Most Popular Books Published Each Year In The 90s

Popular books from the 90s? It’s more likely than you think. Keep reading to discover the most popular book of your birth year!

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Relatively speaking, the 90s weren’t that long ago. People born in this decade are still early on in their careers, going back to school, raising young children, and finding their footing in the world. Despite the high turnover rate of media, stories from this decade are still told and retold today. If you need proof of the hold this generation of literature still has, try to find someone who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter. And while you’re searching futilely, maybe check out these top 10 most popular books from the decade.


I’ve covered the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s, which you can find on my author page here. If any of those decades include your birth year, or if you’re curious about any of the books in the lovely infographic above, be sure to check those out. But I am by far the most excited to cover the 90s, probably because I myself am a 90s kid. Yes, 1999 still counts; it is literally in the 90’s; you cannot change my mind.


All of the star ratings and shelvings below are taken from Goodreads as of the publishing of this article. Now gather around, ‘cause we’re going back to the 90s!

1990: Good Omens


When I was growing up, it felt like people were declaring the end of the world every couple of months. Well, imagine if that actually started to happen, and the only people to stop it were an unlikely angel/devil duo and a bunch of kids. Also, one of these kids is the antichrist. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman has 4.25 stars and one million shelvings on Goodreads. The television series came out as recently as 2019, with episodes currently still releasing.

1991: Outlander


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Is a story about a nurse from 1945. After mysterious forces transported her back in time to 1743, she finds herself torn between her husband in the future and the man in front of her. It has 4.25 stars and two million shelvings on Goodreads. There have been a few adaptations for this work. Most notably, a television series released in 2014 and a prequel to said tv series, which was confirmed in January of 2023. They also released the first third of the book into a graphic novel in 2010, and there are 14 songs about it!

1992: The Secret History


Lots of people understand the feeling of trying to fit in, but would you go as far as murder to do so? No. The answer should be no. But that isn’t the case for the main character of The Secret History by Donna Tartt. After going to college, Richard finds himself accepted into a rather affluent circle of friends. Obviously, their influence was far from good. Despite 4.17 stars and one million shelvings on Goodreads, it’s a shock to say that none of the attempted adaptations of the book came to fruition.

1993: The Giver


Another common read in schools, The Giver by Lois Lowry, is a dystopian novel about a world where all of your decisions are made for you, and people’s knowledge is limited. The Giver is the only person to hold memories of what the past was like, and now twelve-year-old Jonas has been chosen as his successor. It has 4.12 stars on Goodreads, and the film adaptation came out in 2014. I remember enjoying what I read of this myself in high school, though it’s been banned in some schools for covering sensitive topics.

1994: One for the Money


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich is about a woman who’s lost her job. Because of this, she convinces her cousin to get her employment as a bounty hunter. The twist is that the first criminal she’s after was the first guy she ever had sex with. She also ran him over with a car. It has 713,000 shelvings and 4.04 stars on Goodreads, as well as a film adaptation that came out in 2012.

1995: The Golden Compass


There’s a young girl headed north, and it’s not to see Santa Claus. The Golden Compass, also known as Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman is a young adult fantasy novel. The story is about a man who’s kidnapping children and a girl who wants to save her friend. Apparently, this book has sparked controversy for including religious themes. In addition, on top of a movie released in 2007, SEGA produced a video game for it. For context, SEGA is probably best known for the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise. I researched a lot of books for this series, but none of the others have an overlap quite this compelling.

1996: A Game of Thrones


With 4.44 stars of three million shelvings, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This high fantasy series focuses on a family trying to maintain control over the continent of Westeros. Because I prefer fantasy written for kids, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the plot. But even I’ve heard of the television series that aired starting in 2011.

1997: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I’d like to start off the final three books of this section with a disclaimer. While I will be sharing personal experiences with the series and going into its success, that doesn’t mean I condone what J.K. Rowling stands for today. Also, while I attempt to represent a neutral party throughout this series, my opinions are my own and do not represent Bookstr. That said, let’s get into it.


I have a lot of fond memories surrounding Harry Potter. One of my friends asked me repeatedly to pick up the first book, which until that point, I refused to read. But after binge-reading the entire series, taking multiple quizzes, and getting sorted into Hufflepuff, I was sold on the hype. Harry Potter is a boy from an abusive household. After turning 11, he receives a letter inviting him to the wizarding school of Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, also titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (US editions), has 4.47 stars and a whopping ten million shelvings on Goodreads.

1998: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Yep, Harry Potter is here again with the second book. Here, our main character is warned that his return to school will spell disaster. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has 4.43 stars and five million shelvings on Goodreads. There’s no doubt of the series’ influence on the world. Harry Potter has extra books, movies, merch… There’s even Harry Potter Wizarding World, a whole section of an amusement park dedicated to a magic boy who lived in a closet under the stairs.

1999: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


I don’t have much to say here other than the fact that Harry Potter is impossible to escape. And if nothing else, this proves my point from the beginning. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the series, coinciding with Harry’s third year at school. It’s also the popular book of my birth year, so if this is yours too, that makes us birth year buddies. With 4.58 stars and five million shelvings on Goodreads, I’d say it’s a decent enough way to complete this article series.

Want to know your birth year book buddy? Check out the 60s here, the 70s here, and the 80s here!