatha Christie

In the midst of life, we are in death.

5. The Stand: by Stephen King

The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.

6. The Catcher in the Rye: by J.D. Salinger

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

7. Harry Potter (the series): by J.K. Rowling

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

8. The Alchemist: by Paulo Coelho

The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

9. Lolita: by Vladimir Nabokov

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.

10. Charlotte’s Web: by E.B. White


We’re born, we live a little while, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.

11. Angels and Demons: by Dan Brown

Science and religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.

12. The Great Gatsby: by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

13. War and Peace: by Leo Tolstoy

We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.

14. Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl: by Anne Frank

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

15. To Kill a Mockingbird: by Harper Lee

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

16. Gone With the Wind: by Margaret Mitchell

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it’s no worse than it is.”

17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: by Stieg Larsson

What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.

18. 1984: by George Orwell

Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.

19. The Shack: by William Young

All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda.

20. Things Fall Apart: by Chinua Achebe


There is no story that is not true, […] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.

21. Catch 22: by Joseph Heller

…[A]nything worth dying for … is certainly worth living for.

22. The Lovely Bones: by Alice Sebold

Murderers are not monsters, they’re men. And that’s the most frightening thing about them.

23. Night: by Elie Wiesel

To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

24. The Kite Runner: by Khaled Hosseini

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.

25. The Thornbirds: by Colleen McCullough

There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone’s heart.

26. The Hunger Games (trilogy): by Suzanne Collins

Destroying things is much easier than making them.

27. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: by Mark Twain

You can’t pray a lie — I found that out.

28. Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft: by Thor Heyerdahl

Borders I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.

29. Where the Wild Things Are: by Maurice Sendak

I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more…What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.

30. Fear of Flying: by Erica Jong


It was easy enough to kill yourself in a fit of despair. It was easy enough to play the martyr. It was harder to do nothing. To endure your life. To wait.

31. The Grapes of Wrath: by John Steinbeck

And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.

32. Goodnight Moon: by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.

33. Goosebumps (series): by R. L. Stine

There are all kinds of worlds in the real world,” she said softly.” Most people don’t know that.

34. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: by Douglas Adams

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

35. The Old Man and the Sea: by Ernest Hemingway

But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

36. The Outsiders: by S.E Hinton

I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.

37. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: by Roald Dahl

Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.
Charlie Bucket: “What happened?
Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.

38. A Brief History of Time: by Stephen Hawking

The universe doesn’t allow perfection.

39. The Giver: by Lois Lowery

The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.

40. Life of Pi: by Yann Martel

Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud…

41. Ulysses: by James Joyce


Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.

42. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austin

A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.

43. Jane Eyre: by Charlotte Bronte

I would always rather be happy than dignified.

44. Wuthering Heights: by Emily Bronte

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

45. Frankenstein: by Mary Shelley

There is love in me the likes of which you’ve never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied in the one, I will indulge the other.

46. Anna Karenina: by Leo Tolstoy

I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.

47. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: by Lewis Caroll

I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

48. The Scarlet Letter: by Nathan Hawthorne

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

49. The Sun Also Rises: by Ernest Hemingway

Oh Jake,” Brett said, “We could have had such a damned good time together. […] “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?“

50. Brave New World: by Aldous Huxley


But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.

51. The Fault in Our Stars: by John Green

Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.

Have you read any of these? Which one was your favorite and why? Which books would you add to this list?

Don’t wait any longer to read the books your book-bucket-list, they aren’t going anywhere, but you are. Catch up on your reading and reveal some of the best dimensions to yourself.

About the author

Raichel Jenkins

Raichel is an ambitious free spirit who loves poetry, hiking, and a decent amount of carbs. She is a Journalism student at Ohio University with a passion for women’s rights, sappy love stories, and intricacies of the human experience.

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