CPL’s Most Popular Books of 2021

What books were most popular at Chicago Public Library during 2021? We've compiled the lists for adult fiction and nonfiction, teen books and kids books based on checkouts and hold requests. Bestsellers of recent years dominate the lists, and below I've highlighted some of the newer titles that broke into the ranks of our most popular titles.



The highest-ranking 2021 title on the most popular adult fiction list is Kristin Hannah's enormously popular The Four Winds, a sweeping historical novel set during the era of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Other 2021 titles include the latest from the Nobel-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun, and the latest from powerhouse bestselling author Sister Souljah, Life After Death.  

Our most recent One Book, One Chicago selection, Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May, also ranked highly. Thanks for keeping the faith with us and joining us again for this community-wide program.

View the full list of the most popular adult fiction.


The highest-ranking 2021 book on our most popular adult nonfiction list is Crying in H Mart, the smash hit memoir by musician Michelle Zauner that considers grief, food and culture. The latest from Patrick Radden Keefe, Empire of Pain, which investigates the Sackler family's role in the opioid epidemic, also charted, as did The Sum of Us by author Heather McGhee, who grew up on Chicago's South Side. (Fans of that book may also want to check out Three Girls From Bronzeville, too. It was a good year for South Siders in publishing.)

View the full list of the most popular adult nonfiction.


Two new titles charted on the list of most popular books for teens: Angeline Boulley's Firekeeper's Daughter, a novel about family caregiving and a crime investigation (the book was recently named by Time magazine as one of the best young adult books of all time), and Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, an acclaimed prequel to the author's The Hate U Give, which amazingly tops the chart for the fourth year in a row.

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


Our most popular books for kids list is dominated by five authors: Jerry Craft, Jeff Kinney, Dav Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier and Mo Willems. The two most recent titles on the list are 2020 books by Pilkey, including Cat Kid Comic Club, a series launch from the beloved author of the Dog Man and Captain Underpants series. 

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

More Recommendations

Explore 2020's most popular books for comparison. And keep up with our latest popular trends all year round with our lists of the most popular books of the previous month

Popularity isn't everything, of course. Visit (and be sure to bookmark) our Books, Teens and Kids pages for expert staff picks, blogs and lists all year long. And sign up for our email newsletters to have our reading suggestions delivered right to your inbox.