Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bestselling Nonfiction Books by Year

Last Wednesday I listed the Bestselling Novels by Year.

Here are the bestselling nonfiction books by year (source source source source source source source), along with the Modern Library's list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time.

What's interesting to me about this list is the extent to which celebrity books and self-help were prevalent even in the first half of the 20th century.

Also, unlike the list of novels, there was only one book that was both the bestselling nonfiction book of its year as well as on the list of the 100 best nonfiction books: The Education of Henry Adams, published in 1919, which also happens to be the #1 best nonfiction book according to Modern Library.

What do you make of the list?

1901: Unavailable
  (Also published: Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington)
1902: Unavailable
  (Also published: The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James)
1903: Unavailable
  (Also published: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois, Principia Ethica by George Moore)
1904: Unavailable
1905: Unavailable
1906: Unavailable
1907: Unavailable
1908: Unavailable
1909: Unavailable
  (Also published: The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly)
1910: Unavailable
1911: Unavailable
1912The Promised Land by Mary Antin
1913: Crowds by Gerald Stanley Lee
  (Also published: The Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell)
1914: Unavailable
1915: Unavailable
1916: Unavailable
1917Rhymes of a Red Cross Man by Robert W. Service
  (Also published: On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson)
1918Rhymes of a Red Cross Man by Robert W. Service
  (Also published: Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey)
1919The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams*
  (Also published: The American Language by H. L. Mencken)
1920Now It Can Be Told by Philip Gibbs
  (Also published: The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner)
1921The Outline of History by H.G. Wells
1922The Outline of History by H.G. Wells
  (Also published: Religion And The Rise Of Capitalism by R. H. Tawney)
1923Etiquette by Emily Post
1924Diet and Health by Lulu Hunt Peters
1925Diet and Health by Lulu Hunt Peters
  (Also published: In the American Grain by William Carlos Williams)
1926The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton
  (Also published: Autobiographies by W. B. Yeats)
1927The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
  (Also published: Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster)
1928Disraeli by Andre Marouis
1929: The Art of Thinking by Ernest Dimnet
  (Also published: A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves, A Preface to Morals by Walter Lippmann)
1930The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe
1931Education of a Princess by Grand Duchess Marie
  (Also published: Philosophy and Civilization by John Dewey)
1932The Epic of America by James Truslow Adams
  (Also published: Selected Essays of T. S. Eliot by T. S. Eliot)
1933Life Begins at Forty by Walter B. Pitkin
  (Also published: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein)
1934While Rome Burns by Alexander Woollcott
1935North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  (Also published: The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield)
1936Man the Unknown by Alexis Carrell
1937How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  (Also published: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen)
1938The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang
  (Also published: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell)
1939Days of Our Years by Pierre van Paassen
  (Also published: Studies in Iconology by Erwin Panofsky)
1940I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson
  (Also published: Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov, A Mathematician's Apology by G. H. Hardy)
1941Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer
  (Also published: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Dame Rebecca West)
1942See Here, Private Hargrove by Marion Hargrove
  (Also published: West With the Night by Beryl Markham)
1943Under Cover by John Roy Carlson
  (Also published: Nature and Destiny of Man by Reinhold Niebuhr)
1944I Never Left Home by Bob Hope
  (Also published: An American Dilemma by Gunnar Myrdal)
1945Brave Men by Ernie Pyle
  (Also published: Black Boy by Richard Wright, The Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Open Society by Karl Popper)
1946The Egg and I by Betty McDonald
1947Peace of Mind by Johsua L. Liebman
1948Crusade in Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower
  (Also published: Jefferson and His Time by Dumas Malone, The American Political Tradition by Richard Hofstadter)
1949White Collar Zoo by Clare Barnes Jr.
1950Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book by Betty Crocker
  (Also published: The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling)
1951Look Younger, Live Longer by Gayelord Hauser
1952The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version
  (Also published: Vermeer by Lawrence Gowing)
1953The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version
  (Also published: The Mirror and the Lamp by Meyer Howard Abrams, The Second World War by Winston Churchill)
1954The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version
  (Also published: Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein, Science and Civilisation in China by Joseph Needham, Melbourne by David Cecil)
1955Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  (Also published: Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward)
1956Arthritis and Common Sense, rev. ed. by Dan Dale Alexander
  (Also published: The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling)
1957Kids Say the Darndest Things! by Art Linklater
1958Kids Say the Darndest Things! by Art Linklater
  (Also published: The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith)
1959'Twixt Twelve and Twenty by Pat Boone
  (Also published: The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain)
1960Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis
  (Also published: Art and Illusion by Ernest H. Gombrich)
1961The New English Bible: The New Testament
  (Also published: A Study of History by Arnold J. Toynbee, The City in History by Lewis Mumford, Contours of American History by William Appleman Williams)
1962Calories Don't Count by Dr. Herman Taller
  (Also published: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn)
1963Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Schultz
  (Also published: The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson)
1964Four Days by American Heritage and United Press International
  (Also published: Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr., Shadow and ACT by Ralph Ellison)
1965How To Be a Jewish Mother by Dan Greenburg
  (Also published: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley)
1966How to Avoid Probate by Norman F. Dacey
  (Also published: The Art of Memory by Frances A. Yates, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote)
1967Death of a President by William Manchester
  (Also published: The Art of the Soluble: Creativity and Originality in Science by Peter B. Medawar, Children of Crisis by Robert Coles)
1968Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
  (Also published: The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson)
1969American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language by William Morris, editor
  (Also published: Present at the Creation by Dean Acheson)
1970Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex but Were Afraid To Ask by David Reuben
1971The Sensuous Man by "M"
  (Also published: A Theory of Justice by John Rawls)
1972The Living Bible by Kenneth Taylor
  (Also published: Great Bridge by David McCullough)
1973The Living Bible by Kenneth Taylor
1974The Total Woman by Maribel Morgan
  (Also published: The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas, The Civil War by Shelby Foote, Working by Studs Terkel, The Power Broker by Robert Caro)
1975Angels: God's Secret Agents by Billy Graham
  (Also published: The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard)
1976The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  (Also published: The Face of Battle by John Keegan)
1977Roots by Alex Haley
  (Also published: Samuel Johnson by Walter Jackson Bate)
1978If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries--What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck
1979Aunt Erma's Cope Book by Erma Bombeck
  (Also published: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris)
1980Crisis Investing: Opportunities and Profits in the Coming Great Depression by Douglas R. Casey
1981The Beverly Hills Diet by Judy Mazel
  (Also published: The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould)
1982Jane Fonda's Workout Book by Jane Fonda
  (Also published: The Gate of Heavenly Peace by Jonathan D. Spence)
1983In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr.
  (Also published: James Joyce by Richard Ellmann, Florence Nightingale by Cecil Woodham-Smith)
1984Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca with William Novak
1985Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca with William Novak
1986Fatherhood by Bill Cosby
  (Also published: Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner)
1987Time Flies by Bill Cosby
1988The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure by Robert E. Kowalski
  (Also published: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson, A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan)
1989All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum
  (Also published: Darkness Visible by William Styron, This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff)
1990A Life on the Road by Charles Kuralt
  (Also published: The Ants by E. O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler, The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow, The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, The Taming of Chance by Ian Hacking)
1991Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn
  (Also published: The Rise of the West by William H. McNeill)
1992The Way Things Ought To Be by Rush Limbaugh
1993See, I Told You So by Rush Limbaugh
1994In the Kitchen with Rosie by Rosie Daley
  (Also published: Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott)
1995Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray
  (Also published: The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman)
1996Make the Connection by Oprah Winfrey
1997Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
  (Also published: The Proper Study of Mankind by Isaiah Berlin)
1998The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
1999Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
2000Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
2001The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
2002Self Matters by Dr. Phil McGraw
2003The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
2004The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
2005Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau
2006The Innocent Man by John Grisham
2007: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
2008The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
2009Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin
2010Decision Points by George W. Bush
2011Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2012No Easy Day by Mark Owen

*Bestseller also on the list of Top 100 nonfiction books of all time

Art: Vanitas still life by Adam Bernaert


Anonymous said...

Wow. Looks like most of the Edwardian Era went blank for non-fic.

Matthew MacNish said...

Life Begins at 40 is that old? I had no idea.

wendy said...

What intriguing sounding titles. That's a list of books I'd like to read. Thanks, Nathan.

Was checking one title on Amazon, The Way Things Ought To Be, and read this publisher's blurb about the author: 'Nothing escapes his acerbic wit and huggable charm as he proves why he is on the cutting edge of societal evolution and the epitome of morality and virtue. Here he holds forth on such subjects as: Anita Hill, The Homeless Fraud...Feminazis to Environmentalist Wackos...' It not only sounds likely that this unfortunate celebrity has been named and blamed in the book but also given prominence in the blurb as an object of scorn and derision. I'd hate to be a celebrity. Prob most of us assume that celebrity brings honours, glory. Nothing to do with it.

Just researched the circumstances surrounding Ms Hill when the book was published in the 1960's, and they are def a sign of the times. She wasn't a celebrity, more of an academic who found herself embroiled in controversy. Amazing that although legally she lost out, she gained more in raising awareness and changing opinions:

Mira said...

Wow, Nathan, this is terrific! All those links and research. Thank you - and thanks for giving a shout out to non-fiction! :D

It's actually really fascinating to think about what was going on in the culture that certain types of books were best-sellers. Very revealing. Someone should write a non-fiction book about that. :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails