Being a woman in the often-sexist publishing industry can feel pretty disheartening, so it’s all kinds of amazing to discover that women wrote nine of the 10 all-time bestsellers, according to Amazon. The bookselling giant released their top 20 bestselling books over the last 20 years, and women dominated — making up nearly three-quarters of the overall list, and the vast majority of the top 10. So while we’re repeatedly told by publishers that only male authors are worth reading, it turns out not only is this incredibly sexist, it’s not even a little bit true.
Over the last two decades, the most bought book on Amazon has been Fifty Shades of Grey. And although it may not be the most feminist book, Fifty Shades is still written by a woman, for women, with the express purpose of letting women indulge in their own sexuality. And that’s the most-sold book in 20 years! That’s pretty incredible, if you ask me. The two sequels also made the top 10, right under the entire Hunger Games trilogy — a series about a badass woman who manages to fight like a boss, start a revolution, and fall in love all at the same time. The next three books on the list are Gone Girl (a feminist thriller which single-handedly dismantled the sexist “cool girl” trope), The Help (a book with almost no male characters at all), and Unbroken (a true story which proves that women can write about the male experience every bit as powerfully as the men can).
You may by now have noticed a rather obvious female author I haven’t mentioned. J.K. Rowling came in surprisingly low at #16, which says a lot about the effect of e-books. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was one of only two books to make the list that were released before Kindle’s launch — and only by a matter of months. Even the phenomenal sales of the earlier Harry Potter books weren’t enough to outsell the e-books, which is pretty crazy.
But before you get too excited, notice that not one of the books on this top 20 list were written by people of color. The lack of diversity in publishing is pretty outrageous, so the fight for equality in the industry is far from over. But for now, women are writing the most popular books in the world, and this, at least, is one victory worth celebrating!