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25 Bestselling Books of the Decade

See if you remember or have read these familiar titles from the last decade.

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Bestselling books of the last decade

Bestselling books are notoriously difficult to quantify. First, it’s hard to gauge overall digital sales in tandem with various print formats. Second, according to Publishers Weekly, figures are complicated by various lists that cover multiple categories across several formats. Bestsellers cover fiction, nonfiction, and genre as well as formats like trade paperback or hardcover editions. The titles on our list of 25 bestsellers from the last decade appear on lists compiled by Publishers Weekly, but they’re also stand-out books that probably have titles you remember or that remain familiar. Many of the books on our list were made into movies or captured the cultural zeitgeist.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

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the shack
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The Shack


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The Shack spent 51 weeks on the trade bestseller list in 2009. William P. Young’s mystical allegory boasts over 20 million copies sold on its latest cover. In the popular novel, God invites a man to spend a weekend in a shack. The man suffers from unimaginable loss, but finds redemption. See if you can guess these famous books from just a single line!

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Malcolm Gladwell’s nonfiction pop-science book struck a chord with readers. Gladwell makes his topic accessible and highly readable as he examines the nature of success. Gladwell looks at various successful people and examines the environment that made them exceptional in ways that offer surprising and unexpected insights. These are 10 of the best autobiographies you should have read by now.

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the host
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The Host


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Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi follow-up to her hugely popular vampire series, Twilight, took as its subject aliens who use human bodies as hosts. In The Host, a teenage girl’s body is inhabited by her own consciousness and that of an invading alien. They each love different boys.

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the help
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The Help


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Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel became a runaway hit on bestseller lists. The story follows two black maids in 1960s Mississippi as they face injustice. The novel was also made into an Academy Award–winning film. Actresses Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain were all nominated for their performances in the film. Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the spirited, indomitable Minny. These are more hit movies that were books first.

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girl with dragon tattoo
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


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Stieg Larsson’s gripping thrillers about Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker involved in dangerous, international intrigues, were published posthumously; he died in 2004. By 2010, the first book and its sequels had sold more than 48 million copies, according to Rolling Stone, making Larsson one of the biggest bestselling authors in the world.

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Heaven is for Real


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A father recounts the true story of his four-year-old son, Colton, who slips in and out of consciousness after a major surgery. When the young boy recovers, he has amazing tales to tell about his journey “to Heaven and back” while he was unconscious. Here are 27 more real-life stories of miracles.

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Like Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s previous book Seabiscuit was also a bestseller with a film adaptation. Unbroken tells the true story of an Army plane that crashed into the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The book follows Louis Zamperini, previously an Olympic athlete, and two other survivors as they endure extraordinary peril with extreme courage, first on a raft adrift in the ocean and then as prisoners of war. Find out 10 of the best true crime books that will keep you up at night.

9 / 26
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


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Oprah Winfrey adapted this bestselling nonfiction book into a movie for HBO. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks combines science writing with moving storytelling as it describes a young black woman’s experience with cancer and the ways her cells, which were taken without her permission, impacted science in enormous ways. The book topped several “best of the year” lists and remained a nonfiction bestseller for over 40 weeks.

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Fifty Shades of Grey


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E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy sold a staggering 100 million copies across the globe. The first novel in the series started as Twilight fan fiction and then became a runaway phenomenon. The story follows billionaire Christian Grey and the shy Anastasia, who becomes the object of his obsessive desire after a happenstance meeting.

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The Hunger Games


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Readers couldn’t get enough of the fearless heroine Katniss Everdeen in Suzanne Collins’ runaway bestseller set in a dystopian future where children have to fight to the death in the yearly “Hunger Games.” All of the novels in the trilogy became huge hits, buoyed by the movie franchise. In 2012, the first book sold “an astounding 27.7 million copies,” according to Publishers Weekly. The Hunger Games is one of 20 highest-rated books on Goodreads—how would you rate it?

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Me Before You


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Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You and its bestselling sequels have sold over 20 million copies. The first book follows witty, headstrong Louisa as she takes a job as a caregiver for a man confined to a wheelchair after an accident. The love-hate dynamic between the two turns to love in a story that captured the hearts of readers worldwide.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck


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Jeff Kinney’s children’s series is a huge hit with elementary school readers. The format features diary-style text with illustrations, along with relatable humor that kids fall in love with. In fact, kids often reread the series over and over again. To date, the series has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. The newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book dropped this past October. Start your young reader on this series or one of these other 25 best children’s books ever written.

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Dan Brown’s five-book Robert Langdon series, which includes the runaway hit The Da Vinci Code, broke sales records. Inferno, the fourth book in the series about a Harvard “symbology” professor who investigates artifacts, was the best-selling book of 2013. The novels spawned a popular film franchise starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon.

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The Fault in Our Stars


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John Green’s heartfelt romance about two teens who meet in a cancer support group was the top-selling book in print and digital format in 2014. The story captivated readers with its down-to-earth portrayal of Hazel and Augustus, who inspire, delight, and live courageously in the face of overwhelming challenge. These are the 100 books everyone should read before they die.

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Veronica Roth’s bestselling young adult sci-fi trilogy started with Divergent. It’s the story of a future dystopian world where teens undergo testing to determine which of five community factions they must join and commit to for the rest of their lives. The story takes off when a girl rebels against the system that seeks to confine her.

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Gone Girl


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You won’t be able to put down Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s captivating thriller told from alternating points of view of a husband and wife who narrate the betrayals in a seemingly perfect marriage that has a dark side beneath the facade. In the movie version, Ben Affleck played the hapless philanderer Nick, with Rosamund Pike in an Oscar-nominated role as Amy, the ingenious woman who plots revenge. Find out more of the best thriller books of all time.

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Go Set a Watchman


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Harper Lee’s long-awaited follow-up to her masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird came out over 50 years after her Pulitzer Prize–winning debut. Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman in the 1950s, and it continues the story of Scout, now 26 years old, who returns to Maycomb to visit her father, the iconic lawyer Atticus Finch.

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The Martian


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Computer-programmer-turned-fiction-writing-superstar Andy Weir originally self-published his sci-fi story The Martian, releasing one chapter at a time on his website. The book was so successful that he was soon offered huge deals with major publishers, in addition to selling the film rights. The story about an astronaut stranded alone on Mars keeps readers on the edge of their seats with wit, accessible science, and a ton of suspense. Find out 18 more of the best thrillers to read right now.

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the girl on the train
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The Girl on the Train


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Emily Blunt played the eponymous girl in the movie adaptation of this addictive thriller that kept readers enthralled until its twisty ending. Paula Hawkins’ debut novel sold over 11 million copies worldwide.

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a man called ove
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A Man Called Ove


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Fredrik Backman’s beloved novel about a cranky, but lovable, curmudgeon next door was translated into 43 languages and stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for 77 consecutive weeks. Tom Hanks will star as the crotchety widower Ove in the upcoming film adaptation.

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the subtle art of not giving a f*ck
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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck


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Mark Manson’s anti-positivity guidebook captures cultural cynicism around optimism with his trademark humor and wit. The famous blogger’s self-help advice, often backed up by experts, gives readers a dose of reality that’s harsh, but ultimately helpful. The book was a top nonfiction bestseller.

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The Underground Railroad


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Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed novel won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It was one of the longest-running bestsellers with 50 weeks near the top of the hardcover list at Publishers Weekly. The innovative historical novel, set during slavery, combines realism with a powerful reimagining of a devastating, brutal period in America. Find out the most iconic book set in every state.

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The former First Lady’s inspiring memoir is chock-full of wit, wisdom, and quotes to inspire. She writes, “Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” Becoming was the best-selling book of 2018 in the United States and hit bestseller lists in nations across the world. Readers love Becoming’s heartfelt insight. Luckily, lovers of Becoming can enjoy Obama’s latest book, The Light We Carry. If you’re ready for more uplifting quotes, here are 27 quotes that encourage hope.

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Little Fires Everywhere


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This story about intense clashes between neighboring families in an affluent suburb is set to become a television series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Fans of this bestseller are drawn in by the addictive, highly readable drama between two moms: the well-to-do Elena and the artistic bohemian Mia, whom she takes on as a renter. Their teenage children become embroiled in crushes and secrets while their moms feud over an adopted baby and what they each feel should be the child’s rightful home. Check out the bestselling books behind the hit TV shows you love.

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Where the Crawdads Sing


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Where the Crawdads Sing was considered a small novel before it “started to climb—and climb, and climb,” eventually spending weeks at the top of bestseller lists and selling over 1.5 million copies. The dual timeline story follows a Southern murder mystery and was chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s “Hello Sunshine” book club. The actress will also produce the film adaptation that’s already in the works. Next, read on to find out the most popular book the year you were born.

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.