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What you’re reading: The most popular books at Hennepin County, Ramsey County and St. Paul libraries

After years on the beat as a Minneapolis Police detective and a stint as a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent, Lucas Davenport is working with the U.S. Marshals Service, tracking a drug cartel in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The slender, dark-haired maverick with “forgiving” blue eyes and a “raffish” scar across his face is the protagonist of thriller novelist John Sandford’s “Prey” series. Davenport is also one of the most popular characters in the Twin Cities these days, at least by one measure.

Sandford's “Golden Prey,” the 27th book in the former Pioneer Press reporter's popular series, was published earlier this year, and it's quickly become one of the most checked-out books at local libraries, according to circulation data from the Hennepin and Ramsey County libraries and the St. Paul Public Library (Minneapolis libraries are within the Hennepin County system, whereas St. Paul has its own libraries distinct from the county’s).

MinnPost obtained data on the top five most circulated adult print books at each of the three aforementioned library systems. Here’s what the Twin Cities are reading:

Hennepin County's most checked-out library books (41 locations)
The most checked-out adult print books in the last month.
Source: Hennepin County Library
Ramsey County's most checked-out library books (7 locations)
The most checked-out adult print books so far this year.
Source: Ramsey County Library
St. Paul's most checked-out library books (15 locations and a bookmobile)
The most checked-out adult print books in the last month.
Source: St. Paul Public Library

Local books and politics

Dashing Davenport isn’t the only Minnesotan, real or imagined, locals are reading about these days.

Also popular on library shelves is U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s “Giant of the Senate,” and local author David Housewright's “What the Dead Leave Behind,” the latest in the Rushmore McKenzie series about a former St. Paul detective solving mysteries, said Katy Schultz, who has been a materials selection librarian at the St. Paul Public Library for about a decade.

Since the election, Schultz and other St. Paul librarians have noticed more interest in political books.

“I get the sense that a lot of our patrons are really trying to understand the political situation right now, and are reading kind of social justice, political science books,” she said.

Some recently popular titles of that ilk include, like Franken’s book and “Hillbilly Elegy,” a memoir and treatise on what ails parts of middle America, George Orwell’s “1984” and a Bloomberg reporter’s biography on Steve Bannon, “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.”

“The political climate has made kind of a little mini-trend … but people are always going to read the thrillers and the mysteries,” Schultz said.

Indeed, the most circulated book between the three libraries was “Into the Water,” a thriller about a town shrouded in mystery when women keep disappearing in the same body of water and the second novel by Paula Hawkins, whose smash hit debut novel “The Girl on the Train” was big last year.

While it’s fun to look at the books that are flying off the shelves, it's worth remembering that the top 50 adult print books represent just 1 percent of library circulation, Schultz said.

“It’s tip of the iceberg, kind of, in terms of what people are reading,” she said. “Sometimes when we think about ‘what is St. Paul reading,’ they're reading a lot of stuff. Lifelong learning, nonfiction, kid stuff is huge in circulation for us.”

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Comments (1)

Interesting what others are reading

We get great ideas on what to read from the Recently Reviewed section on the library website(s). We like to review books there as well. It's nice to think that one of our book reviews will inspire another reader to request the book!