Bestsellers in 1982

Continuing my twice-yearly focus on bestsellers from years gone by, today we stop the “way-back” machine thirty-five years ago. The New York Times Bestseller lists from June 27, 1982:


  1. The Parsifal Mosaic, by Robert Ludlum. (Spy novel with possible film being recently discussed, thirty-five years later!)
  2. The Man From St. Petersburg, by Ken Follett. (A pre-WWI thriller.)
  3. The Prodigal Daughter, by Jeffrey Archer. (Key character becomes first woman U.S. President. Sequel to the author’s Kane & Abel.)
  4. The One Tree, by Stephen R. Donaldson. (Book two in the fantasy series, ”The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.”)
  5. Eden Burning, by Belva Plain.
  6. North and South, by John Jakes. (First book in Civil War trilogy, spawning a successful television miniseries.)
  7. For Special Services, by John Gardner. (James Bond thriller.)
  8. Celebrity, by Thomas Thompson. (Author of Lost, which released in 1975 died not long after the release of this title in 1982. Book was a television miniseries in 1984.)
  9. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler. (Finalist for a Pulitzer, National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award in 1983.)
  10. Thy Brother’s Wife, by Andrew M. Greeley.
  11. Twice Shy, by Dick Francis. (Made into a 1989 television movie.)
  12. Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein. (Numerous awards in 1982 and 1983, including 1983 Hugo Award for best novel.)
  13. Public Smiles, Private Tears, by Helen Van Slyke with James Elward.
  14. Dutch Shea, Jr. by John Gregory Dunne.
  15. A Mother and Two Daughters, by Gail Godwin. (Nominated for National Book Award for Fiction in 1983 won by The Color Purple.)


  1. Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, by Jane Fonda. (Highly successful series and video franchise.)
  2. Living, Loving & Learning, by Leo Buscaglia.
  3. No Bad Dogs: The Woodhouse Way, by Barbara Woodhouse.
  4. Richard Simmons’ Never-Say-Diet Cookbook.
  5. The Fate of the Earth, by Jonathan Schell (Exploring the consequences of nuclear war. Spoiler alert: Not good.)
  6. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein. (Collection of poems for children.)
  7. America in Search of Itself: The Making of the President, 1956-80, by Theodore H. White. (Author nominated for NBA for another title in 1980.)
  8. When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold S. Kushner.
  9. A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, by Andrew A. Rooney (Legendary 60 Minutes commentator.)
  10. Weight Watchers 365-Day Menu Cookbook (It’s a 365-day menu cookbook from Weight Watchers. Just guessing…I haven’t read it.)
  11. The Umpire Strikes Back, by Ron Luciano with David Fisher. (Funny anecdotes from a former major league baseball umpire. Luciano retired from umpiring in 1980 at age 43, did speaking and television, but suffered from depression. Took his own life in 1995.)
  12. Late Innings, by Roger Angell. (Another baseball book. Author wrote for the New Yorker and was its lead fiction editor for many years. Still living, now 96 years young. Roger’s mother Katherine was The New Yorker’s first fiction editor, divorced when Roger was young and remarried to E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and more, plus co-authored the classic writing book The Elements of Style by Strunk & White.)
  13. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. (The non-fiction work used as foundation for Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code.)
  14. Years of Upheaval, by Henry Kissinger. (Former US Secretary of State discusses 1973-1976, working through Watergate, end of Viet Nam war and more.)
  15. The I Love New York Diet, by Bess Myerson and Bill Adler. (Based on nutritional standards from New York doctors.)

The Christian publishing market in 1982 highlighted these authors, among others:

Non Fiction

Ann Kiemel Anderson
F.F. Bruce
Larry Burkett
Evelyn Christenson
Charles Colson
James Dobson
Ted Engstrom
Richard Foster
Billy Graham
Ruth Bell Graham
Tim LaHaye
Joyce Landorf (some fiction as well)
Hal Lindsey (did a novel too)
Josh McDowell
J.I. Packer
Dale Evans Rogers
Edith Schaeffer
Francis Schaeffer
Robert Schuller
RC Sproul
John Stott
Charles Swindoll
Warren Wiersbe
Phillip Yancey


Marjorie Holmes
Paul Maier
Janette Oke
Michael Phillips
John White
Grace Livingston Hill (reprinted editions of her books from decades earlier still sold well in 1982)

10 Responses to Bestsellers in 1982

  1. Avatar
    Carol Ashby June 27, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    Good list on the Christian side. FF Bruce’s NT commentaries were the basis for the first Bible study I led before we had kids. Josh McDowell gave me ammo for talking with unbelieving friends. These are still in my !library.

    I only read Paul Maier’s Pontius Pilate recently to review on my Roman history site. It sold a half million copies over the years and deserved to.

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 27, 2017 at 6:11 am #

    Umpires, but no vampires. Yeah, that was better.

  3. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson June 27, 2017 at 6:41 am #


  4. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D June 27, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    Hi Dan:
    Thanks for the list. I read some of the nonfiction (secular) books and quite a few of the Christian authors. It was interesting to see the list of what kind of books we were reading back then!

  5. Avatar
    Georgiana Daniels June 27, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    LOL, I forgot about Richard Simmons! My grandma used to watch him and his little stripped shorts every day 😀

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow June 27, 2017 at 9:24 am #


      That’s as deep as I can go with the image of Richard Simmons in striped shorts.

  6. Avatar
    Edward Lane June 27, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    Late, Great Planet Earth was a bestseller which I think spawned a whole generation of prophesy books. Even earned Hal Lindsey his own Tv show. Anyone know if he’s still on the air?

  7. Avatar
    Mary-Anne June 27, 2017 at 1:54 pm #


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