Imma let you finish – the Top 100 books of all time

Booklovers, trivia gatherers and spreadsheet aficionados, rejoice, it’s that time of year again. The Guardian has released its annual report on the Top 100 books of all time and spreadsheets of all the glorious data that went into the making of that list.

The data comes from Nielsen Bookscan who are the world’s largest book tracking service, collecting transaction data directly from tills and dispatch systems of all major book retailers and consolidating all that delicious data into a neat spreasheet for your perusal. There are some issues with it; by best “of all time” they mean since 1998 when Nielsen started recording that data. (That’s 14 years of sales or long enough to finally get Celine Dion’s wretched Heart Will Go On, which was the first number one of the new year in 1998, out of your head.)

And the list consists of books sold in the UK only, so perhaps we can lie to ourselves and say that in Australia Dan Brown, J. K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer don’t make up all of the Top 10. Whatever about the issues with the records being British and only dating back 14 years, it’s still a fascinating read. Did you know that Twilight made £10 million in the UK alone? Or that Delia Smith outsold Jamie Oliver to the tune of 140,000 books, but that Dr Atkins managed to outsell both?

They also offer a breakdown of the non-fiction sold in the same time, both the hardback and paperback lists. Looking over them, I am tempted to write a cookbook. Jamie’s various offering have netted him a very pleasant £13.5 million from his hardback sales alone. That said, I would probably have to learn not just how to write about food, but how to cook it properly. Perhaps I could employ a chef to cook and I could write about it? Gordon Ramsey reportedly makes $7.5 million a year, I could hire him for a few months to transcribe his cookery and still be quids in after to the tune of over 10 million sterling, even allow for all the swearing breaks he’d need.

If you are looking for food in the non-fiction paperbacks, you’ll find it in Elizabeth Gilbert’s navel (along with the rest of Eat, Pray, Love) or on the Dukan Diet. Are these the best books of all time? Care to do a Kanye and tell the world what books they missed?

Title Author Volume Value
1 Jamie’s 30-minute Meals Oliver, Jamie 874,546 £11,297,761.32
2 Guinness World Records 2011 421,372 £4,028,921.96
3 Kitchen:Recipes from the Heart of the Home Lawson, Nigella 312,846 £4,166,929.64
4 Fry Chronicles,The:A Memoir Fry, Stephen 273,379 £2,906,898.71
5 Journey,A Blair, Tony 261,858 £3,563,737.86
6 Life and Laughing:My Story McIntyre, Michael 235,987 £2,466,064.41
7 Devil Rides Out,The O’Grady, Paul 210,796 £2,178,470.92
8 Simples Life,A:The Life and Times of Aleksandr Orlov Orlov, Aleksandr 208,536 £1,314,312.84
9 What You See Is What You Get:My Autobiography Sugar, Alan 194,379 £2,043,636.06
10 Jamie Does Oliver, Jamie 181,495 £2,294,563.97
Title Author Volume Value
1 Eat, Pray, Love:One Woman’s Search for Everything Gilbert, Elizabeth 316,083 £1,780,869.34
2 My Shit Life So Far Boyle, Frankie 172,440 £931,006.06
3 Nurse on Call:The True Story of a 1950s District Nurse Cotterill, Edith 112,636 £521,013.99
4 Driven to Distraction Clarkson, Jeremy 100,327 £563,908.31
5 Operation Mincemeat:The True Spy Story Macintyre, Ben 96,922 £552,539.38
6 How Could She? Fowley, Dana 93,686 £415,624.59
7 Eden Project:The Guide Books, Eden 89,964 £449,802.25
8 Dukan Diet,The Dukan, Pierre 79,857 £658,769.21
9 Bad Science Goldacre, Ben 77,508 £491,597.84
10 Greatest Show on Earth,The:The Evidence for Evolution Dawkins, Richard 77,301 £477,648.60

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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

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