Murdering the competition: Richard Osman thriller tops UK library loans

Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club was the most borrowed book from UK libraries in the year 2020-21, while the prolific bestseller James Patterson was the most borrowed author overall.

The Public Lending Right (PLR) data, which collates information on library loans and pays authors for every book borrowed, showed that crime and thriller books were the most popular genres among library users.

Following Osman’s novel, the second most borrowed book was Blue Moon, from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Other crime and thriller books in the top 10 were The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, Find Them Dead by Peter James and The Sentinel, also by Child.

Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker winner Girl, Woman, Other and Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming were also among the most borrowed adult titles, the latter being the only non-fiction title to make the top 10. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the only children’s book to make it into the overall list.

Rowling dominated the list of most borrowed children’s titles, with all seven Harry Potter books coming out on top.The three remaining slots in the children’s top 10 were taken by David Walliams, with Slime in eighth, The World of David Walliams in ninth and The Beast of Buckingham Palace in 10th.

However, Rowling was only the fourth most borrowed children’s author overall; Julia Donaldson took top spot, followed by Daisy Meadows and then Walliams.

In ebooks, the most borrowed title was The Long Call, with Osman’s debut in second place. The top audiobook was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, followed by Obama’s Becoming.

The figures cover a period in which a lot of libraries had to close for periods of time because of the pandemic. Tom Holland, author and chair of the PLR advisory committee said that “to have kept the show on the road during a time of pandemic, and ensured that authors will continue to be paid for library loans, despite the very worst that Covid could do, has been nothing less than heroic”.

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