CPL’s Most Popular Books of 2016

What were our most popular books in 2016? We've crunched the numbers and we're ready to share. Keep in mind that books published in late 2015 and early 2016 have an advantage, and you may see some of fall 2016's biggest blockbusters on next year's report. You might also compare our lists with Publishers Weekly's report on the publishing industry's top 10 books of 2016 and refresh your memory with our most popular books of 2015.

The highest-ranking 2016 title on the most popular adult fiction list, at No. 3, is The Girls by Emma Cline, a debut novel inspired by the Manson murders. Landing at No. 6 is The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. It's the story of a dysfunctional family of New York siblings squabbling over a family inheritance. Released a bit later in the year, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead was an Oprah Book Club selection. An inventive, surreal approach to the American history of slavery, it won the National Book Award and ranks at No. 13.


Topping our list of the most popular adult nonfiction is an acclaimed January 2016 release, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. It's a memoir by a doctor who learned he was terminally ill and who passed away before the book was published. Leading the new comedy books was  Amy Schumer with The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo at No. 8. And at No. 9 was local author Natalie Moore's The South Side, an investigative look at Chicago. Our previous One Book, One Chicago selection (The Third Coast) and our current selection (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) ranked at Nos. 3 and 4. Thanks, as always, for your participation.


Leading the way on the list of the most popular books for teens is a novel that was turned into a popular movie in 2016, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The newest books on the list are by Victoria Aveyard: her 2015 novel Red Queen is at No. 4 and the 2016 sequel Glass Sword is at No. 10.

Last but never least, the most popular books for kids list is topped by the script for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, while the classic first book about the boy wizard charted at No. 4. The list also includes an amazing nine books by beloved author Mo Willems, who ended his popular Elephant and Piggy series with The Thank You Book. His highest-charting book, at No. 8, is series entry A Big Guy Took My Ball! The other new book to chart was the latest from popular author Rick Riordan, The Hidden Oracle.