Books

The top 10 library reads that British bookworms love to borrow

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Kayleigh Dray
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To paraphrase George R. R. Martin, a reader lives a thousand lives before she dies. And the woman who never reads lives only one.

It is for this reason that our love affair with literature continues to burn bolder and brighter than ever before; from dusty old tomes to pop culture paperbacks, uplifting tales to ghost stories, and children’s literature to properly grown up books, there really is something out there for everyone to enjoy. And that’s why our bookshelves are stuffed to bursting, our kindles are always to hand, and trips to the local bookstore must be handled with care (lest we burn a hole in our bank accounts).



Sometimes, however, we prefer to save our pennies and instead visit the most magical place on earth; the local library.

"But you've read it twice"

"But you've read it twice"

With so many titles available in one place, as well as plenty of cosy nooks to snuggle up and read in, libraries are essentially little slices of heaven for bookworms everywhere.

And, while many might assume that libraries are ‘out of touch’ with today’s modern society, it seems as if many of us are still seduced by their easy charm and sweet promises of literary fulfilment.

In fact, 2016 saw many of us turn to our local lenders in a bid to get ourselves up-to-date with the bestsellers list.



Paula Hawkins' hit novel The Girl on the Train was the most-borrowed library book in 2015/2016, it has been revealed.

The thriller was borrowed 72,827 times between July 2015 and July 2016 - or around 200 times per day.

Responding to the news, Hawkins told the BBC: “As a voracious reader possessed of a fevered imagination, my childhood visits to the library were a thrill.

“I credit those weekly trips with making me the reader - and the writer - I became, so I could not be more delighted to discover that The Girl on the Train was the most borrowed book from UK libraries last year.”

Our love affair with books will never end

Our love affair with books will never end

The most borrowed books from UK libraries in 2016 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  2. Personal – Lee Child
  3. Make Me – Lee Child
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – Jeff Kinney
  6. Alert – James Patterson
  7. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever – Jeff Kinney
  9. Awful Auntie – David Walliams
  10. Truth or Die – James Patterson

While there’s no denying that Hawkins’ tale of mystery, murder, and intrigued captured the imaginations of library goers everywhere, she did not appear among the UK’s top 10 most borrowed authors.

Instead, crime novelist James Patterson secured the top spot – and, in a delightful twist, he was followed by the likes of Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson, and Julia Donaldson.

All children’s authors, this suggests that British youngsters are still being introduced to the wonders of the library by their parents, even in today’s digitally obsessed society.

Not only that, but they’re busy making the most out of their first-ever library cards, too.

Children are still obsessed with libraries

Children are still obsessed with libraries

The most borrowed authors from UK libraries in 2016 were:

  1. James Patterson
  2. Julia Donaldson
  3. Daisy Meadows
  4. Roderick Hunt
  5. Francesca Simon
  6. MC Beaton
  7. Adam Blade
  8. Jacqueline Wilson
  9. Roald Dahl
  10. Nora Roberts

As Dr Seuss famously told us, “the more you read, the more things you will know” – and we’re all too aware of the fact that, for Roald Dahl’s Matilda, the library provided the heroic bookworm with something of a lifeline when her disgusting parents refused to encourage her love of reading.,

We couldn’t be happier, then, that libraries still hold a very special place in the hearts of adults and children alike.



The figures come from Public Lending Right, which distributes royalties to authors whose books are borrowed: they get 7.8p each time, and are paid a maximum of £6,600.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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