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The Most Popular Books in US Public Libraries 2023

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

What are the most popular library book checkouts from 2023? This is a tough question to answer, in part because not every library reports on the books being checked out, some do but separate out genres and formats (i.e., they pull out mystery checkouts from overall checkouts or count digital and print separately), and because the reports on top checkouts might show up at different times at the end of one year or in the beginning of another. But as we count down to the end of 2023, what can we gather about popular library books from the year based on the information that can be surfaced?

Looking at 19 different “top library book” checkout lists from big and small public libraries across the USA, here are some of the most popular books of the year. What makes looking at public library book popularity fun is that it is year-agonistic, meaning that books which published this year might sit alongside books published several years ago. Genre books tend to see more top books lists in libraries than in other outlets who compile or write about the year’s best or top books.

This list is composed of the top lists from 19 different libraries, which you can look at below. It includes every book listed in a top checkouts post that was published for an adult audience (in other words, it does not include the popular YA or children’s books, which for some libraries meant many titles were not included). Some of these libraries combined their top lists in format, while others separated them out. The same happened with fiction and nonfiction, as some libraries combined both and others separated them. All of this is to say that some libraries had a lot of books on their lists–Topeka-Shawnee, for example–and others had few–Los Angeles only listed their single top title for fiction and nonfiction. Over 300 top books were considered in this count.

The impact of TikTok, as well as popular book clubs and “best of” lists from years prior show themselves on this list. You’ll see big name memoirs alongside publishing powerhouse Colleen Hoover and more.

Find below the top 10 most popular books in libraries in 2023. You’ll see some unsurprising things, given that publishing and librarianship are still a predominantly white, straight industries. That said, it is getting better and the long list of titles includes several diverse titles.

The Top 10 Most Popular Books in US Public Libraries in 2023

  • Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex – 17 libraries

More Popular Books in US Public Libraries in 2023

These weren’t the top books in public libraries this year, but they showed up on more than one list and deserve note for that, too!

Libraries included in this count are the AnyThink Libraries (CO), Arlington Public Library (VA), Brooklyn Public Library (NY), Boston Public Library (MA), Charleston County Public Library (SC), DC Public, Indianapolis Public Library (IN), Long Branch Public Library (NJ), Los Angeles Public Library (CA), Matthews Public Library (PA), New York Public Library (NY), Philadelphia Free Library (PA), Queens Public Library (NY), San Diego Public Library (CA), San Francisco Public Library (CA), San Jose Public Library (CA), Timberland Regional Public Libraries (WA), Topeka & Shawnee County Public Libraries (KS), and Washington County Public Libraries (MN).