Top 20 most translated books in history

Written by eric oropeza | 13/05/2017
Top 20 most translated books in history
Top 20 most translated books in history (Getty Premium Images)

Sometimes the history, importance or popularity of a book demands that it be translated into other languages. This slideshow will look at the 20 most translated books in the world. The run down from 20 to 1 uses the UNESCO Index Translationum database, which categories novels, plays, magazines and other literary forms by the amount of languages they have been translated into.

20. Pippi Longstocking

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

This book is the work of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The story focuses on the adventures of a nine-year-old orphan girl who has superhuman strength. She has a cheeky attitude and is accompanied in her exploits by a monkey and a horse. It was first published in 1945 and has been translated into 64 languages.

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19. Harry Potter

Top 20 most translated books in history
(David Silverman/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

This extremely popular book series has sold millions of copies across the world and has been translated into 67 languages. It has brought fame and fortune to its British author J.K. Rowling. The seven books tell the story of the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and of their eternal struggle against the evil Lord Voldemort.

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18. The Alchemist

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Cortesía Graham Hardy)

As with the Harry Potter series, this novel has been translated into 67 languages. It was written in Portuguese by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and discusses destiny and the meaning of life. The book was published in 1988 and has since been reprinted on various occasions as new generations of readers continue to buy it.

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17. Book of Mormon

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

This religious text was first published in the United States in 1830 and it is used by followers of the Latter Day Saint movement, better known as Mormons. They believe it contains scriptures written by prophets who lived in America before and after the birth of Jesus Christ. It has been translated into 82 languages.

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16. Awake!

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Santoosh2009/Creative Commons)

This publication is a monthly magazine published by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. Its articles discuss culture, health, family and biblical themes, amongst others. It has a circulation of more than 40 million copies and it is currently translated into 84 languages. Its first issue was published in 1919.

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15. The Imitation of Christ

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

Originally written in Latin by German Thomas à Kempis, this book is widely used by followers of the Catholic religion. Kempis lived in a monastery and dedicated his time to the production of this manuscript, which was published in the early 15th Century. It can be classed as a spiritual handbook and it has been translated into 95 different languages.

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14. The Adventures of Tintin

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Mark Renders/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The popular fictional character Tintin first appeared in 1929 and a further 24 volumes of his adventures have been published since this debut. Belgian writer Hergé described his famous character as a reflection of the best aspects of his own personality. He said: “I am not a hero. But like all 15-year-old boys, I dreamed of being one and I have never stopped dreaming.” The series has been translated into 96 languages.

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13. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

English author Lewis Carroll told how the idea for this story came into his mind as he walked with friends one day in 1862. Three years later, his fantasy world had been perfected and it received an impressive reception from readers when it was published. It has been republished ever since and millions of children and adults have enjoyed the story. It has been translated into 97 languages.

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12. New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

This Bible is another text in our list that is read by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It contains translations of texts written in ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. The first complete version of this Bible was published in English in 1961 and it has been translated into 112 languages.

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11. The Quran

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Muslims believe that the Quran, the main religious text of Islam, is the word of God as related to the Prophet Muhammad through the Archangel Gabriel. It is written in ancient Arabic and has been translated into 112 languages.

Related: Difficulties in translation of the Qur'an

10. The Adventures of Asterix

Top 20 most translated books in history
(IMDB)

These French comic books were created by writer Rene Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo. The series has left its mark on children and adults across the world. Its main characters, Asterix and Obelix, are the only ones who can save Gaul from the Romans. The comic has traditionally analysed French and European society in an ironic manner. It was first published in 1959 and it has been translated into 112 languages.

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9. Steps to Christ

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Ellen G. White)

This book was written by Ellen G. White, the founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It contains advice and reflections on how to better know Jesus Christ. It addresses issues such as repentance, confession, faith, acceptance and prayer. It was first published in 1892 and has been translated into more than 140 languages.

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8. Andersen’s Fairy Tales

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

The modern fairy tale would be nothing without the influential works and ideas of Hans Christian Andersen. The stories of this Danish writer have become classics of the genre and still delight children to this day. This collection of his works from 1835 to 1852 has been translated into 153 languages.

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7. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

This science fiction book tells the story of Professor Pierre Aronnax’s attempts to track down a giant sea monster after setting sail aboard a ship called the Abraham Lincoln. It was written by French author Jules Verne and it has captivated countless readers since its first publication in 1870. This classic novel has been translated into 174 languages.

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6. The Little Prince

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Cortesía Gallimard)

Many say that this children’s book is actually a must-read for people of all ages as it changes the way you perceive the world around you. The story centres on the narrator and his meeting with a little prince from another planet. The book explores themes such as the meaning of life, love and friendship. It is the masterpiece of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery and was originally published in 1943 in the United States. It has been translated into more than 180 languages.

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5. The Watchtower

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Cortesía Pafideas)

This is another magazine published by Jehovah’s Witnesses that makes it into the list. The Watchtower, which attempts to relate modern themes with Bible prophecy, has a circulation of about 42 million copies a month and it is translated into 195 languages. Its first issue was published in 1879.

Related: Who are the Jehovah Witnesses?

4. The Pilgrim's Progress

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Dominio público)

This text was written by John Bunyan in England in the 17th Century. It tells the story of a pilgrim called Christian and his search for salvation. It was written in two parts, with the first being published in 1678 and the second in 1684. It had a great cultural impact at the time and has since been translated into 200 languages.

3. What Does The Bible Really Teach?

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

This text does not have a specific author, since it was published in 2005 by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society following a discussion, in the same name as its title, at the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It addresses religious issues such as: Who is Jesus Christ? What is the kingdom of God? Where are the dead? It has been a great success and has been translated into 244 languages.

2. Pinocchio

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Pinocchio, the main character of this 1883 children’s book, is famous around the world. Carved out of wood by carpenter Geppetto, the puppet boy’s nose grows longer each time he tells a lie. The story was written by Italian Carlo Collodi and it has been translated into 260 languages. The popularity of the story has grown through film and theatre versions.

1. The Bible

Top 20 most translated books in history
(Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Besides having been translated into 469 languages, The Bible is the most read and sold book in the history of the world. The Bible is a collection of ancient religious texts relating to Judaism and Christianity.

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