by Bob Minzesheimer and Christoper Schnaars)
For the third time since 2004, Dan Brown has written the best-selling book of the year.
Brown's Inferno, a modern-day thriller built on clues from The Inferno, Dante's 14th-century poem about hell, topped sales in 2013. That's based on data from USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list and a compilation of the top 100 best sellers (based on sales from Dec. 31, 2012-Dec. 29, 2013).
Brown's first hit, The Da Vinci Code, was No. 1 on USA TODAY's 2004 annual list, and again in 2006, after the movie version was released. (Sony plans to release the film adaptation of Inferno, starring Tom Hanks, in late 2015.)
It also was a big year for Veronica Roth, 25, who emerged as the most popular new novelist among teen readers, with three books in the top 15.
At No. 2 is Divergent, the first novel in Roth's dystopian/fantasy trilogy, begun in 2011. Sales surged with anticipation of the film version, staring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, in theaters this March. The series' third book, Allegiant, published in October, is No. 8 for the year. Roth's second novel, Insurgent (2012), is No. 15.
Other highlights of 2013:
• Of the best sellers tracked by USA TODAY each week, 80% were fiction. That's the highest since the list was begun in 1993, breaking 2011's record of 78%. The top non-fiction book of 2013 at No. 9 was Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Their 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, continued to sell last year, finishing at No. 61.
• Nicholas Sparks' love story, Safe Haven, No. 4 for the year, had the longest run atop USA TODAY's weekly list. It was No. 1 for seven weeks. Brown's Inferno was No. 1 for six weeks. Both are far short of the record: E.L. James' erotic Fifty Shades of Grey was No. 1 for 20 consecutive weeks in 2012. Grey had another good year in 2013; her trilogy ranked at No. 14, 25 and 26.
• The prolific James Patterson had the most titles (five) in the year's top 100. Three were written with collaborators, but not his most popular novel of 2013, at No. 34 — Alex Cross, Run. It's the 20th book in a series Patterson began in 1993.