Books

London’s most-borrowed library books have been revealed – and they’re seriously feminist

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Lauren Geall
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Woman reading in a library

New data from the British Library reveals London’s most borrowed books - and the results are pleasantly surprising.

As a city, London is truly a literary lovers dream.

Besides the fact that it’s full of some fantastic specialist bookshops and perfect reading spots, it just happens to be the setting of some of the world’s favourite novels.

Whether it’s the poverty-stricken world of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist or the hedonistic spectacle of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, literature remains at the heart of London’s identity.

So with literature part of the thread of the city, the books Londoners are reading on a day-to-day basis can tell us a lot about people’s attitudes and opinions. 

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And thanks to new statistics on the top 20 most borrowed books and authors from London’s public libraries from 2017-18, we’ve been given a rare insight into the minds of readers across the capital – and it turns out London’s reading habits are a lot more feminist than you might suspect.

Besides from the load of children’s literature which dominates the list (books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series appear eight times in the top 20), 3 of the 4 non-children’s books are all written by female authors. 

So without further ado, these are the three feminist novels London loves the most - and they’re some of our favourites. 

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale book cover

It’s no secret that we love Margaret Atwood and her novels here at Stylist, and it seems that London feels the same. The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian world where fertile women are enslaved to bear children for the wealthy classes, and follows the character of Offred as she navigates the reality of life under a totalitarian state.

The feminist dystopia came in fourth on the list of London’s most borrowed books, following the mighty presence of the DVLA’s official theory test guide. Definitely two titles you see together often. 

Swing Time, Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is a powerful novel which delivers a powerful social commentary through it’s intricate story of female friendship, failure and growing up. 

The award-winning author’s 5th novel was one of the top 10 borrowed books in London, coming in at 8th. 

The Power, Naomi Alderman

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power’s speculative take on a future where women develop a supernatural and life-changing power explores what would happen if women ruled the world. The result is a terrifying and often horrific look at how power can change the way we behave – and it’s bloody brilliant. 

Coming in at number 11, Naomi Alderman sits a mere seven spaces below her literary mentor, Margaret Atwood.

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Images: Getty/Provided by the Publishers

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Lauren Geall

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