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Biggest fiction bestsellers of the last 100 years

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As the year draws to a close, some of us like to look forward, and some of us backward—and some way backward. Last month, while working on the not-at-all-controversial Books That Defined the Decades series, I was often surprised by the dissonance between the books that sold well in any given year and the books that we now consider relevant, important, or illustrative of the time. I repeatedly regaled my colleagues with fun and interesting facts like: “Did you know that in 1940 the best-selling book of the year was How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn? That was also the year The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Native Son came out!” They made me stop eventually, and so I compiled all my comments into this very piece you are now reading.

The data below comes almost entirely from the Publisher’s Weekly lists of the biggest fiction bestsellers in the United States. Where possible, I looked at adult fiction only, but some earlier lists did not make that distinction, and for some later, combined lists, I cut out the YA and nonfiction myself to maintain relative consistency. These lists are subject to all of the flaws, faults, and inaccuracies of any best-seller lists, but they’re what we’ve got.

Then I compared the biggest bestseller lists to what I’d consider to be some of the most famous books published in each year—that is, the books we still read and talk about. Again, these picks are subject to the flaws, faults, and inaccuracies of any list of books made by a human with her own tastes and interests and awarenesses, but that’s pretty much the deal.

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Some general takeaways:

1. The biggest bestsellers of any given year are not necessarily the books we remember 20, 30, 50, or 100 years later. (Something to remember when your own book goes on sale.)

2. Sometimes books take a little while to work themselves onto the bestseller list. Books suspiciously absent from the list of the year they were published sometimes show up in the next year, likely due to paperback releases and/or word of mouth (or they may have simply been published too late in the year to compete with the spring books).

3. People like to read the same authors year after year.

4. John Grisham owned the 90s.

5. There are so very many books, and we have forgotten almost all of them.

Here’s to remembering (the good ones, at least):

1918

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Zane Grey, The U. P. Trail
2. May Sinclair, The Tree of Heaven
3. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Amazing Interlude
4. Edward Streeter, Dere Mable
5. Eleanor H. Porter, Oh, Money! Money!
6. Ethel M. Dell, Greatheart
7. Ralph Connor, The Major
8. E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Pawns Count
9. Gene Stratton Porter, A Daughter of the Land
10. Stephen McKenna, Sonia

Also published that year:

Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons
Willa Cather, My Antonia

1919

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. V. Blasco Ibanez, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
2. Joseph Conrad, The Arrow of Gold
3. Zane Grey, The Desert of Wheat
4. Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dangerous Days
5. Ralph Connor, The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land
6. Harold Bell Wright, The Re-Creation of Brian Kent
7. Gene Stratton Porter, Dawn
8. Temple Bailey, The Tin Soldier
9. Elizabeth von Arnim, Christopher and Columbus
10. Robert W. Chambers, In Secret

Also published that year:

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

1920

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Zane Grey, The Man of the Forest
2. Peter B. Kyne, Kindred of the Dust
3. Harold Bell Wright, The Re-Creation of Brian Kent
4. James Oliver Curwood, The River’s End
5. Irving Bacheller, A Man for the Ages
6. Eleanor H. Porter, Mary-Marie
7. Joseph C. Lincoln, The Portygee
8. E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Great Impersonation
9. Ethel M. Dell, The Lamp in the Desert
10. Kathleen Norris, Harriet and the Piper

Also published that year:

Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love
Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

1921

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
2. Dorothy Canfield, The Brimming Cup
3. Zane Grey, The Mysterious Rider
4. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
5. James Oliver Curwood, The Valley of Silent Men
6. Edith M. Hull, The Sheik
7. Mary Roberts Rinehart, A Poor Wise Man
8. Gene Stratton Porter, Her Father’s Daughter
9. Gertrude Atherton, The Sisters-in-Law
10. Coningsby Dawson, The Kingdom Round the Corner

Also published that year:

Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow

1922

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. A.S.M. Hutchinson, If Winter Comes
2. Edith M. Hull, The Sheik
3. Booth Tarkington, Gentle Julia
4. Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Head of the House of Coombe
5. Robert Keable, Simon Called Peter
6. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Breaking Point
7. A.S.M. Hutchinson, This Freedom
8. Louis Hémon, Maria Chapdelaine
9. Zane Grey, To the Last Man
10. Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt & Harold Bell Wright, Helen of the Old House (tie)

Also published that year:

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned
James Joyce, Ulysses
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (English translation)

1923

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Gertrude Atherton, Black Oxen
2. Arthur Train, His Children’s Children
3. Elizabeth von Arnim, The Enchanted April
4. Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt
5. Temple Bailey, The Dim Lantern
6. A.S.M. Hutchinson, This Freedom
7. Harold Bell Wright, The Mine with the Iron Door
8. Zane Grey, The Wanderer of the Wasteland
9. Rafael Sabatin, The Sea-Hawk
10. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Breaking Point

Also published that year:

Jean Toomer, Cane

1924

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Edna Ferber, So Big
2. Percy Marks, The Plastic Age
3. Anne Douglas Sedgwick, The Little French Girl
4. Philip Gibbs, The Heirs Apparent
5. James Oliver Curwood, A Gentleman of Courage
6. Zane Grey, The Call of the Canyon
7. Booth Tarkington, The Midlander
8. Coningsby Dawson, The Coast of Folly
9. Rafael Sabatini, Mistress Wilding
10. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Homemaker

Also published that year:

E. M. Forster, A Passage to India
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor

1925

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. A. Hamilton Gibbs, Soundings
2. Margaret Kennedy, The Constant Nymph
3. Gene Stratton Porter, The Keeper of the Bees
4. E. Barrington, Glorious Apollo
5. Michael Arlen, The Green Hat
6. Anne Douglas Sedgwick, The Little French Girl
7. Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith
8. Anne Parrish, The Perennial Bachelor
9. Rafael Sabatin, The Carolinian
10. A.S.M. Hutchinson, One Increasing Purpose

Also published that year:

Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

1926

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Erskine, The Private Life of Helen of Troy
2. Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
3. Warwick Deeping, Sorrell and Son
4. Sylvia Thompson, The Hounds of Spring
5. P. C. Wren, Beau Sabreur
6. John Galsworthy, The Silver Spoon
7. P. C. Wren, Beau Geste
8. Edna Ferber, Show Boat
9. Susan Ertz, After Noon
10. Temple Bailey, The Blue Window

Also published that year:

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

1927

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry
2. Booth Tarkington, The Plutocrat
3. Warwick Deeping, Doomsday
4. Warwick Deeping, Sorrell and Son
5. Mazo de la Roche, Jalna
6. Mary Roberts Rinehart, Lost Ecstasy
7. Edith Wharton, Twilight Sleep
8. Anne Parrish, Tomorrow Morning
9. Anne Douglas Sedgwick, The Old Countess
10. Louis Bromfield, A Good Woman

Also published that year:

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

1928

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
2. Hugh Walpole, Wintersmoon
3. John Galsworthy, Swan Song
4. S. S. Van Dine, The Greene Murder Case
5. Viña Delmar, Bad Girl
6. Booth Tarkington, Claire Ambler
7. Warwick Deeping, Old Pybus
8. Anne Parrish, All Kneeling
9. Mazo de la Roche, Jalna
10. Louis Bromfield, The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg

Also published that year:

Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point
Ford Madox Ford, Parade’s End
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

1929

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
2. Sinclair Lewis, Dodsworth
3. Anne Douglas Sedgwick, Dark Hester
4. S. S. Van Dine, The Bishop Murder Case
5. Warwick Deeping, Roper’s Row
6. O. E. Rölvaag, Peder Victorious
7. DuBose Heyward, Mamba’s Daughters
8. Susan Ertz, The Galaxy
9. Julia Peterkin, Scarlet Sister Mary
10. H. W. Freeman, Joseph and His Brethren

Also published that year:

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Henry Green, Living
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica
Nella Larsen, Passing
Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel

1930

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Edna Ferber, Cimarron
2. Warwick Deeping, Exile
3. Thornton Wilder, The Woman of Andros
4. Margaret Ayer Barnes, Years of Grace
5. J. B. Priestley, Angel Pavement
6. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Door
7. Hugh Walpole, Rogue Herries
8. A. Hamilton Gibbs, Chances
9. Katharine Brush, Young Man of Manhattan
10. Louis Bromfield, Twenty-Four Hours

Also published that year:

John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

1931

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth
2. Willa Cather, Shadows on the Rock
3. Bess Streeter Aldrich, A White Bird Flying
4. Vicki Baum, Grand Hotel
5. Margaret Ayer Barnes, Years of Grace
6. Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back
7. Warwick Deeping, The Bridge of Desire
8. Fannie Hurst, Back Street
9. Mazo de la Roche, Finch’s Fortune
10. John Galsworthy, Maid in Waiting

Also published that year:

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

1932

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth
2. Charles Morgan, The Fountain
3. Pearl S. Buck, Sons
4. Louis Golding, Magnolia Street
5. Ellen Glasgow, The Sheltered Life
6. Warwick Deeping, Old Wine and New
7. Booth Tarkington, Mary’s Neck
8. Lloyd C. Douglas, Magnificent Obsession
9. Phyllis Bentley, Inheritance
10. A. J. Cronin, Three Loves

Also published that year:

John Dos Passos, 1919
William Faulkner, Light in August
Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

1933

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Hervey Allen, Anthony Adverse
2. Gladys Hasty Carroll, As the Earth Turns
3. Sinclair Lewis, Ann Vickers
4. Lloyd C. Douglas, Magnificent Obsession
5. John Galsworthy, One More River
6. Lloyd C. Douglas, Forgive Us Our Trespasses
7. Mazo de la Roche, The Master of Jalna
8. Bess Streeter Aldrich, Miss Bishop
9. Louis Bromfield, The Farm
10. Hans Fallada, Little Man, What Now?

Also published that year:

Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts

1934

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Hervey Allen, Anthony Adverse
2. Caroline Miller, Lamb in His Bosom
3. Stark Young, So Red the Rose
4. James Hilton, Good-Bye, Mr. Chips
5. Margaret Ayer Barnes, Within This Present
6. Sinclair Lewis, Work of Art
7. Phyllis Bottome, Private Worlds
8. Mary Ellen Chase, Mary Peters
9. Alice Tisdale Hobart, Oil for the Lamps of China
10. Isak Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales

Also published that year:

James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
John O’Hara, Appointment in Samarra
Henry Roth, Call It Sleep
Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust

1935

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Lloyd C. Douglas, Green Light
2. Ellen Glasgow, Vein of Iron
3. Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River
4. Rachel Field, Time Out of Mind
5. James Hilton, Good-Bye, Mr. Chips
6. Franz Werfel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh
7. Thornton Wilder, Heaven’s My Destination
8. James Hilton, Lost Horizon
9. Edna Ferber, Come and Get It
10. Robert Briffault, Europa

Also published that year:

Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night
John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat

1936

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
2. George Santayana, The Last Puritan
3. Charles Morgan, Sparkenbroke
4. Walter D. Edmonds, Drums Along the Mohawk
5. Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here
6. Lloyd C. Douglas, White Banners
7. Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, The Hurricane
8. Rebecca West, The Thinking Reed
9. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Doctor
10. Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza

Also published that year:

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom!

1937

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
2. Kenneth Roberts, Northwest Passage
3. A. J. Cronin, The Citadel
4. Vaughan Wilkins, And So-Victoria
5. Walter D. Edmonds, Drums Along the Mohawk
6. Virginia Woolf, The Years
7. W. Somerset Maugham, Theatre
8. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
9. Louis Bromfield, The Rains Came
10. James Hilton, We Are Not Alone

Also published that year:

John Dos Passos, U.S.A.
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (English translation)
Franz Kafka, The Trial (English translation)
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

1938

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling
2. A. J. Cronin, The Citadel
3. Howard Spring, My Son, My Son!
4. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
5. Kenneth Roberts, Northwest Passage
6. Rachel Field, All This, and Heaven Too
7. Louis Bromfield, The Rains Came
8. Laura Krey, And Tell of Time
9. Phyllis Bottome, The Mortal Storm
10. Hervey Allen, Action at Aquila

Also published that year:

Evelyn Waugh, Scoop

1939

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
2. Rachel Field, All This, and Heaven Too
3. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
4. John Marquard, Wickford Point
5. Ethel Vance, Escape
6. Lloyd C. Douglas, Disputed Passage
7. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling
8. Elizabeth Page, The Tree of Liberty
9. Sholem Asch, The Nazarene
10. Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle

Also published that year:

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds
Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun
Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust
T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone

1940

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley
2. Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle
3. Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver
4. Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
5. Sholem Asch, The Nazarene
6. F. van Wyck Mason, Stars on the Sea
7. Kenneth Roberts, Oliver Wiswell
8. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
9. Louis Bromfield, Night in Bombay
10. Nina Fedorova, The Family

Also published that year:

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children
Richard Wright, Native Son

1941

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. A. J. Cronin, The Keys of the Kingdom
2. James Hilton, Random Harvest
3. Eric Knight, This Above All
4. Marguerite Steen, The Sun Is My Undoing
5. Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
6. Kenneth Roberts, Oliver Wiswell
7. John P. Marquand, H. M. Pulham, Esquire
8. Isabel Scott Rorick, Mr. and Mrs. Cugat
9. Edna Ferber, Saratoga Trunk
10. Mary Ellen Chase, Windswept

Also published that year:

James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce
Vladimir Nabokov, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

1942

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Franz Werfel, The Song of Bernadette
2. John Steinbeck, The Moon Is Down
3. Pearl S. Buck, Dragon Seed
4. Rachel Field, And Now Tomorrow
5. Elizabeth Pickett, Drivin’ Woman
6. Mary Ellen Chase, Windswept
7. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
8. Marguerite Steen, The Sun Is My Undoing
9. Henry Bellamann, Kings Row
10. A. J. Cronin, The Keys of the Kingdom

Also published that year:

William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps

1943

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
2. Marcia Davenport, The Valley of Decision
3. John P. Marquand, So Little Time
4. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
5. William Saroyan, The Human Comedy
6. Louis Bromfield, Mrs. Parkington
7. Sholem Asch, The Apostle
8. Daphne du Maurier, Hungry Hill
9. Hervey Allen, The Forest and the Fort
10. Franz Werfel, The Song of Bernadette

Also published that year:

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

1944

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Lillian Smith, Strange Fruit
2. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
3. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
4. Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber
5. W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge
6. A. J. Cronin, The Green Years
7. Ben Ames Williams, Leave Her to Heaven
8. Elizabeth Goudge, Green Dolphin Street
9. John Hersey, A Bell for Adano
10. Sholem Asch, The Apostle

Also published that year:

Saul Bellow, Dangling Man

1945

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber
2. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
3. Thomas B. Costain, The Black Rose
4. James Ramsey Ullman, The White Tower
5. Sinclair Lewis, Cass Timberlane
6. Adria Locke Langley, A Lion Is in the Streets
7. James Hilton, So Well Remembered
8. Samuel Shellabarger, Captain from Castile
9. Adria Locke Langley, Earth and High Heaven
10. Irving Stone, Immortal Wife

Also published that year:

Henry Green, Loving
Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go
Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories
Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Richard Wright, Black Boy

1946

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Daphne du Maurier, The King’s General
2. Taylor Caldwell, This Side of Innocence
3. Frances Parkinson Keyes, The River Road
4. Russell Janney, The Miracle of the Bells
5. Frederic Wakeman, The Hucksters
6. Frank Yerby, The Foxes of Harrow
7. Erich Maria Remarque, Arch of Triumph
8. Thomas B. Costain, The Black Rose
9. John P. Marquand, B. F.’s Daughter
10. Mary Jane Ward, The Snake Pit

Also published that year:

Albert Camus, The Stranger (English translation)
John Hersey, Hiroshima
Arthur Koestler, Thieves in the Night
Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan
Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

1947

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Russell Janney, The Miracle of the Bells
2. Thomas B. Costain, The Moneyman
3. Laura Z. Hobson, Gentleman’s Agreement
4. Kenneth Roberts, Lydia Bailey
5. Frank Yerby, The Vixens
6. John Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus
7. Ben Ames Williams, House Divided
8. Sinclair Lewis, Kingsblood Royal
9. Marcia Davenport, East Side, West Side
10. Samuel Shellabarger, Prince of Foxes

Also published that year:

Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place
Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
James A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific

1948

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Big Fisherman
2. Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
3. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Dinner at Antoine’s
4. Agnes Sligh Turnbull, The Bishop’s Mantle
5. Betty Smith, Tomorrow Will Be Better
6. Frank Yerby, The Golden Hawk
7. Ross Lockridge Jr., Raintree County
8. A. J. Cronin, Shannon’s Way
9. Elizabeth Goudge, Pilgrim’s Inn
10. Irwin Shaw, The Young Lions

Also published that year:

Albert Camus, The Plague (English translation)
Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter

1949

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Mika Waltari, The Egyptian
2. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Big Fisherman
3. Sholem Asch, Mary
4. John O’Hara, A Rage to Live
5. John P. Marquand, Point of No Return
6. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Dinner at Antoine’s
7. Thomas B. Costain, High Towers
8. Van Wyck Mason, Cutlass Empire
9. Frank Yerby, Pride’s Castle
10. Edward Streeter, Father of the Bride

Also published that year:

Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics
Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea (English translation)]

1950

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Henry Morton Robinson, The Cardinal
2. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Joy Street
3. Ernest Hemingway, Across the River and into the Trees
4. John Hersey, The Wall
5. Kathleen Winsor, Star Money
6. Daphne du Maurier, The Parasites
7. Frank Yerby, Floodtide
8. Gwen Bristow, Jubilee Trail
9. Mika Waltari, The Adventurer
10. Budd Schulberg, The Disenchanted

Also published that year:

Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train

1951

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James Jones, From Here to Eternity
2. Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny
3. Sholem Asch, Moses
4. Henry Morton Robinson, The Cardinal
5. Frank Yerby, A Woman Called Fancy
6. Nicholas Monsarrat, The Cruel Sea
7. John P. Marquand, Melville Goodwin, U.S.A.
8. James A. Michener, Return to Paradise
9. Cardinal Spellman, The Foundling
10. Mika Waltari, The Wanderer

Also published that year:

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha (English translation)
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time

1952

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Thomas B. Costain, The Silver Chalice
2. Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny
3. John Steinbeck, East of Eden
4. Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel
5. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Steamboat Gothic
6. Edna Ferber, Giant
7. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
8. Agnes Sligh Turnbull, The Gown of Glory
9. Frank Yerby, The Saracen Blade
10. Howard Spring, The Houses in Between

Also published that year:

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt
Bernard Malamud, The Natural
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

1953

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Lloyd C. Douglas, The Robe
2. Thomas B. Costain, The Silver Chalice
3. Annemarie Selinko, Désirée
4. Leon M. Uris, Battle Cry
5. James Jones, From Here to Eternity
6. Ernest K. Gann, The High and the Mighty
7. A. J. Cronin, Beyond This Place
8. James Hilton, Time and Time Again
9. Samuel Shellabarger, Lord Vanity
10. Ben Ames Williams, The Unconquered

Also published that year:

James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain
Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
William S. Burroughs, Junky
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
J. D. Salinger, Nine Stories

1954

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Morton Thompson, Not as a Stranger
2. Daphne du Maurier, Mary Anne
3. Irving Stone, Love Is Eternal
4. Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Royal Box
5. Mika Waltari, The Egyptian
6. Mac Hyman, No Time for Sergeants
7. John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday
8. Hamilton Basso, The View from Pompey’s Head
9. Taylor Caldwell, Never Victorious, Never Defeated
10. Frank Yerby, Benton’s Row

Also published that year:

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
Iris Murdoch, Under the Net
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

1955

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Herman Wouk, Marjorie Morningstar
2. Patrick Dennis, Auntie Mame
3. MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville
4. Françoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse
5. Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
6. Robert Ruark, Something of Value
7. Morton Thompson, Not As a Stranger
8. Mac Hyman, No Time for Sergeants
9. Thomas B. Costain, The Tontine
10. John O’Hara, Ten North Frederick

Also published that year:

J. P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man
Graham Greene, The Quiet American
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

1956

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. William Brinkley, Don’t Go Near the Water
2. Edwin O’Connor, The Last Hurrah
3. Grace Metalious, Peyton Place
4. Patrick Dennis, Auntie Mame
5. Kay Thompson, Eloise
6. MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville
7. Françoise Sagan, A Certain Smile
8. Nicholas Monsarrat, The Tribe That Lost Its Head
9. Simone de Beauvoir, The Mandarins
10. Kenneth Roberts, Boon Island

Also published that year:

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals

1957

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James Gould Cozzens, By Love Possessed
2. Grace Metalious, Peyton Place
3. Meyer Levin, Compulsion
4. Max Shulman, Rally Round the Flag, Boys!
5. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Blue Camellia
6. Kay Thompson, Eloise in Paris
7. Daphne du Maurier, The Scapegoat
8. Nevil Shute, On the Beach
9. Thomas B. Costain, Below the Salt
10. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Also published that year:

John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Bernard Malamud, The Assistant
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

1958

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
2. Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Murder
3. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
4. Patrick Dennis, Around the World with Auntie Mame
5. John O’Hara, From the Terrace
6. Kay Thompson, Eloise at Christmastime
7. Edna Ferber, Ice Palace
8. Anya Seton, The Winthrop Woman
9. Jerome Weidman, The Enemy Camp
10. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Victorine

Also published that year:

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask (English translation)
Leon Uris, Exodus
T. H. White, The Once and Future King

1959

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Leon Uris, Exodus
2. Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
3. James Michener, Hawaii
4. Allen Drury, Advise and Consent
5. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
6. William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick, The Ugly American
7. Taylor Caldwell, Dear and Glorious Physician
8. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
9. Paul Gallico, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris
10. Robert Ruark, Poor No More

Also published that year:

Robert Bloch, Psycho
William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
John Knowles, A Separate Peace
Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus

1960

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Allen Drury, Advise and Consent
2. James A. Michener, Hawaii
3. Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard
4. Irving Wallace, The Chapman Report
5. John O’Hara, Ourselves To Know
6. Marcia Davenport, The Constant Image
7. Mary Ellen Chase, The Lovely Ambition
8. Taylor Caldwell, The Listener
9. Nevil Shute, Trustee from the Toolroom
10. John O’Hara, Sermons and Soda-Water

Also published that year:

John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls
John Updike, Rabbit, Run

1961

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy
2. J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
3. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
4. Leon Uris, Mila 18
5. Harold Robbins, The Carpetbaggers
6. Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
7. A. A. Milne, Winnie Ille Pu, trans. Alexander Lenard
8. Morris West, Daughter of Silence
9. Edwin O’Connor, The Edge of Sadness
10. John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Also published that year:

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas
Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

1962

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
2. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Dearly Beloved
3. Allen Drury, A Shade of Difference
4. Herman Wouk, Youngblood Hawke
5. J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
6. Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Fail-Safe
7. Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, Seven Days in May
8. Irving Wallace, The Prize
9. Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy
10. William Faulkner, The Reivers

Also published that year:

J. G. Ballard, The Drowned World
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
James Jones, The Thin Red Line
Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

1963

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Morris L. West, The Shoes of the Fisherman
2. Mary McCarthy, The Group
3. J. D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour—An Introduction
4. James A. Michener, Caravans
5. John O’Hara, Elizabeth Appleton
6. Taylor Caldwell, Grandmother and the Priests
7. John Rechy, City of Night
8. Daphne du Maurier, The Glass-Blowers
9. Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles
10. Rumer Godden, The Battle of the Villa Fiorita

Also published that year:

John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
John Fowles, The Collector
Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers (English translation)
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Thomas Pynchon, V.
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

1964

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
2. Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, Candy
3. Saul Bellow, Herzog
4. Leon Uris, Armageddon
5. Irving Wallace, The Man
6. Louis Auchincloss, The Rector of Justin
7. Richard E. Kim, The Martyred
8. Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice
9. Mary Stewart, This Rough Magic
10. Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, Convention

Also published that year:

Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man
Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion
Hubert Selby Jr., Last Exit to Brooklyn

1965

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James A. Michener, The Source
2. Bel Kaufman, Up the Down Staircase
3. Saul Bellow, Herzog
4. John Le Carré, The Looking Glass War
5. Robin Moore, The Green Berets
6. Irving Stone, Those Who Love
7. Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun
8. Arthur Hailey, Hotel
9. Morris West, The Ambassador
10. Herman Wouk, Don’t Stop the Carnival

Also published that year:

Frank Herbert, Dune
Jerzy Kosinski, The Painted Bird
John Williams, Stoner

1966

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls
2. Harold Robbins, The Adventurers
3. Robert Crichton, The Secret of Santa Vittoria
4. Allen Drury, Capable of Honor
5. Helen MacInnes, The Double Image
6. Bernard Malamud, The Fixer
7. Adela Rogers St. Johns, Tell No Man
8. James Clavell, Tai-Pan
9. Louis Auchincloss, The Embezzler
10. Edwin O’Connor, All in the Family

Also published that year:

Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch (English translation)
John Fowles, The Magus
Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

1967

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Elia Kazan, The Arrangement
2. William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner and Chaim Potok, The Chosen (tie)
4. Leon Uris, Topaz
5. Catherine Marshall, Christy
6. Thornton Wilder, The Eighth Day
7. Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby
8. Irving Wallace, The Plot
9. Mary Stewart, The Gabriel Hounds
10. Henry Sutton, The Exhibitionist

Also published that year:

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (English translation)
S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders
Anna Kavan, Ice
Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock
Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime

1968

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Arthur Hailey, Airport
2. John Updike, Couples
3. Helen MacInnes, The Salzburg Connection
4. John Le Carré, A Small Town in Germany
5. Taylor Caldwell, Testimony of Two Men
6. Allen Drury, Preserve and Protect
7. Gore Vidal, Myra Breckinridge
8. Fletcher Knebel, Vanished
9. Catherine Marshall, Christy
10. Morris L. West, The Tower of Babel

Also published that year:

Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

1969

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint
2. Mario Puzo, The Godfather
3. Jacqueline Susann, The Love Machine
4. Harold Robbins, The Inheritors
5. Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain
6. Irving Wallace, The Seven Minutes
7. Penelope Ashe, Naked Came the Stranger
8. Chaim Potok, The Promise
9. Gwen Davis, The Pretenders
10. Daphne du Maurier, The House on the Strand

Also published that year:

Philip K. Dick, Ubik
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

1970

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Erich Segal, ­Love Story
2. John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
3. Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream
4. Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave
5. Taylor Caldwell, Great Lion of God
6. Leon Uris, QB VII
7. Jimmy Breslin, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight
8. Victoria Holt, The Secret Woman
9. Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt
10. Irwin Shaw, Rich Man, Poor Man

Also published that year:

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
James Dickey, Deliverance
Joan Didion, Play it As It Lays
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (English translation)
Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (English translation)
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

1971

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Arthur Hailey, Wheels
2. William P. Blatty, The Exorcist
3. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind
4. Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal
5. Harold Robbins, The Betsy
6. Helen MacInnes, Message from Malaga
7. Herman Wouk, The Winds of War
8. James A. Michener, The Drifters
9. Thomas Tryon, The Other
10. John Updike, Rabbit Redux

Also published that year:

The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

1972

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
2. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, August, 1914
3. Frederick Forsyth, The Odessa File
4. Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal
5. Irving Wallace, The Word
6. Herman Wouk, The Winds of War
7. Taylor Caldwell, Captains and the Kings
8. Marjorie Holmes, Two from Galilee
9. Chaim Potok, My Name Is Asher Lev
10. Dan Jenkins, Semi-Tough

Also published that year:

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

1973

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
2. Jacqueline Susann, Once Is Not Enough
3. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
4. Frederick Forsyth, The Odessa File
5. Gore Vidal, Burr
6. Mary Stewart, The Hollow Hills
7. Irwin Shaw, Evening in Byzantium
8. Robert Ludlum, The Matlock Paper
9. Paul E. Erdman, The Billion Dollar Sure Thing
10. Graham Greene, The Honorary Consul

Also published that year:

J. G. Ballard, Crash
Toni Morrison, Sula
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

1974

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James A. Michener, Centennial
2. Richard Adams, Watership Down
3. Peter Benchley, Jaws
4. John Le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
5. Joseph Heller, Something Happened
6. Frederick Forsyth, The Dogs of War
7. Harold J. Robbins, The Pirate
8. Margaret Craven, I Heard the Owl Call My Name
9. John H. Watson, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
10. Irving Wallace, The Fan Club

Also published that year:

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (English translation)
Stephen King, Carrie
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
Studs Terkel, Working

1975

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime
2. Arthur Hailey, The Moneychangers
3. Agatha Christie, Curtain
4. Judith Rossner, Looking for Mister Goodbar
5. Joseph Wambaugh, The Choirboys
6. Jack Higgins, The Eagle Has Landed
7. Irving Stone, The Greek Treasure: A Biographical Novel of Henry and Sophia Schliemann
8. Michael Crichton, The Great Train Robbery
9. James Clavell, Shogun
10. Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift

Also published that year:

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
William Gaddis, J R
James Salter, Light Years
Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

1976

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Leon Uris, Trinity
2. Agatha Christie, Sleeping Murder
3. Jacqueline Susann, Dolores
4. Jack Higgins, Storm Warning
5. Peter Benchley, The Deep
6. Gore Vidal, 1876
7. Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick: or, Lonesome No More!
8. Harold Robbins, The Lonely Lady
9. Mary Stewart, Touch Not the Cat
10. Sidney Sheldon, A Stranger in the Mirror

Also published that year:

Renata Adler, Speedboat
Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

1977

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien, The Silmarillion
2. Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds
3. Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
4. John Le Carre, The Honourable Schoolboy
5. Erich Segal, Oliver’s Story
6. Harold Robbins, Dreams Die First
7. Irwin Shaw, Beggarman, Thief
8. Erica Jong, How To Save Your Own Life
9. Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus
10. John Fowles, Daniel Martin

Also published that year:

Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer
Stephen King, The Shining
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

1978

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James A. Michener, Chesapeake
2. Herman Wouk, War and Remembrance
3. Mario Puzo, Fools Die
4. Sidney Sheldon, Bloodlines
5. Judith Krantz, Scruples
6. Belva Plain, Evergreen
7. Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
8. Robert Ludlum, The Holcroft Covenant
9. Howard Fast, Second Generation
10. Ken Follett, Eye of the Needle

Also published that year:

John Irving, The World According to Garp
Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

1979

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Robert Ludlum, The Matarese Circle
2. William Styron, Sophie’s Choice
3. Arthur Hailey, Overload
4. Harold Robbins, Memories of Another Day
5. Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird
6. Stephen King, The Dead Zone
7. Mary Stewart, The Last Enchantment
8. Howard Fast, The Establishment
9. Gen. Sir John Hackett et al., The Third World War: August 1985
10. John Le Carré, Smiley’s People

Also published that year:

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber
Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights
Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song
Cormac McCarthy, Suttree

1980

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James A. Michener, The Covenant
2. Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity
3. Sidney Sheldon, Rage of Angels
4. Judith Krantz, Princess Daisy
5. Stephen King, Firestarter
6. Ken Follett, The Key to Rebecca
7. Belva Plain, Random Winds
8. Frederick Forsyth, The Devil’s Alternative
9. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, The Fifth Horseman
10. Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss, The Spike

Also published that year:

J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

1981

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James Clavell, Noble House
2. John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire
3. Stephen King, Cujo
4. Colleen McCullough, An Indecent Obsession
5. Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park
6. Kit Williams, Masquerade
7. Harold Robbins, Goodbye, Janette
8. Lawrence Sanders, The Third Deadly Sin
9. Joseph Wambaugh, The Glitter Dome
10. Cynthia Freeman, No Time for Tears

Also published that year:

Donald Barthelme, Sixty Stories
Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (English translation)
Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

1982

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. William Kotzwinkle, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial Storybook
2. James A. Michener, Space
3. Robert Ludlum, The Parsifal Mosaic
4. Sidney Sheldon, Master of the Game
5. Judith Krantz, Mistral’s Daughter
6. Jean M. Auel, The Valley of Horses
7. Stephen King, Different Seasons
8. John Jakes, North and South
9. Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two
10. Ken Follett, The Man from St. Petersburg

Also published that year:

Rachel Ingalls, Mrs. Caliban
Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List
W. P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe
Alice Walker, The Color Purple

1983

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. James Kahn, Return of the Jedi
2. James A. Michener, Poland
3. Stephen King, Pet Sematary
4. John Le Carré, The Little Drummer Girl
5. Stephen King, Christine
6. Danielle Steel, Changes
7. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
8. Stephen R. Donaldson, White Gold Wielder
9. Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives
10. Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods

Also published that year:

Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
Raymond Carver, Cathedral
Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale
Susan Hill, The Woman in Black

1984

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Stephen King and Peter Straub, The Talisman
2. Robert Ludlum, The Aquitaine Progression
3. Mario Puzo, The Sicilian
4. John Jakes, Love and War
5. Dr. Seuss, The Butter Battle Book
6. Helen Hooven Santmyer, “. . . And Ladies of the Club”
7. Frederick Forsyth, The Fourth Protocol
8. Danielle Steel, Full Circle
9. Joan Rivers, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz
10. Gore Vidal, Lincoln: A Novel

Also published that year:

Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in High School
Martin Amis, Money
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (English translation)

1985

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Jean M. Auel, The Mammoth Hunters
2. James A. Michener, Texas
3. Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days
4. Sidney Sheldon, If Tomorrow Comes
5. Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
6. Danielle Steel, Secrets
7. Carl Sagan, Contact
8. Jackie Collins, Lucky
9. Danielle Steel, Family Album
10. Louis L’Amour, Jubal Sackett

Also published that year:

Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (English translation)
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
John Irving, The Cider House Rules
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
Lorrie Moore, Self-Help
Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

1986

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Stephen King, It
2. Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising
3. James Clavell, Whirlwind
4. Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Supremacy
5. Jackie Collins, Hollywood Husbands
6. Danielle Steel, Wanderlust
7. Judith Krantz, I’ll Take Manhattan
8. Louis L’Amour, Last of the Breed
9. Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides
10. John Le Carré, A Perfect Spy

Also published that year:

Richard Ford, The Sportswriter
Alan Moore, Watchmen
Art Spiegelman, Maus I

1987

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Stephen King, The Tommyknockers
2. Tom Clancy, Patriot Games
3. Danielle Steel, Kaleidoscope
4. Stephen King, Misery
5. Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories
6. Sidney Sheldon, Windmills of the Gods
7. Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent
8. Danielle Steel, Fine Things
9. John Jakes, Heaven and Hell
10. Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon

Also published that year:

Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy
James Ellroy, Black Dahlia
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

1988

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Tom Clancy, The Cardinal of the Kremlin
2. Sidney Sheldon, The Sands of Time
3. Danielle Steel, Zoya
4. Robert Ludlum, The Icarus Agenda
5. James A. Michener, Alaska
6. Judith Krantz, Till We Meet Again
7. Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned
8. Barbara Taylor Bradford, To Be the Best
9. Richard Bach, One: A Novel
10. Leon Uris, Mitla Pass

Also published that year:

Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (English translation)
John Grisham, A Time to Kill
Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming Pool Library
David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress

1989

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Tom Clancy, Clear and Present Danger
2. Stephen King, The Dark Half
3. Danielle Steel, Daddy
4. Danielle Steel, Star
5. James A. Michener, Caribbean
6. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
7. John Le Carré, The Russia House
8. Ken Follet, The Pillars of the Earth
9. John Jakes, California Gold
10. Mary Higgins Clark, While My Pretty One Sleeps

Also published that year:

Martin Amis, London Fields
Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
Oscar Hijuelos, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life

1990

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Jean M. Auel, The Plains of Passage
2. Stephen King, Four Past Midnight
3. Scott Turow, The Burden of Proof
4. Sidney Sheldon, Memories of Midnight
5. Danielle Steel, Message from Nam
6. Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum
7. Stephen King, The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition
8. Jackie Collins, Lady Boss
9. Anne Rice, The Witching Hour
10. Rosamunde Pilcher, September

Also published that year:

A. S. Byatt, Possession
Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential
Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty
Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

1991

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Alexandra Ripley, Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
2. Tom Clancy, The Sum of All Fears
3. Stephen King, Needful Things
4. Danielle Steel, No Greater Love
5. Danielle Steel, Heartbeat
6. Sidney Sheldon, The Doomsday Conspiracy
7. John Grisham, The Firm
8. Ken Follet, Night Over Water
9. Barbara Taylor Bradford, Remember
10. Mary Higgins Clark, Loves Music, Loves to Dance

Also published that year:

Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow
Douglas Coupland, Generation X
Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
David Gates, Jernigan
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
Norman Rush, Mating
Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
Art Spiegelman, Maus II

1992

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Stephen King, Dolores Claiborne
2. John Grisham, The Pelican Brief
3. Stephen King, Gerald’s Game
4. Danielle Steel, Mixed Blessings
5. Danielle Steel, Jewels
6. Sidney Sheldon, The Stars Shine Down
7. Anne Rice, Tale of the Body Thief
8. James A. Michener, Mexico
9. Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale
10. Mary Higgins Clark, All Around the Town

Also published that year:

Jung Chang, Wild Swans
Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
Donna Tartt, The Secret History

1993

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County
2. John Grisham, The Client
3. Robert James Waller, Slow Waltz at Cedar Bend
4. Tom Clancy, Without Remorse
5. Stephen King, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
6. Danielle Steel, Vanished
7. Anne Rice, Lasher
8. Scott Turow, Pleading Guilty
9. Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate
10. Robert Ludlum, The Scorpio Illusion

Also published that year:

Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides
Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
Lois Lowry, The Giver
Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

1994

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Chamber
2. Tom Clancy, Debt of Honor
3. James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
4. Danielle Steel, The Gift
5. Steven King, Insomnia
6. James Finn Garner, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
7. Danielle Steel, Wings
8. Danielle Steel, Accident
9. Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County
10. Michael Crichton, Disclosure

Also published that year:

John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Rick Moody, The Ice Storm

1995

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Rainmaker
2. Michael Crichton, The Lost World
3. Danielle Steel, Five Days in Paris
4. Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
5. Danielle Steel, Lightning
6. James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
7. Stephen King, Rose Madder
8. Mary Higgins Clark, Silent Night
9. James Finn Garner, Politically Correct Holiday Stories
10. Nicholas Evans, The Horse Whisperer

Also published that year:

Richard Ford, Independence Day
Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
Javier Marías, A Heart So White (English translation)
Kenzaburo Oe, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (English translation)
Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theater

1996

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Runaway Jury
2. Tom Clancy, Executive Orders
3. Stephen King, Desperation
4. Michael Crichton, Airframe
5. Richard Bachman, The Regulators
6. Danielle Steel, Malice
7. Danielle Steel, Silent Honor
8. Anonymous, Primary Colors
9. Patricia Cornwell, Cause of Death
10. James Redfield, The Tenth Insight

Also published that year:

Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
Junot Díaz, Drown
Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’ Diary
Alex Garland, The Beach
George Saunders, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

1997

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Partner
2. Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain
3. Danielle Steel, The Ghost
4. Danielle Steel, The Ranch
5. Danielle Steel, Special Delivery
6. Patricia Cornwell, Unnatural Exposure
7. Sidney Sheldon, The Best Laid Plans
8. Mary Higgins Clark, Pretend You Don’t See Her
9. James Patterson, Cat & Mouse
10. Patricia Cornwell, Hornet’s Nest

Also published that year:

Daniel Clowes, Ghost World
Don DeLillo, Underworld
Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm
Chris Kraus, I Love Dick
George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (English translation)
Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
Philip Roth, American Pastoral
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
José Saramago, Blindness (English translation)

1998

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Street Lawyer
2. Tom Clancy, Rainbow Six
3. Stephen King, Bag of Bones
4. Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full
5. Danielle Steel, Mirror Image
6. Danielle Steel, The Long Road Home
7. Danielle Steel, The Klone and I
8. Patricia Cornwell, Point of Origin
9. Toni Morrison, Paradise
10. Mary Higgins Clark, All Through the Night

Also published that year:

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
Michael Cunningham, The Hours
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn (English translation)

1999

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Testament
2. Thomas Harris, Hannibal
3. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Assassins
4. Terry Brooks, Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace
5. Michael Crichton, Timeline
6. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis
7. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Apollyon
8. Stephen King, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
9. Danielle Steel, Irresistible Forces
10. Maeve Binchy, Tara Road

Also published that year:

J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
Ha Jin, Waiting
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies
Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn
Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories
Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist

2000

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Brethren
2. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, The Mark
3. Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon
4. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, The Indwelling
5. Patricia Cornwell, The Last Precinct
6. Danielle Steel, Journey
7. Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue
8. James Patterson, Roses Are Red
9. James Patterson, Cradle and All
10. Danielle Steel, The House on Hope Street

Also published that year:

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai
George Saunders, Pastoralia
Zadie Smith, White Teeth

2001

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Desecration
2. John Grisham, Skipping Christmas
3. John Grisham, A Painted House
4. Stephen King, Dreamcatcher
5. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
6. Stephen King and Peter Straub, Black House
7. Danielle Steel, The Kiss
8. Clive Cussler, Valhalla Rising
9. Terri McMillan, A Day Late and a Dollar Short
10. James Patterson, Violets Are Blue

Also published that year:

Percival Everett, Erasure
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Gary Indiana, Do Everything in the Dark
Dennis Lehane, Mystic River
Yann Martel, The Life of Pi
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Ann Patchett, Bel Canto
Richard Russo, Empire Falls

2002

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Summons
2. Tom Clancy, Red Rabbit
3. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, Remnant
4. Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
5. Michael Crichton, Prey
6. John Grisham, Skipping Christmas
7. Jean M. Auel, The Shelters of Stone
8. James Patterson, Four Blind Mice
9. Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual
10. Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, The Nanny Diaries

Also published that year:

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz (English translation)
Sarah Waters, Fingersmith

2003

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
2. Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
3. John Grisham, The King of Torts
4. John Grisham, Bleachers
5. Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Armageddon
6. Tom Clancy, The Teeth of the Tiger
7. James Patterson, The Big Bad Wolf
8. Patricia Cornwell, Blow Fly
9. Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
10. Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding

Also published that year:

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Edward P. Jones, The Known World
Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses
Tobias Wolff, Old School

2004

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
2. Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
3. John Grisham, The Last Juror
4. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Glorious Appearing
5. Dan Brown, Angels & Demons
6. Michael Crichton, State of Fear
7. James Patterson, London Bridges
8. Patricia Cornwell, Trace
9. Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, The Rule of Four
10. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Collector’s Edition

Also published that year:

Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Alice Munro, Runaway
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

2005

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Broker
2. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
3. James Patterson, Mary, Mary
4. Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight
5. Patricia Cornwell, Predator
6. Nicholas Sparks, True Believer
7. Jan Karon, Light from Heaven
8. Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian
9. Sue Monk, The Mermaid Chair
10. Janet Evanovich, Eleven on Top

Also published that year:

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (English translation)
Zadie Smith, On Beauty

2006

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Mitch Albom, For One More Day
2. James Patterson, Cross
3. Nicholas Sparks, Dear John
4. Michael Crichton, Next
5. Thomas Harris, Hannibal Rising
6. Stephen King, Lisey’s Story
7. Janet Evanovich, Twelve Sharp
8. Stephen King, Cell
9. James Patterson and Peter de Jonge, Beach Road
10. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, The Fifth Horseman

Also published that year:

Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

2007

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
2. John Grisham, Playing for Pizza
3. James Patterson, Double Cross
4. Nicholas Sparks, The Choice
5. Janet Evanovich, Lean Mean Thirteen
6. Janet Evanovich, Plum Lovin’
7. Patricia Cornwell, Book of the Dead
8. James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, The Quickie
9. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, The 6th Target
10. Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year

Also published that year:

André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

2008

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Janet Evanovich, Fearless Fourteen
2. Brad Thor, The Last Patriot
3. James Patterson and Howard Roughan, Sail
4. Catherine Coulter, Tailspin
5. Stephenie Meyer, The Host
6. Danielle Steel, Rogue
7. David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
8. Robert Crais, Chasing Darkness
9. Linda Howard, Death Angel
10. Emily Giffin, Love the One You’re With

Also published that year:

Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (English translation)
Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter
Joseph O’Neill, Netherland

2009

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. John Grisham, The Appeal
2. David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
3. Stephenie Meyer, The Host
4. James Patterson, Cross Country
5. Nicholas Sparks, The Lucky One
6. Janet Evanovich, Fearless Fourteen
7. Glenn Beck, Christmas Sweater
8. Patricia Cornwell, Scarpetta
9. Dean Koontz, Your Heart Belongs to Me
10. Janet Evanovich, Plum Lucky

Also published that year:

Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

2010

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
2. John Grisham, The Confession
3. Kathryn Stockett, The Help
4. Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven
5. Tom Clancy, Dead or Alive
6. Janet Evanovich, Sizzling Sixteen
7. James Patterson, Cross Fire
8. Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
9. Patricia Cornwell, Port Mortuary
10. Stephen King, Full Dark, No Stars

Also published that year:

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

2011

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Kathryn Stockett, The Help
2. Kathryn Stockett, The Help (movie tie-in edition)
3. Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
4. Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
5. George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons
6. John Grisham, The Confession
7. Stieg Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
8. Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
9. John Grisham, The Litigators
10. Emma Donoghue, Room

Also published that year:

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station
Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
Karen Russell, Swamplandia!
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

2012

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey
2. E. L. James, Fifty Shades Darker
3. E. L. James, Fifty Shades Freed
4. E. L. James, Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set
5. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
6. J. K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy
7. John Grisham, The Racketeer

Also published that year:

Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (English translation)

2013

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Dan Brown, Inferno
2. John Grisham, Sycamore Row
3. Stephen King, Doctor Sleep
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
5. Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
6. E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey

Also published that year:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
George Saunders, Tenth of December
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

2014

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (trade paperback)
2. John Grisham, Gray Mountain
3. Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train
4. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (movie tie-in)
5. Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
6. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (mass market)
7. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
8. John Grisham, Sycamore Row
9. Stephen King, Revival
10. E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey

Also published that year:

Rachel Cusk, Outline
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle Book 1 (English translation)
Ben Lerner, 10:04
Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

2015

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman
2. E. L. James, Grey
3. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train
4. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
5. Andy Weir, The Martian
6. John Grisham, Rogue Lawyer
7. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
8. Nicholas Sparks, See Me
9. John Grisham, Gray Mountain
10. Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Also published that year:

Paul Beatty, The Sellout
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

2016

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (trade paperback)
2. Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
3. John Grisham, The Whistler
4. Jojo Moyes, Me Before You (trade paperback)
5. Jojo Moyes, Me Before You (mass market movie tie-in)
6. Nicholas Sparks, Two by Two
7. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (mass market movie tie-in)
8. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
9. Jojo Moyes, Me Before You (trader paper movie tie-in)
10. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

Also published that year:

Naomi Alderman, The Power
Emma Cline, The Girls
Garth Greenwell, What Belongs to You
Han Kang, The Vegetarian (English translation)
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

2017

The best-selling fiction of the year:

1. Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
2. Colson Whitehead, Underground Railroad
3. Lisa Wingate, Before We Were Yours
4. John Grisham, Camino Island
5. Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
6. John Grisham, The Whistler
7. Paula Hawkins, Into the Water
8. Nicholas Sparks, Two By Two
9. George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
10. Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things

Also published that year:

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West
Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick for Another World
Sally Rooney, Conversations With Friends
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing


Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

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