Wimpy kids, crawdads, hate and Minecraft are most popular reading in 2020

Jan 4, 2021

Public library lists of the most popular books of a particular year are snapshots in time, some new issues and some classics. The year 2020 saw an increase in e-books locally.

Every year, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library puts out a list of the most popular materials borrowed that year. Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said it is "materials," because of the booming borrowing of electronic books, whether on CD or downloaded to an MP3 player.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is a frequent flyer on the most-read list.
Credit NPR

"We actually had several thousand people suddenly sign up for our e-library card so that they could have access, because they recognized that, oh my goodness, I don’t have to be spending my money on this directly, I can get it from the library," she said. "And so we have been rapidly growing those e-collections as a result."

Jakubowski said many books are sought equally electronically and on paper. In 2020 that included Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, showing up as most popular title in Adult Fiction and most requested title in eBook Fiction.

Other books stay on the list.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There’s many, many different editions to that book and every year, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is going to show up on this," she said. "It is something that appeals to young children. It appeals to a middle-aged child. And I think parents just really enjoy it, reading to their children, as well."

Others won’t be as recognizable because categories shift with the times, like Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, as the most popular title for Young Adult-Teen.

There was also a surprising entry in Children’s Non-Fiction: Stephanie Milton’s Minecraft Essential Handbook. Jakubowski said the computer game is very popular among kids and among teachers who see math lessons in what’s on the screen.