Library Blog

Your Hit Parade: The Most Popular Books of 2018

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Perennially-beloved NYSL authors make a strong showing on our 2018 list of the ten most popular (print) books. For the second year in a row, Amor Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow ranks number one. In my 17 years at the Library, I can’t say that I recall a book ever occupying the top slot for two years, but a reliable source of institutional memory tells me that this might have happened with one of Hilary Mantel’s novels, likely Wolf Hall back in 2009. Impressively, Donna Leon appears on the list for the third consecutive year (Earthly Remains, #6, 2017; Waters of Eternal Youth, #5, 2016), and Michael Ondaatje’s return with his first novel in seven years was warmly received by Library members. Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach was a popular and critical favorite, and one of the winners of The Society Library’s 2017-18 New York City Book Awards.  Some fresh new faces make an appearance in our Top 10, as well: debuts by Lisa Halliday and A.J. Finn; and the second novel from Celeste Ng. Interestingly, all of the books in the Top 10 are novels—no work of nonfiction made the cut in 2018.

The list of most-circulated ebooks reveals our members' eclectic tastes with authors like Barbara Pym and Rex Stout (two books each) holding their own among 2018 bestsellers. 

Lists of the most popular fiction, mysteries, nonfiction, and ebooks follow the Top 10 below. The Most Popular Books from 2017 can be found here, and a more general look at collection circulation at the Library in 2017 can be seen here

Top 10 

1. A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles
2. Manhattan Beach | Jennifer Egan
3. Asymmetry | Lisa Halliday
4. The Woman in the Window | A.J. Finn
5. The Temptation of Forgiveness | Donna Leon
6. Transcription | Kate Atkinson
7. To Die but Once | Jacqueline Winspear
8. Warlight | Michael Ondaatje
9. Less | Andrew Sean Greer
10. Tie: Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng & The Female Persuasion | Meg Wolitzer


1. A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles
2. Manhattan Beach | Jennifer Egan
3. Asymmetry | Lisa Halliday
4. Transcription | Kate Atkinson
5. Warlight | Michael Ondaatje
6. Less | Andrew Sean Greer
7. Tie: Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng & The Female Persuasion | Meg Wolitzer
8. Pachinko |Min Jin Lee
9. Tie: Sing, Unburied, Sing | Jesmyn Ward & Clock Dance | Anne Tyler
10. The Mars Room | Rachel Kushner


1. Educated: a Memoir | Tara Westover
2. Leonardo da Vinci | Walter Isaacson
3. Fear: Trump in the White House | Bob Woodward
4. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House | Michael Wolff
5. Ma'am Darling: 99 glimpses of Princess Margaret | Craig Brown
6. Tie: An Odyssey: a Father, a Son, and an Epic | Daniel Mendelsohn & Famous Father Girl: a Memoir of Growing up Bernstein | Jamie Bernstein
7. The Vanity fair Diaries: 1983-1992 | Tina Brown
8. Tie: Revolution Song : a Story of American Freedom | Russell Shorto & A Life of my Own | Claire Tomalin
9. Proust's Duchess: How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of fin-de-si├Ęcle Paris | Caroline Weber
10. The River of Consciousness | Oliver Sacks


1. The Woman in the Window | A.J. Finn
2. The Temptation of Forgiveness | Donna Leon
3. To Die but Once | Jacqueline Winspear
4. The Other Woman | Daniel Silva
5. The Gate Keeper: an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery | Charles Todd
6. The Punishment She Deserves | Elizabeth George
7. The Word is Murder | Anthony Horowitz
8. Tie: The Midnight Line: a Jack Reacher novel | Lee Child & Sunburn | Laura Lippman
9. The Widows of Malabar Hill | Sujata Massey
10. The Witch Elm | Tana French


See our Most Popular Books of 2018 shelf in the Cloud Library. 

1. Manhattan Beach | Jennifer Egan
2. An American Marriage | Tayari Jones
3. Asymmetry | Lisa Halliday; Sleep No More | P.D. James; The Flight Attendant | Chris Bohjalian
4. Less  | Andrew Sean Greer; Pachinko | Min Jin Lee
5. A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles; Educated | Tara Westover; The Perfect Nanny | Leila Slimani; The Wanted |Robert Crais; Warlight | Michael Ondaatje
6. Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng; Ordeal by Innocence | Agatha Christie; Rise and Kill First | Ronen Bergman; Tangerine | Christine Mangan 
7. The Woman in the Window | A.J. Finn
8. Fer-de-Lance/The League of Frightened Men| Rex Stout; Natural Causes | Barbara Ehrenreich; Some Tame Gazelle | Barbara Pym; The Only Story| Julian Barnes
9. A Nest of Vipers  | Andrea Camilleri; A Taste for Vengeance | Martin Walker; A Visit from the Goon Squad | Jennifer Egan; Circe | Madeline Miller; Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders; The Great Believers | Rebekka  Makkai; There There | Tommy Orange; Women & Power | Mary Beard
10. Alternate Side | Anna Quindlen; Less Than Angels | Barbara Pym; Munich | Robert Harris; Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret | Craig Brown; The Nero Wolfe Mystery Series: The Zeck Trilogy | Rex Stout; The Power | Naomi Alderman

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