Most of authors or writers dream of success. It can take many shapes and sizes. In the world we are currently living in, there is one simple measurement that can tell us whether a book has been successful – a number of sold copies.
If people are buying a book, it must be good, right? Or when it comes to modern ones, they could just have a good marketing campaign – in which case we should reward those who came up with it anyway. Let’s have a look at Top Ten Books that made a killing and sort them based on the number of sold copies:
1. The Lord of the Rings
|Author||J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Number of sold copies||150 million|
Although this series has become even more famous after being filmed, it’s fair to say that the tale of Middle Earth has its charms in the book form as well. It reaches deep inside of us and plays on our imagination, wishes and inspiration.
The story of one little hobbit named Frodo Baggins succeeding where immortal elves or noble kings failed gives us a very truthful message that literally nothing is impossible. Tolkien did a wonderful job in creating a living world and it will take a long time before his legacy is forgotten – if it ever comes to that.
2. Dream of the Red Chamber
|Number of sold copies||100 million|
Let’s not forget that China is indeed a big country and consequently, being successful on the Chinese market has its perks. Although I’ve personally never heard about this book before, the numbers do not lie and over one hundred million sold copies seized the second place in our top ten books’ list.
Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the Four Great Classical Novels (as they call them in China). It depicts traditional Chinese cuisine, mythology, proverbs etc. It is based on the author’s own experience with the Chinese aristocracy in the 18th century.
3. And Then There Were None
|Number of sold copies||100 million|
She is well known for her excellent plots and surprising endings. Mrs. Christie also created a bit of a fuss by originally calling this book “Ten Little Niggers” – the name was changed to the current And Then There Were None so that it is not offensive towards Afro-Americans.
And what’s going on in this book? Simply put, ten people of different social classes are invited to an island where they are accused of murders. Later, they start dying, one by one…
4. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
|Author||C. S. Lewis|
|Number of sold copies||85 million|
C. S. Lewis has provided us with another grand tale of unusual heroes. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is but one part of a gigantic masterpiece describing a strange world full of magic and weird creatures somehow co-existing with our own.
4 siblings named Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy enter the world of Narnia through a wardrobe, only to find out that they are both persona non grata and expected saviors.
In case you were thinking that Chronicles of Narnia and LOTR are a bit similar at times, keep in mind that Lewis and Tolkien were very close friends, in fact Lewis helped Tolkien with a few passages in LOTR.
5. The Da Vinci Code
|Number of sold copies||80 million|
Having a successful book release in the 21st century no longer depends simply on writing a good book, but also on the marketing and distributing channels. Dan Brown and his team obviously managed that very well, because selling 80 million copies in 7 years is simply remarkable.
The Da Vinci Code is a mysterious story depicting a cohesion between Catholic religious beliefs and the modern world. Galileo Galilei gave us all an excellent example that religion and science can work together; Dan Brown chose to dance around this subject in a different way.
You should fasten your seat belts before you start reading it, because the pace is quick and you could easily get off track…
6. The Alchemist
|Number of sold copies||65 million|
I don’t know how does the original in Portugese sound, so the translation will have to suffice. The point is that Paolo Coelho tells us that if you want something real badly, you shall have it.
The Alchemist narrates a story of a young shepherd boy who overcomes love and danger on his quest for a treasure. Apparently, the story is so good that it had to be translated into 67 languages and breaks a Guiness record in the number of translations for a living author.
Coelho also encourages people to use peer to peer networks because he perfectly understands that people are actually honest and they will pay for good works – eventually.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
|Author||J. K. Rowling|
|Number of sold copies||44 million|
Yet another fairy tale made it to our list, I’m beginning to think that people might like fairy tales after all…
Anyway, a lot of children around the world grew up on the stories about Harry, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and Hogwarts. As expected, the final piece of the Harry Potter puzzle with its quite original name Deathly Hallows was extremely successful.
Only time will tell whether the Harry Potter series has the qualities of say Lord of the Rings or it will fade with the upcoming seasons. On the other hand, no one can deny Miss Rowling a great impact on both children and their parents on the turning point of two millennia – that has to count for something…
8. War and Peace
|Number of sold copies||36 million (USSR)|
Leo Tolstoy, a Russian writer, decided to demonstrate his beliefs that there is some greater power forming our history. Utilizing the facts he didn’t like popular history and he was a war veteran, he wrote one of the largest and most popular novels, War and Peace.
This jewel among books is divided in four volumes, each being a follow up of the previous one. War and Peace has a lot of characters, both fictional and real historical figures. The plot is set in the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon invades Russia.
Although War and Peace is clearly a Russian literature from a Russian author, parts of the book are written in French – probably because most of the story is focused on 5 noble families and nobility in Russia used to speak French in that particular era.
9. Think and Grow Rich
|Number of sold copies||30 million|
There are tons of motivational books these days. Some are better, some are worse and it’s up to you to choose the one that can really help you. Think and Grow Rich is probably a safe bet, because it takes a bit of an ingenuity to write something everybody knows these days – only 70 years ahead.
The best way how to become successful is to find out what others did before success came to them – and that’s exactly what Napoleon Hill did. According to his mentor’s (A. Carnegie) advice, he studied the life paths of 16 wealthy individuals and pointed out their steps to victory.
If you’re looking for personal development tools, Think and Grow Rich should be on the top of your priorities.
10. Nineteen Eighty-Four
|Number of sold copies||25 million|
History has shown us that mankind is capable of both terrible and good things and it’s a matter of conscience which side prevails. George Orwell took the liberty to tell us how the world would look like if despotic and oppressive regimes took the upper hand.
In an alternate year 1984, the Earth is divided among three major nations which constantly wage war against each other. The main character named Winston Smith lives in Oceania ruled by one party – called The Party. Everything is scarce, basic human right and emotions are constantly being twisted and above all, The Big Brother is always watching.
Although 1984 is quite gloomy and despairing, we have to acknowledge that it’s still in our “grasp” to create such a scenario. It needed to be said out loud in order to realize how absurd and sick such totalitarian practices are.
Reading good books brings us new perspectives and knowledge. Reading several of the most popular books out there is almost a cultural necessity and besides, wise folks know that they never know enough – and what’s a better way to expand your knowledge than by reading a good book?
Thank you for reading!
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