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27 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Read Books in the World”

  1. Seriously, Twilight outflanks almost every theologian and philosopher who ever lived? Troubled times!

    1. Ben Woodward says:

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. I think the info sources for this graph are really dubious.
      1) “Jeremy” made this graph which appears to get all its information from …
      2) an author named “James Chapman” who apparently writes and sells books about making money at home (among other things). Chapman posts his article “after doing a lot of research…”, but it contains no citations and looks to me more like one like advertisement and attempts to get “click-through” credits to Amazon.

      Other sources suggest these numbers are not accurate and so I don’t think this is really a helpful tool, sadly. Moreover, as others have mentioned, “most read” is not an accurate title when the “data” is acually about “printed and sold” copies. I would love to see a well-researched graph on this, but as Wikipedia states, counting the publishing of religious texts is incedibily difficult because there are so many publishers and many copies are simply given away.

      1. I agree. When I first saw it, I thought, “This post that has gone viral based its information on a Squidoo page??”

  2. Doug Hibbard says:

    Curious, not that I expect you to know, but how do you count “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” and “Lord of the Rings” on this? These are series, so are we talking each individual sale? How many sets of 7 for old HP or 3 for LOTR?

    Really just a curiosity question more than anything else.

  3. Wade says:

    The book by Moa Tse-Tung, is there an option not to buy that book in North Korea?

  4. Kyle says:

    Steve,
    I live in a city that is under 3% Christian and well over 50% Muslim, yet expect that Bibles outnumber Qurans. Most people don’t have them in their homes, and evenif they did are unable to read the high level Arabic in them,

    1. Interesting. I automatically assume that other religions have similar relationships to their texts as Christians do to the Bible. I could stand to learn some more.

      Then again, maybe not too many Christians read their Bibles either.

      Thanks Kyle.

  5. Ben Woodward says:

    The graph is a tad confusing because the baseline really begins “up the spine” of the books such that most of the books on the shelf only have a sliver of a bar showing the number of sales in comparison to the Bible. On first glance I was astounded that “Twilight”, in just a few years (right?), appeared to have sold almost half the number of Bibles in the past 50 years. Looking again at the baseline (and the numbers) clarifies that graph: the Bible outsells all other books by an incredible margin. It’s a handsome visual, but doesn’t communicate the drastic difference as much as another format could have. Or maybe I’m just slow on the uptake….

    Now to reading it…. may we be men and women of this “one book” – knowing it deeply and being conformed to God’s will through it!

    and Justin… would the ESV, in all its printed formats, make it onto this graph by ITSELF?

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow, puts things in a little more perspective

  7. JK says:

    While I’m grateful that the Word of God is sold so many times, I think the stats might be a little inflated. In the last 2 years, I’ve bought about 5 bibles (for our family and friends). I would guess that only 1 of them was actually read cover to cover. All the rest are simply sitting on shelves.

    I know I’m just one example, but I’m sure there are *many* people who bought Bibles in the past 50 years which were never read. (Think of all the celebrations where people are given Bibles – youth groups, graduations, marriages. Not all of those folks are going to read them)

  8. Brian says:

    Surely the Koran must be there somewhere.

  9. DaveSchell says:

    The Bible is often referred to as the most-owned but least-read book in America.

  10. Casey says:

    What?!? No Joyce Meyer!

    This is an outrage…or a Battlefield of the Mind.

    jk jk. Relax and laugh a bit.

  11. Joe Torres says:

    I wish this list were a bit more helpful. As some have noted, at least 3 of those “books” aren’t single volumes at at, but rather collections of several books. I suppose the logic of the graph is if someone bought the first of the series then they proceeded to buy them all (making the sale of any volume in the series roughly equivalent). Of course, that’s not really true, many people read the first of a series and give up. It’s probably more true once they’ve completed the second volume.

    Also, in terms of sales, it’s no surprise (or at least it shouldn’t be) that many, Many, MANY more Bibles are purchased than actually read. Sadly, when we compare how many Bibles are being read to how many are selling, the numbers will turn out to be drastically different.

  12. Brian C says:

    A wholly imcomplete bookshelf and analysis.

  13. Joe says:

    Anyone who thinks LOR is one of the most read books is kiddng themselves. It is like Moby Dick. Thick, impressive, and quite unread by most.

    1. Tom says:

      There’s a reason Moby Dick isn’t read… and that’s coming from someone who has read it.

  14. Adam Hawkins says:

    I wonder if the Bible would be that thin if it were that tall? Sorry I couldn’t help myself. Cool graph, even if the stats are wrong.

  15. How very interesting.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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