Discover The 20 Best Selling Books of All Time

Explore the best selling books of all time and build a library of interesting reads.

When you are in the mood for a book, what do you reach for? If you want to join some of the best readers around the globe, you may want to pick up a best-seller.

Best-sellers change with time, but certain works stand the test of time. The best-selling books of all time include children’s books, classic novels, and modern works of fiction. If you are unsure what to read next, any book on this list will do you well.

Best-Selling Books of All Time

Whether you need an epic tale, want a light-hearted story about family, or need to delve into the human condition, you will find a book on this list that fits.

1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote

Published in the 1600s, Don Quixote has sold over 500 million copies by modern estimates. Though it is difficult to track this completely due to the book’s age, it remains one of the top best-selling books of all time.

In Don Quixote, knight-errant Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho tackle foes, many of which are made up by the protagonist. It is studied widely in literature because it was the first modern novel ever published.

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”

Miguel De Cervantes
Don Quixote (Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels)
  • de Cervantes, Miguel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 992 Pages - 03/21/2018 (Publication Date) - Dover Publications (Publisher)

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities

Another classic work, A Tale of Two Cities is set in the time of the French Revolution. The book explores the complex historic period by looking at the family histories of the characters.

A Tale of Two Cities shows up often in high school and college English classes. Approximately 200 million copies sold show the popularity of this classic novel.

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”

Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 12/04/2020 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book in a world-famous trilogy. This epic tale follows Frodo, a young hobbit, as he journeys on an epic quest to find and destroy a ring.

This book is now a major motion picture, and the exploits of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins remain popular among literature lovers.

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, 1)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 10/06/2020 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince

Though it is a children’s book, The Little Prince is adored by adults as well. In this story, an airplane pilot crashes in the desert where he meets a little prince who asks him to draw a sheep.

Through the course of the narrative, the author explores human nature and the problems adults bring to life. This is one of the most translated books in the world, and it has several layers to the story that make it interesting to explore.

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”

Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Little Prince
  • Great product!
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 05/15/2000 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

J.K. Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, took the world by storm. It follows the orphan Harry as he learns of his heritage in the Wizarding world.

The fantastical world of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and the ensuring characters Harry meets along the way started a literary empire. The sequels that make up the Harry Potter series are also on the bestseller list and include:

Each of these in the book series sold around 65 million copies, but the original book sold over 100 million.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Philosopher's Stone
  • Hogwart's
  • Dumbledore
  • Magic
  • School Days

6. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

Mystery writer Agatha Christie keeps readers guessing with every page of this classic work. The book starts with 10 strangers summoned to an island where, one by one, they fall victim to a murderer.

This is a classic who-done-it story mixed with a bit of terror. Few who read it for the first time are successful in figuring out who the murderer is, which makes it an engaging tale.

“In the midst of life, we are in death.”

Agatha Christie
And Then There Were None
  • Christie, Agatha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 03/29/2011 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

7. The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

The Dream of the Red Chamber

This Chinese version of the Romeo and Juliet saga is considered one of the classic works of that culture. Its skillful translation gives English readers a glimpse into the culture of China.

The plot of the story follows a teenage boy in China as he comes of age, but what readers walk away with is an understanding of how the Chinese people think and live. This cultural expose is a valuable reason to read the book.

“On perusal of these two sentences, albeit the room was sumptuous and beautifully laid out, he would on no account remain in it. “Let us go at once,” he hastened to observe, “let us go at once.”

Cao Xueqin
The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, Vol. 1: The Golden Days
  • Cao Xueqin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 540 Pages - 03/30/1974 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

Tolkien is one writer with more than one book on the list. The Hobbit takes readers down the hobbit-hole to explore the character of Bilbo Baggins in more detail. It is in a way a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it can also stand on its own.

The Hobbit was originally written for Tolkien’s own children, but today it is something readers of all ages love, from children to young adults to adults. 

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

9. She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard

She: A History of Adventure

In this tale, Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward, Leo Vincey, embark on a journey to Africa to find a lost kingdom. While it is full of adventure, the true benefit of this book that lands it on the A-List is the way it explores Victorian ideals and the idea of womanhood.

She: A History of Adventure is both an excellent story and an interesting cultural expression.

“There is no such things as magic, though there is such a thing as knowledge of the hidden ways of Nature.”

H. Rider Haggard
She (Black & Gold Classics): A History of Adventure
  • Hardcover Book
  • Haggard, H. Rider (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 298 Pages - 06/03/2023 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This first book in the Chronicles of Narnia remains one of the most popular works of literature. It has sold an estimated 85 million copies since it was first published. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe appear to be a fantasy novel at first, but it is actually an interesting allegorical tale that mirrors the Christian faith. 

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

C.S. Lewis
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • C. S. Lewis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 24 Pages - 01/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Collins (Publisher)

11. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code

The second book in the Robert Langdon series became a best-seller after a major motion picture was made based on its plot. This book unveils a hidden world as the main character seeks to solve a murder and a series of clues left behind.

The Da Vinci Code is a page-turner with surprises around every corner. The main premise is that the art and works of Leonardo Da Vinci house secret codes that lead the characters on an unexpected quest.

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”

Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon)
  • Paris symbologist phone call murder painter
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

12. Heidi by Johanna Spyri


Heidi is the tale of a young girl living in the Swiss Alps. The charming children’s book was originally published in the 1880s. It is one of the best-known works of literature from Switzerland.

Though the plot is little more than the daily life of the child, Heidi continues to charm children today. It touches on themes of friendship and family and gives a glimpse into the mountain life of the day.

“I’ll always say my prayers… and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”

Johanna Spyri
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Spyri, Johanna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 168 Pages - 01/08/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye embodies teenage rebellion in its main character. This is another book often studied in school.

The story follows a 16-year-old who is expelled from school and goes on a journey of discovery as he tries to protect his own sister from the demands of growing up into adulthood. The book is often criticized for its crude language.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye
  • Novel by J.D. Salinger, published in 1951. The influential and widely acclaimed story details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office. After he recovers from his breakdown, Holden relates his experiences to the reader.
  • J. D. Salinger (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 01/30/2001 (Publication Date) - Back Bay Books (Publisher)

14. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a charming book that follows a young shepherd as he searches for something more. As the young man travels from Spain to Egypt, he meets a cast of characters that help him better understand himself and the world.

Though the boy is searching for treasure, through the course of the narrative he finds his own treasure within.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Paulo Coelho

15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Few children’s books are as loved as this colorful one. Eric Carle’s beautiful artwork follows the life cycle of a butterfly.

Children and adults appreciate stomach aches after a day of over-indulging, and the colorful pictures please all readers.

“He built a small house, called a cocoon, around himself. He stayed inside for more than two weeks. Then he nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and… he was a beautiful butterfly!”

Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Now even younger children can follow the little green caterpillar as he eats his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly in this sturdy board book
  • Great for early development
  • Children will enjoy this delightful tale
  • Ages 3 to 7
  • Hardcover Book

16. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


When the main character falls in love with his neighbor’s daughter, he marries the neighbor in order to stay close to the object of his affection. This twisted tale is both funny and poignant.

The theme of Lolita is a bit disturbing for young readers, but it remains a bestseller because of the brilliant way the author weaves in the passion of his characters into an interesting story.

“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”

Vladimir Nabokov
  • Great product!
  • Nabokov, Vladimir (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 317 Pages - 03/13/1989 (Publication Date) - Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (Publisher)

17. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

Anne with an E is a charming redhead that most readers know well. This tale of an orphan girl who wins the hearts of her family is well-known around the world.

Through Anne of Green Gables, readers get to watch as Anne grows up, laugh as her fiery temper gets the best of her and enjoy the qualities of family and friendship woven through the story.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Montgomery, L. M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 08/28/2014 (Publication Date) - Puffin Books (Publisher)

18. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web

Wilber the pig is the main character of this children’s book. He comes to a farm, only to learn that his final destiny is to become dinner. He makes a friend, Charlotte the Spider, and together they work to save his life.

Though the idea of talking farm animals may seem far-fetched, Charlotte’s Web is a magical story of friendship that has been treasured for generations. 

Charlotte's Web: A Newbery Honor Award Winner (Trophy Newbery)
  • These are the words in Charlotte's web, high in the barn
  • Her spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, as well as the feelings of a little girl named Fern … who loves Wilbur, too
  • Their love has been shared by millions of readers
  • E. B. White (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

19. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty

The life of a horse is a hard one, especially in early 20th-century London, and this story explores that from the horse’s point of view. Both tragic and heart-warming, Black Beauty is a classic piece of children’s literature. 

Be prepared to shed a few tears for Beauty and his friends, but rest assured that this novel ends happily.

“It is good people who make good places.”

Anna Sewell
Black Beauty (Puffin Classics)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sewell, Anna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 09/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Puffin Classics (Publisher)

20. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

Finally, To Kill a Mockingbird rounds out the list. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel topped the New York Times bestseller list when it first was published.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a regional tale of Alabama. It explores childhood and innocence and the best and worst of human nature.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Harper Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 03/19/2024 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

A Final Word on the Best Selling Books of All Time

The best selling books of all time all have compelling storylines and often touch on an aspect of society that is of interest. If you are looking for something interesting to read, head to Amazon and pick up one of the books on this list.

From children’s books to epic novels, each of these books has made its mark on the world of literature. Add one to your collection to enjoy for yourself.

FAQs on the Best Selling Books of All Time

What are the best selling books of all time?

The top selling books that create the foundation for the world’s religions, like the Quran, the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Outside of those, Don Quixote is one of the world’s best-selling works.

What is the best selling children’s book?

The Little Prince, with about 140 million copies sold, is the best-selling children’s book


  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.