RISMEDIA, September 10, 2007–Looking for a good book to read? SoYouWanna.com has compiled what it reports as the 10 most popular books of all time. Have you read them all?
10. In His Steps: “What Would Jesus Do?”
Author: Rev. Charles Monroe Sheldon
Copies sold: 28,500,000
The compilation of two original novels about living a “deeper discipleship,” this book about Christianity has been on the shelves for years (over 100, to be exact). It makes frequent reference to a book you’ll see later (much later) on our list, and how to better interpret it and so forth. The questions, “What would Jesus do about global warming?” and, “What would Jesus do about those Mentos ads?” are not covered in the book, but just ask yourself . . . what would He do?
9. Valley of the Dolls
Author: Jacqueline Susann
Copies sold: 30,000,000
When it debuted in 1966, this novel shocked (and titillated) audiences with its depictions of sex, drugs, and go-go culture, but would now probably be considered quaint, or at least tame. Susann knew whereof she wrote, having lived the life of a Broadway starlet and hobnobbing with the famous. The three characters in the book are rumored to be based on Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, and Marilyn Monroe at an early point in their careers. Yes, it’s trashy, but like junk food, oh, so delicious.
8. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
Author: Dr. Benjamin Spock
Copies sold: 39,200,000
How many copies of this book have been sold to erstwhile Trekkers, wandering the aisles at Barnes and Noble with slightly glazed looks in their eyes, mumbling Klingon phonics under their breaths? Let us be clear. This is not a book about Vulcans, Vulcan culture, Vulcan language, or Vulcan babies. Well, maybe the Vulcan babies part applies. Dr. Spock’s “instruction manual” for child care has been flying off shelves since 1946, giving parents useful advice such as what milestones infants should reach at which ages, how to discipline an obnoxious child, and why dirty diapers smell so bad.
7. World Almanac
Author: Who knows?
Copies sold: 40,000,000
This is not your Farmers’ Almanac here. You will not be able to tell the weather from a variety of on-target predictions. Uh-uh. Ever since 1886, this book has provided tons of facts, collected together and organized for quick and easy reference. Yep, facts. Lots of them. Nothing but facts. Let’s move on.
6. A Message to Garcia
Author: Elbert Hubbard
Copies sold: 40-50,000,000
This book started out as an essay written all in one night in 1898 by Hubbard, who had a magazine to get out the next day and needed the material. It tells the story of a soldier who is given the task of bringing a message to (guess who?) Garcia, an insurgent leader deep behind enemy lines. But at the same time, it doesn’t tell this story, but rather uses it as a launching pad for its diatribe against lazy workers and how best to serve corporate America. Managers loved it and printed thousands of copies for distribution to their staff as a motivational tool. One can only imagine the number of proto-Dilbert cartoons this must have spawned.
We must feel some pity for the author, however, as it must have been traumatic growing up with his mother always going to the cupboard, worrying more about the dog’s needs than those of her only son. And Elbert’s own son, L. Ron, spawned the whole Scientology cult. Scary stuff.
5. The McGuffey Readers
Author: William Holmes McGuffey
Copies sold: 60,000,000
The McGuffey Readers have been referred to as “the most influential books in the history of American education.” In the nineteenth century, these readers were supposed to teach kids reading skills, but taught more about middle class values and McGuffey’s ideas about the social order. Originally published in 1879 in six volumes, they were at first a requirement, and later a curiosity for educators across the country. Take that, Dick and Jane.
4. The Guinness Book of Records
Author: Who knows?
Copies sold: 81,000,000
You don’t attract charming people with characteristics like “the world’s longest fingernails” or “the world’s heaviest ball of earwax” unless you’re a freak yourself. The fact that this book started out as a collection of barroom boasts and bets (and is published by a beer company) doesn’t hurt. Without disgusting pictures, though, would it have been as popular? We think not.
3. American Spelling Book
Author: Noah Webster
Copies sold: 100,000,000
Here’s another oldie. Around since 1803, the aptly titled American Spelling Book teeches people to spell. The guy who proceded to write the famous Webster’s Dicshunary started out just with the speling, and then mooved on to what the words ment. The styel may be a little wooden, but the plot development is griping. Two big thums up.
2. Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung
Author: Mao Tse-tung
Copies sold: 800,000,000
Formerly known as The Red Book, these are quotations from the Chairman himself, and the foundation of today’s Communist society in China. We say, read and enjoy, but do not let yourself be lulled into a love of Communism. The danger that lurks there is far worse than even secular humanism. Joe McCarthy knew that.
1. The Bible
Copies sold: 6,000,000,000
OK, maybe not 6 billion, but a WHOLE lot. The Bible was clearly a page-turner from the start, and it benefited from good word of mouth publicity, flying off the shelves. The basic plot is that there’s this omnipotent deity who creates a planet and some beings to inhabit it. These beings screw everything up, He washes them out with a flood, and then they come back and screw everything up again. He’s a vengeful first then He’s answering prayers.
The first chapter is “Genesis,” then comes “Exodus,” and in no time we have plagues, sacrifices, miracles, and holy wars all over the place. You may know how the stories go in this, one of the most popular books ever sold.