APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2017 and What They Say About Austin

New Central Library Opening Day, October 28, 2017, APL Flickr.

APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2017 and What They Say About Austin

Blog post by Cesar
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“WE WILL NOT ACCEPT SEXISM RACISM HOMOPHOBIA XENOPHOBIA OR BIGOTRY!” yelled one sign during a march in downtown Austin this year. “HEAR OUR VOICE,” yelled another.

In 2017 Austinites by the thousands raised their voices, echoing our country’s preoccupation with politics and the ongoing struggles for civil rights and intellectual freedom. These controversies swirl around many of our public institutions, such as the Library, which is still the place we’ve always known it to be. The Library is for all.

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More than any other year in recent memory, 2017 drove that point home for us. We grappled with gender and racial tensions, with NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem as a way to take a stand against discrimination. We grappled with hurricanes, which, when you think about it, have the power to bring us all to our knees, not in protest but in humility at how fragile life is and how giving. In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath Austin welcomed evacuees from devastated Houston, giving them food, shelter and financial assistance. The Library also issued evacuee library cards. The gift here was a chance to renew one’s life, at least in part, at the Library.

This year the Library got its own chance at renewal and even attracted its own crowd of thousands when on October 28 the New Central Library downtown opened to great acclaim. That day 16,850 people visited this six-story 200,000 square-foot facility, a “place of consequence,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. That day, too, on the Library’s Instagram we captured a patron on a reading porch who inspired us to see: “In all this chaos of opening day madness, we are still reading quietly.”

But books aren’t “quiet” exactly, not when we’re reading them. In Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, one of the year’s most popular novels, we heard a subterranean train in the antebellum South shuttling slaves through darkness toward freedom. We heard the plaintive cry of white working class America in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, the year’s most popular nonfiction book. We heard Ada’s Violin tell a true, South American tale for the kids. The most popular titles of 2017 represent different voices that raised the volume of our community’s thinking and feeling about the world. At times they helped us escape the world. At times they reminded us why we march for it.

Look Back: APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2016

Most Popular Books 2017

Adult Fiction

  1. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
  2. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah
  3. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  4. The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
  5. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

Adult Nonfiction

  1. Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance
  2. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo
  3. When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
  4. Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
  5. Killers of the Flower Moon - David Grann

Juvenile/Children's Fiction

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul - Jeff Kinney
  2. Waiting is Not Easy! - Mo Willems
  3. The Thank You Book - Mo Willems
  4. My New Friend is So Fun! - Mo Willems
  5. I Will Take a Nap! - Mo Willems

Juvenile/Children's Nonfiction

  1. Ada's Violin - Susan Hood
  2. Whoosh! - Chris Barton
  3. Ocean Animals From Head to Tail - Stacey Roderick
  4. Fabulous Frogs - Martin Jenkins
  5. Meet the Mixels - Shari Last

Teen/YA Fiction

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
  3. Love & Gelato - Jenna Evans Welch
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Teen/YA Nonfiction

  1. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler - Phillip M. Hoose
  2. I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
  3. Symphony for the City of the Dead - M.T. Anderson
  4. Popular - Maya van Wagenen
  5. Bomb - Steve Sheinkin


Most Popular Multimedia 2017


  1. Moana
  2. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  3. Zootopia
  4. Game of Thrones: 6th Season
  5. Inside Out


  1. The Lego Movie
  2. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  3. Moana
  4. Star Wars IV, V, VI
  5. Aladdin

Music CDs

  1. Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording
  2. Now That's What I Call Music! 60
  3. You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen
  4. A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead
  5. Blackstar - David Bowie

Virtual Library

Of the 3 eBook and eAudiobook collections available to APL cardholders, the most popular is OverDrive. In 2017 the most popular OverDrive eBook was Camino Island by John Grisham. The most popular OverDrive eAudiobook was Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson.