Last year brought a deadly winter freeze in February, the arrival of widely available COVID-19 vaccines, a hot and humid summer in Austin, and several surges in coronavirus cases. Through it all, Lake Travis readers have made time to go to their local library. In a world of titles, several books have risen to the top of readers’ checklists.
Librarians said e-books continued to be a popular option among customers with genres like thrillers and romance attracting many readers. Bee Cave Technical Services Librarian Megan Fischer said digital payments are on the rise for romance books, perhaps because there’s still a bit of stigma associated with the genre.
Books popular with book influencers, who post content and reviews on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, are also viewed heavily, Fischer said.
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Lake Travis Collection Development Librarian Rajashree Kamat said she was surprised at how popular thrillers compared to other genres on the library’s Overdrive e-book platform.
“We always knew our community loved thrillers, but the margin surprised us,” she said, noting that thrillers nearly doubled in box office counts while romance the second most popular genre.
Bee Cave Public Services Librarian Melissa Slaughter said she was interested to see how the pandemic continues to affect people’s reading habits, including her own.
“I would consider myself a very avid reader, but in the deep state of the pandemic, I couldn’t muster the attention span or the motivation to finish a book,” she said. “While I know people who are across the way, who were never really interested in reading and all of a sudden have this super voracious appetite for books.”
By far the most viewed book, in both hardcover and e-book form, at both the Lake Travis Community Library and Bee Cave last year was “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah. The novel is set in Texas in 1934 and follows the story of Elsa Martinelli, who must make an agonizing choice between fighting for the land she loves or going west in search of a better life.
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Slaughter said the book likely took off with local readers for a number of reasons, including the continued popularity of Hannah’s other novels, including “The Great Alone” and “The Nightingale.” Historical fiction is a beloved genre, she said, and the book’s Texas setting certainly didn’t hurt.
Fischer said that when authors like Hannah have upcoming publications that are sure to be in demand, the library will often order extra copies, which will also help increase caseloads.
In Lake Travis, the most-viewed hardcover books and the most-viewed e-books did not overlap much. Popular hardcover books included titles by several major mystery and thriller authors. The five most viewed hardcover books in the library were David Baldacci’s “A Gambling Man” and “Daylight”, John Grisham’s “A Time for Mercy” and “Sooley”, and Michael Connelly’s “The Law of Innocence”. .
Kamat said popular and prolific authors like Baldacci, Grisham and Connelly have dedicated fans who sign up to the library to be automatically queued for copies of new books, contributing to high checkout numbers for these. securities.
The Lake Travis Library’s most-viewed e-books list was geared more toward popular new fiction on social media and book clubs, Kamat said. Topping ‘The Four Winds’, this list also includes acclaimed releases from recent years such as Jojo Moyes’ ‘The Giver of Stars’, Brit Bennett’s ‘The Vanishing Half’ and Matt Haig’s ‘The Midnight Library’.
In Bee Cave, there were many more similarities between online and hardcover payments, and the list included titles like VE Schwab’s “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”, Fredrik Backman’s “Anxious People” and “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laure Dave.
Fischer said she hopes people will continue to use the library by checking out books in all kinds of formats, including audiobooks, e-books and hardcovers.
“The best thing you can do to help a library is get a library card and use it,” she said. “We can help you get the books you want. If we don’t have it, we can put it on our suggestion list or help you find a place that does. … Come and consult our books. There is something for every taste. And if you don’t like it, we’ll take it back for free.