I am browsing a book by Alice Payne Hackett called 70 years of Best Sellers 1895-1965. The writer points out that best sellers does not refer to the best books but rather to the books that people love the best. The writer got much of the information from Publishers Weekly.
Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian Maclaren and The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope were bestsellers in 1895. That's the year that the first American Bestseller lists were published.
The Marriage of William Ashe by Mrs. Humphry Ward and The Gambler by Katherine Cecil Thurston were bestsellers in 1905 and Hackett says novels were beginning to write the new inventions into their plots: cars and wireless telegraphy.
An Austrian archduke was murdered in Sarajevo in 1914 and triggered a war in Europe and The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright and Penrod by Booth Tarkington became bestsellers.
In 1940 the year Hitler and the Nazis attacked England, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn and Country Squire in the White House by John T. Flynn were bestsellers.
Interesting 280 page book written by Hackett and published in 1967.