Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
What is the best book in the world? There is no single answer to this question, since there are hundreds of literary examples worthy of being called an example of writing. But there is one more or less objective option for evaluating works – the level of book sales. It should be noted that this criterion in no way diminishes the importance of many classical and not only literary works, many of which have become a real world property, but did not make it into the rating. So, here is a list of the best-selling books in history, some of which have made their authors rich.
- World bestseller ranking: top 9 best-selling books in history
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 'The Little Prince'
- Dan Brown, 'The DaVinci Code', $ 80m
- Clive Lewis, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'
- Agatha Christie, 'Ten Little Indians'
- Cao Xueqin, 'Sleep in the Red Chamber'
- J.K. Rowling 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
- John Ronald Tolkien, 'The Lord of the Rings'
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
- Miguel de Cervantes, 'Don Quixote'
World bestseller ranking: top 9 best-selling books in history
|Nomination||a place||Name of product||Circulation|
|World bestseller ranking: top 9 best-selling books in history||9||Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 'The Little Prince'||80 million copies|
|8||Dan Brown, 'The DaVinci Code'||81 million copies|
|7||Clive Lewis, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'||85 million copies|
|6||Agatha Christie, 'Ten Little Indians'||100 million copies|
|5||Cao Xueqin, 'A Dream in the Red Chamber'||100 million copies|
|4||J.K. Rowling 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'||107 million copies|
|3||John Ronald Tolkien, 'The Lord of the Rings'||150 million copies|
|2||Charles Dickens, 'A Tale in Two Cities'||200 million copies|
|1||Miguel de Cervantes, 'Don Quixote'||500 mln. copies|
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 'The Little Prince'
Circulation: 80 million copies
The ten best-selling printed works in the world are opened by a charming and a little strange parable of the French writer about the little prince. Every day he cleans up his planet, looks after a capricious and cruel flower (his impulsive wife of the writer became his prototype), looks for the right thing among the painted lambs.
During his short life, Antoine managed to do a lot, including being a pilot, journalist, and, finally, a writer. And he did the last thing quite well, given the fact that his very first book became the highest-grossing fairy tale in the entire history of printing.
The book was first published at the height of the Second World War (in 1943) in the States, where the writer moved after the occupation of his homeland by the Nazis, and 3 years later, the allegorical tale was published in France. Since then, the work has been reprinted many times and translated into many languages.
In 2017, The Little Prince was published in one of the dialects of the Arabic language (Hassaniya) spoken in Mauritania, Morocco and Western Sahara. It was the 300th language, and after a while the world saw a circulation in Ossetian. The book was even translated into the dead, Latin language. In terms of the number of languages used for publication, the story is second only to one book – the Bible. The novel remains one of the most widely read books in the world to this day. It is with her that philologists advise to start comprehending the French language.
Dan Brown, 'The DaVinci Code', $ 80m
Circulation: 81 million copies
The original mystery thriller, skillfully crafted by Dan Brown and released in 2003, became a worldwide bestseller and sold colossally large numbers. The book has been translated into 44 languages and printed in an amount of about 81 million copies. The Doubleday Group, which published the book, named The Da Vinci Code the most sought-after novel in history. It was considered by many to be the best novel of the decade.
But, besides this, the book raised a long-lasting wave of noise. And the film with Tom Hanks in the title role, released 3 years later, made the Catholic Church speak up, which took a rather tough stance, both in relation to the film and in relation to its original source.
And this is not surprising, because the basis of the work is, according to Dan Brown himself, a factually confirmed theory showing that the New Testament is in fact nothing more than false evidence of ancient events. The unconventional idea of the essence of the Holy Grail and the real place of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity has aroused the keen interest of readers around the world.
Clive Lewis, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'
Circulation: 85 million copies
The book became the first of the series 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. Initially, the work was conceived as a colorful fairy tale for children. But over time, a bright novel with a religious and mystical bias turned into one of the most significant and widely read literary creations in the world, written in the fantasy genre. The novel was included by Time in the top 100 novels published in English.
This is a fabulous story about how four English children (two brothers and two sisters) get through an ordinary wardrobe into the mysterious world of Narnia and turn out to be the ones who must change the course of the history of this magical world. The work combines Christian motives with images from Scandinavian, Celtic and other mythologies.
In 2005, the book was screened by one of the largest film companies in the world – Walt Disney and the work received a new life.
Agatha Christie, 'Ten Little Indians'
Circulation: 100 million copies
One of the most interesting and intense detective novels by the brilliant British writer Agatha Christie, which has become a cult classic. The book appeared on store shelves back in 1939 and since then the interest in the work has not diminished in the least. In the center of the plot is a series of mysterious murders taking place on an island, where participants in a mysterious game, which became fatal for them, were deceived.
A bright, intricate plot, a virtuoso style and, of course, an unexpected ending that will not leave anyone indifferent. A real diamond for the connoisseur of a quality detective from the recognized 'queen of the detective'. Agatha Christie is considered one of the most popular writers not only of her time, so it is quite reasonable that the circulation of her works is incredibly large. Among them is the 'Ten Little Indians'.
Cao Xueqin, 'Sleep in the Red Chamber'
Circulation: 100 million copies
Thanks to this novel, its author has become a recognized classic of Chinese literature and one of the most famous in the world. The work was written in a non-traditional everyday language for China, and here for the first time (unlike other Chinese novels) a clear storyline was used. The novel tells the story of the decline of two branches of the same family that lived in the era of the Qing dynasty.
It is noteworthy that during the life of the author, only the first 80 chapters were published (in 1763). After his death, almost 30 years later, the publisher, together with an assistant, published 40 more chapters, completing the storyline. The narrative of The Dream in the Red Chamber is a free mixture of autobiographical elements with fiction, everyday situations and supernatural events.
In 1980, a whole Institute of Sleep in the Red Chamber was created in China, which became part of the system of the country's Academy of Sciences. A lot of studies and monographs from all over the world are devoted to the work. But, despite some “academic”, the novel is still incredibly popular and is being reprinted in colossal large print runs.
J.K. Rowling 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
Circulation: 107 million copies
When the first volume of the series of books about the wizard boy came out, no one knew where this would lead. The work struck like a bolt from the blue, initiating the famous 'Potterian' and leading to the emergence of millions of fans of the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling.
The truly iconic story of the difficult fate of a boy with a lightning scar on his forehead and his friends still excites the minds of many children and adults around the world. Despite the fabulousness of the world described in Rowling's works, his characters are an amazing example of what a real person should be. As many critics note, the writer managed to convey in an original way many of the ethnic and social problems characteristic of the real world.
The Harry Potter series is very often used not only in advertising, but also as an object lesson in sociological analysis and in educational institutions. Indeed, Rowling's works perfectly show how an integral personality is formed by making certain decisions in one's life and how they affect others.
John Ronald Tolkien, 'The Lord of the Rings'
Circulation: 150 million copies
The epochal work of J.R. Tolkien can be confidently called the foundation for the subsequently become a cult trend in literature – fantasy. The epic novel was originally written as a single book, which the publisher refused to publish in such a voluminous form, dividing it into 3 separate volumes. And to this day, the work is published in this way – in the form of a trilogy.
According to the plot, the events taking place in The Lord of the Rings are a continuation of those that were described in The Hobbit. It is noteworthy that initially Tolkien had no intention of writing a sequel, but changed his mind after the publisher invited him to present his other works.
Creating 'The Lord of the Rings', the author pursued, according to him, the only goal – to support morality in the real world and convey the truth to the reader. The novel was republished several times in many languages and the author, being an expert in philology, often scrupulously checked the quality of the translations.
After the books were published, they spoke about her in different ways. Some critics (especially colleagues) of the writer were delighted, others noted the insufficient depth of the created characters. But only time has shown the truth: more than 70 years later, the book is still considered a bestseller.
An interesting fact: in the 60s, Tolkien's book was published in the States, and without the author's permission and payment of remuneration to him (it turned out that in the USA the writer's novel is not protected by copyright). When Tolkien brought information about what had happened to his American readers, a serious scandal erupted, and the sale of books had to be curtailed. Later, The Lord of the Rings was published with the permission of the writer and became a real commercial bomb.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Circulation: 200 million copies
One of the world's best-known classics, Charles Dickens explores the inter-class struggle that led to the French Revolution in this novel. The writer was one of the first to openly expressed in his work the assumption that revolutionaries are inherently much worse than the representatives of the bourgeoisie, so vehemently hated by them.
The author managed to show through the eyes of the reader representatives of all classes of that time and very accurately compare not only two cities – London and Paris, but also to draw a sharp comparison of opposites: the aristocracy and the Parisian 'bottom', loving people and saturated with hatred, etc.
For English-speaking countries, this historical novel by Dickens (by the way, the only one) has become a real reader. But he is unfamiliar to Russian-speaking readers. The probable reason is the critical attacks on the book and the author himself by Marxist literary scholars, who considered Dickens to be the owner of a limited petty-bourgeois worldview.
Over the past century and a half, the book has been reprinted dozens of times in many countries of the world, so it is difficult to calculate the exact number of copies, but experts almost unanimously agree that there are more than 200 million of them.
Miguel de Cervantes, 'Don Quixote'
Circulation: 500 million copies
The immortal masterpiece of de Cervantes is a story about the misadventures of a mad hidalgo, who read a lot of chivalric romances and decided to try on the role of one of the valiant knights. For more than four centuries, new and new generations have been reading the unusual adventures of Don Quixote, who unsuccessfully tried to help the offended and oppressed.
It may seem strange why this particular book turned out to be the best-selling among the existing ones, but there is a simple explanation for this: published in 1612, de Cervantes's 'cunning hidalgo' was one of the first books that could be classified as fiction. Prior to that, almost all the literature that was published in print was related either to theological topics or to scientific ones.
But this reason is not the only one. “The cunning hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha” is truly a masterpiece of world literature, the author of which was able to embody in the form of a mad knight a clear archetype, a model of human nature. Subsequently, many writers used the image of Don Quixote, parodying, supplementing or referring to him.
Many researchers, even the classics of world literature such as Byron, Heine and Turgenev, tried to interpret the main character of the book. Many agreed on the statement that Don Quixote is a universal human image showing the properties and capabilities of the human spirit.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.