15 Bestselling Books From the 1990s Worth Reading Again

Nov 19 2020 - 3:20pm

My love of reading [1] was born in the '90s. Long hours spent in the library devouring the latest Sweet Valley High, [2] The Baby-Sitters Club, [3] Goosebumps, [4] and The Saddle Club [5] novels paved the way for a lifelong obsession with books [6]. Not to mention, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [7] came out in this decade, cementing it as one of the greatest eras for books ever. But, if you were just a kid in the '90s (or born later), then you probably missed some of the other bestsellers written in this time, like Stephen King's The Green Mile [8] or Loves Music, Loves to Dance [9] by Mary Higgins Clark. Plus, there were also many movies adapted from books in this decade (like The Notebook [10] and Bridget Jones's Diary [11]), so there are plenty of reasons to revisit these books right now [12]. Check out 15 of our favorite '90s-era books in the slides ahead that are so good, they're definitely worth reading again.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Before it was an iconic romantic comedy starring Renée Zellweger [14], Bridget Jones's Diary [15] was a book written by Helen Fielding. Originally published in 1996, this bestseller features Bridget Jones, a self-aware and hilarious single woman on a quest for self-improvement. The story is full of witty humor, charm, and delightful romance.

Loves Music, Loves to Dance

The late Mary Higgins Clark, who became a household name with more than 50 international bestsellers, was one of the best female suspense writers of all time. One of my favorites, Loves Music, Loves to Dance [16], was published in 1991. The story follows a killer who uses personal ads in New York magazines to lure his victims on a dancing date — never to be heard from again. When Darcy's best friend, Erin, is found on an abandoned pier wearing one high-heeled dancing slipper, Darcy does everything she can to find the killer before she is next.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

Originally published in 1999, Girl With a Pearl Earring [17] by Tracy Chevalier is a historical fiction novel about 16-year-old Griet, who meets a genius that transforms her life — as he immortalizes her in canvas and oil. It's a dramatized, fictional account behind the famous painting in the 1600s, "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer. This popular book was translated into 39 languages and became an Oscar-nominated film, starring Scarlett Johansson [18] and Colin Firth [19].

The Green Mile

Located in the dark Cold Mountain Penitentiary is a dark place called the E Block, where convicted killers wait their turn to walk "the Green Mile" to their death by electric chair in Stephen King's thriller, The Green Mile [20], published in 1996. Although he has worked here for years, prison guard Paul Edgecomb has never seen anything like John Coffey, who has the body of a giant and the mind of a child and committed a crime so terrifying and depraved that it will give you shivers just reading about it. When Edgecomb discovers a wondrous truth about Coffey, it will challenge his long-standing beliefs and could potentially change everything.

The Stars Shine Down

Sidney Sheldon's captivating 1992 novel The Stars Shine Down [21] follows the Lara Cameron, aka America's Princess, who is a self-made billionaire and the force behind the tallest building on earth. She is beautiful yet insecure, traveling across the world to find everything she desires, including fame, fortune, and true love.

The Witching Hour

Anne Rice's The Witching Hour [22] (published in 1990) is a spellbinding tale of a family of witches. This coven believes in poetry, incest, murder, and philosophy, making them terrifying and fascinating to read about at the same time. This scary family is also haunted by a dangerous, evil being, which is sure to give you nightmares.

The Bridges of Madison County

You may have seen the Tony-winning musical or the movie adaption with Clint Eastwood [23] and Meryl Streep [24], but before that, The Bridges of Madison County [25] was a book written by Robert James Waller. This bestselling novel, published in 1992, tells the story of Robert Kincaid, a photographer and free spirit searching for the covered bridges of Madison County, and a farm wife waiting for fulfillment of a childhood dream. This heartwarming novel is definitely worth a read (or reread) right now.

The Notebook

One of the greatest love stories of our generation was written in 1996. The Notebook [26] by Nicholas Sparks is set in post-World War II North Carolina where Noah Calhoun returns home after fighting in the war and feels lost after losing the girl he loved a decade earlier. Although socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, she can't stop thinking about the boy who stole her heart.

The Rainmaker

John Grisham has a number of bestselling books under his belt, but The Rainmaker [27], published in 1995, is perhaps the biggest success. This crime novel is about Rudy Baylor, who is being hounded by creditors, doesn't have a job, and lost his dream of becoming a lawyer. But when an insurance dispute leaves a family devastated and opens the door for a lawsuit, Baylor works hard to find a way to help despite his less-than-ideal situation. This fast-paced story in this legal thriller will hook you until the very end.


When Marielle and Malcolm Patterson's son, Teddy, is mysteriously abducted in the 1930s (after the famous Lindbergh kidnapping), the couple is understandably devastated. But mysterious circumstances make things even more confusing, like the fact that Marielle happened to run into her first love, Charles Delauney, the night before the kidnapping, which leads to him being a suspect. In the trial, complicated secrets are revealed about the entire family, leaving everything they thought they knew to be questioned. Danielle Steel's Vanished [28], published in 1993, should definitely be added to your TBR list!

Cat & Mouse

James Patterson's Cat & Mouse [29] is the fourth in his iconic Alex Cross series, published in 1997. This bestselling book is about Gary Soneji, a dying prison escapee looking for revenge on Detective Cross. Meanwhile, another brilliant detective, Thomas Augustine-Pierce, is pursuing another insane killer. While two crazy murderers are on the loose, leaving Cross almost getting murdered in his own home, readers will wonder who is the cat and who is the mouse? This gripping tale will have you reaching for every Alex Cross book in the series!


Paradise [30] by Toni Morrison, published in 1997, weaves folklore, history, beautiful poems, tragedy, and mysticism together into this bestselling book about race, religion, gender, and violence. It is set in Ruby, a patriarchal community founded by descendants of freed slaves and survivors hiding out in a hostile world. But just 17 miles away, a group of women exiles have fled, only to be discovered by some male citizens of Ruby set on torturing and terrorizing them. In a time when we are still dealing with racism and violence toward Black Americans, Morrison's haunting book is definitely worth another read.

Cold Mountain

Winning the National Book Award, staying on the bestseller list for 61 weeks and selling over three million copies are just some of the accolades Cold Mountain [31] by Charles Frazier received. Published in 1997, this book is about a Confederate soldier named Inman, who was wounded after fighting at Petersburg, and walks back home in the Blue Ridge mountains. His journey brings him into close contact with slaves, marauders, bounty hunters, witches, and others seeking to help and hurt him; meanwhile, his love, Ada, is at home trying to revive her father's struggling farm and learn to survive on her own.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Written by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum [32] is the last in the Jason Bourne series (you may have seen the movies based on these books, starring Matt Damon [33]?). This book, published in 1990, starts out in a small-town carnival, where two men summoned by telegram, signed "Jason Bourne," witness a strange murder. However, the messages are really from Bourne's enemy, The Jackal, also known as the most deadly and elusive terrorist in the world. David Webb, professor and devoted husband and father, must assume the identity of Bourne once again in order to lure the Jackal into a trap, leading to a deadly confrontation.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

It wouldn't be a '90s book roundup without the book that started it all: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [34] by J.K. Rowling. It's hard to believe this children's book published in 1997 would become an international bestseller, lead to an eight-film franchise plus a spinoff movie series, and spark the creation of amusement parks. This year, go back to where it all started inside the cupboard under the stairs at Number 4 Privet Drive. When a mysterious giant shows up to tell Harry Potter [35] that he's really a wizard, Harry finally gets to escape his miserable aunt and uncle to discover the truly spectacular world at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But when Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, discover something sinister, they won't stop until they've destroyed the evil taking over the school.

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