Paris is one of the two cities in Dickens’ “tale.” (Photo by Elliott Brown)

The New York Times has gained a reputation for putting out lists of the best-selling books on the market. However, do you know what the best-selling book of all time actually is? You might be a bit surprised.

According to numerous sources that track book sales and frequency in stores or libraries, there is a fairly agreed-upon consensus that Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is the best-selling book in modern history (although the Bible has likely sold more actual copies overall).

A Tale of Two Cities was published in 1859. Charles Dickens wrote the novel, and little did he know, it would become the cornerstone of many English literature classes in schools around the world. The book is set before and during the French Revolution in London and Paris – the two cities denoted in the book’s title. The primary theme behind the plot draws parallels between life in England and life in France. The book specifically compares what life was like in the peasants vs. aristocrats struggle in Paris with the class conflicts in London during the same time period. Europe was widely considered the supercontinent during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the book clearly demonstrates how despite the power at-hand, there is always strife taking place among individuals. The text is comprised of three different sections – Book the First: Recalled to Life, Book the Second: The Golden Thread, and Book the Third: The Track of a Storm.

Dickens, who authored the A Tale of Two Cities, was an English author who lived from 1812 to 1870. Many historians regard Dickens as the greatest writer of the Victorian era in Europe. Dickens frequently penned about social issues in his works, and many still view him today as someone who was ahead of his time in terms of his ability to view the world through a slightly clearer lens. His other popular works include A Christmas Carol, The Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Hard Times.

A Tale of Two Cities is an extremely common book used in English and literary courses at both the high school and college levels. If this book happens to appear on your book list for the upcoming semester, make sure you check out the price comparison tool on Textbooks.org. This particular novel is readily available, as you might expect. That’s why shopping around is the best way to find it for the lowest possible price, even if you end up buying a used version that’s in a usable condition.