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What Minnesota's reading: The most popular library books

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A sample of some of the most popular books at Minnesota libraries in 2017
Thrillers, politics and literary favorites: A sampling of some of the most popular books at Minnesota libraries in 2017.
Courtesy of publishers

What books are keeping Minnesotans busy through the long winters and the lakeside summers? 

Library systems across the state shared lists of their most popular items for 2017, and a few things are clear:

• Minnesota readers love a good murder, if last year's most popular library books are any indication. All across the state, thrillers dominate.

• "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The book, which came out two years ago, looks at life for the white working class in Appalachia. Some critics offered it as a way to understand the 2016 election; it remained a popular year read all year long.

• The National Book Award can make a big difference: Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad" took home the top prize for fiction in 2016, and the book rode that wave of popularity through 2017. (It also won the Pulitzer; that can't hurt.)

• You might as well give in and read "A Man Called Ove." All of your neighbors have.

Duluth Public Library

Duluth Public Library favorites for 2017
Duluth Public Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The list of top circulating items for Duluth readers is packed with thrillers, but as Jessica Bellini, the library's technical services director, noted: "Our patrons love 'A Man Called Ove'!" The Swedish novel about a grouchy older man who has a change of heart first came out in 2013, but developed into a full-blown craze in the last few years. It's still going strong across Minnesota.

1)  "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

2) "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

3) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

4) "Marathon" by Brian Freeman

5) "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

6) "The Night Bird" by Brian Freeman

7) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

8) "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

9) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

10) "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

Fergus Falls Public Library

Fergus Falls favorites for 2017
Fergus Falls favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

Fergus Falls Public Library patrons — big thriller fans. The genre, which is often dominated by men, has been shaken up recently by Paula Hawkins. Her book, "The Girl on the Train," was a statewide favorite last year; her newest, "Into the Water," cracked many lists this year, including in Fergus Falls. 

1) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

2) "Sulfur Springs" by William Kent Krueger

3) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

4) "Rooster Bar" by John Grisham

5) "Two by Two" by Nicholas Sparks

6) "Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins

7) "Midnight Line" by Lee Child

8) "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

9) "Deep Freeze" by John Sandford

10) "Two Kinds of Truth" by Michael Connelly

Great River Regional Library

Great River Regional Library favorites for 2017
Great River Regional Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The Great River Regional Library system covers 5,000 square miles of central Minnesota, including St. Cloud. The love for thrillers continues, with local author William Kent Krueger making several appearances.

1) "Two by Two" by Nicholas Sparks

2) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

3) "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

4) "The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware

5) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

6) "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

7) "Escape Clause" by John Sandford

8) "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Janet Evanovich

9) "Manitou Canyon" by William Kent Krueger

10) "The Fix" by David Baldacci

11) "Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins

12) "No Man's Land" by David Baldacci

13) "Cross the Line" by James Patterson

14) "See Me" by Nicholas Sparks

15) "Truly Madly Guilty" by Liane Moriarty

16) "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah

17) "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins

18) "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

19) "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" by Michael Connelly

20) "Sulfur Springs" by William Kent Krueger

Hennepin County Library

Hennepin County Library favorites for 2017
Hennepin County Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The Hennepin County Library system serves 1.2 million county residents in the Twin Cities-metro area. Its list of the 20 most requested items is almost entirely fiction, but nonfiction made strong appearances with J.D. Vance's memoir on Appalachia, Al Franken's book on his time in the Senate and David Grann's work on the start of the FBI.

1) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

2) "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles

3) "Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins

4) "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

5) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

6) "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

7) "The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham

8) "Deep Freeze" by John Sandford

9) "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah

10) "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

11) "Killers of the Flower Moon" by David Grann

12) "Y is for Yesterday" by Sue Grafton

13) "Lilac Girls" by Martha Hall Kelly

14) "The Midnight Line" by Lee Child

15) "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate" by Al Franken

16) "Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

17) "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

18) "The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware

19) "Commonwealth" by Ann Patchett

20) "Little Fires Everywhere" Celeste Ng

Kitchigami Regional Library

Kitchigami Regional Library ebook favorites for 2017
Kitchigami Regional Library ebook favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The Kitchigami Regional Library system covers five northern Minnesota counties. Their records for physical books are not available for 2017; below is a list of the most popular ebooks. Thrillers reign supreme for fiction readers (notice a pattern?), but there's a strong interest in local political figures in nonfiction.

Fiction eBooks

1) "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

2) "Escape Clause" by John Sandford

3) "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Jane Evanovich

4) "The Fix" by David Baldacci

5) "No Man's Land" by David Baldacci

6) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

7) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

8) "Night School" by Lee Child

9) "Come Sundown" by Nora Roberts

10) "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" by Michael Connelly

Nonfiction eBooks

1) "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate" by Al Franken

2) "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly

3) "The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story" by Diane Ackerman

4) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

5) "Filthy Rich" by James Patterson

6) "The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story" by Hyeonseo Lee

7) "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow

8) "Killing the Rising Sun" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

9) "The Senator Next Door" by Amy Klobuchar

10) "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo

Lake Agassiz Regional Library

Lake Agassiz Regional Library favorites for 2017
Lake Agassiz Regional Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The Lake Agassiz Regional Library system serves residents in seven northwest Minnesota counties. James Patterson should be considered an honorary citizen of the area: the prolific author occupies four of the top 15 slots.

1) "The Fix" by David Baldacci

2) "No Man's Land" by David Baldacci

3) "Night School" by Lee Child

4) "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" by Michael Connelly

5) "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Janet Evanovich

6) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

7) "Cross The Line" by James Patterson

8) "Never Never" by James Patterson

9) "The Black Book" by James Patterson

10) "16th Seduction" by James Patterson

11) "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

12) "Escape Clause" by John Sandford

13) "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

14) "Two by Two" Nicholas Sparks

15) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

Nobles County Library

Nobles County Library favorites for 2017
Nobles County Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

The Nobles County Library is part of the Plum Creek Library System, which serves southwestern Minnesota. In particular, the Nobles County Library serves Worthington and Adrian — about 21,500 residents.

The library's list shows the important function of libraries not just to offer up books for entertainment, but for practical skills. "Ingles sin Barreras" — "English Without Barriers" — is one of the most popular nonfiction titles.

Fiction

1) "Golden Prey" by John Sanford

2) "Two by Two" by Nicholas Sparks

3) "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Janet Evanovich

4) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

5) "Come Sundown" by Nora Roberts

6) "The Mistress" by Danielle Steel

7) "The Fix" by David Baldacci

8) "All by Myself, Alone" by Mary Higgins Clark

9) "Against All Odds" by Danielle Steel

10) "The Girl Before" by JP Delaney

Nonfiction

1) "Ingles sin Barreras" by Lexicon Publications

2) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

3) "Railroad, Trains, and Depots: The Way It Was" by Raymond Crippen; published by the Nobles County Historical Society

4) "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman

5) "This Life I Live: One Man's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever" by Rory Feek

6) "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

7) "A Touch of Farmhouse Charm: Easy DIY Projects to Add a Warm and Rustic Feel to Any Room" by Liz Fourez

8) "The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel Brown

9) "The Whole30" by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig

10) "Cracking the GED Test 2017" by Princeton Review

Saint Paul Public Library

Saint Paul Public Library favorites for 2017
Saint Paul Public Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

St. Paul readers, like readers across the state, can't resist a page-turner from the old standbys of John Sandford, John Grisham and Minnesota's own William Kent Krueger. Local author Lorna Landvik also cracked a spot on the top fiction list. When it comes to nonfiction, authors with local ties also proved to be favorites, with Kao Kalia Yang, Hope Jahren and Al Franken each earning a spot. Plus, you can't forget the drivers' manual. Always a good read.

Fiction

1) "Golden Prey" by John Sandford

2) "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

3) "Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins

4) "Commonwealth" by Ann Patchett

5) "Escape Clause" by John Sandford

6) "Manitou Canyon" by William Kent Krueger

7) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

8) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

9) "Once in a Blue Moon Lodge" by Lorna Landvik

10) "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

Nonfiction

Yes, "Harry Potter" is on the list. No, Hogwarts isn't real. J.K. Rowling's latest is technically a play, which gets categorized as nonfiction by the Library of Congress system.

1) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

2) "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate" by Al Franken

3) "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly

4) "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling

5) "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren

6) "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

7) "Evicted" by Matthew Desmond

8) "The Song Poet" by Kao Kalia Yang

9) "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo

10) Minnesota Drivers Manual

Winona Public Library

Winona Public Library favorites for 2017
Winona Public Library favorites for 2017
Courtesy of publishers

"A Man Called Ove" continues its reign at the Winona Public Library, earning the top spot on the list of most frequently circulated titles for adults. When it comes to children's books, the library noted, Winona's youngest will devour anything by Mo Willems.

1) "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

2) "The Whistler" by John Grisham

3) "Escape Clause" by John Sandford

4) "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

5) "Camino Island" by John Grisham

6) "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Janet Evanovich

7) "Night School" by Lee Child

8) "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

9) "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult

10) "16th Seduction" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro