CPL’s Most Popular Books of 2019

Which books were most popular at Chicago Public Library in 2019? As usual, the lists are dominated by buzzy bestsellers from the previous year or two, but some 2019 titles were immediately popular enough to make the lists. Books published early in the year have more of a chance to chart for the whole year, so expect to see more of the most popular 2019 books on next year's lists.



The highest-ranking 2019 title on the most popular adult fiction list was Normal People by Sally Rooney, an Irish love story of literary skill and psychological depth that we included on our Best Books of 2019: Top Ten. Also charting here are two more books from our top ten: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, about students at a Jim Crow-era reform school, and Ann Patchett's The Dutch House, an impeccably crafted novel of family and inheritance. Margaret Atwood's The Testaments also charted despite (like The Dutch House) being a fall release. As a much-anticipated sequel, it also drove renewed interest in her classic The Handmaid's Tale, which charted even higher. 

View the full list of the most popular adult fiction.


As for the most popular adult nonfiction list, the record-breaking bestseller Becoming by Michelle Obama, published late in 2018, saw most of its circulation in 2019 and easily topped this year's list. Two 2019 titles from our Best Books of 2019: Top Ten charted here as well. First, An American Summer by Chicago's own Alex Kotlowitz examined violence in an unforgettably moving and thoughtful way. And Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing explored a crime during The Troubles in Ireland. The current One Book, One Chicago title, The Sixth Extinction, was also a hit.

View the full list of the most popular adult nonfiction.


On our list of the most popular books for teens, one 2019 title charted: On the Come up by Angie Thomas. A rousing and moving story about a rapper on the rise, it joins her debut novel, The Hate U Give, which tops the chart. The highest-ranking book of the previous year is Children of Blood and Bone by Chicago-raised Tomi Adeyemi. It's an innovative and highly acclaimed fantasy debut, and its sequel (Children of Virtue and Vengeance), published just a month ago, is likely to make the list next year.

View the full list of the most popular books for teens.


Some extremely popular authors dominate the most popular books for kids, including Mo Willems, R.J. Palacio and Jeff Kinney. Dav Pilkey landed the only 2019 title on this year's list: Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild, which continues the beloved and hilarious Dog Man series. Fresh to this year's list was Chad Sell's The Cardboard Kingdom, which encourages kids to use their imagination in play and sounds perfectly in the spirit of our 2019 Summer Learning Challenge theme, "Explorers at Play." 

View the full list of the most popular books for kids.

More Recommendations

Explore last year's lists of most popular books for comparison. And keep up with the latest trends with our lists of the most popular books of the previous month

Want recommendations beyond popularity? Check out our Books, Teens and Kids pages for staff picks, blogs and lists all year long.