Many people have enjoyed – and are still enjoying – our list of the 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time. We asked ourselves what other book lists might be interesting or useful and here’s one answer: the twenty best-selling books of all time.
Inevitably there are even bigger caveats around the definitiveness of this than the hundred great novels list. The most obvious thing to point out is that there haven’t been book charts and computerised sales records for most of the time printed books have been around, so any attempt at a chart is bound to involve a lot of estimation and guesswork. In the absence of a certified list this one falls back on the time-honoured route of judicious online research (in other words, please take up any issues with Google, Wikipedia et al).
It’s worth pointing out that although there’s one Chinese book here – and plenty of European ones amongst the British and American – there’s a strong likelihood this western-oriented list may simply have missed some best-sellers from around the world and the centuries.
We’ve excluded religious titles and also books updated regularly, like The Guinness Book Of Records, that might well be there if you took all the many editions into consideration. And there are plenty of series by authors as diverse as Ian Fleming and Enid Blyton that might, if taken together, bring their authors into this kind of chart.
All those caveats aside here’s our list and a note of the editions chosen – anything from the splendidly priced Wordsworth £1.99 classics to the sumptuous production standards of the Folio Society. Many of these books are out-of-copyright, of course, so available in numerous other editions.
Incidentally, only one title – The Catcher In The Rye – appears in both this and the ‘100 great novels’ listings. We’re not sure what that says about either list.
Finally, it’s a pleasure to see Black Beauty – a book published originally by Jarrolds, of course – getting onto this list.
Buy any of these massive best-sellers and get a second from the list at half price.
Jarrold Book Buyer