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Most checked-out books from Berkeley Public Library

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AUGUST 07, 2015

When we asked the woman at the reference desk of the Berkeley Public Library’s Central Library, located off Shattuck Avenue, about the most checked-out books in their system, she said we might be able to find more information upstairs, but she was pretty sure it was the Holy Bible.

It’s certainly a fair guess, as the Bible is important to the religious and scholarly alike, but it turns out she was more than a little off.

First of all, the most checked-out item in the city library system in the last 12 months is … a string trimmer. The bulk of the top 100 most circulated items in the library system are tools, DVDs, iPads and magazines.


As for the top-ranking books of the last year, the results are surprising:

1. Naruto (Kishimoto Masashi) was checked out 933 times

This manga series about a young ninja who dreams of becoming the greatest ninja in his village is distinctly not the Bible.

2. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventure (Shigekatsu Ihara) was checked out 565 times

3. The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt) was checked out 562 times

4. All The Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) was checked out 550 times

5. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist (Kazuki Takahashi) was checked out 486 times

6. The Adventures of Tintin (Herge) was checked out 419 times

7. Dragon Ball Z (Akira Toriyama) was checked out 402 times

8. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Atul Gawande) was checked out 356 times

This one feels like a dramatic departure from the manga and popular novels that dominate the list, but its subject matter is similar to #18, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, which also hits on themes of aging and mortality, making us think the library best serves the very young and the very old.

9. The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins) was checked out 331 times

10. Pokemon Adventures (Hidenori Kusaka) was checked out 328 times

11. Attack on Titan (Hajime Isayama) was checked out 316 times

12. Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) was checked out 298 times

13. Pokemon Black and White (Hidenori Kusaka) was checked out 293 times

14. The Bone Clocks (David Mitchell) was checked out 291 times

15. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Haruki Murakami) was checked out 283 times

16. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” (Lena Dunham) was checked out 278 times

17. The Burning Room (Michael Connelly) was checked out 272 times

18. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir (Roz Chast) was checked out 268 times

19. Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Thomas Piketty) was checked out 266 times

When the people of Berkeley aren’t reading Pokemon, they can be found reading 700-page nonfiction books about wealth and income inequality and the power of the 1 percent, naturally.

20. Sardine in Outer Space (Emmanuel Guibert) was checked out 265 times

Apparently, this book is not about fish in space but about a girl named Sardine, the niece of a galactic pirate, who fights space monsters.


In many ways, the list is unexpected. No Bible, no Harry Potter, no periwinkle-covered romance novels. On the other hand, it’s a pretty normal list for diverse, liberal Berkeley, full of Japanese manga, weighty bestsellers by foreign authors and nonfiction about wealth inequality, with an appearance by Lena Dunham.

When asked the same question, the UC Berkeley library said it would take much too long to find the information — we just have too many books. Who knows? Perhaps our most checked out book is the Bible.


Image Source: Sarah Stierch under Creative Commons

Contact Miya Singer at [email protected].

AUGUST 07, 2015