Any Surprises Here?

The top ten most read books of the last fifty years:

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Robin

    Judging by the “newness” of several of the books, it looks like the current generation (last 10 years or so) reads much more than people from 20 to 50 years ago. (Or they at least read the same things more than people 20 to 50 years ago)

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    It appears that Harry Potter and Twilight and Lord of the Rights are presented as series and not single books. If that is the case, then all of them would drop off the list. Seems like an odd choice.

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    I clicked through and they are counted as individual books combined and presented as a series.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/ChuckMcKnight Chuck McKnight

    Yes, actually. I am somewhat surprised not to see The Pilgrim’s Progress on there. I wonder how far down in the list it is these days?

  • http://www.cbcmckinney.com Chuck

    Does it show that simply reading the Bible doesn’t make a lot of difference in how we act and treat others?

  • James Palmer

    “It appears that Harry Potter and Twilight and Lord of the Rights are presented as series and not single books.”

    Well, the Bible’s treated the same way….

  • RobS

    My old eyes are tricking me… the graph really starts at the top of the book graphics. Bible truly has a 4.75x lead on Mao. And Mao is probably only so high due to it’s required reading status.

    Seems like we need to keep working on putting “information” into “transformation” every day though. That never ends.

  • Kyle

    Which of those books has the greatest reader-to-buyer ratio? Not the bible, and for that text a survey would have to differentiate reading from cover-to-cover reading.

  • Alan K

    Da Vinci Code and Twilight? We are the age of decadence.

  • http://www.realworldpregnancycalendar.com austinklee

    James: I’m pretty sure that if you broke the Bible up into separate books it has such a huge lead that the top 10 or 15 would be separate books of the bible.

    I am pretty sure that Adam’s point was that the bible comes in ONE volume while the others are serialized into separate volumes.

    Why am I even having to point that out?

  • Patrick

    Read in the US and Canada maybe, but, globally?

  • Darren King

    Just as a reminder, Tolkien considered LOTR one book.

  • RJS

    Although the headline is top 10 most read books, the plot counts books printed and sold.

    I am willing to bet that many more copies of the Bible were printed and sold than were actually read, and certainly more were sold than were read in their entirety. For some of the other books the number printed and sold probably better reflects the number read.

  • RJS

    Ah – Kyle at #8 already made my point.

  • Phyllis

    I would also like to know the number of languages in translation, and think that would affect the totals, too. Except in the case of the Twilight sagas.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    Definitely piling on here, but I venture that while there are many many copies of the Bible are in people’s possession, the actual percentage of those who have read it cover to cover is quite low, and a factor far less than the other titles cited here (with possible exception of the Chairman Mao one, which I have no inkling what the “actually read” mark is).

    Even many Christians, I contend, have not read the Bible cover to cover, and their “reading” has consisted entirely of plucking verses out (or seeing them on the overhead video during sermon time) or maybe reading a chapter together in a study group.

  • ao

    Darren (#12),

    True, but Tolkein didn’t sell his books. Publishers and distributors did. So I think Adam’s (#2) and austinklee’s (#10) points still stand.

  • Stephen W

    Lord of the Rings is sold as a single book (though you can also buy it as 3 separate books, or 3 books in a case), so I reckon it counts. I actually have more copies of LOTR than the Bible :)

  • http://www.openhousechurch.ca Phil Niemi

    Who here has read the Alchemist? I hadn’t heard of it until 3 years ago, required reading for a denominational think tank for 20′s and 30′s ministry?

  • Scot Sharman

    I quoted this list at my Bible Study group I was leading the other night. Pastor Vicki Mustafa who was in the group, (and who has a degree in English Literature) said perceptively that most of the books deal with the battle between good and evil.

  • Mijk V

    It’s a bit of a clumsy way of determining the top ten, in that it doesn’t factor relative population size to total number of books printed, etc.

  • http://krusekronicle.com Michael W. Kruse

    Surely “Green Eggs and Ham” is #11.

  • Greg Smith

    The Da Vinci Code? Seriously?

  • RJS

    Michael,

    I think it would be Fox in Socks at #11.

  • SuperStar

    I believe that The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren has sold over 30 million copies. Why hasn’t that shown up on this list?

  • Percival

    Napoleon Hill is a surprise, as is The Alchemist.

  • Percival

    Also, if this is books printed, I’m sure the Qur’an should have made the list.

  • http://mikesnow.org Michael Snow

    With Chuck McKnight, I am also surprised not to see Pilgrim’s Progress. It used to be number two after the Bible for sales.

  • Mike M

    I have Mao’ s “Little Red Book” somewhere. It should be required reading in high school.

  • TJJ

    This list is not all that accurate. Just one example is Purpose Driven Life, which has sold over 30 million, is not listed. There are others also.

  • http://madebythepotter.blogspot.com Chloe

    How interesting that the Bible and ‘Think and Grow Rich’ should be on the same list. I wonder how many people own and read both…

  • phil_style

    Why is the Qur’an not on that list? Surely it’s in the top ten most read books in the world…..

  • http://eatingasapathtoyoga.wordpress.com Guiltless

    That’s a misleading headline. Books printed and sold doesn’t equal books read.

  • Amos Paul

    @Darren 12

    No no, Tolkien originally wrote LOTR in *six* books, which his publisher decided would best be printed in 3 volumes.

    Regardless, if ‘The Bible’ counts as one book… then so should LOTR. And I’d think it far more rare for some person to have read *one* LOTR volume and not the rest, then someone reading *some* Scripture and not the rest.

  • Margaret

    I’m somewhat relieved Harry Potter beat out the Twilight Saga….


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