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Librarian in Residence: Ottawa’s top reads 2016

By Jessica Green on December 28, 2016

Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 3. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at the most popular books taken out in 2016 that we have in the collection here at OPL. Statistics are kept about all the checkouts over time, so I pulled out the top ten in the categories of Fiction, and the top five in Graphic Novels, Mystery, Non Fiction and Teen Fiction.


Title Author Total Check-Outs Number of Copies
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins 739 113
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr 539 89
Gray Mountain John Grisham 534 84
The Illegal: A Novel Laurence Hill 519 99
The Orenda Joseph Boyden 465 97
The Rosie Project Graeme C. Simpson 457 78
Life After Life Kate Atkinson 433 77
The Nightingale Kristin Hannah 414 63
Go Set A Watchman Harper Lee 410 63
Orphan Train Christina Baker Kline 394 58
All My Puny Sorrows Miriam Toews 393 69

Titles like The Girl on the Train, All the Light We Cannot See, The Illegal, and The Nightingale are not really a surprise to see on this listing, as they have been hot picks for much of the year. I was pleased to see Life after Life, The Orenda, and The Rosie Project still here as they’re a few years old now but still popular reads.

Graphic Novels

Title Author Total Check-Outs Number of Copies
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Bill Watterson 288 47
Step Aside, Pops! A Hark: A Vagrant Collection Kate Beaton 186 27
Saga Volume Five Brian K. Vaughn 112 13
Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool Gerry Duggan 89 11
The Outside Circle Patti LaBoucane-Benson 87 15

This too was a delightful collection of titles. If you are of a certain age, you got to see Calvin and Hobbes in the newspaper comics, but now you can see every single one! Step Aside Pops was one of my favourites from this year, and Saga is still one of the most compelling ongoing storylines in comics right now. I also enjoyed Hawkeye vs Deadpool which does not take itself too seriously. I can offer a high recommendation for The Outside Circle, which I only just discovered, and is a tale of redemption when the cards are all stacked against you.


Title Author Total Check-Outs Number of Copies
The Girl in the Spider’s Web David Lagercrantz 516 76
The Nature of the Beast Louise Penny 499 64
The Burning Room Michael Connelly 445 66
The Crossing Michael Connelly 426 54
Speaking in Bones Kathy Reichs 420 60

Mystery is probably the most popular genre at any public library, which is why they are often treated as a separate category. There are no real surprises here in term of authors, with mystery stalwarts Kathy Reichs, Louise Penny and Michael Connelly covering most of the top five. The sequel to the Millennium Trilogy is the top pick here which is quite a divisive read, according to reviews spotted on our website.


Title Author Total Check-Outs Number of Copies
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain 431 71
The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Marie Kondo 391 64
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload Daniel J. Levitin 372 58
The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity Norman Doidge 349 54
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native Peoples in North America Thomas King 324 54

This was a great treat to see as the top Nonfiction read in Ottawa was the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Who knew Ottawa loved philately so much?? If you remove that, plus the Driver’s Handbook and the Prep guide for the Public Service Exams, you end up with a neat list of books. I was amazed to see that Susan Cain’s book from 2012 is still hugely popular, and has still a large list waiting to read it (it’s great). It was no surprise to see Marie Kondo’s organising book as well since it was perhaps the most hyped read of the year. It’s also interesting to see two books about the mind, as well as Thomas King’s lauded book, also from 2012.


Title Author Total Check-Outs Number of Copies
The Fault in Our Stars John Green 360 63
The Maze Runner James Dashner 315 56
Allegiant Veronica Roth 309 55
Divergent Veronica Roth 309 51
Eleanor and Park Rainbow Rowell 277 52

This was a real surprise for me as all of these books are all a few years old! The top four titles are likely still popular due to movies being made in the past few years as studios (and publishers) try to recapture the popularity of The Hunger Games. The Fault in Our Stars is the only non post-apocalyptic title of the four, but it remains the most popular book about star-crossed lovers. My personal fave of the five is Eleanor and Park which is very much a different read from the rest, but so well written.