Some of the best-selling books of all time include "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens, "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling. Other examples are "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis.
"A Tale of Two Cities," published in 1859, is set in the time period that led to the French Revolution. This novel examines the class struggles during that time and compares the revolutionaries with the establishment, resulting in some uncomfortable truths. "A Tale of Two Cities" has been in the public domain for over 150 years, as of 2015. This makes it hard to know the exact number of copies sold, but the estimate is around 200 million, according to HowStuffWorks.
Many best-selling books lists do not include religious or philosophical texts because the data is too inaccurate for works that have been in existence for many centuries. Many religious texts are printed and given away for free, thereby negating their tally in lists of books actually sold.
Lists which exclude works in the public domain often put "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien as the best-selling book of all time. Other contenders in the fiction category include "The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown, "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J.K. Rowling, "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie, and "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien.
"The Lord of the Rings" is considered by many to be the ultimate fantasy novel. This book helped establish the fantasy genre, claims HowStuffWorks. Over 150 million copies have sold worldwide. Originally intended by Tolkien to be a single novel, the publishing company instead divided in into three separate volumes. These are titled "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King."
Books are ranked by the number of books sold, not the amount of books published. These lists also do not include non-fiction, textbooks or comic books.