Everywhere you go in Washington, DC, you’re bound to see someone with their nose in a book. Recently appointed The most literate city in Americathe District has 26 libraries and dozens of bookstores.
To get a taste of what Washingtonians are reading, NBC Washington looked at DC Public Library data on the most popular books and authors from the past year.
Most Circulated Library Books in DC
Check out the map below to see the top 10 books in each of DC’s 26 libraries from August 2018 through August 2019. The results show that Washington’s reading choices are delightfully diverse.
‘Little Fires Everywhere’, Celeste Ng’s novel about motherhood and race in a planned community, was DC’s most widely circulated book
Most Circulated Books in Washington, DC, by Library
Click on the different points of the map to see the top 10 books distributed by library in DC, from 2018 to 2019
Tara Westover’s book “Educated: A Memoir” came in second. The writer says she reached elite colleges after not setting foot in a classroom until she was 17. And Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” came third.
The Top 10 list included eight novels, two memoirs, and the reported non-fiction book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.” The eight novels are all literary fiction, not genre fiction which is sometimes considered more modest.
“DC is a literate city,” said Sheryl Katzin, director of collections at the DC Public Library.
Well-reviewed fiction tends to be very popular in the district, she said.
The list of most popular authors, however, is less literary. He is topped by mystery writer James Patterson, travel writer Rick Steves, and horror writer Stephen King.
DC’s favorite authors
Anticipating which books will be most popular is an art in itself, said Katzin, director of collections at the library. Staff members read the trade publication Library Journal and follow authors who are featured in The New York Times, NPR, and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” among other outlets.
Library staff also keep tabs on book reservation requests, so they know when a book is more popular than they expected.
And the transition from summer to fall can bring about a change in library cash registers; what readers want tends to be seasonal, Katzin said.
“What you’re in the mood to read in the summer and what you’re in the mood to read in the fall can change a bit,” she said, with fall picks tending to be heavier. .
Here are some things we noticed in the library data:
- “Little Fires Everywhere”, “Educated”, and “Becoming” were among the top three in more than half of DC’s library branches.
- Takoma Park liked “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo'” by Zora Neale Hurston, “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward and “The Windfall” by Diksha Basu.
- At the Parklands-Turner branch, “This Mournable Body” by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga was the most circulated book.
- “Bad Blood” was a favorite at Cleveland Park, Francis Gregory, Shaw and West End branches.
- “Children of Hoarders: How to Minimize Conflict, Reduce the Clutter, and Improve Your Relationship” has been viewed six times in the past year at the Capitol View branch.
- The “Saga” fantasy comic series was a big hit at branches in Capitol View, Northeast, Petworth, and Woodridge, among others.
- Of the top 10 books, women wrote six, two of the authors are black and two are Asian. Among the top authors, six are white, and there is a 50-50 split between male and female authors.
DC Library fans have a lot to look forward to, spokesperson George Williams said. The revamped main branch is set to open in fall 2020, and more beloved books are on the way.
“The people of DC are good readers, and the library strives to get everything they want,” he said.
2019 DC Youth Poet Laureate Gabriela Orozco spoke with NBC Washington about some of her favorite books.
2019 DC Poet Laureate Gabriela Orozco shares what literature and authors inspire her poetry.
She quoted the fantasy book “Purple Hearts” and the poetry of Emma Lazarus and Elizabeth Acevedo. The 16-year-old Southeast DC resident said reading never fails to transport her.
“Reading takes me to another world, another place, another time. It’s not just an escape, it’s a form of learning,” she said.
On video, Orozco recited part of one of his own poems, “The Drooping Branches of a First Generation American’s Family Tree.”