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Top 10 Best Selling Books of the 1990s
1, 2, 3 Harry Potter And ....
This is very difficult and others might have refused to put Jo Rowling's books on this list but I think they deserve to be here and truly, they were the best sellers of ALL books in the 1990s, both adult and children's fiction.
J.K. Rowling must still wake up with a smile every day and think of the rejection letters gathering dust in her attic.
The top 3 best selling books of the 1990s were all Harry Potter novels.Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, ...Chamber of Secrets and ...Prisoner of Azkaban which all sold millions of copies thanks to their enormous popularity with children all over the world and maybe thanks to a lot of adult readers too.
J.K Rowling deserves her success; she wrote Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone at a time of her life that was very difficult, losing her mother before it was published and also living on state benefits as a single parent in a tiny flat.
She is truly an inspirational author and yet has remained very down to earth in spite of her success and enormous wealth.
She has since completing the Harry Potter series, written a tragicomic adult novel, The Casual Vacancy and is currently writing a pre-teens childrens' book.
Jo Rowling donates generously to charity but is also an active participant in many British charities where she plays an active role in publishing their causes and appearing in person to raise awareness.
4. Pelican Brief - John Grisham
John Grisham's Pelican Brief is a legal novel which melds political intrigue and murder, leaving its main character, law student, Darby Shaw running from the bad guys for most of the novel.
Grisham is very clever with the plotting. We know that Darby's investigative brief about businessman, Victor Mattiece, suggests that he is involved in the murders of two supreme court justices.
She shows the brief to her boyfriend to ask his opinion and he and his law professor are both murdered.
Soon Darby begins to realise that maybe her speculative brief has some truth to it and that those she names may be involved in much more than even she believes.
A real edge of the seat legal thriller, the Pelican Brief also became a best selling movie, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.
5.The Client - John Grisham
John Grisham was another author who really came into his own in the 1990s with several best selling books throughout the decade.
The Client is Grisham's tale of an eleven year old boy who knows too much. A series of chance encounters lead to him being at the centre of a criminal investigation which could see his provide the most important clue to a case being solved.
The boy, Mark Sway lives in a trailer park with his mother and brother and he possesses all of the wiles necessary to survive a life lived on the edge of poverty.
His lawyer, maybe the book's most intriguing character is female whirlwind, Reggie Love, only four years out of law school and still learning the ropes.
Grisham has fun with all of the male lawyers thinking they can outsmart Reggie but he also has Reggie turn the tables again and again as she does everything to protect her young client.
The Client is a 1990s best selling book because it is a real page turner - Grisham understands story telling and in spite of some of its heavier jargon-rich paragraphs, it is still an entertaining read.
Costa Rica - site for the Dinosaur stampede
6. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton's amazing Jurassic Park brought science into a novel about dinosaurs.
Could the scientific knowledge we have today bring back dinosaurs?
This story is mainly about men meddling where they shouldn't and is mainly a close up look at human nature at its best and then at its worse.
John Hammond, the creator of Jurassic Park has used dinosaur DNA found in amber to recreate real dinosaurs.
He intends to open the dinosaur park to the public but after some financial problems, tries to engage the support of two renowned palaeontologists in his project, little realising that one of his own scientists has already agreed to sell dinosaur eggs to an unscrupulous rival of Hammond's.
What ensues is one of the scariest looks at what might happen if human beings involved themselves in science in a negative way.
Crichton was very interested in chaos theory and this book was his cautionary tale on the evil that could come from ill considered scientific experimentation.
Stephen Spielberg filmed Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World to huge acclaim. Both movies were blockbusters.
The dinosaur stampede and other forest scenes were filmed in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Hawaii.
7. The Firm - John Grisham
John Grisham's third best seller on this list is The Firm, the tale of bright-eyed, ambitious, newly qualified lawyer, Mitch McDeere.
It was, arguably, the novel which brought his other books to the public eye.
It was made into a successful movie by director, Sydney Pollack, starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. This brought Grisham to a wider audience and led to his earlier novels becoming best sellers a few years after they were first written.
McDeere is tempted to sign up with 'the firm' of Bendini, Lambert and Locke and is welcomed with a huge salary, BMW car and oceanside house on a low cost mortgage.
His first day is spent at the funeral of two of the firm's associates, killed in a snowboarding accident on vacation.
The memorial plaques for other associates hang on the walls at the firm's office and Mitch wonders why they have lost so many associates under strange circumstances.
The book is another of Grisham's page turners as Mitch gets pulled into the world of riches and fame whilst also realising that he's in over his head.
John Grisham is famously circumspect when it comes to his talents as a writer, rarely interviewed on the matter (he doesn't like it) but he would be a fascinating person to interview.
Maybe all hopeful fiction writers would ask his for his secrets.
8. The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
The Bridges of Madison County is a novel which took America by storm when it was published in 1992.
It was a romantic novel written by a man and a simple story of the sensuous joy of a man and a woman meeting and falling in love when he visits her state, Iowa to photograph its beautiful covered bridges.
Francesca Johnson is an Italian, married to an America but her husband is often away from home and she is lonely and alone when she meets photographer, Robert Kincaid.
It is an unusual novel in that the narrator suggests that it is a true story but in fact Waller said it was not based on real material though the main character was based on himself.
He was praised to the skies on Oprah Winfrey's show for his wonderfully gentle way of fictionalising the romance; it is indeed a very romantic novel so don't expect any Fifty Shades of Grey style 'prose' in this novel.
It is now one of America's best selling books ever, having sold over 50 million copies since it was first published.
9. Rising Sun - Michael Crichton
Rising Sun is the follow up novel of Jurassic Park and many fans of the first book were delighted to read another Michael Crichton novel, though this one is very different.
Crichton was never afraid to take on difficult or controversial subjects; his readers almost always enjoyed his novels because he made them think or at the least squirm in their seats about some of the issues he covered.
Rising Sun is a reference to the Japanese symbol on their flag and looks at the issue of Japanese investment in American technology companies, especially when the Japanese and Americans build businesses in a very different way.
A murder occurs at the opening event for the Nakamoto Corporation in their new L.A. offices, an American girl is murdered and some of the evidence points to a Japanese killer but the Japanese owners of the company will not take this kind of 'racism' lying down.
Rising Sun is a murder mystery dressed up as a political thriller; Crichton keeps you off guard constantly, questioning the moral and legal twists and turns with every page turned.
10. The Chamber - John Grisham
John Grisham's The Chamber was another of his excellent books adapted for the screen, starring Gene Hackman and Chris O'Donnell.
The main story of The Chamber involves a man, Sam Cayhall accused and acquitted twice of murdering a Jewish lawyer, Marvin Kramer, who supported civil rights.
Cayhall is a member of the Ku Klux Klan and after some twenty years, an associate goes to the police and tells them that he was there when Cayhall killed Kramer.
Cayhall is taken captive again, tried and sentenced to death.
His grandson, an inexperienced lawyer decided to defend him.
The book is as much about the relationship between grandfather and grandson as it is about the legal issues involved in race relations and civil rights.
The book dwells more on the issue of the death penalty than anything else and that is a subject as talked about today as it was when this book was written.
Grisham's writing is excellent as always and he does not rely too much on legal jargon to push the story forward.
Periphery characters are central to the plot as the gap of twenty years from his first arrest to his actual conviction leads his grandson, Adam to trace his grandfather's shady past. Some of the people he meets will make Adam doubt his grandfather's account of things and this is all the better for the reader, only too anxious to keep turning the pages!
Completing the 'proper' Adult Fiction List
In the 1990s, John Grisham truly dominated the best sellers list.
Stephen King also enjoyed enormous success in the 1990s with two books, the short story collection Four Past Midnight and his horror, The Stand both selling millions of copies in 1990.
Other authors who did well in the 1990s - Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell and Sidney Sheldon.
J. K Rowling stole the show though with her bespectacled boy wizard.
Best selling non-fiction books in the 1990s ranged from Sex by Madonna to Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus by Dr Gray.
The latter book is the best selling non-fiction book of the 1990s.
Other non-fiction best sellers in the 1990s include Diana, Her True Story by Andrew Morton. This is supposedly the 'official' biography,
He reissued the book after her death and entitled it, 'Diana, Her True Story - Commemorative Edition'
The goose laying the golden egg comes to mind!