Top Ten Best-Selling Books of All Time
Even though technology has provided us with new methods that have drastically changed our reading habits, like SMS and the Internet, nothing compares to reading a good book. Whether you’re reading the most climactic parts of a novel or pondering over formulas found in a reference volume, books never fail to maintain that rich, scholarly feeling that you’re learning something valuable. This list presents ten such gems, timeless sources of knowledge that have benefited the most number of people. Here are the ten best-selling books of all time.
10. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
“Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” written by English Protestant John Foxe and first published in 1563, is a book detailing the lives of martyrs whom Foxe believed to be forerunners of the Reformation movement prevalent at the time. His book covered a wide range of persecutions throughout history, from the early days of the Christian Church to Foxe’s time. The book heavily criticizes the Roman Catholic Church for its misdeeds and persecution of Protestants. His book also justifies the formation of the Church of England. The book has sold 150 million copies.
9. Scouting for Boys
“Scouting for Boys” was written by Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant-general of the British Army and founder of the Scout Movement. The book is an autobiographical account of the author growing up in the military tradition, and his many experiences on and off the field. He gives extensive tips on how to act in certain situations, like building a fire, tending the wounded, and other real-life scenarios. His books became a staple among Boy and Girl Scout organizations, even today. Robert Baden-Powell’s book has been a major success, with 150 million volumes sold.
8. The Count of Monte Cristo
“The Count of Monte Cristo” is an adventure story by Alexandre Dumas that explores the classic themes of betrayal, deception, revenge, and ultimate tragedy. The book follows the story of Edmond Dantes, a young sailor who is wrongfully imprisoned by his comrades but finds the means and resources to escape and exact revenge on his enemies. Since its first publication in 1844, it has been very popular and is now considered a literary classic. “The Count of Monte Cristo” is estimated to have exceeded 200 million copies sold.
7. Pilgrim’s Progress
“The Pilgrim’s Progress,” written by John Bunyan in 1678, is considered one of the defining pieces of English literature. This Christian allegory has sold 250 million copies and translated to about 200 languages. It tells the story of an everyman character named Christian and his quest for leaving the City of Destruction (Earth) toward the Celestial City (Heaven). Along the way he meets different kinds of people, both good and bad, who try to influence him. Bunyan’s work was influential to succeeding writers, with many using Bunyan’s style either as homage or a parody.
6. Book of Common Prayer
The “Book of Common Prayer” refers to the prayer book used by the Church of England. The book contains all the liturgical services and prayers for worship within the church. It was the first book to contain all major prayers and manuscripts used in the Anglican liturgy in one volume. A must-have for the Anglican faithful, the “Book of Common Prayer” has currently sold 300 million copies.
5. Xinhua Zidian
The “Xinhua Zidian,” or the New China Character Dictionary, is the highest-selling reference book in the world. It is a pocket-sized dictionary, mostly with simplified Chinese definitions, for the use of schoolchildren and the general public. The dictionary also includes the Latin alphabet to help pronounce the characters. The latest edition of the Xinhua Zidian has over 11,200 logograms and 3,500 compounds, including Traditional and Variant Chinese. The book has currently sold 400 million copies.
4. Don Quixote
“Don Quixote” is a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish author of the 17th century. The novel tells about an aging country gentleman who has severe delusions that he is a knight. Along with his squire, the earthy Sancho Panza, Don Quixote goes on ridiculous adventures – such as attacking a windmill – all in the name of his lady, the fictional Dulcinea del Toboso.
Don Quixote was an early example of the novel platform, and is regarded as one of the greatest works of fiction ever made. The novel also holds the distinction of being the best-selling work of fiction, with 500 million books sold.
3. The Qur’an
The Qur’ an, also known as the Koran or Alcoran, is the primary religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the book was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel, and that the words in the book are divine in origin. The Qur’ an refers to events found in holy books of other beliefs like Christianity and Judaism, but gives more emphasis on the morality of the events rather than their historical significance. Because it is widely-regarded as the Word of God Himself, it has an absolute impact on all Islamic customs and beliefs, and is the most authoritative piece of literature in the Muslim faith. It has sold over 800 million copies.
2. Quotations from Chairman Mao
Mao Zedong was a Chinese Communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China. He led a rebellion against the capitalist government at the end of World War II, which led to the overthrow of the capitalists in China. He then proceeded to implement programs such as the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, which made drastic reforms in the government. Although his rule was often controversial and drew criticism both inside and outside China, many Chinese still regard “Chairman Mao” as one of their greatest leaders.
During Mao’s tenure as Chairman of the Communist Party, the party published a book containing quotations from his speeches and writings. The collection is called “Quotations from Chairman Mao,” and the book became an unofficial requirement among the Chinese people. With more than 900 million books distributed since its first publication in 1964, the “Quotations” easily makes it high among our list of best-selling books.
1. The Bible
No book in the world even comes close to matching the total number of Bibles sold worldwide. “Quotations form Chairman Mao,” the number two book on this list, has sold around 900 million copies. The Bible, however, is estimated to have sold 5 to 6 billion. That’s about one Bible for every person living today.
The Bible is a collection of books that are deemed significant for the cultivation of the Christian faith. These include the Jewish holy books (Tanakh), which Christians call the Old Testament, and the teachings of Jesus Christ and his followers, or the New Testament. The three major branches of Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox) have their own slight modifications of the book, with some books added or left out, but overall the three branches adhere to the majority of the writings.
The Bible has always been the backbone of the Christian faith. Ministers always seek passages of the Bible for guidance and wisdom. The Bible is also the most-translated book in the world, with over 2,000 versions in different languages and dialects worldwide.(Learn how to read the bible)
The books listed here consist only of single-volume books; they are not part of a series or larger compilation. Although some of the books here consist of smaller books or excerpts (“Quotations of Chairman Mao” and the Bible are examples), these books are often sold as a single volume.
A great book can either transport you to new worlds or give you a new understanding of the one you are in right now. And nothing quite sends you to the exhilarating thrill of discovering new worlds like the Top Ten Fantasy novels of All Time.