Bestsellers Twenty Years Ago

Twice each year, I take this space on the agency blog and make a trip down memory lane to see what books were selling many years ago. If you understand from where books have come, you can understand where books are going.

Below is the New York Times bestseller list from July 2, 1995 and the Christian Booksellers Association list from July, 1995. A lot has happened in twenty years.

NOTE: Check out #3 non-fiction on the New York Times list to see if you think the past doesn’t connect to the present.

The New York Times Best Seller List – July 2, 1995


  1. THE RAINMAKER, by John Grisham. (Doubleday) A young man barely out of law school tries to expose a corporation’s multibillion-dollar scam.
  1. THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, by Robert James Waller. (Warner) A photographer and a farmer’s lonely wife in Iowa.
  1. ROSE MADDER, by Stephen King. (Viking) Fleeing an abusive husband, a woman seeks happiness in a strange city by creating her own myth.
  1. THE APOCALYPSE WATCH, by Robert Ludlum. (Bantam) Tracking a neo-Nazi movement with designs on American and European officials.
  1. THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, by James Redfield. (Warner) An ancient manuscript, found in Peru, provides insights into achieving a fulfilling life.
  1. LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART, by Mary Higgins Clark. (Simon & Schuster) An unusual murder case haunts a prosecutor’s career and her private life.
  1. POLITICALLY CORRECT BEDTIME STORIES, by James Finn Garner. (Macmillan) Classic tales respun to avoid offending current sensibilities.
  1. OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! by Dr. Seuss. (Random House) The problems of finding your way through life; in verse and pictures.
  1. ONCE UPON A MORE ENLIGHTENED TIME, by James Finn Garner. (Macmillan) Eight more “politically correct bedtime stories.”
  1. STRANGE HIGHWAYS, by Dean Koontz. (Tartikoff/Warner) A collection of suspense tales, including novels, novellas and short stories.
  1. LADDER OF YEARS, by Anne Tyler. (Knopf) At 40, a woman leaves her physician husband and children to start a new life in a strange town.
  1. REDEMPTION, by Leon Uris. (HarperCollins) In a sequel to “Trinity,” the Larkin family continues to fight for Irish independence.
  1. MIND PREY, by John Sandford. (Putnam) Lucas Davenport pursues the kidnapper of a psychiatrist and her two daughters.
  1. THE WITNESS, by Sandra Brown. (Warner) A seemingly happy public defender and wife is plunged into a morass of bigotry and hate.
  1. MYSTIQUE, by Amanda Quick. (Bantam) A medieval English warrior, on a search for a crystal that will make him the master of new lands, finds love.


  1. A GOOD WALK SPOILED, by John Feinstein. (Little, Brown) A sportswriter reports on the P.G.A. Tour in 1993 and 1994.
  1. DAVE BARRY’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO GUYS, by Dave Barry. (Random House) A humorist explains the strange ways of a species of males called “guys.”
  1. THE HOT ZONE, by Richard Preston. (Random House) The discovery of the deadly Ebola virus in Virginia and the efforts to keep it from spreading.
  1. SPONTANEOUS HEALING, by Andrew Weil. (Knopf) A physician explains the ways in which the body heals itself.
  1. MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, by John Berendt. (Random House) The mysterious death of a young man in Savannah, Georgia.
  1. SISTERS, by Carol Saline. Photographs by Sharon J. Wohlmuth. (Running Press) The relationships of 36 sets of sisters, reported in words and pictures.
  1. IN RETROSPECT, by Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark. (Times Books/Random House) The author recalls his role in the Vietnam War.
  1. THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE, by Philip K. Howard. (Random House) How governmental rules and regulations are fettering the lives of all Americans.
  1. THE BOOK OF VIRTUES, by William J. Bennett. (Simon & Schuster) Moral stories adapted from the Greeks, the Bible, folklore and elsewhere.
  1. NEW PASSAGES, by Gail Sheehy. (Random House) How changing social conditions and longer life expectancies are affecting our lives.
  1. BY GEORGE, by George Foreman and Joel Engel. (Villard) The autobiography of the heavyweight champion.
  1. KATO KAELIN, by Marc Eliot. (Harper Paperbacks) A friend of O.J. Simpson’s on events surrounding the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.
  1. FROM BEGINNING TO END, by Robert Fulghum. (Villard) The rituals we practice and the spiritual journeys we take, from childhood to old age.
  1. LESLIE NIELSEN’S STUPID LITTLE GOLF BOOK, by Leslie Nielsen and Henry Beard. (Boswell/Doubleday) Reminiscences and tips; humor.
  1. DON’T STAND TOO CLOSE TO A NAKED MAN, by Tim Allen. (Hyperion) Anecdotes and meditations on life by the star of “Home Improvement.”

Thanks to the Christian Booksellers Association for opening their archives and providing this list. Their current monthly best-seller lists are here.

July 1995 Best-seller list – (Christian market only)


  1. The Bluebird and the Sparrow, Janette Oke, Bethany House
  2. The Dawning of Deliverance, Judith Pella, Bethany House
  3. This Present Darkness, Frank Peretti, Crossway
  4. The Thor Conspiracy, Larry Burkett, Nelson
  5. The Oath, Frank Peretti, Word
  6. The Yukon Queen, Gilbert Morris, Bethany House
  7. The Starts for a Light, Lynn & Gilbert Morris, Bethany House
  8. Shadow of the Mountains, Lynn and Gilbert Morris, Bethany House
  9. Christy, Catherine Marshall, Avon
  10. Piercing the Darkness, Frank Peretti, Crossway
  11. Prophet, Frank Peretti, Crossway
  12. Joshua and the City, Joseph Girzone, Doubleday
  13. Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard, Barbour, Tyndale, Walker
  14. Mercies so Tender, Elaine Schulte, Chariot Books
  15. The Knight and the Dove, Lori Wick, Harvest House
  16. Secrets, Robin Jones Gunn, Palisades (Questar)
  17. Joshua, Joseph Girzone, Simon & Shuster
  18. Wall of Fire, Gilbert Morris, Tyndale
  19. The Shield of Honor, Gilbert Morris, Tyndale
  20. Escape to Freedom, Michael Phillips, Tyndale


  1. Planet Earth- 2000 A.D., Hal Lindsey, Western Front Ltd.
  2. God’s Little Instruction Book for Mom, Honor Books
  3. Mama, Get the Hammer, Barbara Johnson, Word
  4. Woman, Thou Art Loosed, T.D. Jakes, Destiny Image
  5. The Bondage Breaker, Neil T. Anderson, Harvest House
  6. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado, Multnomah (Questar)
  7. God’s Little Instruction Book 2, Honor Books
  8. God’s Little Instruction Book, Honor Books
  9. A Divine Revelation of Hell, Mary Baxter, Whitaker House
  10. Fifteen Minutes Alone With God, Emilie Barnes, Harvest House
  11. Victory Over the Darkness, Neil T. Anderson, Regal (Gospel Light)
  12. God’s Little Devotional Book for Dad, Honor Books
  13. And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado, Multnomah (Questar)
  14. More Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell, Tyndale
  15. Becoming a Woman of Excellence, Cynthia Heald, NavPress
  16. God Came Near, Max Lucado, Multnomah (Questar)
  17. Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications
  18. Good Grief, Granger Westberg, Fortress Press (Augburg Fortress)
  19. Lord, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days, Kay Arthur, Harvest House
  20. Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy!, Barbara Johnson, Word

8 Responses to Bestsellers Twenty Years Ago

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton June 30, 2015 at 4:06 am #

    I read quite a few of the fiction books. The one that surprised me was Christy. I’m amazed it was still in the top twenty.

  2. Avatar
    Harold Thomas June 30, 2015 at 5:46 am #

    It would be interesting to reread #8 in the non-fiction section to see whether (or how much) the nonsense has worsened since then.

  3. Avatar
    Pamela S Meyers June 30, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    Interesting to read the lists. I still think Rainmaker was one of Grisham’s best stories. That was one of the few on the NYT list that I’d read. The ones on the CBA list, both fiction and non fiction, held more that I’ve read. Christian Fiction has come a long way since then. It was about then that I started to sense a nudge from God to go that direction and I had a lot to learn. I’m still learning LOL. In non fiction, I devoured the books by Neil Anderson. They were a huge help to me. It would be interesting to take another look at them today.

  4. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 30, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    Ah, ‘Celestine’!

    It seems to me that we in the CBA world can learn from the presence of books like Celestine on the NYT list.

    There’s a spiritual hunger in this country – people still want to believe in something beyond this life. And we, as Christians are dropping the ball.

    By looking for instant conversion through altar calls, and slaying in the Spirit, we miss the majority of folks, who come to learn and believe through practice.

    It may be fun to beat ourselves bloody with the Sinners’; Prayer, but to bring others to a belief in God, and the Resurrection of Jesus, we have to package things differently.

    What’s in the box is the same; but someone has to be sufficiently intrigued to pick UP the box.

  5. Avatar
    Marlene Anderson June 30, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Wow – impressive list. Some are ones you want to keep on your book shelves and re-visit. Thanks for taking the time to put this list together and sharing it with us.

  6. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka June 30, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    It’s fun to read this list and to know most of the titles. And to remember the things I heard about some of the books on here. And to remember the books I have read. I loved the Frank Peretti books on this list, along with a number of others. Thanks for compiling the list, Dan!

  7. Avatar
    Gary July 1, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Gilbert Morris, the guy could churn out the books.


  1. “Close your eyes dear, I have a surprise for you.” - The Steve Laube Agency - September 22, 2015

    […] Twice each year I blog about what was on the various bestseller lists years ago.  For instance, back in late June, I posted the lists from July 1995. […]

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