Best selling books of 2015

Well, the end of another year and 2015 has produced some startling newcomers to the shelves of ‘books not to be missed’. But which books sold best, used or new, from the booksellers that partner with us at usedbooksearch ?

tale of 2 citiesThe girl on the train – Paula Hawkins 38,243 copies sold by Amazon
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a dark, haunting psychological thriller, but it’s quite remarkably effective thanks to the writing skills of former journalist Paula Hawkins. Rachel is divorced and would do anything for a drink, and like many consumed by a love affair with the bottle, seemingly becomes a victim of circumstances. Her husband Tom had an affair that resulted in a pregnancy. When he divorced Rachel, he married the “other woman” and bizarrely all three (wife, husband and child) are now happily together in the house that was once Rachel’s.

Fifty shades of grey – E.L. James 14,300 copies sold by Barnes & Noble Fifty shades of grey Book Cover by E.L. James
The one story to rule them all is without a doubt The Lord of the Rings trilogy by the late and the very great J.R.R Tolkien. This is the quintessential story of good vs. evil, set in a fantasy world that the linguistics and literary professor crafted and shaped from our very own earth. It’s a story of sheer delight and fascination with loveable characters that will stay in our hearts until the end of time. Frodo Baggins, a quaint and happy hobbit who loves to smoke beside the fireplace is taken out of his comfortable life and given a quest that will change Middle Earth forever. Elves, wizards, dwarves and all living species come together to fight the greatest war that will ever be. Although this is fantasy you can get lost in, you can never escape the human qualities of bravery, spirit and good and evil that Tolkien makes so relevant in his timeless masterpiece.

le petit princeLe Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 140 million copies sold
Antoine de Saint-Expery was a wealthy aristocrat who managed to capture the hearts of millions with his tender tale of the little prince who fell to earth. Although published as a children’s book with gorgeous illustrations, this short and sweet poetic tale manages to encompass the heart, the human condition and loneliness in one swoop. Peppered with philosophy and some acute observations that bind the young and the old, few books have been so cherished and loved as Le Petit Prince in both the hands of adults and children.

dream of the red chamberDream of the Red Chamber – Cao Xueqin 100 million copies sold
Hailed as the Romeo and Juliet of the far flung East, Dream of the Red Chamber is known as the best book to come out of China. With an enormous cast of characters and complex themes entwined in the breathtaking and tragic story against the backdrop of 18th century china. The novel focuses on the Chia family and how their illustrious image cannot hide the deterioration of their household from the inside out. With family conflicts flying left, right and center this is an epic story that will grip you from beginning to end.

then there were noneAnd ThenThere Were None – Agatha Christie 100 million copies sold
Agatha Christie is la crème de la crème when it comes to mysteries and thrillers and this was the tale that really hit home with no less than 100 million eager readers. It’s the basis for all murder mystery weekends that have ever been as in the story ten people, with skeletons in the closet are invited to a lonely mansion where an unseen host accuses each of murder. The plot itself makes great stuff and is sure to have you hooked, each of them will fall but who will be left standing?

Best Novels

Every writer dreams of creating the world’s greatest novel, but taking pen to paper can prove a challenge. There are many fabulous books that line the shelves of libraries across the world; some have the strength and the power to wrench our hearts from our chest, to crack our sides with laughter and to force us to hold our breath in suspense as we devour the pages.

A great novel is able to take us from the humdrum of everyday life and to transport us into a world where the characters are as real as the people outside on our street, where the landscape is so vivid you could reach out and touch it, and where the plot is so absurdly or simply fascinating that we follow the journey with baited breath. Then there are those novels that challenge us, that lead us through a whirlwind of emotions and that stay with us until the end of time. Choosing the best novels in the world is never easy, it is a list that can be chopped and chewed and changed depending on how you feel that day. However there are titles that turn up time and time again as being the novels that changed the world.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy anna karenina
Leo Tolstoy sat down to pen one of the most scandalous love affairs ever to be told and it took him two decades to tell the tale. The young and unhappy aristocrat Anna Karenina leaves her husband to chase the dream of love with the charming Count Vronsky. This decision leaves her shunned from the social scene of Russia and things start to take a turn for the worse. This tragic tale is literally flawless and reading between the lines you get so much more than a trite love story, you get a glimpse into Russian upper class society, gender politics, philosophy, and the complexities of human relationships. This masterpiece is a firm reminder that the flight of fairytale is often bound by the weight of reality.

lolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” So begins the tremulous journey through the mind and life of Humbert Humbert, a literary scholar with a penchant for a young so called nymphet named Lolita. Vladimir Nabokov is a master of the literary tongue and blends poetry and power into this fascinating and often disturbing novel that challenges the controversial topic of adolescents and sexuality. The story of Lolita is perhaps one of the finest examples in history of the unreliable narrator and this novel has proved to be a cult classic that will forever stand the test of time.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck  east of eden
Even though John Steinbeck is known for his Great Depression era masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, his greatest novel remains the epic East of Eden. The novel is ambitious and never falls short of spectacular as Steinbeck brings the biblical tale of Cain and Abel into the Salinas Valley. The Magnum Opus follows the family tree of the Hamilton family and explores the struggle of family ties, good and evil and the destruction of love. The characterization runs as deep as the valley and the complexities of the plot and theme are as sweepingly epic as the rolling landscape in which the story is set. This book is the true great American novel.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller catch 22
“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.” Joseph Heller may have been a one hit wonder but no novel can strike as close to the bone as the fabulously satirical Catch 22. Captain John Yossarian of the US Army Air Force takes us through the mind melting absurdity of war and bureaucracy and teeters on the fine line of sanity and insanity. With a joke on every page and a non-chronological structure, Heller manages to capture the essence of screaming into paper and binding it all in an iconic comedy of errors. The book even coined a new phrase to be included in the English dictionary and has never failed to be relevant.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee To_Kill_a_Mockingbird
The only book ever penned by Harper Lee has turned out to be one of the most important stories to sit on our shelves. Short, sharp and woven with sweetness, the tale follows six year old scout and her loss of innocence in a tired old town in the deep south of Alabama. Scouts father, Atticus Finch, is perhaps one of the most moral characters in modern literature as he stands against the pitchfork to defend a black man at the height of racial inequality during the Great Depression. Harper Lee’s gift for storytelling is both spellbinding and flawless and she manages to tackle some hard hitting themes with compassion and even a warm dab of humor. To Kill a Mockingbird is a quiet masterpiece that will set fire to your soul and leave you smoldering for years to come.

Best Books 2013

It’s been an exciting year in literature considering we are only just putting the sweltering summer behind us. With new releases from time honored authors like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Khaled Hosseini, we can only speculate as to what the golden leaves of autumn will bring to our shelves. This year has seen modern classics like “The Great Gatsby” get plucked from the past with the release of Baz Lurhmans brazen film adaption, it has witnessed George R Martins “Song of Ice and Fire” Series stir up a frenzy and it has hopefully allowed us to scramble up the falling cliffs of fifty shades of gray and put that all behind us. So what secret gems have we discovered this year so far in the wonderful world of literature, take a look.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
and the mountains echoed
Literary lovers across the globe fell in love with the stark lyrical genius of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and the mesmerizing poetry of “The Kite Runner”. This year Khaled Hosseini doesn’t disappoint with his third novel “And the Mountains Echoed”. The series of interlinking stories takes us from a tiny village in Afghanistan and takes us through five different countries in a tale that spans for decades. The reader witness’s war, birth, life, death, love and consequence as every action resounds through generations. It’s a journey that will bring the reader to tears and a brave attempt at a timeless tale that will rock the foundations on which you stand.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimanneil gaiman
Many will argue that fantasy and Gaiman are a niche genre, yet this novel has been anticipated for years as his first offering of a new adult novel. Neil Gaiman has always had a penchant for the magical and the hazy lines between dreams and reality. A man revisits his past and his memory is drawn to the old farmhouse and the enchanting girl that once lived there in this haunting tale of memory and survival. This is said to be Gaiman’s most personal attempt at writing and the human spirit glistens like the silky fabric of a spider’s web in this adult fairytale.

Transatlantic Colum McCanntransatlantic
Colum McCann has little to prove after awing readers with powerful storytelling in “This Side of Brightness” and tackling the unknown with his exploration of hidden Romani culture in “Zoli”. Yet somehow McCann just keeps on giving and “Transatlantic” is his latest offering. The first non-stop transatlantic flight made in 1919 lies at the center of this spellbinding tale as McCann reaches out to embrace over 150 years of Irish and American history. At times the narrative is difficult to grasp in the palm of your hand as it follows three different series of events, but this turbulence is short lived and the result is a McCann classic, a strong story interspersed with lyricism, poetry and harmony.

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert Kingdevil in the grove
Amongst the sweet scent of orange blossom down in Florida there lurks something sinister and Gilbert King takes an unflinching look at the events that helped shaped the civil revolution. Its 1949 and a young white girl cries rape in a small town. The so called perpetrators are four young black men and the red eyed sheriff is looking for any excuse to take them down and incite a lynching. What strikes a chord close to the heart is this daring masterpiece is testament to the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. It’s an exploration of the dark heart of America in a time when racial inequality was at the forefront of everyday life and homage to those who had the guts to stand and be heard. The research is flawless and the lyrical approach puts a touch of fear into your heart in a southern Gothic style.