APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2016 and What They Say About Austin

The APL card on a row of books, via APL Flickr.

APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2016 and What They Say About Austin

Blog post by Cesar
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Originally published December 14, 2016.

What if you viewed 2016 through the lens of what you borrowed from the Library? Were you the girl on the train, or the boy who challenged Hitler? Did you watch a jurassic world come back to hunt you? Did you go on an epic road trip with a wimpy kid? Did you sit and think, and sing?

Escape from reality.The Library gives you exactly these kinds of escape from reality. But this year we all had to face the difference between fact and fiction. We all had to face the music, starting with that of David Bowie. On January 8 the legendary Starman released the album Blackstar. Two days later he died. That’s partly why Bowie’s swan song was one of APL’s most popular music CDs of 2016 (below). That's also why Austinites renamed Bowie Street downtown with an official-looking sign that read David Bowie Street. Apart from being a clever makeshift memorial, the edited street sign was fiction (not legal) and restored to its true (legal) statement. In other words, fiction yielded the road to fact.

But that was January. The year that followed had its highs and lows. Among the highs were the gymnastic routines of Texan Simone Biles at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Chicago Cubs won its first World Series in 108 years. Here in Austin, Matthew McConaughey played the role of professor for a few lucky UT film students, though I’d argue the actor had already taught us all something valuable with his movie choices.

Among the lows was the shooting of someone’s sons and daughters – Orlando’s 49 – in June. The presidential election that ended in November had highs and lows, depending on your point of view. Suffice it to say, the election opened a divide not just between voters but between fact and fiction itself. The Oxford English Dictionary identified the divide as post-truth, its 2016 Word of the Year. Post-truth happens when a person dismisses objective facts in favor of subjective ones he simply feels and believes are true. It's why fake news goes viral.

LIBRARY: Because not everything on the internet is true.APL’s most popular fiction books, DVDs and Blu-rays (below) appeal to the same subjectivity as post-truth. They want you to feel and believe their stories are real. All the more reason to use the Library for entertainment and education, fiction and fact, so you can recognize the difference. (If the non-fake news is all you want, you can use the Library for that, too.) One of the most popular memes on the APL Facebook page this year declared: “LIBRARY: Because not everything on the internet is true.” APL’s most popular titles of 2016 say that in dark times the truth is All the Light We Cannot See and Austinites are Rising Strong in favor of it.

Look Back: APL’s Most Popular Titles of 2015

Most Popular Books 2016

Adult Fiction

  1. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  2. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
  3. Tricky Twenty-two - Janet Evanovich
  4. The Last Mile - David Baldacci
  5. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

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. Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari
  4. Rising Strong - Brené Brown
  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. My New Friend is So Fun! - Mo Willems
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever - Jeff Kinney
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck - Jeff Kinney

Juvenile/Children's Nonfiction

  1. Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France - Mara Rockliff
  2. The Ultimate Unofficial Encyclopedia for Minecrafters - Megan Miller
  3. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch - Chris Barton
  4. The Lego Movie: the Essential Guide - Hannah Dolan
  5. Meet the Mixels - Shari Last

Teen/YA Fiction

  1. The Blood of Olympus - Rick Riordan
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
  4. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
  5. The House of Hades - Rick Riordan

Teen/YA Nonfiction

  1. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler - Phillip M. Hoose
  2. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World - Malala Yousafzai
  3. Minecraft: a Beginner's Guide - David Oconner
  4. Guinness World Records 2015: Gamer's Edition - Louise Blain
  5. Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon - Steve Sheinkin


Most Popular Multimedia 2016


  1. Jurassic World
  2. Game of Thrones: Fourth Season
  3. Frozen
  4. Big Hero 6
  5. Game of Thrones: Second Season


  1. The Lego Movie
  2. Star Wars IV, V & VI
  3. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  4. Book of Life
  5. Frozen

Music CDs

  1. 25 - Adele
  2. 1989 - Taylor Swift
  3. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
  4. Blackstar - David Bowie
  5. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit - Courtney Barnett

Virtual Library

Of the 4 eBook and eAudiobook collections available to APL cardholders, the most popular is OverDrive. In 2016 the most popular OverDrive eBook was A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain. The most popular OverDrive eAudiobook was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.