As the days get shorter and the weather grows colder, the lure of a warm fire and a good book can dash any hope of productivity. In this day and age, bookworms access their literature on a variety of mediums, but the characters in the books remain the same, whether their stories are told via paperback, Kindle, or iPad.
Now that the holiday season is here, more consumers are looking for a good book to wind down with after the hustle and bustle of the day, and fortunately, they’re in luck. Visual News recently published its list of the 10 most-read books in the world, based on number of books sold over the last 50 years. Some of the texts are classics, while others are modern-day favorites. We suggest you check out this list and see how many you can check off this holiday season — if you haven’t already. See if you’re surprised by what books made the list.
10. The Diary of Anne Frank
Coming in at No. 10 is The Diary of Anne Frank, selling 27 million books in the past 50 years. Published more than 60 years ago, this diary of a young girl hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands still resonates with people all over the world, and the book is one of several classics on Visual News’s list. Frank likely never imagined that her writing would be distinguished as some of the most highly read in the world. How surprised would she be that readers now access her personal jottings via their Kindles, tablets, and other electronic devices?
9. Think and Grow Rich
The No. 9 most-read book in the past 50 years is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Published in 1937, the motivational self-help book has sold more than 30 million copies, and consumers today still rely on Hill’s tips on how to succeed in all lines of work, as well as how to do or be almost anything they want. In Think and Grow Rich, the author condenses the 16 “laws” of success and presents his readers with principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.
8. Gone With the Wind
Next up is a classic love story by Margaret Mitchell: Gone With the Wind. First published in 1936, Mitchell continues to lure in readers with the story of Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, and her path to find love with Rhett Butler in the South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Thirty-three million copies of Gone With the Wind have been sold in the past 50 years, earning it the No. 8 rank on Visual News’s most-read books list.
7. The Twilight saga
We hate to say it, but we saw this one coming. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga makes the list at No. 7, thanks to the 43 million copies it has sold in the past 50 years — or, rather, in the seven years since its publication. Whether readers like to admit it or not, bookworms young and old, male and female, have been sucked in by the love story between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen that spans four vampire fantasy romance novels.
Ever since the release of the first novel in the series, Meyer has enjoyed widespread popularity and commercial success thanks to fans all over the world.
6. The Da Vinci Code
Coming back to (slightly) more serious literature, we stop at Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code at No. 6. This fan favorite has sold 65 million copies since its publication in 2003, and Brown continues to reap success from his mystery-detective novel as new generations discover it. Stirring up speculation concerning the Holy Grail legend and Mary Magdalene’s role in the history of Christianity, some religious denominations have denounced the text, but it nonetheless has successfully become a world best-seller.
5. The Alchemist
Up next is a novel written by Paul Coelho. First published in 1988, The Alchemist has sold 65 million books in its time, having been translated into at least 56 languages as of last year. The international bestseller follows a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago in his journey to Egypt after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there.
4. The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books come in at No. 4, and that is all thanks to the series selling 103 million copies in the past 50 years. Published from 1954 to 1955, the fantasy trilogy first began as a sequel to Tolkien’s The Hobbit but soon took on a life of its own as readers continue to eat up Tolkien’s content. They not only read his work but also watch it in theaters. In a testament to the trilogy’s staying power, The Lord of the Rings continues to inspire artwork, music, films, and television.
3. Harry Potter
Heading back to fantasy land, we come to the Harry Potter series, which takes No. 3 on Visual News’s link. The series’ impressive rank isn’t exactly surprising, considering the seven novels have not only sold 400 million copies but also inspired movies, theme parks, and a significant amount of tie-in merchandise. Potter groupies continue to praise author J.K. Rowling for introducing the characters of Harry, Hermione, and Ron into their lives, and the books have been lauded as the fastest-selling texts in history.
The good thing about Harry Potter novels is that they never get old, and if you decide to sit down with the books this holiday season, might we suggest you do it with a butterbeer?
2. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung
Coming in at No.2 is Mao Zedong’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, selling 820 million copies in the last 50 years. Published in 1964, the book of selected statements from speeches and writings by Mao, the former leader of Chinese Communist Party, has enjoyed widespread popularity and is now considered one of the most printed books in history.
1. Holy Bible
Last but certainly not least is the Holy Bible, finishing at No. 1 as the world’s most-read book. Though there have been many adaptations, the text has sold 3.9 billion copies in the past 50 years — more copies than all the other books on this list combined. Different religions employ the text in different ways, but the Holy Bible continues to be one that is passed down from generation to generation, and it is now considered the best-selling book of all time.