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Time’s 100 Novels Ranked By Amazon Sales

One of my favorite parts of Amazon is the Amazon sales rank. It’s just a quick gauge of how the public generally receives a book.

While sales don’t always indicate a novel’s quality or critical reception (see Twilight), they’re sometimes a decent indicator. So because I have tons of free time (I don’t, really), I thought I’d dig up the Amazon sales ranking for all of the Time Magazine 100 novels. Then, throw them all in a spreadsheet and see how they rank.

Let’s take a look at how the Time 100 novels rank by sales on Amazon. Note: The book’s overall ranking is the number to the right.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (60)
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (165)
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (175)
  4. 1984 by George Orwell (175)
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (344)
  6. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (501)
  7. Animal Farm by George Orwell (580)
  8. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (794)
  9. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (936)
  10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1,040)
  11. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1,091)
  12. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1,116)
  13. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1,233)
  14. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1,352)
  15. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (1,384)
  16. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1,467)
  17. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1,537)
  18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1,720)
  19. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1,977)
  20. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (2,052)
  21. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (2,260)
  22. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (2,272)
  23. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (2,434)
  24. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (3,448)
  25. Neuromancer by William Gibson (3,546)
  26. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (4,671)
  27. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (4,735)
  28. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (5,199)
  29. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (5,992)
  30. White Teeth by Zadie Smith (5,998)
  31. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (6,157)
  32. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (6,736)
  33. Atonement by Ian McEwan (6,756)
  34. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (7,120)
  35. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (7,135)
  36. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs (7,196)
  37. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (7,499)
  38. Ubik by Philip K. Dick (8,175)
  39. Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys  (8,505)
  40. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (8,584)
  41. Herzog by Saul Bellow (9,087)
  42. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (9,320)
  43. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (9,792)
  44. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (9,855)
  45. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (10,452)
  46. Light in August by William Faulkner (11,121)
  47. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (11,410)
  48. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (14,138)
  49. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (14,205)
  50. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (14,595)
  51. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (15,976)
  52. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (16,212)
  53. Native Son by Richard Wright (16,500)
  54. White Noise by Don DeLillo (16,684)
  55. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (18,908)
  56. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (19,348)
  57. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (20,571)
  58. Rabbit, Run by John Updike (21,097)
  59. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (22,815)
  60. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carre (24,825)
  61. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth (25,759)
  62. I, Claudius by Robert Graves (26,387)
  63. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (26,554)
  64. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin (31,063)
  65. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (31,892)
  66. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow (33,357)
  67. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (37,243)
  68. A Death in the Family by James Agee (37,969)
  69. Possession by A.S. Byatt (38,389)
  70. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (39,561)
  71. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (40,025)
  72. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’ Brien (40,381)
  73. Under the Volcano by Malcom Lowry (42,997)
  74. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara (47,397)
  75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (47,527)
  76. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (49,280)
  77. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (49,748)
  78. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch (52,266)
  79. Falconer by John Cheever (54,904)
  80. Deliverance by James Dickey (55,866)
  81. Call it Sleep by Henry Roth (58,828)
  82. The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski (58,844)
  83. The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood (60,042)
  84. Money by Martin Amis (65,284)
  85. The Recognitions by William Gaddis (65,866)
  86. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (69,675)
  87. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (98,353)
  88. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone (101,302)
  89. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (103,159)
  90. The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (106,878)
  91. The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth (112,558)
  92. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul (113,814)
  93. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (141,967)
  94. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (142,770)
  95. Loving by Henry Green (173,648)
  96. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (181,602)
  97. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (188,838)
  98. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (213,016)
  99. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell (277,900)
  100. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (286,833)

A few thoughts:

It’s interesting how closely the top of the sales list mirrors my personal rankings of the novels. Gatsby and TKAM are in my top 3, and 1984 is in my top 10.

Watchmen‘s sales ranking at #9 surprises me, but I guess that’s because I’ve forgot how many people are into graphic novels of this sort. It wasn’t my favorite. Also, Infinite Jest at #13 is probably more of a testament to how many people attempt to read it, not how many people actually read it.

The bottom of the list made me laugh.

How about A Dance to the Music of Time at #99? Maybe a few people read my reviews on that one? It’s dreadful. I’ve yet to read three of the novels in the bottom 10 (Tropic of Cancer, The Sheltering Sky, and The Man Who Loved Children).

I have a theory on The Man Who Loved Children. Nobody buys it because it’s a terrible title. Who names their novel The Man Who Loved Children? I have no idea what the novel is about but I wonder if This Novel is About a Creepy Pedo would be a better title?

Also, a little surprised by The French Lieutenant’s Woman at #97. Isn’t that a fairly famous novel?

Again, sales numbers don’t always indicate the quality of the novel, but I thought this was a fun experiment. It took a little time, so I hope you enjoyed looking through the rankings.

Any insight into these sales rankings?

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  2. I’d never heard of The French Lieutenant’s Woman until you mentioned it. I was very glad to read it, after I won it here of course, because it was a beautiful novel.

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  3. Suzi Godwin #

    The top five are perennials on high school reading lists. And I suspect people are revisiting TKAM in anticipation of Harper Lee’s “new” book. A lot of the sales are driven by school assignments, I would think. So I don’t know if John Fowles has fallen out of fashion. I am way past college and get my classics from the library.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 15, 2015
  4. I agree with you with respect to most of your thoughts. It is surprising to see Infinite Jest so high. I’m trying to read Powell now but it has been very slow going. I will have to look at your review

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  5. Human Interest #

    Reblogged this on Human Interest.

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  6. RC #

    Reblogged this on cogitations: think twice before u click. . . ..

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  7. It’s always fun dissecting these lists. I find they too often default to the already pre-determined “greatest works” from some of my favorite authors:

    – The Sound and the Fury for William Faulkner (I would choose Light In August, which appeared lower on this same list, or As I Lay Dying above this one)
    – Beloved for Toni Morrison (I would choose Jazz or A Mercy above this)
    – Slaughterhouse Five for Kurt Vonnegut (I would choose Cat’s Cradle or Sirens of Titan above this)

    And then, of course, there are those novels that are criminally over-rated (i.e. Franzen) but always seem to show up on these lists.

    But the best way to retaliate/comment on these lists is to do your own 🙂

    http://theschleicherspin.com/2015/03/04/my-favorite-novels/

    Liked by 1 person

    May 15, 2015
  8. Reblogged this on Book Promotion Resources.

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  9. Reblogged this on Where The Wild Things Are.

    Like

    May 15, 2015
  10. Sam #

    ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ at 97 surprised me as well! Happy reading.

    Like

    May 16, 2015
  11. Interesting! I bet the only reason To Kill a Mockingbird is 60 on Amazon is the hullabaloo about her so to be published sequel. Whatever their reason, it is one of my all time favorites.

    Some of the others are just too literary for me to enjoy. Life is too short to slog through a book, even if it is on Time’s list. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    May 17, 2015
  12. Reblogged this on Lady Socially Awkward.

    Like

    May 17, 2015
  13. Reblogged this on Set Adrift on Memory Bliss and commented:
    Operation Read All These Books!

    Like

    May 18, 2015
  14. Thanks for going to all the work of creating this list. I enjoy seeing these kinds of things and giving my own “thumbs up/thumbs down.” I never read Gatsby in H.S. and when I finally read it, it bored me.

    Like

    May 20, 2015
  15. Reblogged this on donutsareagirlsbestfriend.

    Like

    May 23, 2015
  16. Vanessa #

    Reblogged this on The Meandering Doll.

    Like

    May 27, 2015
  17. loveysliterature123 #

    I feel as if this list reflects how little people actually read. Because most of the people I’ve spoken to about novels haven’t even heard about Infinite Jest, let alone would list it as number nine on top ten books they would buy. The only reason I even knew of it is a teacher recommended it to the class. Either only really pretentious people shop for their book on amazon, or the vast majority of people just don’t read at all and we’re left with the stats of literary snobs. I mean, c’mon, Fifty Shades of Gray isn’t even on that list and even people who aggressively do not read have read that one.

    Like

    June 1, 2015
    • loveysliterature123 #

      *thireen on top fifteen, I suppose. Oops misread. That’s casual.

      Like

      June 2, 2015
  18. Reblogged this on Positive & Negative Me and commented:
    Some of my favorite books…

    Like

    June 12, 2015
  19. Reblogged this on positiveandnegativeme.wordpress.com

    Like

    June 12, 2015
  20. RG #

    which books would you say are better to just skip?? or better, which books made you want to fall asleep? lol

    Like

    July 22, 2015

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