Thinking about gifting books to your favorite young adult for Christmas? This year, because of COVID, most students will enjoy a longer holiday vacation. My son, for example, finished his first semester before Thanksgiving. He won’t go back until the first full week in January. Students now can enjoy a longer period to read books their teachers didn’t select. Awesome!
I thought it might be interesting to check out the bestselling young adult books and series of all time as possible Christmas presents. I compiled the sales numbers from Amazon and Wikipedia. Turns out, I’ve read all but one of the bestselling books and about half of the series. I’d like to read them all, but there are not enough hours in the day. One series has almost 200 books in it.
I hope this ranking helps you cross off some Christmas list items. Note that I’m not recommending any of them—simply passing along the stats. Happy shopping!
Bestselling YA Books
|Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone||JK Rowling||120 million|
|Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||JK Rowling||77 million|
|The Catcher in the Rye||J.D. Salinger||65 million|
|Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince||JK Rowling||65 million|
|Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||JK Rowling||65 million|
|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||JK Rowling||65 million|
|Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||JK Rowling||65 million|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||JK Rowling||65 million|
|Anne of Green Gables||LM Montgomery||50 million|
|The Hunger Games||Suzanne Collins||29 million|
|The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole||Sue Townsend||20 million|
|The Fault in Our Stars||John Green||23 million|
|A Wrinkle in Time||Madeleine L’Engle||14 million|
|The Outsiders||S.E. Hinton||15 million|
|The Giver||Lois Lowry||10 million|
- Not surprised by the Harry Potter chart domination.
- 13 of the 15 bestselling YA titles of all time were written by women.
- Three of them use their initials, likely to hide their gender.
- Suzanne Collins’ trilogy had only one ranked book.
- The Adrian Mole book (I’d never heard of it) rocked the charts in the UK in the 1980s. It even became a BBC radio production.
Bestselling YA Book Series
|Harry Potter||JK Rowling||500 million|
|Sweet Valley High||Francine Pascal||250 million|
|The Babysitters Club||Ann M Martin||176 million|
|Lord of the Rings||J.R.R. Tolkien||150 million|
|Twilight||Stephenie Meyer||100 million|
|Nancy Drew||Carolyn Keene||80 million|
|Fear Street||R.L. Stine||80 million|
|The Hunger Games||Suzanne Collins||65 million|
|The Shadowhunter Chronicles||Cassandra Clare||36 million|
|The Inheritance Cycle||Christopher Paolini||33 million|
|Divergent||Veronica Roth||32 million|
|Artemis Fowl||Eoin Colfer||21 million|
|Redwall||Brian Jacques||20 million|
|His Dark Materials||Philip Pullman||18 million|
|Vampire Academy||Richelle Mead||8 million|
- The Harry Potter series has sold more copies than the combined populations of the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
- A team of ghostwriters published the Sweet Valley High series of 181 books from 1983-2003.
- Ghostwriters also penned the Nancy Drew series (1930 to 2003). This famous detective is cited as a formative influence by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Conner and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush.
- Stephenie Meyer is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so there are no smoking or drinking scenes in her vampire novels.
- Ms. Meyer’s series outsold Suzanne Collins’ series, even though none of her books appeared in the top 15.
What’s your favorite YA book? And which is your favorite YA series?