JoCo Library’s 10 most checked out books of 2021 show we still wanted to get lost in fiction this year

Johnson County Library logs the number of times a single title is checked out — and the most-checked out book in 2021 was "The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah, (upper left) which was checked out more than 3,000 times. The rest of the top 10 most-checked out books were all fiction titles, including (clockwise from top left), "The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave, "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig, "Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid, "The Vanishing Half" by Britt Bennett and "The Guest List" by Lucy Foley. Images via JoCo Library.

This year, Johnson Countians leaned toward reading fiction in their spare time.

Gregg Winsor, Johnson County Library’s reader’s advisory specialist, said the list shows Johnson Countians preferred two types of fictional novels this year: historical fiction and “up-lit” novels that focus on community connections and uplifting tones.

Winsor said such feel-good novels tend to tell stories of surprising connections and becoming a better person as a result.

Dudley Court Press describes “up-lit” as books that “center on the power of kindness, the power of friendship, the power of community, the power of redemption and the power to fix what’s broken.”

Meanwhile, the historical fiction that Johnson County readers were drawn to this year may have allowed them to reflect through stories of simpler times or other challenging eras, Winsor said.

“I think the year that everyone’s probably had, I think we need a little bit of respite, of looking back and kind of looking at different things, that’s something that jumped out at me,” Winsor said.

Winsor said JoCo Library doesn’t collect personal data about patrons, but they do log how many times a specific title is checked out.

This helps librarians know what kind of content to look out for and helps guide their recommendations to readers, he said.

Most of the titles on this year’s list of 10 most checked-out books were checked out more than 1,000 times each, Winsor said.

The number of times these books were checked out affirms to library officials that patrons are reading — and are interested in JoCo Library’s content, he said.

Below are the top 1o most-checked-out books of 2021 in order, as provided by Johnson County Library: