What was the Toronto Public Library’s most borrowed book in 2018? Hint: it wasn’t a novel


Toronto Public Library’s Top 10 most-borrowed books of 2018:

  1. Official MTO Driver’s Handbook: borrowed 4,665 times so far in 2018*
  2. Origin by Dan Brown: 4,120
  3. Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill: 4,033
  4. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham: 3,640
  5. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff: 3,547
  6. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins: 3,289
  7. Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay: 3,189
  8. The Late Show by Michael Connelly: 3,169
  9. Glass Houses by Louise Penny: 3,058
  10. Camino Island by John Grisham: 3,055

It’s the end of another year and, looking back to see what Torontonians read in 2018*, we’ve drawn a few unscientific conclusions about the reading habits of our citizens: 

*Numbers reflect print books borrowed as of December 10, 2018. Final circulation numbers for the year will be higher.

1. People learn life skills at the library

The MTO Driver's Handbook is usually the library's most circulated book

It’s an open secret that the Ontario Ministry of Transport’s Driver’s Handbook is the most-borrowed book pretty much every year. We think it shows that we’re useful to young people, newcomers and all kinds of folks who are looking to develop their life skills. Pro tip – if you’re getting ready for your driving test, we have multiple copies of the Handbook in every branch!

2. Local Giller-winners make good

Bellevue Square

Toronto readers borrowed nearly as many copies of Bellevue Square, a literary thriller by Toronto-based author Michael Redhill, as they did of Origin, the latest blockbuster by international uber-bestselling author Dan Brown. We’re sure Bellevue Square winning the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize didn’t hurt because we saw the same thing last year, when Madeleine Thien’s Giller- and Governor General’s Award-winning family saga, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, swept the city.

3. Toronto readers care about what’s happening in the world

When Fire and Fury came out, 500 holds were placed in a single day

Did you know that, when it came out in January, more people placed library holds on Michael Wolff’s White House exposé, Fire and Fury, in Toronto than they did in New York, Washington, or any other city we looked at? Do you know how exciting that was for us library workers? It shows us two great things about the readers in this city: 1. You care about what’s going on in the world. 2. When you want to get your hands on a book, you turn to the library. We couldn’t be happier.

4. Toronto readers know what they like…

Discuss the best books of 2018 with our #TOpicks team

…and what they (we) like is suspense. The last five authors on our most-borrowed books list – Grisham, Penny, Connelly, Barclay, Hawkins – all write mysteries and/or thrillers. Additionally, they were all on our top ten list last year, for their previous novels. 

And that’s not all…

The insights don’t end there! To give you a more complete picture, we’ve compiled the top five books in each of four categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Teen Fiction and Children’s Picture Books: 

Top 5 adult fiction titles:

This year, we enjoyed being puzzled and thrilled. (And note that two authors with deep Toronto roots made our top 5):

  1. Origin by Dan Brown: borrowed 4,120 times in 2018
  2. Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill: 4,033
  3. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham: 3,640
  4. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins: 3,289
  5. Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay: 3,189

Top 5 adult nonfiction titles:

Fire and Fury

You’ve heard about the Driver’s Handbook and Fire and Fury. The nonfiction top 5 is rounded out by Jordan Peterson’s self-help book, Trevor Noah’s memoir, and Marie Kondo’s manifesto about how and why to clean up your space.

  1. The Official MTO Driver’s Handbook: borrowed 4,665 times in 2018
  2. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff: 3,547
  3. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson: 2,514
  4. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: 2,354
  5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: 2,274

Top 5 Young Adult titles:

Turtles All The Way Down

Young adult readers are doing a lot of the heavy lifting this year. Turtles All The Way Down, by the immensely popular John Green, is a heartfelt, personal narrative about a teen living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In The Hate U Give, a young woman becomes an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement after police kill her friend. And The Marrow Thieves imagines a horrifying future in which settler Canadians bring back residential schools. 

  1. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: borrowed 1,536 times in 2018
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: 1,351
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: 1,038
  4. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline: 1,001
  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: 990

Top 5 children’s picture books:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

We’re not surprised to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, at the top of this list because it’s sold approximately one copy per minute since it was published in 1969. Beloved Canadian Robert Munsch had to be here somewhere as well. But Todd Parr‘s inclusive, feel-good picture books are relative newcomers to the scene. And we’re frankly astonished that Mo Willems’ The Pigeon Needs a Bath beat out the more traditional Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus for a place in our top 5. (What if the pigeon takes this as permission to drive the bus?!)

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: borrowed 2,204 times in 2018
  2. It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr: 1,294
  3. Love the World by Todd Parr: 1,254
  4. The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems: 1,221
  5. Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch: 1,178

Are there any books on this list that surprise you? How many have you read? Tell us in the comments!