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Universal Life Lessons from the Best-Selling Books of All Time
Woman reading in the park

Universal Life Lessons from the Best-Selling Books of All Time

Throughout the ages, books have provided spiritual guidance, life lessons, entertainment, education, sparked social and political changes, allowed us to escape the drudgery of every day and quite literally changed the course of history.

Now we're taking a look at some of the all-time best-selling books and the universal life lessons they have brought to millions of readers worldwide.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

The 7-instalment series has sold more than 500 million copies worldwide since it first hit shelves back in 2007. In fact, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone alone sold 120 million copies worldwide. An entire generation has grown up reading the beloved books detailing the adventures of boy wizard Harry and his friends with million of adults regularly rereading them.

A tale of friendship, overcoming hardship, heartbreak, bravery and discovering who you truly are, especially in the face of adversity, J.K. Rowling's genius has helped countless children (and adults) deal with bullies, deep loss, the awkwardness and dangers of teenage years, while staying true to yourself and becoming the hero of your own story. Plus, let's not forget that Rowling herself has donated so much to charity she lost her (well-earned) billionaire status.

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"If you want to know what a man is like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

First published in post-war Britain as a trilogy, the wildly popular series and now pop-culture fixture, has sold 150 million copies since. If we factor in prequel The Hobbit, that figure jumps to 250 million copies. Many of the themes explored in Harry Potter are also present in Lord of the Rings, but with a much more adult treatment. Among the masterpiece's most important lessons are the power mercy and acceptance that we cannot control the universe.

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“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

140 million copies sold since its debut in the '40s, this masterpiece is yet another evergreen book, beloved regardless of the age of the reader. "It is only with the heart one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye," is one of those quotes we often come across, but it's just one of countless life lessons dotting the pages of Le Petit Prince.

One of the greatest powers of de Saint-Exupery's creation is to effortlessly teach children how to be good people. The other is to remind adults of those lessons. Whether it's the importance of building healthy relationships, caring for the environment, caring for ourselves and our emotional well-being, not encroaching on our loved ones' freedom, looking beyond the surface and the obvious, the danger of ignoring or numbing our pain, Le Petit Prince truly prepares everyone for adulthood -- both young and old.

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"Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more."

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Intended as a children's book, this series has surpassed 120 million copies worldwide, enjoying a renaissance after receiving the movie treatment. While the adventures of children and talking animals may not seem all that to adults, the power of books is one that children should be introduced early on.

A man raised in a religious family who lost his faith and regained it later in life, Lewis' most famous work explores many religious and spiritual themes, among them the power of faith and belief, responsibility and the consequences of our actions, and not least the importance of forgiveness, reconciliation and resilience.

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"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did."

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

More than 50 million sold copies have cemented Charlotte's Web as an all-time best-seller. The beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking books is yet another childhood favorite -- a common theme, it seems, for global favorites with lessons for all. Similarly to the previous entries in our list, Charlotte's Web teaches both young and old about the value of friendship, patience, of second chances, humility, gratitude and consistency.

It also warns of shallowness, of the consequences of prejudice and fear born from lack of understanding. It celebrates compassion, imagination, the company of friends and encourages us to look beyond the surface and to ask for help when we need it. Above all though, it celebrates life, diversity and resilience.

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"You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing...after all, what's a life anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die...By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."


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