Top Tens: The Most Popular Titles of 2021

Christina Y., Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Collage of popular titles checked-out by patrons of Los Angeles Public Library
Here’s to even more literary discoveries as we march forward towards new possibilities!

It’s that time again where we roll out our top ten lists of the most popular titles checked-out by our very own library patrons. With nearly 16 million items borrowed, and more than 8,000,000 items of digital content consumed, let’s look back and discover what clicked with readers, listeners, and viewers!

The top movies streamed on Kanopy ran the gamut, from documentaries to classics to horror. Our patrons’ eclectic taste holds true for the music category. Popular musical artists like Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and perennial favorite Taylor Swift were streamed and downloaded on hoopla and Freegal right along with calming piano instrumental, jazz, and meditation albums.

For the most part, old favorites filled the top reads for kids and teens. Young readers were wanting a return to a familiar friend in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, following Greg Heffley’s misadventures. A return to Hogwarts was also on call, putting the Harry Potter series in heavy rotation. Teens showed appreciation for escapism with Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, with the series taking over much of the library’s top teen reads for 2021.

A number of this year’s top titles in fiction and nonfiction carried over from 2020, perhaps unsurprisingly as 2021 continued to be a difficult and frustrating year for many. With this in mind, Angelenos looked to the library for both entertainment and solace. Overdrive was in overdrive (if you'll forgive the pun), as e-media check-outs continued to soar. Overall, readers chose books that explored issues of identity, race, immigration, and class. Self-help and mental wellness were big ones for the nonfiction category. Fiction readers opted for hopeful feel-good stories that were still grounded in the strength and compassion of the human spirit.

We may not know what 2022 will bring, but we do know that books, stories, and the library will always be with us to offer reflection, insight, comfort, and joy. Here’s to even more literary discoveries as we march forward towards new possibilities.

Library Top Ten Fiction Books 2021

  1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  3. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  4. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  6. The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly
  7. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  8. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  9. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  10. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Library Top Ten Nonfiction Books 2021

  1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  2. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  3. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  5. Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
  7. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
  8. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  9. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson
  10. How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Library Top Ten E-books from Overdrive 2021

  1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab
  3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  5. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  6. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  8. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
  9. Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo
  10. Midnight Sun: Twilight series, Book 5 by Stephenie Meyer

Library Top Ten Streaming Music from hoopla 2021

  1. Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  2. SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo
  3. 80s Mixtape by Various artists
  4. Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish
  5. The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  6. Evermore by Taylor Swift
  7. Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa
  8. Kidz Bop 2021 by Kidz Bop Kids
  9. Fearless (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift
  10. Moana (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Deluxe Edition)

Library Top Ten Streaming Albums from Freegal 2021

  1. Classical Meditation FM by Various artists
  2. Peaceful Instrumental Piano by Various aritsts
  3. Morricone Film Music by Ennio Morricone
  4. Johnny Cash's America by Johnny Cash
  5. Relaxing Piano Music by Relaxation Ensemble
  6. The Greatest Instrumentals 1934-1962 by Various artists
  7. Jazz on Film ...the New Wave II by Various artists
  8. Classic Soul Hits by Soul Hit Band
  9. Relaxing Piano Music by Study Music Academy & Relaxing Piano Music
  10. The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 11 (Deluxe Edition) by Bob Dylan & The Band

Library Top Ten Streaming Videos from Kanopy 2021

  1. What We Do In the Shadows
  2. Another Round
  3. Los Angeles Plays Itself
  4. Chinatown
  5. Parasite
  6. Inherent Vice
  7. The Prisoner
  8. Dial M for Murder
  9. Bacurau
  10. Hereditary