APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2015 and What They Say About Austin

The shelves at Faulk Central Library, courtesy of APL on Flickr.

APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2015 and What They Say About Austin

Blog post by Cesar
Monday, December 11, 2017

Originally published December 22, 2015.

Local time in Austin, Texas is seven hours behind Paris, France. Thus the French see a new day first and a new darkness first, and this was tragically true in 2015. In January two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12. In November jihadists attacked six locations around Paris, killing 130.

Long Center lights for Paris, November 13, 2015That month Austin’s Long Center brought Paris’ heartbreak home by lighting up its terrace with the colors of the French flag and sharing the gesture on Facebook. Just as terrorism infects jihadists, it infects the conversations of the populace and political leaders at all levels of government. Candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which kicked off this year, have all articulated what they would do about the global menace of our time. They have also addressed domestic issues such as marriage equality, Obamacare and gun control.

Thankfully, the year had moments to love. Pope Francis visited the U.S. The Kansas City Royals won the World Series for the first time in 30 years. Hollywood released The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars movie in 10 years. Caitlyn Jenner revealed her deepest truth and became the most famous transgender woman in the world; she even redeemed the reality-TV Kardashians, I would argue, from themselves.

With terror on the mind and hope in the spirit, what did Austin read, watch and listen to in 2015? Below are the top 5 most popular books, DVDs, blu-rays and music CDs at Austin Public Library (system-wide) this year.

What’s immediately apparent is that most listed titles were not published in 2015. Among the most borrowed teen/YA books, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was published in 2012 yet remained relevant in such a star-crossed year. Mo Willems and Jeff Kinney reigned supreme among juvenile/children’s books. Austinites read titles in Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series, which debuted in 2007 and is about a big-hearted friendship of opposites.

Austinites read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See most often among adult fiction books; that the book takes place in WWII France, fraught in the grip of militant extremists, makes for a striking parallel to the present. Among adult nonfiction books, the most popular was Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, an insight into the mindset of Austinites grappling with life during an ever chaotic, untidy 2015.  

On the entertainment front, Austin stayed in touch with its light-hearted youth by going home to watch Frozen and The Lego Movie and to listen to the pop musician born in 1989. At the same time, Austin listened to the dark, hip-hop intensities of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, a counterpoint to the sunny populism aired by Taylor Swift.

In 2015 Austin stood in solidarity with a world that values counterpoints and opposites, and the freedom to choose our place in it. Cheers to that and to good fortune in 2016.

Most Popular Books 2015

Adult Fiction

  1. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
  2. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  3. The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
  4. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
  5. Gray Mountain - John Grisham

Adult Nonfiction

  1. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo
  2. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End - Atul Gawande
  3. Yes Please - Amy Poehler
  4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed
  5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain

Juvenile/Children's Fiction

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul - Jeff Kinney
  2. Let's Go for a Drive! - Mo Willems
  3. We Are in a Book! - Mo Willems
  4. There is a Bird on Your Head! - Mo Willems
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck - Jeff Kinney

Juvenile/Children's Nonfiction

  1. The Lego Movie: the Essential Guide - Hannah Dolan
  2. The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus - Jennifer Bryant
  3. LEGO Ninjago, Masters of Spinjitzu: The Visual Dictionary - Hannah Dolan
  4. Grandfather Gandhi - Arun Gandhi
  5. The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life - Lois Ehlert

Teen/YA Fiction

  1. The Blood of Olympus - Rick Riordan
  2. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
  4. The House of Hades - Rick Riordan
  5. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Teen/YA Nonfiction

  1. Popular: A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek - Maya van Wagenen
  2. Minecraft: a Beginner's Guide - David Oconner
  3. Guinness World Records 2015: Gamer's Edition - Louise Blain
  4. Marvel Encyclopedia: the Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe - Alastair Dougall
  5. Adventure Time: the Art of Ooo - Chris McDonnell


Most Popular Multimedia 2015


  1. Frozen
  2. Divergent
  3. Game of Thrones: Third Season
  4. Game of Thrones: Second Season
  5. Monsters University


  1. The Lego Movie
  2. Maleficent
  3. Frozen
  4. Book of Life
  5. Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Music CDs

  1. 1989 - Taylor Swift
  2. Now That's What I Call Music! 53
  3. Title - Meghan Trainor
  4. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
  5. Fairy Tale Songs

Virtual Library

Of the eBooks, eAudiobooks, music and video in the Virtual Library, by far the most popular are eBooks, which include 54,707 titles that Austin borrowed 507,818 times in 2015. eAudiobooks were second with 19,206 titles and 188,553 checkouts. Click here to get started with both.