Most borrowed books of 2021

Library staff, Iain Souter and Cara Leask, display top lending books by the Obamas and Douglas Stuart. Credit: SIC

Shetland Library has released lists of the most popular books of 2021.

The most borrowed ‘physical’ adult fiction book was Booker prize winning Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart, the story of a boy growing up in Glasgow with his alcoholic mother. It beat runaway bestseller The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman into second place, and third was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Ann Cleeves, who topped the fiction chart for many years was still lending well with The Long Call, the first of her new series set in Devon.

In the non-fiction physical chart, husband and wife Barack and Michelle Obama tied for first place with their respective autobiographies.

Tamsin Mori topped the Shetland lending chart with The Weather Weaver, a young adult novel that has been a popular read in Shetland’s schools.  Marsali Taylor, who publishes two ‘Cass Lynch’ mysteries each year, had three books in the Shetland top ten. David Cockayne’s Shetland for Bairns got third place.  Many books on the Shetland chart are perennial favourites, and lending has increased since the move to the new library, with customers really appreciating the ground floor access to more lending copies.

The junior fiction chart was dominated, as it has been for several years, by four authors – Dave Pilkey, Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and Liz Pichon. The Young Adult chart is more varied, a mixture of new fiction and longer term favourites like The Hunger Games and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Elizabeth Wein, currently doing a residency with Sandwick school, has three books in the top 12.

Many of the best lenders also gain more on the Library’s two eBook platforms, Libby and Borrowbox. Shuggie Bain is the top lending eAudiobook of the year, though when physical, eBook and eAudio loans are all added together, Richard Osman does in fact rise to top adult fiction by just a few loans. The Harry Potter eAudiobooks read by Stephen Fry continue to be very popular, and when all online loans are added to the junior chart, J.K. Rowling rises to the top.

The adult non-fiction chart is also changed considerably when e-loans are added - Michelle Obama’s Belonging rises unequivocally to the top, with more than twice the loans of her husband. Belonging has also been highly borrowed in the previous two years.

Karen Fraser, Library Manager said: “It’s an interesting list this year, and online lending has continued to flourish.   E-lending gives people 24 hour access and more reading options, with eAudiobooks still very popular. The pandemic restricted access to our buildings for much of the year, but traditional books were still well borrowed, especially as we ran extensive home deliveries.

“Our reservation system means we can get people the books they want from our school or public libraries.  Even while we were moving to the new building, staff kept book requests going. We increased opening hours when the new library opened, and our community libraries in Unst and Yell reopened in September too, so the service has really been there for our readers.”

Published: 21st January 2022