The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling beats Inferno by Dan Brown as Suffolk Libraries’ most borrowed book

Staff and volunteers at Ipswich Library with some of the top ten books in Suffolk
Matt Shenton, Mar

Staff and volunteers at Ipswich Library with some of the top ten books in Suffolk Matt Shenton, Marion Harvey, Calum Holmes and Hannah Daly

A woman with dementia in a desperate bid to find her best friend, an internal fight to fill a parish council seat and dealing with conspiracy and sabotage to take control of the family business.

These are just some of the tales which have caught the attention of readers in Suffolk as the top 10 most popular books at libraries in the county have been revealed.

JK Rowling topped Suffolk Libraries’ list with her first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, which was released in September 2012 and was borrowed 1,686 times in the 12 months up to the end of June this year. It is the second year running it has taken the top spot.

Dan Brown’s novel Inferno, the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series, came second with 1,604 loans, ahead of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith in third with 1,594.

Rowling’s popularity has continued since shooting to fame with the Harry Potter series of books, with both crime novels under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith in the top six.


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Bestselling novelists Lee Child, John Grisham, Ian Rankin and Jeffrey Archer were also notable for their appearance in the top 10. Alison Wheeler, general manager of Suffolk Libraries, said: “In the 12 months which the figures relate to, there were less ‘phenomenon’ books published and library loans were spread over a wider range of titles. This probably explains why the same book – The Casual Vacancy – was the most popular book in both periods.”

Library bosses were also buoyed by the appearance of East Anglian author Emma Healey, who has previously visited libraries in Suffolk to give talks and promote her book, Elizabeth is Missing.

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Ms Wheeler added: “It’s great to see which books are popular and over years see which titles and genres our readers enjoy.

“The enduring strength of libraries is the depth and range of choice we have for everyone. We pride ourselves on having titles which go beyond the best seller charts and satisfy those with curious and obscure tastes.”

However, the figures do show a drop in the number of loans for the top 10, with the 1,686 loans for The Casual Vacancy this year being less than the 10th most popular book last year.

The most popular book from libraries in Ipswich was The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, with books for youngsters such as Billionaire Boy and Gangsta Granny, both by David Walliams, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen in the top 10 for Ipswich.

“We would expect a greater proportion of books lent by urban libraries to be children’s books and this shows how libraries in Ipswich are appealing to younger readers,” Ms Wheeler added.

Suffolk Libraries has recently employed a new literacy ambassador, Matt Shenton, who will be working with schools to help promote reading for children, and sign youngsters up for a library card.

Mr Shenton, said: “I believe the library service can make a big impact on children’s literacy and I think that by working together with schools and other organisations we can help to ensure that every child and young person is reaching their potential.”

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