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Top 10 Books Sold in More than 50 Million Copies

posted by Anneliese Müller

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Top 10 Books Sold in More than 50 Million Copies
1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. The Da Vinci Code
3. Think and Grow Rich
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
5. The Catcher in the Rye
6. The Alchemist
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

Which books are better than those sold over 10 million copies? Those sold in more than 50 million copies. Yes, a large number of people were fascinated by various volumes enough to buy them in multiple copies, as children and then as adults, when the first editions got a little damaged.

Of course, there are various issues and versions of the books. The first ones are usually traditional and might contain some old beautiful fragile designs, then there are the pocket versions one can carry easier all over the world and read them on the bus, train or even when flying on a plane, all for “research” reasons.

The reprints are for the sake of nostalgia and people wanting to bring back their beloved books or because the newer generations are just fascinated by them. Then the most recent issues are just for the sake of art. Hardcovers with detailed images, shiny pages, pop out chapters, hidden messages and you must have it to feel young all over again. Even if you do not buy them for you anymore, you buy them for the people around you.

Your family members – either your only 2 month old niece who must learn from an early age the magic of books, or your great uncle who has lived in vain if he had not read them until now – the children at the local school who need a proper education in literature, your neighbours’ grandchildren, whoever might enter the town’s library or whoever might need a good book while traveling to work or school.

Controversies

To get a book sold in millions of copies, writers can just be themselves and write whatever they want or they can add some fairy dust and wait for easily offended people to riot. Because everything sells better when there is a scandal around it – except for maybe the industry of stock market – as controversies draw people more to such books rather than push them away.

burning books, the davinci codePeople are curious and no one can blame them. So they just have to buy them and increase their popularity. They have to know why some were or are banned in some places, why the church hates them, why people throw shade at the author on social media, why some might do unbelievable things because of them… in other words: what is the big fuss about? Once acquired, but mostly bought, because people are selfish and they do not want to share their precious belongings, the new owners read them and get illuminated.

There is no doubt that many are fascinated about them and can not help themselves recommending them to everyone and bringing them up in every situation, but there are others who need some holy water to wash their eyes after the reading. They evaluate them as bad, worse thing on Earth after broccoli and something to be burned in a camp fire. Yet with all their rants and negative reviews, they indirectly promote them and again – others get interested and buy them. It is a vicious circle.

After discovering which novels were sold over 10 million copies, we invite you to find out which are the ones sold in more than 50 million copies.

Enjoy!


10. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix” – J. K Rowling

50 million books, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

The fifth “Harry Potter” volume published in 2003 starts with an angry traumatized Harry. After the events of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, the boy has nightmares and to make things worse, while bullied by his cousin Dudley, he is attacked by dementors.

Forced to use magic, Harry is dragged through a trial risking being expelled from Hogwarts. Ignored by Dumbledore, with Lord Voldemort in his head and with Dolores Umbridge sticking her nose everywhere and changing everything at Hogwarts, Harry along Ron, Hermione and other students make their own army – Dumbledore’s Army – a team whose purpose is to learn the secrets of magic Umbridge has denied to the students. Sales: ~55 million copies.

Movie Differences

The 2007 movie adaptation is mostly accurate to the book plot, but there are some slight differences. For instance the relationship between Cho Chang and Harry Potter – the young witch and wizard start shyly, but they do not last.

While in the book she is emotional about her former boyfriend, Cedric, getting killed and Harry not really being happy about discussing this on a date and feeling used, in the movie their relationship is not developed over the kiss and she is the one to betray Dumbledore’s Army.

Also, the books starts with Harry hiding under a window on torrid summer day, while the movie takes a more depressing approach with Harry on a swing, miserable, thinking about the events from the previous novel. Another major difference is Dolores Umbridge being the one who sent the dementors on Harry. The other ones are for you to discover.


9. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” – J. K Rowling

best seller books, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Released in 2000, the fourth novel marks the middle of the series and the departure from childhood. When the Quiddich World Cup is interrupted by an attack presumed to have been the work of Voldemort’s minions and a hint to his return, everything is covered up and the blame is put on a house elf.

The wizard world focuses its attention to a more important event: the Triwizard Tournament between Hogwarts, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and Durmstrang Institute. But things get messed up once Harry is chosen to participate in the deadly tournament, despite not being of age and not having signed up for it. Little does he know that everything is nothing but a trap. Sales: ~55 million copies.

Movie Differences

The 2005 adaptation is more centered on the main characters; therefore, in the movie Ron, Hermione and Harry are the ones to blame for the disaster from the Quiddich World Cup, not the house elf.

The funniest differences and a running internet joke is Dumbledore’s reaction to Harry being designated by the Goblet of Fire – in the book he is very calm, while in the movie he is upset and quite violent towards the boy. Also, the journalist Rita Skeeter is a constantly pain in the neck, but in the movie she does not appear.


8. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – J. K Rowling

best sold books, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban

In 1999, J. K. Rowling brought Harry Potter back. In the third book, Harry runs away from his horrendous family and stays in Diagon Alley for 3 weeks until school starts.

But on his way to the wizarding school, he is attacked by dementors, who are actually looking for some else – Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather and the man presumed to be behind the death of the Potter spouses. After years of being locked in Askaban, a prison for magical people, Sirius escapes and everyone is sure that he is set to kill his master’s enemy – Harry Potter.

But things are not what they seem and Harry will find himself in a dangerous situation in order to find out the truth and save those important to him. Sales: ~55 million copies.

Movie Differences

In the 2004 installment the events were mostly shortened or rearranged to fit the time. One difference is that Hermione slapping Draco is more epic. Also, in the movie, during uncomfortable or dangerous situations, Ron is a scaredy-cat and Hermione is all Superwoman, but in the books Ron is the one who suddenly becomes brave and Hermione loses her coolness.

And of course there are many Bippity Boppity Boos, Alohomoras and Wingardium Leviosa which do not fit the movie. Because let’s be honest! The movie does not necessarily need more magic as it gets you hooked right from the start and neither does the book, but J. K. Rowling really loves her magical spells.


7. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” – J. K Rowling

harry potter, best sold books

In case you were not around in 1998 or you were too mature to read the “harry Potter” series, let us introduce you the second volume, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.

After a dreadful summer with the Dursleys and the house elf Dobby threatening him and getting him into a lot of trouble, Harry is locked in his bedroom… literally! But thankfully his wizard friends, the Weasleys, come in their flying car and save him. But returning to Hogwarts is not much better than living on 4 Privet Drive.

The new clown teacher Gilderoy Lockhart is all talk and danger and someone or something is lurking on Hogwarts’ hallways turning students into stone. And with Harry revealing that he can speak Parseltongue, he becomes the main suspect. Sales: ~60 million copies.

Movie Differences

In the 2002 film, most differences are related to characters being swapped; therefore, we have Hermione fixing Harry’s glasses instead of Molly, Minerva McGonagall telling the story of the Chamber of Secrets instead of another professor and so on.

There is also the Deathday Party given by Sir Nicholas at which the trio participates in the novel, while in the movie there is no mention about it, as there is no mention about the removal of yard gnomes and uncle Vernon discovering that Harry is not allowed to do magic unattended, too. Perhaps the producers did not find these events relevant to the plot, but we sure did love them when we read the book.


6. “The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist, best seller book

You were getting tired of Harry Potter, weren’t you? Well, here you get another name and not any name – Paulo Coehlo’s 1988 “O Alquimista”. The novel’s main character is Santiago, a shepherd from Andalusia. Driven by a prophetic dream, the boy sets off to Egypt.

On his journey, he encounters various people, the Biblical king of Salem, Melchizedek, an Englishman, the beautiful Arabian, Fatima, and an alchemist. Each person plays an important role in Santiago’s life and journey.

Set to discover a treasure, the shepherd learns important teachings including that the most valuable treasures are not necessarily made out of gold or diamonds. Sales: ~65 million copies.

“ Best seller in over 74 countries ”

Unique

The book on which Paulo Coelho’s entire career was built started as a failure, but just as his character, the Coelho finds his searches for his inner self and tries once more, “O Alquimista” finally becoming a best seller in over 74 countries.

The novel itself functions as a portal meant to connect the reader with the universe, whether is the inner one or the outer one. It is about learning that even at harsh times there are things we learn and no matter how lost we are at times and if we depart from our initial path, we all have a meaning, a life purpose.


5. “The Catcher in the Rye” – J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye, best seller book

That one book every single one of you class mates read in high school and the one you refused to read because it was too mainstream, “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951), tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a teenaged boy who is kicked out of school for the third time.

Meant to help teenagers relate to it, the novel is about discovering oneself in a strict world. Because this is what Holden does. At only 17 years old, the boy feels estranged and manages to connect to people, mostly children.

Through the entire novel, every moment of Holden’s life after being expelled is presented, every monologue, every dialogue, every memory, putting a great emphasis on the teenager’s psychology and emotions. Sales: ~65 million copies.

Banned

Many find the novel boring, due to being more centred on self discovery rather than all sorts of revolutions, mysteries and fights, but this does not mean that it was controversy free. The colloquial speech may be accurate to the 50s era, but in those times, people were not happy with that type of free speech.

In the second half of the XX century, the book was either censored or banned in various American states. The society was anything but perfect, but a book using foul language and references to sex and other proofs of promiscuous behavior was too much to bear. To make things worse, many shooters were fans of “The Catcher in the Rye”. But as you know, what is forbidden is thrilling and sells.


4. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – J. K Rowling

best sold books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Back to Harry Potter! The 2005 volume takes us to Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts. Changes are made once more in the school’s staff and professor Horace Slughorn returns as the Potions teacher, Severus Snape finally taking over the Defence Against the Dark Arts class.

For the first time, Harry does well at Potions, but only because he is under the guidance of the Half-Blood Prince’s textbook. School life is not the only teenage theme discussed in the sixth book, but also teen love. Ron and Hermione are getting closer and deal with romance drama, while Harry finally falls for Ginny. Though, outside Hogwarts, Voldemort is growing more powerful and we get an insight on his past. Sales: ~65 million copies.

Movie Differences

The movie (2009) once more scoops out some scenes relevant to the character’s background and development. This time the Dursleys are left out, so does Moaning Myrtle and the battle between the students, teachers and Death Eaters. Harry witnessing the death of a beloved character by the hands of the Half-Blood Prince is significantly different.

Nymphadora Tonks’ role is taken over by Luna Lovegood. Also, a nice move in getting people to read the book to get the important missing pieces of information – we find out who the Half Blood Prince is, but it is not explained what is the meaning behind the moniker. And this is why we have books.


3. “Think and Grow Rich” – Napoleon Hill

personal development, Think and Grow Rich

Who would have thought that in 1937 people were into personal development and self improvement? But due to the traumatic events from World War I and then the Great Depression, people needed this book to help them improve themselves both financially and mentally.

The book is not based on simple words and theories, but on Hill’s research, which lasted over 20 years, based on the actual experience of men who managed to reach financial success. The 16 laws are meant to aid the reader in growing spiritually and mentally in order to become successful in his personal life and later in his business life. Sales: ~70 million copies.

Something different

You may call it the Bible of entrepreneurs. It was a success right from the start and this is somehow ironic – the first idea one would get is that in order to become a prosperous entrepreneur, you should write a book about how to become a prosperous entrepreneur.

Perhaps now the book is not that accurate anymore or at least not that effective. Teaching explicitly how to become wealthy in the 30’s does not really apply in the 21st century, but it is still a great reminiscence of the society of the interwar period. Outdated or not, it is worth reading and discovering how much the world has changed or not.


2. “The Da Vinci Code” – Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code, best seller books

Finally, the mysterious book which has made the entire world ask questions about religion and possible hidden secrets.  “The Da Vinci Code” is the 2003 prequel to Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons”.

Beginning with the death of Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the Museum of Louvre and also the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, the book introduces once more Professor Robert Langdon, who, with the help of Sauniere’s granddaughter Sophie Noveau, tries to decode the man’s cryptic messages and to discover the secrets behind the Holy Grail and where it might be. As they unravel more and more mysteries, Robert and Sophie are lead to believe that the Grail is not necessarily an object, but a person. Sales: ~80 million copies.

“ The Da Vinci Code knew how to stir things up ”

And all hell breaks loose

When it comes to religion, especially Christianity in most Christian countries, the subject is very sensitive and difficult to approach. Therefore, the church was not that happy about Dan Brown claiming that the book is 99% accurate and thus, Jesus Christ married and had a child with Mary Magdalene.

But these are not the only inaccuracies. Other errors not related to the many Christianity related one as about the divine worship by Israelites, history – related to Leonardo da Vinci and his most famous paintings, The Templars and the building of France. But if people really wanted a pure historical book, they would have gone towards a different genre and a different novel. The team behind “The Da Vinci Code” knew how to stir things up and get people buying it.


1. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” – C.S. Lewis

best seller book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Introducing another fantastic magical world, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (1950), the first of the seven “The Chronicles of Narnia” volumes, introduces us to the Pevensie siblings – Peter, Lucy, Edmund and Susan.

The children are sent to the countryside to live with Professor Kirke during World War II, due to London being bombarded by the enemies. While exploring the house, the young Lucy discovers a wardrobe leading to a magical place called Narnia.

Soon, all four siblings are dragged to Narnia. Although finding the place gorgeous and peaceful, Narnia is actually under the siege of the evil White Witch. Despite Edmund being lured by her, the children eventually fight her to win back Narnia. Sales: ~85 million copies.

Movie Differences

Of course there is a movie adaptation and it is adorable. While the book was a favourite among primary and middle school pupils, the movie went straight to the hearts of teens and young adults. Like always, there are some difference between the written and the screen version.

One would be the way Lucy discovers the hidden passageway inside the wardrobe, being not a search out of curiosity, but a place for hide and seek. This change also influenced the second travel, which is pretty much the opposite.

The White Witch’s appearance is not the same, in the movie not having black hair and a gold crown, but blonde hair and an ice headpiece. You want to discover more dissimilarities? You might consider reading this top novel and watch the movie too. And then their sequels.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anneliese Müller (see all articles)

I am 22 years old, but I have the soul and mind of a 13 year old. Part time nerd, full time dreamer. 100% bookaholic. Future president, current sleepy head painter.

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