Vancouver Island libraries reveal most borrowed books in 2023

Vancouver Island libraries reveal most borrowed books in 2023
A look inside the new VIRL library branch in Sooke, Saturday, June 11, 2022.

Vancouver Island Regional Library and Greater Victoria Public Library have each revealed their list of most borrowed books across a range of genres and formats for 2023.

While memoirs might not typically rank at the top, both libraries said “Spare,” Prince Harry’s book delving into his life in the monarchy, as well as the time he spent trying to exit it, topped the charts.

Spare topped the list of the most popular digital audiobook for VIRL in 2023, and was third most popular eBook of the year.

SEE ALSO: ‘Quiet, green, seemingly remote’: New Prince Harry memoir recounts time on Vancouver Island

Meanwhile, the most popular adult print fiction book of the year for VIRL went to “A World of Curiosities,” the latest book in the Canadian-set detective series starring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny. For GVPL, the most popular was “Lessons in Chemistry,” by Bonnie Garmus.

The most popular young adult novel of the year was The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the prequel to the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, while the most-borrowed kids book of the year was Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot by Dav Pilkey.

GVPL’s was “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” by Sarah J. Maas and “Release the Hounds!,” and others in the Big Nate series, by Lincoln Peirce

While “Spare” was ranked the third most popular eBook of the year for VIRL, the top spot went to “The Judge’s List: A Novel” by John Grisham, a crime novel about a serial killer, with the prime suspect being a judge.

A graphic novel written and illustrated by Nova Scotian woman Kate Beaton outlines her time working in the oil sands of Alberta was also the ninth most popular adult print fiction book of the year for VIRL.

“We’re also not surprised that Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands was also a top contender,” said Monica Finn, library manager of the South Cowichan VIRL branch in a release Thursday.

“A book club in Mill Bay selected Ducks and it was the first graphic novel most members had read. Fortunately, it was available as an eBook as well, so everyone was able to access a copy,” she said.

VIRL has 39 branches across Vancouver Island, as well as the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii, Bella Coola, and several other coastal communities.

In 2023, people borrowed more than 4.9 million items from the library service, spread out across more than 130,000 card holders.


The GVPL has 12 branches on Vancouver Island, with an average of 380,000 people that use their services in a year.

“BookTok, a book and literature subcommunity on TikTok, continues to impact borrowing trends,” said Rachel Rogers, GVPL collections and technical services coordinator.

“One of the year’s surprises was Fourth Wing, propelled due to its popularity on BookTok. This title has even popularized a new genre term – romantasy; a mash-up of the words romance and fantasy,” she said.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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