John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Popular books

Yesterday's post and a subsequent comment on Facebook prompted me to ask a Madison Public Library librarian if there was a way to see which books had the largest number of holds on them. As it turns out, there is; the staff compiles those data biweekly to inform their purchasing decisions, and the librarian I spoke to was happy to share it with me.

Before we get to the data, let me point out that these numbers are not for the MPL specifically, but rather for the entire South Central Library System, a consortium of 53 member libraries in seven south-central Wisconsin counties. Most of those libraries share a catalog system, and holds are fulfilled by whatever copy of the book happens to arrive. My copy of This Town, for example, happens to have come from my neighborhood library's collection, but the copy of 30 Rock season 7, Disc 2 came all the way from Wisconsin Rapids, 107 miles away.

So, the data. By far, the most popular book in the SCLC, as measured by the number of holds currently placed on it, is The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, which you may know better as That Detective Novel J. K. Rowling Wrote Under a Pseudonym. It currently has 736 holds on it, 634 active. (Users can place a hold and, if they don't want it to arrive right away, suspend it. One wonders why anyone would bother in this particular case, since there's no imminent threat of it arrive anytime soon for most of the people on the list, and suspending it will only make the wait that much longer, but never mind.)

A distant second is the most recent entry in Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone series, W is for Wasted, with 583 holds, 528 active. (It should be noted that there are an additional 243 holds (228 active) on the large print edition.) Hot on her tail is another series book, Veronica Roth's Allegiant, which has 549 holds, 517 active, which is pretty good for a book that hasn't even been published yet. Next comes Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed, which has 537 holds, 429 active. Close behind that -- or just ahead of it, depending on how you look at it -- is Never Go Back, Lee Child's newest Jack Reacher novel, with 528 holds, 477 active.

Dropping into the 400s, we next have a book I don't recall ever having heard of: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. Then comes Janet Evanovich's newest Stephanie Plum mystery, Takedown Twenty, with 452 holds, 421 active, with an additional 210 holds (190 active) on the large print edition. Jumping into the 300s, we find the only non-fiction book in the top ten, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, with 399 holds, 360 active.

That's followed by a novel called Mistress, which was "co-written" by James Patterson (who mostly just wrote a detailed outline) and David Ellis, with 347 holds, 301 active. Mistress features something I have never seen before on a novel: the author's (well, Patterson's) photo on the front cover. Say what you will about Patterson's writing, but the man's got clout in the publishing industry, that's for sure. Rounding out the top ten, with 322 holds, 274 active, is another one I've never heard of, The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison.

The next ten most-held books, according to the report I was given, are The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer; Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan; Doctor Sleep by Stephen King; The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon; Storm Front by Richard Castle; Night Film by Marisha Pessl; How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hyland; This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America's Gilded Capital by Mark Leibovich; The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; and Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman.

So, what to make of this? One interesting thing I noticed is that there are a lot of really popular authors with books currently on the New York Times bestsellers list -- Sandra Brown, Dan Brown, J. D. Robb, and Catherine Coulter among them -- who appear nowhere among the SCLS top twenty most-held books list. I'm also a little surprised non-fiction is so poorly represented here. And not only that of the four non-fiction works named above, only one of them is what I'd call a serious work. The novels are evenly divided among commercial and literary fiction; I would have expected something similar from the non-fiction.
Tags: libraries, reading: books

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