by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
What have your neighbors been reading? In 2017, customers in Pioneerland Library System really liked their thrillers, especially books by John Sandford, John Grisham and James Patterson. They also checked out some of the most popular nonfiction books in the country. Beyond books, they sought out kids’ movies, plus some mobile technology.
The most popular book in our library system in the past year was Golden Prey by John Sandford. Sandford, whose real name is John Camp, is an Iowa native who worked for the Pioneer Press from 1978 to 1990. Minnesotans have counted him as one of our own ever since, even though he currently lives in New Mexico and Wisconsin. Golden Prey is the 27th book in the bestselling Prey series, featuring law enforcement officer Lucas Davenport.
The rest of the top ten fiction titles are If Not for You by Debbie Macomber, Camino Island by John Grisham, One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline, 16th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Escape Clause by John Sandford, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Whistler by John Grisham, The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis, and Night School by Lee Child. That’s two appearances each by Sandford, Grisham, and Patterson!
The most popular nonfiction book in our library system was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This book about a rural family in poverty has been a bestseller nationwide for the past year and a half. Many people say it’s an important book to read to understand the crisis among white working class Americans.
The other books in the nonfiction top ten were Sundown at Sunrise by Marty Seifert, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Three of these have been made into movies in the past year or so, which always makes people more interested in the books.
It’s a little funny to say, since we’re talking about libraries, but some movies have been even more popular than these books. It helps that movies can only go out for a week, compared to two or four weeks at a time for books; it allows them to be checked out more times in a year. The most popular item to check out in Pioneerland libraries (other than an unusual one I’ll explain more about later) was the movie Trolls. Featuring the ugly troll dolls that kids all had in the ‘70s, this animated adventure appeals to the whole family.
The other movies that beat out the top books were The Secret Life of Pets, Hidden Figures, Moana, Sing, The Girl on theTrain, and A Dog’s Purpose. Everything on this list is either an animated family film or a movie based on a book.
And the number one item to check out in Pioneerland last year? Technology. The laptops and iPads that can be checked out for use inside the libraries were our “top sellers.” At Litchfield, the laptops are much more popular than the iPad we have available to check out, but in some libraries customers really like the iPads. It makes sense that these devices could have the highest checkout numbers of all, since multiple people can check these out in one day, using them for an hour or two before returning them.
If you want to see if you like the things your neighbors are interested in, stop at the library to check out or order any of these popular items.