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The Top 12 Book Authors Of All Time

Updated on September 7, 2015

As a writer and author, dreams of being one of the most read are always upon me. I look at other authors and attempt to understand what, and how they became so successful. One thing I have noticed is: they are all individually unique. They all followed their own styles and not another writer's style. Yes, they had their favorite writers which they learned from, but they wrote in their own way.

In this hub, I am going to share with you the 12 top book authors of all time. These figures come from overall book sales. Do keep in mind that there are some writers that could be on this list, but statistics of this type have not always been kept.

As we go through this list of the top 12, think on which of their books you have read. If you haven't read any, I recommend you grab one of their books and give it a read through.

Always remember:

The Best Writers Are Great Readers

— Greg "Froggy" Boudonck
Isaac.Asimov from 1965
Isaac.Asimov from 1965 | Source

#12: Isaac Asimov 1920-1992

One of the greatest science fiction writers of all time stands in the 12th position. Isaac Asimov was born in Russia, but his family came to the United States when he was only 3 years old.

Science had always been a priority in Isaac's life. He was always reading science fiction and he excelled in science in school. Mr Asimov received a PhD. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1948. From there he was faculty at Boston University.

Isaac mainly wrote and published science fiction, but he is also known for several science textbooks he wrote. The top 3 books written by Isaac Asimov are:

  1. Foundation
  2. I, Robot
  3. Foundation and Empire

Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right.

— Isaac Asimov
Jane Austen's memorial
Jane Austen's memorial | Source

#11 Jane Austen 1775-1817

Jane was born and raised in England. Her top works were romantic fiction. Much of her writing stirred the minds of people all throughout England and still do all over the world.

If you have never read a Jane Austen piece, I suggest you do.

Jane's top 3 books were:

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Sense and Sensibility
  3. Emma

Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.

— Jane Austen
James Patterson
James Patterson | Source

#10 James Patterson 1947-

James is a very well known author of thriller fiction, non-fiction, and romance. He has a plethora of devout readers which has helped him sell many books.

James has a B.A. in English from Manhattan College and a M.A. from Vanderbilt University. He was going for a doctorate, but took a position in advertising. Upon retirement, he devoted all his time to writing books. He also is known to donate many funds to aspiring writers.

3 of Patterson's top books are:

  1. 1st to Die
  2. Along Came a Spider
  3. 2nd Chance

People like to talk more than they like to act. They like to sit there and complain and vent. Somehow they think that changes things, when it doesn't.

— James Patterson
Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie | Source

#9 Agatha Christie 1890-1976

When it came to murder mysteries, Agatha Christie was one of the best.

Born and raised in England, was always reading books as a young girl. She was born into a wealthy and affluent family. This made it easier for her to follow her writing dreams. When her Father died, the financial situation of her household was in jeopardy. She was sent off to boarding schools to receive an education.

She performed in plays , which helped her later on as a playwright.

Agatha faced many stresses in life. It was through World War 1 and other stress that she escaped through writing.

Agatha has received many literary awards throughout her life. If you have never read an Agatha Christie mystery, I suggest you do. These are her top 3:

  1. And Then There Were None
  2. Murder on the Orient Express
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.

— Agatha Christie
Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts | Source

#8 Nora Roberts 1950-

Nora is a bestselling author in the Romance niche. Many of her novels stay for weeks, if not months at the top of the bestsellers list.

Roberts married and became a housewife soon after High School. Their home was in Maryland.

Writing for Nora started in 1979. At home with her children, she started typing away. Nora submitted her works to Harlequin, but received the standard rejections. A new publisher, Silhouette picked up on her works and this was the start of great success for Nora.

If you like to read romance novels, try some of Nora's. Her top 3 are:

  1. Naked in Death
  2. Glory in Death
  3. Dance Upon the Air

You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job.

— Nora Roberts

#7 William Shakespeare 1564-1616

It is almost surprising that Mr Shakespeare isn't even higher on this list. The many plays and poems he wrote are read over and over.

He was know as the Bard of Avon in his home of England. He acted and wrote plays to feed his family.

One quote that William lived out was:

"All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players:
they have their exits and their entrances;
and one man in his time plays many parts..."

The top 3 sellers of his were:

  1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  2. Hamlet
  3. Romeo and Juliet

This above all; to thine own self be true.

— William Shakespeare
Neil Gaiman  Creative Commons
Neil Gaiman Creative Commons | Source

#6 Neil Gaiman 1960-

When you mention dark fiction, Neil Gaiman comes immediately to mind. Neil is a master of writing very graphic novels that will have you wondering if Neil shouldn't be in a mental hospital.

He also writes comic books and short fiction.

Neil is a member of Scientology. He and his wife reside in Wisconsin after moving there from his native England.

Watch for more from this dark writer.

Gaiman's 3 top sellers thus far are:

  1. American Gods
  2. Good Omens
  3. Neverwhere

Life - and I don't suppose I'm the first to make this comparison - is a disease: sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal.

— Neil Gaiman
A plaque on a park-bench
A plaque on a park-bench | Source

#5 C.S. Lewis 1898-1963

C.S. Lewis was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist.

C.S. Lewis' works are still widely read. Movies have been made and many so called atheists have turned to believing in God from his writings.

Mr Lewis was born in Ireland and raised in England where he died. His day of death was the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

C.S. Lewis' 3 top sellers are:

  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia
  3. The Magician's Nephew

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

— C.S. Lewis
A bust of Tolkien at Oxford University
A bust of Tolkien at Oxford University | Source

#4 J.R.R. Tolkien 1892-1973

Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends and also were professors at Oxford.

Tolkien has authored many deep fantasy books. Many of his works have become top-rated movies.

Tolkien was born and raised in England. He was a member of the Army during World War 1. During his free time, he wrote poems and short stories. It was Tolkien's bad health that got him off the front lines where he most likely would have been killed.

Have you read Tolkien? If not, these are his top 3:

  1. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
  2. The Lord of the Rings
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring

Not all those who wander are lost.

— J.R.R. Tolkien
Terry Pratchett Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License,
Terry Pratchett Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, | Source

#3 Terry Pratchett 1948-

Terry helped Neil Gaiman gain his success.

Terry also writes fantasy fiction and dark fiction. His mind goes to places many of us could never imagine.

Born and raised in England, Pratchett was doing journalism works when he was as young as 13. During his journalism years, he also wrote books on the side. He happened to meet a publisher, and this is where Pratchett got his "break."

If you like fantasy, it would do you good to read some of Pratchett's books. His top 3 are:

  1. Good Omens
  2. The Colour of Magic
  3. Mort

Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.

— Terry Pratchett
Stephen King
Stephen King | Source

#2 Stephen King 1947-

This is no surprise.

If you want to have heavy and hard dreams, read a Stephen King book before going to bed. He is one of the best Horror writers there is.

King was born and raised in Maine. He attended the University of Maine and received a B.A. in English.

King started by selling short stories. His first novel came out in 1973 and was a hit. The publisher paid him $2500 up front, but the book ended up bringing King $400,000 from the paperback version.

King's top 3 books thus far are:

  1. The Stand
  2. The Gunslinger
  3. The Shining

And as a writer, one of the things that I've always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that's what we're supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.

— Stephen King
J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling | Source

#1 J.K. Rowling 1965-

The writer of the Harry Potter series is the #1 author in the world.

It is no surprise.

Rowling was at one time a person who was struggling to survive. She came up with the Harry Potter idea while working as a secretary for Amnesty International. Before long she was a millionaire.

Rowling was born and raised in England. She has a B.A. from the University of Exeter.

J.K. Rowling's 3 top selling books are:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

— J.K. Rowling


These are the top 12 writers in the world.

I will keep dreaming of making this list someday.



© 2014 Greg Boudonck


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    • Froggy213 profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Boudonck 

      4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you sir.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      Great mix. Some are truly great. I would not have put Rowling there though. Peace.

    • Froggy213 profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Boudonck 

      4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you Kile; you may have just hit on to an idea for another Hub.

      I do agree that Heinlein was a great science fiction author. I have read both of the books you listed of his.

      Thanks for your insights.

    • Kile Taylor profile image

      Kile Taylor 

      4 years ago from Roanoke, VA

      This is a very interesting list, and I guess book sales don't lie. I like the fact that Asimov is on this list, I an a huge fan of Golden era science fiction and the Foundation trilogy is amazing. I honestly would have thought Robert Heinlein would have been above him on this list. Heinlein was the first science fiction author to produce a best selling novel and he produce some of the most controversial books of the era in "Farnham's Freehold"(1965) and "I Will Fear No Evil"(1970). Shows what I know. I greatly enjoyed your insights and your quotes. I wander what your personal top 12 list would be?

    • Froggy213 profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Boudonck 

      4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you Muhammed. I am glad you liked it.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 

      4 years ago

      Hi Greg. Excellent efforts that make this hub very interesting, informative and inspiring. Your selection of authors is good in the sense it includes everything from fiction to real life stories. Thanks for sharing. Author's quotes along with a short list of their selected books is quite impressive. Voted up.

    • Froggy213 profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Boudonck 

      4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      I was also surprised with a few of these. Billy, hopefully you will make it one of these days. Arachnea....You too.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      4 years ago from Texas USA

      Great list. I'm only surprised that of my other faves didn't make the list. Very useful information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fascinating list, Greg. I can't say I'm too fond of some of the writers on the list, but it really doesn't surprise me that they are on it. :)

    • Froggy213 profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Boudonck 

      4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you Phyllis.

      I am happy that someone sees that quality in me.

      Have a great evening.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Very interesting and informative hub. You chose some excellent quotes by the authors - I especially like the quote from Stephen King. I have read most of these authors and would like to read the others, like Asimov.

      I believe you will make this list someday, Greg. You are a good writer and have the qualities of Stephen King's quote.

      Voted up, A, I and H+


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