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world book day

Revealed: the bestselling books of all time

…question isn’t have you read all of them, it’s have you read ANY of them?

AT THE beginning of this year, Nielsen published its list of the bestselling books since records began in 1998.

The most striking thing about the list is its utter lack of variety. When it comes to our reading tastes, it seems we’re an atrociously unimaginative bunch.

Out of the top 25, only seven books were not written by Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer or Steig Larsson. This filthy-rich foursome made up all of the top 12.

And even more alarmingly, the most popular non-fiction book of the last 12 years was the World According to Clarkson – £7.5 million pounds worth of copies were shifted since Nielsen’s records began.

But if you could go right back to the bookselling, were our tastes always so – well – dull and predictable?

Make your mind up with our slideshow of the bestselling books of all time. Question isn’t have you read all of them – it’s have you actually read any of them? *

Revealed: the bestselling books of all time
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  • Bestselling Books: No.1 The Bible

  • Bestselling Books: No.2 Quotations from Chairman Mao

  • Bestselling Books: No.3 The Qu'ran

  • Bestselling books: No.4 Xinhua Zidian

  • Bestselling Books: No.5 A Tale of Two Cities

  • Bestselling Books: No. 6 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

  • Bestselling Books: No.7 Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone

  • Bestselling Books: No. 8 Guinness Book of Records

  • Bestselling Books: No. 9 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

  • Bestselling Books: No.10 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

* Health warning: there’s no easy way to measure the top bestselling books of all time, especially since copies of religious books like the Bible are often given away free, and it’s impossible to tell how many have been printed. So we’ve compiled our list from the generally agreed figures.

The alternative top ten

Every year, Travelodge releases the list of the most popular books left behind in its hotels. Simon Cowell’s biography was the book most likely to be left behind last year, closely followed by Ant and Dec’s biography Ooh, What a Lovely Pair.

In third place was Vince Cable’s book on the economic crisis.

Unsurprisingly – given the amount of copies they sell – Dan Brown, Steig Larsson and Stephanie Meyer also made the list.

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