Library Blog

The Most Popular Books of 2019

Monday, January 13, 2020

As usual, the books that comprise our 2019 most popular lists are a fascinating and varied bunch. The most interesting story here is that the overall top 10 from our print collection is comprised entirely of women authors. We can say with a high degree of confidence that this is the first time this has happened at the Library—or at least the first time in a very long while. Another notable and genuinely surprising development is that the top three slots are occupied by debut authors. The rest of the top 10 offers a mix of literary fiction and memoir, with Donna Leon’s Unto Us a Son Is Given the only work of “genre” fiction making an appearance. It wouldn’t be a Library top 10 without the perennially popular Leon, who appears on the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year with a Brunetti mystery (The Temptation of Forgiveness, #5, 2018; Earthly Remains, #6, 2017; Waters of Eternal Youth, #5, 2016). Impressively, Kate Atkinson, Louise Penny, and Sally Rooney all placed more than one book across the various top 10 lists.  A list of our most popular ebooks and audiobook downloads follows the lists of print books below.

Do you have a favorite book from 2019? What new book did you read in 2019 that you wish made one of the lists but didn’t? Use the comments field below to let us know.

The Most Popular Books from our Print Collection

  1. Educated: a Memoir | Tara Westover 
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens
  3. Becoming | Michelle Obama
  4. Normal People | Sally Rooney
  5. Big Sky | Kate Atkinson
  6. Unto Us a Son Is Given | Donna Leon
  7. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir | Ruth Reichl
  8. The Dutch House | Ann Patchett
  9. Olive, Again | Elizabeth Strout
  10. The Friend | Sigrid Nunez


Nonfiction (print only)

  1. Educated: a Memoir | Tara Westover
  2. Becoming | Michelle Obama
  3. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir | Ruth Reichl
  4. TIE: Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine De Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, And Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and The Movement that Changed Modern Art | Mary Gabriel & The Library Book | Susan Orlean
  5. Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing | Robert A. Caro
  6. Inheritance: a Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love | Dani Shapiro
  7. Say Nothing: a True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland | Patrick Radden Keefe
  8. TIE: Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler | Lynne Olson & Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century | George Packer 
  9. TIEWhy Religion?: a Personal Story | Elaine Pagels & Nobody's Looking at You: Essays | Janet Malcolm
  10. Churchill: Walking with Destiny | Andrew Roberts


Fiction (print only)

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens
  2. Normal People | Sally Rooney   
  3. Big Sky | Kate Atkinson                
  4. The Dutch House | Ann Patchett             
  5. Olive, Again | Elizabeth Strout   
  6. The Friend | Sigrid Nunez
  7. Chances are...  |  Richard Russo
  8. TIE: Conversations with Friends | Sally Rooney & Transcription | Kate Atkinson & The Nickel Boys | Colson Whitehead & Late in the Day | Tessa Hadley
  9. Fleishman is in Trouble | Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  10. Asymmetry | Lisa Halliday


Mysteries (print only)

  1. Unto Us a Son Is Given | Donna Leon
  2. Dark Sacred Night | Michael Connelly
  3. The American Agent | Jacqueline Winspear
  4. The New Girl | Daniel Silva
  5. The Witch Elm | Tana French
  6. Metropolis: a Bernie Gunther Novel | Philip Kerr
  7. Kingdom of the Blind | Louise Penny
  8. Careless Love: a DCI Banks Novel | Peter Robinson
  9. Conviction | Denise Mina
  10. TIE: Agent Running in the Field | John Le Carré & Past Tense: a Jack Reacher Novel | Lee Child & A Better Man | Louise Penny


Most Popular Ebooks and Audiobook Downloads

Click here to see our Most Popular Books of 2019 shelf in the Cloud Library

  1. Transcription (ebook) | Kate Atkinson 
  2. The Only Story | Julian Barnes
  3. TIE: Conversations with Friends | Sally Rooney & Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens
  4. TIE: Circe | Madeline Miller & Educated | Tara Westover
  5. Transcription (audiobook) | Kate Atkinson          
  6. TIE: Milkman | Anna Burns & Save Me the Plums | Kate Reichl  
  7. TIE: Jeeves in the Morning (audiobook) | P.G. Wodehouse & Kingdom of the Blind | Louise Penny & The Overstory | Richard Powers
  8. TIE: Normal People | Sally Rooney & The Midnight Witness | Sara Blaedel & The Order of the Day | Eric Vuillard & The Paris Diversion | Chris Pavone
  9. TIE: Becoming (audiobook) Michelle Obama & Manhattan Beach (audiobook) | Jennifer Egan & One Good Turn | Kate Atkinson & Saving Mona Lisa | Geri Chanel & The Library Book | Susan Orlean & The Overnight Kidnapper | Andrea Camilleri
  10. TIE: Big Sky | Kate Atkinson & A Gentleman in Moscow (audiobook) | Amor Towles & Madame Fourcade's Secret War | Lynne Olson & The Beneficiary  | Janny Scott & The Parisian | Isabella Hammad & The Weight of Ink | Rachel Kadish

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