Monday, April 4, 2016

Bestselling Books from 1990 to 2014

Here is the final part in my six-part series covering bestselling novels in the United States from 1895 through 2014.

These are copied from Wikipedia (it's the easiest to cut and paste from) and I went to the source of the lists, Publisher's Weekly but could only really verify the accuracy through 2007. The trouble with the lists past that date is that they seem to keep changing the criteria for what constitutes a bestseller.

When the Harry Potter phenomenon came about many lists did not include them because they were "children's books". But then they changed their minds and now there are several children's and young adult novels making the lists.

And I don't see any of the Twilight books on the lists and they were HUGE so I find every item on the lists for the late decade and the 2010s suspect. The Publisher's Weekly website doesn't make it any easier. There are lists of bestsellers in different categories: Young adult? Hardcovers? Trade paperbacks? Copies sold? Children's books? They seem to use any and all of these.

In any case, the trends are still clear.

The early 90s still leaned towards romance, horror and spy thrillers. Danielle Steel is still going strong. So are Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen King. Robert Ludlum died in 2001 and his spy thriller was replaced by novels of Tom Clancy. John Grisham and Scott Turow came on strong with legal thrillers aplenty. Romance authors Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, Rosamunde Pilcher and Barbara Taylor Bradford have faded away by the mid-1990s.

The early 1990s also was probably the most execrable time in American literature as zillions of us were somehow hoodwinked to read Scarlett, The Celestine Prophecy and The Bridges of Madison County. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. I read Scarlett avidly. It was released the day after I got married and I am almost positive I bought it while on our honeymoon. Pitiful. The book buying, not the honeymoon!

I started both The Celestine Prophecy and The Bridges of Madison County but they were definitely not for me. I actively loathe them both.

I am not a personal fan of the books of Danielle Steel, John Grisham, or Tom Clancy ---their styles just didn't grab me --- but their fans are loyal. I have read one book from each of these writers though.

Another constant presence on the lists is Michael Crichton who has even had books published posthumously. I've read a few over the years (Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Disclosure) and the thing with his books is the sheer readability of them. In general the chapters are short and cliffhang-y. You just can't bring yourself to a stopping place at the end of a chapter because you want to find out what happened! As such they are fun, fast reads if you are in the mood. I think the same is true for the Dan Brown books. In The Da Vinci Code the action moves along quickly and learning about the mystery of the symbols is a fun. These books are not great literature obviously but they have their place.

During the late 1990s and 2000s we see new authors regularly making the lists: James Patterson and his thrillers, Jenkins & LaHaye and the Christian "Left Behind" series, Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum crime series, Patricia Cornwell and her Kay Scarpetta crime series, and Nicholas Sparks and his romance stories.

I have read 37 of these books. Not bad considering I am not a fan of the authors in the previous paragraph. It is entirely possible that I would become a fan if I tried one of their books but I just have too much else I'd rather read first. If I get around to sampling them I will. If not, not.

I hope my readers (all two of you!) have enjoyed this look back at changing tastes of the American reader.

How many books have you read? 


1990
  1. The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel
  2. Four Past Midnight by Stephen King
  3. The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow
  4. Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon
  5. Message from Nam by Danielle Steel
  6. The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum
  7. The Stand by Stephen King
  8. Lady Boss by Jackie Collins
  9. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
  10. September by Rosamunde Pilcher
1991
  1. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
  2. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy
  3. Needful Things by Stephen King
  4. No Greater Love by Danielle Steel
  5. Heartbeat by Danielle Steel
  6. The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
  7. The Firm by John Grisham
  8. Night Over Water by Ken Follett
  9. Remember by Barbara Taylor Bradford
  10. Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
1992
  1. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
  2. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
  3. Gerald's Game by Stephen King
  4. Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steel
  5. Jewels by Danielle Steel
  6. The Stars Shine Down by Sidney Sheldon
  7. The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
  8. Mexico by James A. Michener
  9. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
  10. All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark
1993
  1. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller (read first few chapters)
  2. The Client by John Grisham
  3. Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller
  4. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
  5. Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King
  6. Vanished by Danielle Steel
  7. Lasher by Anne Rice
  8. Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow
  9. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  10. The Scorpio Illusion by Robert Ludlum
1994
  1. The Chamber by John Grisham
  2. Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy
  3. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (read about 1/3)
  4. The Gift by Danielle Steel
  5. Insomnia by Stephen King
  6. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner
  7. Wings by Danielle Steel
  8. Accident by Danielle Steel
  9. Disclosure by Michael Crichton
  10. Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark
1995
  1. The Rainmaker by John Grisham
  2. The Lost World by Michael Crichton
  3. Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel
  4. The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
  5. Lightning by Danielle Steel
  6. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  7. Rose Madder by Stephen King
  8. "L" Is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
  9. Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner
  10. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
1996
  1. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
  2. Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
  3. Desperation by Stephen King
  4. Airframe by Michael Crichton
  5. The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  6. Malice by Danielle Steel
  7. Silent Honor by Danielle Steel
  8. Primary Colors by Anonymous (Joe Klein)
  9. Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell
  10. The Tenth Insight by James Redfield
1997
  1. The Partner by John Grisham
  2. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  3. The Ghost by Danielle Steel
  4. The Ranch by Danielle Steel
  5. Special Delivery by Danielle Steel
  6. Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell
  7. The Best Laid Plans by Sidney Sheldon
  8. Pretend You Don't See Her by Mary Higgins Clark
  9. Cat and Mouse by James Patterson
  10. Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell
1998
  1. The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
  2. Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
  3. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  4. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
  5. Mirror Image by Danielle Steel
  6. The Long Road Home by Danielle Steel
  7. The Klone and I by Danielle Steel
  8. Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell
  9. Paradise by Toni Morrison
  10. All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark
1999
  1. The Testament by John Grisham
  2. Hannibal by Thomas Harris
  3. Assassins by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  4. Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks
  5. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  6. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
  7. Apollyon by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  8. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
  9. Irresistible Forces by Danielle Steel
  10. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

2000
  1. The Brethren by John Grisham
  2. The Mark: The Beast Rules the World by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  3. The Bear and the Dragon by Tom Clancy
  4. The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  5. The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell
  6. Journey by Danielle Steel
  7. The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks
  8. Roses Are Red by James Patterson
  9. Cradle and All by James Patterson
  10. The House on Hope Street by Danielle Steel
2001
  1. Desecration by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  2. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  3. A Painted House by John Grisham
  4. Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
  5. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  6. Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
  7. The Kiss by Danielle Steel
  8. Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler
  9. A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan
  10. Violets Are Blue by James Patterson
2002
  1. The Summons by John Grisham
  2. Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy
  3. The Remnant by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  5. Prey by Michael Crichton
  6. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  7. The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel
  8. Four Blind Mice by James Patterson
  9. Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales by Stephen King
  10. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
2003
  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  2. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  3. The King of Torts by John Grisham
  4. Bleachers by John Grisham
  5. Armageddon by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  6. The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy
  7. The Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson
  8. Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell
  9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  10. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
2004
  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  2. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  3. The Last Juror by John Grisham
  4. Glorious Appearing by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
  5. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
  6. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
  7. London Bridges by James Patterson
  8. Trace by Patricia Cornwell
  9. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
  10. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
2005
  1. The Broker by John Grisham
  2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  3. Mary, Mary by James Patterson
  4. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  5. Predator by Patricia Cornwell
  6. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
  7. Light from Heaven by Jan Karon
  8. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  9. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
  10. Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
2006
  1. For One More Day by Mitch Albom
  2. Cross by James Patterson
  3. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  4. Next by Michael Crichton
  5. Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
  6. Lisey's Story by Stephen King
  7. Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
  8. Cell by Stephen King
  9. Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge
  10. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
2007
  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  2. Playing For Pizza by John Grisham
  3. Double Cross by James Patterson
  4. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
  5. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
  6. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich
  7. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell
  8. The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  9. The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  10. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
2008
  1. The Appeal by John Grisham
  2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (read about 1/3)
  3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  4. Cross Country by James Patterson
  5. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
  6. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
  7. Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
  8. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  9. Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
  10. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
2009
  1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  2. The Associate by John Grisham
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
  5. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  6. Ford County by John Grisham
  7. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
  8. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  9. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  10. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

2010
  1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
  2. The Confession by John Grisham
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
  5. Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy
  6. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
  7. Cross Fire by James Patterson
  8. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  9. Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
  10. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
2011
  1. The Litigators by John Grisham
  2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  3. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
  4. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
  5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  6. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
  7. Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
  8. Micro by Michael Crichton
  9. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
  10. Locked On by Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
2012
  1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  4. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
  8. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
  9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
2013
  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
  2. Inferno by Dan Brown
  3. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  5. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
  7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  9. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
  10. And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
2014
  1. The Fault in Our Stars (trade paperback) by John Green
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  5. Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard (non-fiction)
  6. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  8. The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in) by John Green
  9. The Fault in Our Stars (hardcover) by John Green
  10. Frozen by Victoria Saxon