Book World 25th Anniversary

Historic highlights from Book World reviews of the:
1970s | 1980s | 1990s

Hardcover Bestsellers, 1972-1996

The Book World staff picks its favorites of the last quarter-century.

Editor Nina King ponders the vagaries of becoming a bestseller.

Jonathan Yardley, Carolyn See and Kunio Francis Tanabe write of their personal experiences as critics.

Marie Arana-Ward explores the relationship between publisher and critic.

Jabari Asim celebrates a flourishing of African American literature.

Michael Dirda comments on the state of fiction.

David Nicholson speculates on the future of books in a technological age.

Go to Chapter One

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Top Hardcover Bestsellers, 1972-1996

June 1, 1997

1972Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Richard Bach. 1,815,000 copies sold. (Macmillan) The Living Bible. Kenneth Taylor. 757,216. (Doubleday)
1973Jonathan Livingston Seagull. 540,000. The Living Bible. 540,000.
1974Centennial. James A. Michener. 330,289. (Random House) The Total Woman. Marabel Morgan. 369,315. (Revell)
1975Ragtime. E.L. Doctorow. 232,340. (Random House) Angels: God's Secret Agents. Billy Graham. 810,000. (Doubleday)
1976Trinity. Leon Uris. 285,000. (Doubleday) The Final Days. Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein. 630,000. (Simon & Schuster)
1977The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1,050,696. (Houghton Mifflin) Roots. Alex Haley. 759,894. (Doubleday)
1978Chesapeake. James A. Michener. 851,729. (Random House) If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries -- What Am I Doing in the Pits? Erma Bombeck. 700,000. (McGraw-Hill)
1979The Matarese Circle. Robert Ludlum. 250,000. (Richard Marek) Aunt Erma's Cope Book. Erma Bombeck. 692,000. (McGraw-Hill)
1980The Covenant. James A. Michener. 553,000. (Random House) Crisis Investing. Douglas R. Casey. 438,640. (Stratford Press)
1981Noble House. James Clavell. 488,905. (Delacorte) The Beverly Hills Diet. Judy Mazel. 756,360. (Macmillan)
1982E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Storybook. William Kotzwinkle. 665,800. (Putnam) And More by Andy Rooney. Andy Rooney. 510,714.(Atheneum)
1983Return of the Jedi Storybook. Joan D. Vinge. 882,124. (Random House) In Search of Excellence. Thomas J. Peters & Robert H. Waterman, Jr. 1,160,491. (Harper & Row)
1984The Talisman. Stephen King & Peter Straub. 880,287. (Viking) Iacocca. Lee Iacocca. 1,055,000. (Bantam Books)
1985The Mammoth Hunters. Jean M. Auel. 1,471,535. (Crown) Iacocca. 1,510,000
1986It. Stephen King. 1,206,266. (Viking) Fatherhood. Bill Cosby. 2,400,000. (Doubleday)
1987The Tommyknockers. Stephen King. 1,405,000. (Putnam) Time Flies. Bill Cosby. 1,461,108. (Doubleday)
1988The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Tom Clancy. 1,277,000. (Putnam) The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure. Robert E. Kowalski. 961,221. (Harper & Row)
1989Clear and Present Danger. Tom Clancy. 1,625,544.(Putnam) All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Robert Fulghum. 902,000. (Villard Books)
1990The Plains of Passage. Jean M. Auel. 1,686.589. (Crown) A Life on the Road. Charles Kuralt. 602,371. (Putnam)
1991Scarlett. Alexandra Ripley. 2,148,225. (Warner Books) Me: Stories of My Life. Katharine Hepburn. 800,000.(Knopf)
1992Dolores Claiborne. Stephen King. 1,317,364. (Viking) The Way Things Ought to Be. Rush Limbaugh. 2,100,000. (Pocket Books)
1993The Bridges of Madison County. Robert James Waller. 4,362,352. (Warner Books) See I Told You So. Rush Limbaugh. 2,587,600. (Pocket Books)
1994The Chamber. John Grisham. 3,189,893. (Doubleday) In the Kitchen with Rosie. Rosie Daley. 5,487,369. (Knopf)
1995The Rainmaker. John Grisham. 2,375,000. (Doubleday) Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. John Gray. 2,196,935. (HarperCollins).
1996The Runaway Jury. John Grisham. 2,775,000. (Doubleday) Make the Connection. Oprah Winfrey & Bob Greene. 2,302,697. (Hyperion)

(Compiled for Book World by Publishers Weekly)

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