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The most popular books at US public libraries this year, mapped by city

David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Hollywood has been good to Paula Hawkins. Following the release of a movie adapted from her novel, The Girl on the Train, the book has become one of the most widely read books at US libraries this year.

A survey of 14 metropolitan libraries by Quartz shows that The Girl on the Train is the most checked-out book at eight of them, and the most checked-out work of fiction at 11.

There was also a strong Wimpy grip on children’s reading in 2016. Jeff Kinney’s series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is the top book for kids in seven of the 12 cities that provided children’s breakouts.

Some books’ popularity were driven by library initiatives. For instance, the San Francisco Public Library’s “One City One Book” program encouraged its patrons to read Season of the Witch by David Talbot, shooting it to the top of its most popular book list.

Other books’ popularity are driven by adjacent corners of culture. Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton was the most borrowed nonfiction work in Baltimore. The book was the basis and inspiration for the Tony-award-winning play Hamilton.

Here are the top five books for each category at each library that responded to our requests:

The most popular fiction books of 2016

AustinBaltimoreBostonCharlotteDallasDenverNashvilleNew YorkSan AntonioSan DiegoSan FranciscoSeattleWashington
1The Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrRogue Lawyer, John GrishamThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins
2All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrWilde Lake, Laura LippmanThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsThe Girl on The Train, Paula HawkinsAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrRogue Lawyer, John GrishamGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeThe Book Thief, Markus ZusakAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrTao Bao Bao Jian, DayanAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
3Tricky Twenty-two, Janet EvanovichThe Last Mile, David BaldacciFates and Furies, Lauren GroffMy Name is Lucy Barton, Elizaveth StroutThe Walking Dead, Robert KirkmanGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeThe Nightingale, Kristin HannahTo Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper LeeMe Before You, Jojo MoyesRogue Lawyer, John GrishamAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrFates and Furies, Lauren GroffThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
4The Last Mile, David BaldacciTricky Twenty-two, Janet EvanovichMy Brilliant Friend, Elana FerranteThe Guilty, David BaldacciGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeMy name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth StroutGray Mountain, John GrishamThe Goldfinch, Donna TarttAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeTricky Twenty-two, Janet EvanovichMy name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth StroutAmericanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5The Nightingale, Kristin HannahNYPD Red 4, James PattersonGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrAlert, James PattersonThe Japanese Lover, Isabel AllendeCross Justice, James PattersonAll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony DoerrThe Last Mile, David BaldacciThe Crossing, Michael ConnellyGo Set a Watchman, Harper LeeThe Nightingale, Kristin HannahFates and Furies, Lauren Groff

The most popular nonfiction books of 2016

AustinBaltimoreBostonCharlotteDallasDenverNashvilleNew YorkSan AntonioSan DiegoSan FranciscoSeattleWashington
1The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoAlexander Hamilton, Ron ChernowBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi CoatesWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi CoatesGuinness World Records 2016, –When Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiSeason of the Witch, David TalbotBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
2Being Moral: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul GawandeThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoThe Boys in the Boat, Daniel BrownThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik LarsonThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoWhy Not Me?, Mindy KalingWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoModern Romance, Aziz Ansari
3Modern Romance, Aziz AnsariSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Marie KondoWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi CoatesBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul GawandeWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiYes Please, Amy PoehlerWhy Not Me, Mindy KalingSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Marie KondoGuinness World Records 2016, –not providedWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo
4Rising Strong, Brené BrownKilling Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency, Bill O’ReillyModern Romance, Aziz AnsariDimestore, Lee SmithBig Magic: Creative living beyond fear, Elizabeth GilbertModern Romance, Aziz AnsariModern Romance, Aziz AnsariThe Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II, Jan Jarboe RussellBetween the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi CoatesBeing Moral: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul GawandeWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
5Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan CainTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, Leah ReminiThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoBeing Moral: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul GawandeRising Strong, Brené BrownWhen Breath Becomes Air, Paul KalanithiThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie KondoThe Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, Jesmyn WardWaiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos MN EireSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Marie KondoMindy Kaling, Why Not Me?

The most popular children’s books of 2016

AustinBaltimoreBostonCharlotteDallasDenverNashvilleNew YorkSan AntonioSan DiegoSan FranciscoSeattleWashington
1Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Cabin Fever, Jeff KinneyBig Nate Blasts Off, Lincoln PeircePokemon Adventures, Hidenori KusakaThe Pigeon Needs a Bath!, Mo WillemsDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinneynot providedPigs Make Me Sneeze!, Mo Willemsnot provided
2Lets Go for a Drive, Mo WillemsHarry Potter and the Cursed Child. Parts One and Two, JK RowlingWonder, RJ PalacioBig Nate Lives it Up, Lincoln PeirceBob Books Set 1, –Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyHarry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone, JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child. Parts One and Two, JK RowlingGreen Eggs and Ham, Dr. SeussAre You Ready to Play Outside?, Mo Willems
3My New Friend is so Fun, Mo WillemsMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1, Rick RiordanSisters, Raina TelgemeierDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Old School, Jeff KinneyHarry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone, JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child. Parts One and Two, JK RowlingDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Rodrick Rules, Jeff KinneyThere’s a bird on your head!, Mo Willems
4Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Cabin Fever, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyA big guy took my ball!, Mo WillemsHigh Time for Heroes, Mary Pope OsborneDiary of a Wimpy Kid.The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyI Really Like Slop!, Mo WillemsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkiban, JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK RowlingDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Hard Luck, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Last Straw, Jeff KinneyI love my new toy!, Mo Willems
5Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Hard Luck, Jeff KinneyThe BFG, Roald DahlOne fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, Dr. SeussTales from a Not So Dorky Drama Queen, Rachel Renee RussellLego Ninjago, Masters of Spinjitzu, Tracey WestWaiting is not Easy!, Mo WillemsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, JK RowlingDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. Dog Days, Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid. The Ugly Truth, Jeff KinneyI broke my trunk!, Mo Willems

The number of times a book can be checked out is, of course, limited by the library’s inventory, the speed at which local patrons complete and return books, and the efficiency of library staff in recirculating the title.

The public libraries of Memphis, Philadelphia, San Jose, Houston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Phoenix did not provide Quartz with suitable rankings prior to publication.

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