I realize attempting to compile a list like this could ruffle some feathers from both publishing and literature purists, not to mention the theological issues raised in the process of determining a “Christian” book.
But I thought I would take a stab at it anyway.
The list of the best-selling Christian books of all time almost demands every single title carry some sort of disclaimer, but that disclaimer would be different depending on the individual. Differences over theology mainly will affect this list.
Writing from a Christian “world view” qualifies for this list, so every title will not contain Scripture and teaching per se.
Certain portrayals of theology are some of the issues that divide us, so I thought I would just toss out a list and leave the editing of the list to someone else. (After all, every best-seller list has an editor…sorry to break the news if you didn’t know it already)
Other than the Bible, which is the far and away the best-selling Christian book of all time with sales in the billions, here is my list for your consideration:
- The Imitation of Christby Thomas à Kempis (1418) – Sales Unknown, but widely regarded as the best-selling Christian title after the Bible.
- Book of Common Prayer (various editions starting in mid 16th Century) – 300 million (estimated)
- Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan (1678) – 250 million
- Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe (1563) – 150 million
- Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (1954) – 150 million
- The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien (1937) – 142 million
- The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950) – 85 million
- Steps to Christ by Ellen White (1892) – 60 million (estimated)
- Ben Hur by Lew Wallace (1880) – 50 million
- The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1970) – 35 million
- In His Steps by Charles Sheldon (1896) – 30 million
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (2002) – 30 million
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952) – 20 million
- The Shack by William Paul Young (2007) – 20 million
- The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1320) – 12 million (in last 150+ years)
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (1995) – 10 million+
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (2004) – 10 million+
- Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (2010) – 10 million+
- More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell (1977) – 10 million+
- The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson (2000) – 10 million+
- The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan (1974) – 10 million
- The Gospel According to Peanuts, Robert Short (1965) – 10 million
In addition, here are some series of books that have high sales:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1950’s) – 150 million
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1949-1954) – 120 million
Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (1995-2007) – 65-70 million
Now, in the comment section below, feel free to start a comment with “What about…” and I’ll try to give an explanation why I included or excluded a title!
I am fully prepared to apologize for omissions.
It must be true, it was on the internet
Some sales numbers were acquired from Wikipedia which means I hardly had to do any work to get the information. Of course, this is the same internet containing claims of 800-pound parakeets attacking Bozeman, Montana, so maybe just forget everything I wrote today.