Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Humanity’s Most Popular Books

Our Blog Conversation Stays in the Realm of Charming and Surprising Books

Last Wednesday we had the post, Our Blog Conversation Takes a Delightful Turn . . ., and it garnered two comments—one from Maryland in the USA and one from Melbourne, Australia…

Pop-up books

Painting by Hokusai

I wasn’t sure if talking about pop-up books would bring any conversational comments; but, I was delighted that both have valuable links included :-)


from Maryland:

“This conversation reminded me of an essay I once bookmarked in Library School…
(A Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books) by Ann Montanaro

“Also it reminded me of a quote that is on the wall in the visiting room at the prison I work at. It is placed where inmates sometimes get to read to their children or watch them interact with Pop-up Books:
Books help give children a leg up on the ladder of life‘.
Children’s book editor Janet Schulman (1998)”

Then, Australia:

“I have tried very hard to remember if I had a pop-up book as a child. I have a very strong sense that I did have one but I cannot remember what it was. I remember opening a book, and watching its pop up dimensions unfold – perhaps I was looking at a building, something ancient like the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s times but I cannot confirm this. The feeling of loss that I had thinking about this led me to do some research on pop-up books in the hope that one would leap off the page as the one that I was acquainted with. Alas none did, but I came across some very interesting examples, which I wish I had owned. One was a pop-up book of the works of Hokusai, the Japanese artist. I would really like to own this book.

“As I was finishing my research, I realised that I had read a kind of ‘pop-up’ book as an adult and had gifted it to quite a few small children. It is a delightful book and you may know of it: ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ by Eric Carle. Wikipedia says that this book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and that ‘it has been described as having sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication in 1969.’ It is the story of a caterpillar who eats his way through the book, then grows into a pupa, which then transforms into a butterfly. Educational but boring you may think? No, magical and transformative for a reader of any age. This is not just a book that pops up but it is also extruded. The book is full of holes left by the caterpillar as it eats it way through the pages :-)

“I finally realised that perhaps now we have a new kind of ‘pop-up’. Ever seen an orrery on your computer or tablet? Or, the version of Alice in Wonderland? Wonderful stuff….Let’s hope today’s children remember these 3D stories when they are old :-)”


The Very Hungry Caterpillar seemed somehow familiar; so, I searched this blog and found the book referenced in two past posts:

Would You Like A Hand-Annotated, First Edition of An Acclaimed Book?

What Are Humanity’s Most Popular Books?

So, dear reader, would you like to continue this conversation about Charming and Surprising Books with a comment of your own?

Or, would you rather comment about a different topic we can discuss {in the realms of Reading, Writing, or Publishing}?

Either way, your comments are Welcomed :-)
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What Are Humanity’s Most Popular Books?

I’m always happy when I can write a blog post that deals with all three of the major topics I cover—Reading, Writing, and Publishing.

Most Popular Books

Image Courtesy of Brendan Gogarty ~

I’m sure readers want to know about popular books, even if they often love books that aren’t popular.

I’m sure writers need to know about popular books, even if they have no intention of writing a bestseller.

I’m sure publishers are ravenously interested in what makes a book popular.

Still, there are fleetingly popular books and enduringly popular books.

There’s a site in the United Kingdom called Lovereading that’s ranked some of the enduringly popular books by the number of translations, number of known editions, and the copies sold.

Lovereading certainly looks interesting but the infographic, The Most Popular Books of All Time, needs some “interpretation”

So along comes a site in Australia called Women’s Weekly that takes the data of Lovereading and orders it a bit in an article called, The 30 biggest selling books of all time might surprise you.

I imagine Readers can enlarge their horizons by checking out these books

I’m sure Writers would improve their craft by reading these books

I honestly wonder what Publishers think about all this

Here’s a list of those books (ranked by total sales):

The Holy Quran

The King James Bible

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

She: A History Of Adventure by H.Rider Haggard

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Odyssey by Homer

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Anderson’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Are any of your favorites in the list?

Are there some you’d consider reading?

Why do you think these particular books became the Most Popular?

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