When it comes to books, we are very old-fashioned. The most-read book in the whole wide world is the Bible, undoubtedly the same book our great-grandparents favored, too. But coming in number two is one that may surprise you: “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” by Mao Tse-tung. Hundreds of thousands of books have been published in the last century, but only a handful have sold millions of copies–and presumably been read by millions of people. Working with Squidoo.com, writer James Chapman, host of “A Passion for Writing,” did the research to compile the list of the most-read books in the world, and the result is fascinating.
The top 10 most-read books in the world:
1. The Bible
Consisting of the Old Testament and New Testament, the Bible is a canonical collection of texts considered sacred in Judaism and Christianity as it is believed to be the Word of God. (It’s also filled with violence, sex, witchcraft, murder and mayhem and is sometimes used to justify hatred and violence. No wonder it’s No. 1!)
2. “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” by Mao Tse-tung
This collection of selected statements from speeches and writings of the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party was published from 1964 to 1976 and widely distributed during the Cultural Revolution.
3. “Harry Potter,” by J.K. Rowling
This collection of seven fantasy novels chronicles the adventures of a wizard named Harry Potter and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
4. “Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien
This epic high fantasy novel in three volumes tells the story of the Dark Lord Sauron, who created the One Ring in an earlier age in order to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth.
5. “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho
This 1988 allegorical novel was originally written in Portuguese and later translated into more than 55 languages. It tells the story young of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago and his adventures in Egypt, to which he travels after having a recurring dream of finding treasure.
6. “The Da Vinci Code,” by Dan Brown
This 2003 mystery-detective novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in Paris’s Louvre Museum.
7. “Twilight: The Saga,” by Stephanie Meyer
A four-book fantasy series that includes “Twilight,” “New Moon, “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn,” this is a romantic and suspenseful story that captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. Oh, and vampires. Lots of vampires.
8. “Gone With the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell
First published in 1936, this historical novel is set in Clayton County, Georgia and the city of Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. As the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, Scarlett must use every means at her disposal to come out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s “March to the Sea.”
9. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
This 1937 motivational and self-help book espouses a philosophy that can be used to help people succeed in all lines of work to do or be almost anything they want.
10. “The Diary of Anne Frank,” by Anne Frank
Written from June 14, 1942 to August 1, 1944 and published in 1947, this is the diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.