British Columbia

Vancouver Public Library's top 10 books of 2017 reveals city's love for the tried and true

The Handmaid's Tale, Harry Potter and the career-changing handbook 'What Color is Your Parachute' are among Vancouver Public Library's most checked-out books.

'It’s fascinating the legs those stories have on them,' says library's data manager

Vancouverites kept returning to old favourites this year when it came to the most checked-out library books in the city. (Pixabay)

2017 might have been an unpredictable year politically, but here in Vancouver, book lovers reached out for the well-loved and the well-worn.

Many of the same books from years previous showed up on the Vancouver Public Library's top 10 most checked-out books of the year.

For instance, Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the Light We Cannot See about occupied France during Second World War has oscillated between the top two spots for the past few years before topping the list again this year.

Janet Horne, the library's data manager, said she double-checked the results when she saw some of the same titles reappear.

"I looked at them and thought, oh, some of the same old favourites," Horne said. "It's fascinating the legs those stories have on them."

An adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, starring Elisabeth Moss (pictured here), was released to critical acclaim earlier this year. (Hulu)

Books with a movie equivalent were another popular theme in this year's most checked-out books.

Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale experienced a resurgence this year, in part due to the Emmy-award winning TV adaptation released this spring.

The romance novel Me Before You, the biographical memoir The Glass Castle, the children's book Wonder, have all been recently adapted to film.

"It is something people like to think about to talk about and compare the movie and the book," Horne said. "You'll often see the comments in the catalogue or comments on the DVD saying 'oh, the book was better' or whatever or vice versa."

2017 marked the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the literary phenomenon shows no sign of stopping, at least according to the most checked-out children's books at the Vancouver Public Library.

And kids still can't get enough of a certain boy wizard.

Twenty years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published, the series dominates the list of most checked-out children's books.

"I thought gee, there's opportunity there for the next J.K. Rowling to roll in there," said Horne.

VPL's top 10 most checked-out fiction

  1. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 2014
  2. Rather Be the Devil, Ian Rankin, 2016
  3. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes, 2012
  4. Still Life, Louise Penny, 2005
  5. My Brilliant Friend: Childhood, Adolescence, Elena Ferrante, 2013
  6. Even Dogs in the Wild,  Ian Rankin, 2015
  7. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985
  8. Chaos, Patricia Daniels Cornwell, 2016
  9. Moonglow, MIchael Chabon, 2016
  10. Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan, 2013

VPL's top 10 most checked-out non-fiction

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain, 2012
  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, 2011
  3. What Color is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles, revised annually
  4. The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business, Charles Duhigg, 2012
  5. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King, 2013
  6. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls, 2005
  7. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck, 2007
  8. The Reason You Walk, Wab Kinew, 2015
  9. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg, 2013
  10. Fodor's Montreal & Quebec City, 2016

VPL's top 10 most checked-out children's fiction

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling, 1997
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling, 1999
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling, 1998
  4. Wonder, R. J. Palacio, 2012
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling, 2000
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling, 2007
  7. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling, 2005
  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling, 2003
  9. The BFG, Roald Dahl, 1982
  10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney, 2012


Roshini Nair is a writer for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at