Hot reads nationally not big locally

Jan Carnes, head of adult services at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, displays books that made the frequent check-out list at the library for 2009 on Thursday, Feb. 4. While some genres enjoyed continued popularity, others sank or rose.
Jan Carnes, head of adult services at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, displays books that made the frequent check-out list at the library for 2009 on Thursday, Feb. 4. While some genres enjoyed continued popularity, others sank or rose. Photo by Matt Murphy.

Originally published Feb. 8, 2010.

Each year, thousands of new books are published, but only a select few achieve "bestseller" status.

Devout bookworms across the country drive those sales, but do the hottest reads reflect what Huntington residents pick up?

According to statistics from the Huntington City-Township and Markle libraries, not necessarily.

In fact, only two of the top five most checked-out authors during 2009 at the Huntington Library appear on the New York Times' 2009 best-seller list, and only one author, Janet Evanovich, makes the cut in Markle.

Nicholas Sparks tops Huntington's list, with "The Wedding" as the winning fiction title for the library. Markle's fiction list is hosted by Jim Davis, and Jeff Kinney takes the runner-up title.

And people who patronize the Markle library seem to love the Garfield books featuring the infamous lazy orange cat top out both the fiction and non-fiction lists at that library.

"Garfield has had a resurgence," says Kathy Holst, Huntington library director.

Yet at the same time, the younger crowd seems to be more into nationwide fads and bestsellers.

"Twilight," the vampire-romance novel by Stephenie Meyer that also emerged in the past two years in film format, was the most checked-out young adult fiction book in Huntington and also made the top 10 cut in Markle. The novel was the bestseller nationwide in 2008, according to the USA Today Best-Selling Books list for that year.

Both libraries have also seen a new trend emerge in 2009: readers seem to enjoy books by authors popular in the Christian community. This is a contrast to 2008, when no religious fiction titles appeared on the Huntington top 10 list.

"Karen Kingsbury has gotten a lot more popular," Holst says.

Novels by Kingsbury take third and sixth places in Markle and fourth, seventh and eighth places in Huntington.

Local residents also appear to take pride in Huntington's history. "Historic Pictures of Huntington County" takes the cake at the Huntington Library.
Behind that title is an array of animal books, cookbooks and employment aids.

"We've seen a rise in things having to do with employment," Holst says. "In late 2008, we were already starting to see a resurgence in books on unemployment and finance."

Holst says she thinks this trend is related to the economic recession and subsequent recovery. People are looking for new or better jobs, or looking at going back to school to finish his or her degree.

As for audio/visual media, Holst says neither library has experienced a surge in demand.

"Our percentage (of A/V check-outs) has been about the same," she says. "There are libraries around with an increased demand, but here, it's not overtaking books."

Huntingtonians appear to enjoy classic rock music, with The Eagles and Led Zeppelin notching spots one and two on the CD list. DVD and VHS records show children's titles as the more popular genres.

The libraries are slowly replacing VHS tapes with DVDs as the older technology wears out, and the facilities also own some Blu-ray discs.

The library has also invested more into recorded books targeted to the commuter market. At the same time, the facility hasn't forgotten about others who use audio books. "New Moon," and "Eclipse," also part of the "Twilight" series, were among the most popular books-on-CD in the young adult category.

"We don't purchase anything exclusively," she says. "We get what our patrons need."

Other trends have also remained the same from 2008 to 2009.

"Lucinda's Secret," by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi and part of the Spiderwick Chronicles, again was popular in the juvenile fiction category in both libraries.

The following are the top five most frequently checked-out adult fiction and non-fiction titles of 2009 at the Huntington and Markle libraries.

Huntington, adult fiction:
1. "The Wedding" by Nicholas Sparks.
2. "Seven-Up" by Janet Evanovich.
3. "A Walk to Remember" by Nicholas Sparks.
4. "Waiting for Morning" by Karen Kingsbury.
5. "Four to Score" by Janet Evanovich.

Markle, adult fiction:
1. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney.
2. "Take One" by Karen Kingsbury.
3. "Just Take My Heart" by Mary Higgins Clark.
4. "The Associate" by John Grisham.
5. "This Side of Heaven" by Karen Kingsbury.

Huntington, non-fiction:
1. "Historic Pictures of Huntington County."
2. "ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs" by Sheldon Gerstenfeld.
3. "Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook."
4. "The Complete Dog Book."
5. "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci.

Markle, non-fiction:
1. "Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack" by Jim Davis.
2. "Older and Wider" by Jim Davis.
3. "Garfield Food for Thought" by Jim Davis.
4. "Flat Belly Diet!"
5. "Dr. Ernest Drake's Monsterology."