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Top 10 Best-Selling Books That You Must Read

In the long history of literature, some works have transcended the level of everyday reading to become titanic bestsellers—literary giants that have enthralled readers across decades and continents. The top 10 best-selling books of all time include a range of stories that connect to the shared human experience across all cultures. These literary geniuses have permanently etched their names into the fabric of human awareness, from classic novels to sacred texts.

These works capture the core of human emotions, aspirations, and contemplations, from the philosophical insights of “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes to the moral parables in “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The metaphorical voyage in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” or the spiritual lessons of the Bible—each of these books has profoundly and differently connected with readers.

We explore the storylines of these best-selling masterpieces as well as the tales of how they impacted other countries, societies, and people’s personal lives as we go through the pages of these works. These works have inspired not only language but also philosophy, art, and even our collective consciousness. The stories they convey have no end, transcending space and time to find a home in the hearts of innumerable readers. This investigation reveals the unparalleled ability of literature to unite, uplift, and leave a lasting imprint on the history of humanity.

1. The Bible 

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With over 5 billion copies sold worldwide, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time. The Old Testament and the New Testament are the two main sections of the book, which was written by a number of different authors. Between the eighth century BC and the first century CE, the Bible was written. Parts of it were written in Aramaic, but the majority was in Hebrew. The Bible has been translated more times than any other book in human history. Christianity, the most popular religion in the world, is mostly based on it.

2. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung 

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The “Little Red Book”—a collection of quotes by Chairman Mao Tse-Tung—is the second-best-selling book in history, with sales of almost 1.1 billion copies. The book has 427 quotes from Mao Zedong, the man who led the Chinese Communist Party’s founding revolution in 1949 and was formerly known as Mao Tse-Tung, on 33 various subjects. Zedong was China’s most powerful man and its leader until his death in 1976 as a result of the latter circumstance.

At first, only military leaders received copies of his book of quotations; however, soon after, the entire Chinese populace received copies as well. In order to prevent competition for his own work, Zedong even temporarily stopped the circulation of other novels. “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tsung” began to be translated and marketed to millions of people outside of China in 1967.

3. The Quran 

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Another religious text that ranks in the top 10 best-selling books of all time is the Quran. Up to this point, 800 million copies have been sold. The second-largest religion in the world, Islam, is based on the Quran, a book that was first composed in Arabic in the 7th century AD. The Qur’an is seen by practising Muslims as a revelation from God (Allah) conveyed through his earthly prophet Muhammad. They utilise the Qur’an as a source of instruction and as the foundation for their religious practises and conduct. The book was written by several authors, many of whom are living witnesses. 

4. The Lord of the Rings 

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The Lord of the Rings by English author John Tolkien (also known as J.R.R. Tolkien), which came in fourth on the list of the top 10 best-selling novels of all time, is the most popular book in history. Around 155 million copies have been sold worldwide as of this writing.

Since there are three parts to the book (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), it is occasionally misrepresented as a series when there is only one plot. The founding publishing house Allen & Unwin decided to promote three novels. The fantasy book by Tolkien has enjoyed success outside of the book industry. It developed a global cult following decades after the author’s passing in 1973, and the three films that were based on the novel were also great hits.

5. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery was a French aristocrat, aviator, writer, and journalist who also published the sixth most popular book in history. With over 140 million copies sold globally, The Little Prince (originally titled “Le Petit Prince”) continues to be the most popular children’s book of all time.

After France’s submission to Nazi Germany’s invasion in 1940, Saint-Exupery lived in exile in the United States and released the book there in 1943. The Little Prince would end up being the multi-talented Frenchman’s most popular and final book. In 1944, he crashed over the Mediterranean Sea after re-joining the French military, and he perished.

6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 

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A fantasy book by British author J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in 1997. In some places, it is also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is the first book in the acclaimed Harry Potter series and is also Rowling’s first book. There are seven sequels to this book.

The story follows young wizard Harry Potter as he makes lifelong friends at “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” and battles an evil wizard who wants to live forever. The sixth most popular book of all time, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, has been translated into approximately 100 languages. In addition to being one of the best-selling books of all time, the original Harry Potter also served as the basis for multiple successful blockbuster films, making it one of the most lucrative film series ever.

7. Scouting for Boys

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A guide to the great outdoors, Scouting for Boys was created especially for young boys. Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army commander and the man who started the Scout Movement, first wrote and published the book in 1908, and it is still in print today. Six sections make up the book: Scoutcraft, Woodcraft, Camp living, Endurance and Chivalry, Saving living and Patriotism, and Notes for Instructors. For young Scouts and young people considering joining the Scout movement, the book serves as an instructional manual.

8. And Then There Were None

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The mystery/crime book “And Then There Were None”, written by British novelist Agatha Christie, was initially published in 1939 under the title “Ten Little N*ggers” (later renamed “Ten Little Indians” before receiving its current title). It is still the most popular mystery/crime novel of all time and ranks ninth among all-time best-sellers. Additionally, the book managed to become the first novel to sell more than one million copies.

The book centres on ten people who, for unknown reasons, accept Mr. U.N. Owen’s invitation to visit an island. However, when they arrive, they discover that they are all suspects in the murder of Mr. U.N. Owen, who passes away at the start of the story without anyone knowing who committed the crime or why they were invited in the first place. Over the years, numerous other well-read crime and mystery novels have drawn inspiration from Christie’s plot.

9. The Hobbit 

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Another fantasy book by British author J. R. R. Tolkien is The Hobbit. It was released in 1937 and is set in the Middle-earth that was first described in Tolkien’s later book, “The Lord of the Rings,” which also takes place in a fantasy setting and was published in 1954. The book narrates the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a purported hobbit who lived peacefully with his pals in Bag End until he was asked by a wizard named Gandalf to aid in the recovery of the lost Kingdom beneath the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug, who had stolen their riches.

10. The Dream of the Red Chamber 

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Novelist Cao Xueqin wrote The Dream of the Red Chamber in the 18th century, and it was first made available in 1791. Beginning in the 1740s and finished just before his passing in either 1763 or 1764, Xuequin spent about 20 years writing the book. “The Story of the Stone” was the novel’s first title before being changed to its present moniker.

It is the most widely read novel among China’s four greatest classical novels and is regarded as one of them. In its most widely read form, the novel has 120 chapters and centres on the life of a family who lived in Beijing during the Qing dynasty. Millions of readers outside of China have translated and read the novel, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.

Conclusion

The top 10 best-selling books of all time span a diverse range of genres and themes, reflecting the universal appeal of literature across cultures and generations. From religious texts like the Bible and the Quran to beloved classics like The Lord of the Rings and The Little Prince, these literary masterpieces have captivated readers worldwide and left an indelible mark on human consciousness.

Their enduring popularity underscores the profound impact that storytelling has on our lives, serving as a powerful medium for connection, reflection, and inspiration across the ages.

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Aayushi Chopra
Aayushi Chopra
Aayushi Chopra is a law student who is interested in creating content on education, lifestyle, law, health, and environment. She enjoys researching different topics and then expressing her views on them.
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