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Bestselling books are notoriously difficult to quantify.

Bestselling books are notoriously difficult to quantify.
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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. Want to know more? Here’s the lowdown on what it takes to become a bestseller.

The Shack

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.

 

Outliers

Outliers

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.

 

The Host

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.

The Help

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.

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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

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.

Unbroken

Unbroken
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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.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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.

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

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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