Niagara Gazette

January 13, 2014

Page me! A look at books Niagara region readers enjoyed in 2013

By Dean Goranites
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — There was a resurgence of interest in books in 2013, thanks to the help of the latest installments in popular series, blockbuster movie tie-ins and new technologies allowing readers more options on how to consume their favorite titles.

Perhaps a surprise, topping the list of the most popular books checked out from the North Tonawanda library this past year was the 2013 edition of “Guinness World Records.” Library Director Britt White credits the book’s popularity to the large number of children and families that use the library.

Over in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system, the most commonly checked out book was Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl,” placing third on the North Tonawanda list. A thriller at heart, “Gone Girl” details the murder of a woman in the small town of North Carthage, Missouri, and the ensuing mystery revolving around whether or not her husband was in on the crime.

Dan Brown, the author of best selling novels “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” came back in a big way with his newest novel “Inferno,” which ranked as the second most popular book in both Niagara and Erie county public libraries. “Inferno” continues the story of beloved main character Robert Langdon, as he finds himself in a mess of riddles, high stakes and crime all revolving around the literary classic Dante’s “Inferno.” Published in May, Dan Brown’s “Inferno” ended up as the sixth most purchased book on Amazon.

Due to the wildly successful movie franchise, the second installment in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, “Catching Fire,” was one of the most desirable books of 2013. The movie based on the book hit theaters on November 22nd, but check-out rates of the book had been high the entire year.

Buffalo and Erie County Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski, like many, re-read all three Hunger Games novels this year, saying “I am a big fan of the series. It is good reading for teens and adults.”

Apparently many people agree, as the trilogy filled up the top three slots for her library’s most popular Young Adult/Teen books, and “Catching Fire” hit number six on North Tonawanda’s most checked-out list. The self-titled first installment in the trilogy, published in September of 2008, was the 16th most commonly checked-out book in North Tonawanda.

Author James Patterson was once again a big name in 2013, accounting for seven of the top 20 books checked-out of the North Tonawanda Library this past year. His titles “Alex Cross, Run” and “Second Honeymoon” hit number five and number eight on the list, respectively.

Children account for a large number of books checked out from the North Tonawanda library as well, as nine out of the top 20 most popular authors of 2013 were children’s book authors. Dr. Suess was the 11th most popular author overall at the library, with Stan Berenstain, author of the Berenstain Bears books, climbing all the way to number three on the most popular authors list, beating out names as big as Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks.

The North Tonawanda Library categorizes their books by subject, and some interesting insights come from looking over the most popular ones. Large print books were the seventh most popular “subject,” showing an increased desire for easier-to-read print. Graphic novels continue to grow in popularity as a medium for storytelling as well, coming in 12th place among popular subjects, only slightly behind “Vampires.”

New means of consuming books continues to rise, as Mary Jean Jakubowski says that ebooks and audiobooks are becoming more popular among readers. Jakubowski says the ability to catch up on reading via audiobook while driving, working or running errands is a big reason for the format’s spike in popularity.

For readers looking for great stories that didn’t get the best-selling recognition they deserve, Jakubowski recommends Richard North Patterson’s “The Spire,” a book she says “is a creepy thriller with an unbelievable twist at the end.” She also recommends “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, which is “a good choice if you are looking for stories about family, compassion and humor. You will want to know how it ends.”

When putting together reading lists for 2014, both Jakubowski and White encourage patrons to visit their local libraries and reach out to their librarians. Having read and formed opinions on a large number of books from 2013 — both best sellers and underground hits — your local librarian is a great source for happy reading in the New Year.

Dean Goranites publishes weekly video book reviews at unleashthis.tumblr.com, and can be reached through Twitter at unleash_this.