Female authors, Canadian titles dominate Toronto Public Library's top 10 books of 2019

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) says local readers made two things clear this year — they wanted to read female authors and Canadian literature. 

Torontonians' reading habits were very different from previous years, librarian says

Becoming, a memoir by Michelle Obama, and Washington Black by Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan were the library's two most popular books in 2019. (Katherine Holland/CBC)

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) says local readers made two things clear to librarians this year — they wanted to read female authors and Canadian literature. 

In a list released Monday, the library ranked the 10 most popular books of 2019.

The scores were calculated using the number of times each books was borrowed or held as of Nov. 28. 

"It was an unusually high year for women," said Wendy Banks, a TPL librarian, who added that eight of 10 of the most read books were written by female authors. 

That wasn't the only trend in readers' habits that made the list "very different" than previous years, Banks says.

Literary fiction proved to be the most popular kind of fiction, unlike last year when thrillers monopolized the top spots. 

"This year is all about personal stories driven by character and voice," said the TPL in its website post of the list. 

Here are the top 10 books of 2019: 

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama. 
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. 
  • Educated by Tara Westover. 
  • Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. 
  • The Reckoning by John Grisham. 
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. 
  • Women Talking by Miriam Toews. 
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 
  • Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly.
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney.

6 millionth e-book borrowed 

Electronic books also made a significant advance in popularity this year, Banks says. 

Near the beginning of December, the library marked its six millionth e-book borrowed of 2019, meaning it already surpassed last year's total of just over five million digital books borrowed. 

"It was a big deal for me personally," Banks said. "I thought it was really exciting." 

Here are the top five e-books of 2019 

  • Educated by Tara Westover. 
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. 
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama. 
  • The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

Jeff Kinney likely most popular author this year

Although Banks says she can't be certain, as final calculations have yet to be done, Jeff Kinney appears to be the most popular author in Toronto this year. 

Kinney, author of the top-ranked children's series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, had dozens of titles circulating in 2019, which were borrowed thousands of times each. 

Children's fiction is dominated by a handful of popular series, which are ranked in order here: 

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
  • Peppa Pig based on the TV series by Neville Astley and Mark Baker.
  • Elephant and Piggy by Mo Willems.
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.
  • Dog Man by Dav Pilkey.
  • Geronimo Stilton by "Geronimo Stilton."

Apart from series, the library says standalone books by Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle are perennial favourites.