The 5 Best-Selling Books of All Time

We’ve all seen the decline of book sales over the past decade, due to online, downloadable versions and audiobooks. However, the good old fashioned paper book shouldn’t be discounted just yet, as the twenty best-selling books we’ve included on this list are still in high demand and selling strong. 

From classic novels to ancient dictionaries, the books mentioned on this list have been compiled based on total worldwide sales. So, if you’re in the market for a new read, then here’s a list of the 5 best-selling books of all time.

1.Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

best selling books

Year released: 1612
Copies sold: 500 million

The most prolific and popular novel of all time, Don Quixote, is a testament to how great storytelling has no expiration date. The story follows a Hidalgo, Alonso Quixano, who proves that chivalry will in fact never die.

Selling an eye-watering 500 million copies worldwide, Don Quixote is the best-selling book of all time. The Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes was first published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615; and is considered to be the most influential work of literature from the Spanish age and literary canon. 

It’s also labelled as “the first modern novel”, and thought by many to be the best literary work ever written. By the 20th century, the novel was thought of as one of the foundations of modern literature

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2. Xinhua Zidian

Year released: 1953
Copies sold: 400 million

This Chinese-language dictionary was first published in 1953. It became the standard dictionary among Chinese schoolchildren. Its widespread use in the most populous nation in the world (1.3 billion people as of 2010) gives this book a unique place on our list as the only reference bookmaking an appearance.

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3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Year released: 1859
Copies sold: 200 million

Chances are, you read A Tale of Two Cities (or at least pretended to) in a high school class. It’s no surprise that this novel has sold so many copies it’s practically mandatory on the curriculum. The book is about the eighteen-year imprisonment of French Doctor, Manette, in Bastille prison, Paris; and his eventual release to live in London with his daughter, Lucie. 

Many people believe that this is Dickens best-known work of historical fiction and it’s since sold a staggering 200 million copies worldwide. In 2003, the book was ranked 63rd on The BBC’s, The Big Red Poll, and inspired Johnathan Nolan’s screenplay for The Dark Night Rises. 

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4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Year released: 1954
Copies sold: 150 million

The best-selling fantasy novel and series, The Lord of the Rings, has only grown in popularity since it was released, spawning a veritable armada of films, theatre, music, artwork, video games, and even board games. The Lord of The Rings is a high-intensity fantasy novel written by J.R.R Tolkien and is the sequel to his first book, The Hobbit. 

The book was originally intended to be part of a two-volume set, however; this was deemed a bad idea by the publisher, instead opting to release three volumes over the course of one year. The books are The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. 

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5.The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exuper

Best-Selling books

Year released: 1943
Copies sold: 140 million

In this gorgeous gift edition of the iconic French tale, the original illustrations have been rendered in full colour and it includes a stunning new cover with gold foil design.

The Little Prince, a book about the perils of growing old, by French aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exuper, has been translated into more than 300 languages and dialects. And for more classic literature you cannot miss, check out these 20 Poems Every Man Over 30 Should Know By Heart.

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