The most popular books at St. Paul and Hennepin County libraries

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St. Paul Public Library patrons were hoping to get their hands on thriller ”Desolation Mountain” while Hennepin County users were clamoring for Kristin Hannah’s “The Great Alone.”

A plane crashes in a remote part of Minnesota, killing a U.S. senator.

No, we’re not recounting one of the sadder episodes in Minnesota political history, we’re talking about the plot of “Desolation Mountain,” the most requested book at St. Paul Public Libraries right now. Of course, it falls to sheriff-turned-private investigator Cork O’Connor to dig into what happened in the latest in St. Paul author William Kent Krueger’s series.

Here’s a list of the most popular books in the Twin Cities right now. Each library system has different ways of tracking books’ popularity, so these aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons but should give you a sense of what’s popular.

St. Paul Public Library

Krueger isn’t the only Minnesota author at the top of the list in St. Paul. He’s not even the only Minnesota thriller author to mix the genre with politics to make it this time.

“The Guilty Dead,” by P.J. Tracy, is also one of the most requested books. P.J Tracy is the nom de plume of local mother-daughter duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht. P.J. died in 2016, making “The Guilty Dead” Traci’s first solo effort. The ninth installment in their “Monkeewrench” series is about the mystery surrounding the death of a close friend of Minnesota’s leading candidate for governor. It's not even out yet (release date: Sept. 11) but is already one of the most requested books.

St. Paul Public Libraries' currently most requested books (13 locations and a Bookmobile)
Source: St. Paul Public Library

That’s pretty common, said Jessica Zillhart, who works in collections at St. Paul Public Libraries — whether it’s a local author, a book set here or a local publisher out with a new book, it tends to do well.

What else has done well this summer?

Zillhart hasn’t really seen a big blockbuster for the bookish this year like “Gone Girl,” “All the Light We Cannot See” and “The Girl on the Train” in years past.

Zillhart speculates that’s because a lot of people are opting to read one of the many new political tell-alls, like those by James Comey, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Michael Wolff, which didn’t make the top five list but are nonetheless popular. St. Paul Public Libraries provided a list of the books with the most current outstanding requests.

“All of those tend to get a lot of interest right away. I think that has maybe diluted some of the market for the really big book,” she said.

Also popular in St. Paul are “Educated,” a memoir by Tara Westover about going to school after being raised way off the grid by survivalist parents; “Crazy Rich Asians,” Kevin Kwan’s book that’s the basis of the movie currently in theaters also makes the list along with “Lethal White,” the forthcoming book in Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s private investigator series, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Hennepin County

At the Hennepin County libraries, which include Minneapolis, the most requested book so far this year, is “The Great Alone,” by Kristin Hannah, about Vietnam vet who moves his family to Alaska, unravels and brings hurt to his family. Hennepin County library patrons are itching to read it: it’s their most popular book right now, with nearly 2,800 requests this year.

Hennepin County Libraries' most requested books this year (41 locations)
Source: Hennepin County Library

Also popular is “Little Fires Everywhere,” Celeste Ng’s acclaimed novel set in suburban Ohio that examines race and class; “The Woman in the Window,” a novel by A.J. Finn about a recluse who thinks she saw a murder and “Before We Were Yours,” a novel by Lisa Wingate about a woman who was kidnapped and sold as a child. “Educated” also made the list in Minneapolis.

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