The 10 hottest books at Seattle Public Library
A list of the titles most checked out of Seattle Public Library in 2011, from Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" to Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken."
Seattle Times book editor
Here's a surefire way to tap a region's zeitgeist — find out what books its library patrons love to read. So in honor of the imminent closing of the ledger for 2011, I asked Seattle Public Library to calculate the books most popular with its patrons for this year.
The numbers have been crunched — the titles are below. I hate to contribute to the cloud of Seattle smug that has been known to envelop our city, but this is a pretty distinguished group. Several prize-winning novels, a great kid's book ("Go Dog. Go!"), and the memoirs of Tina Fey, comic genius.
The quotes are from Tom Horne, the library's assistant director for Technical and Collection Services.
1. "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen. "The idyllic lives of civic-minded environmentalists Patty and Walter Berglund come into question when their son moves in with aggressive Republican neighbors," wrote Horne. In the words of Patty Berglund's memoir (channeled by Franzen): Mistakes Were Made.
2. "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins. Book three in the Hunger Games series and sequel to the author's 2009 teen novel " Catching Fire," this dystopian novel, third in a trilogy about a young girl fighting for her life — first in a reality-TV show, then against a repressive regime — is for grades 7 and up.
3. "Room" by Emma Donoghue. "Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday in an 11-square-foot, soundproof cell," Horne wrote. Despite this horrifying premise, The Washington Post called "Room" "one of the most affecting and subtly profound novels of the year."
4. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese. This debut novel by physician-memoirist Verghese, the story of twin brothers who come of age as their country (Ethiopia) nears revolution, is an "enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home," wrote Horne.
5. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey. Comedian Tina Fey tells her story.
6. "Cleopatra: a Life" by Stacy Schiff. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Schiff moves the story of Cleopatra beyond that of a sultry seductress and into a narrative of a powerful ruler determined to do anything and everything necessary to preserve her country
7. "Go, Dog. Go!" by P.D. Eastman. In this 1961 book, dogs in every conceivable conveyance converge on one big dog party. Not so coincidentally, Seattle Children's Theater staged this book this year.
8. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan. Of this book, Horne wrote that "an aging former punk rocker and record executive and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs, confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem."
9. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave. A 2009 novel about a friendship that blooms between two strangers, a Nigerian refugee and a recent widow from suburban London. "Little Bee" was SPL's 2011 "Seattle Reads" selection.
10. "Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand. "A riveting story of endurance by an American serviceman taken prisoner by the Japanese," Horne wrote.
Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @gwinnma.
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