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Park City Librarians Reflect On The Most Popular Books Of 2020

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Park City Library
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With 2020 now closed, people turned to forms of art and culture to get through the tumultuous year. Park City's librarians offered insights on which books were last year's most turned to.

 

 

While some people turned to escapism for help with the unprecedented year, others wanted to embrace some of the hardships that 2020 presented. 

Kate Mapp, the adult services librarian at the Park City Library, said they saw an increased demand in print and ebooks particularly with hot selling titles, which comes as no surprise. 

She said there were common themes in the kinds of books people were checking out. 

"So it's almost like we are searching, as a community through our checkouts, searching for, you know, humanity and how to work through these challenges," Mapp said.

Two of the most popular titles, she said, are Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

And Librarian Katrina Kmak, who handles youth services, said younger audiences were also interested in reading about current political issues - focusing on racial injustice and police brutality. 

"Speaking for especially the teen books, you know, with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and awareness of social injustice, and also, like the perfect storm of some really excellent books about social justice coming out and being published," Kmak said. "I think that's been an area of interest for our community."

She said one book that resurfaced was Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Renoylds. Another popular YA book was The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. 

Adults who were looking for escapism literature turned to fiction books like The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, according to Mapp. 

 

"And that's a story of a brother and sister, and how their lives are connected through the Dutch house, throughout their entire live," she said. "And what's fun about that book is that the audio book is narrated by Tom Hanks, so it's kind of a fun treat."

She saysThe Giver of the Stars by Jojo Moyes was another top checked out book of 2020. 

And for younger audiences, Kmak said graphic novels offer an immersive, fun read. 

"I have found that picking up a graphic novel, too, is a great way to typically read through a book pretty quickly, and just really get immersed in the beautiful artwork and the story as well," she said. "So that's what that's been a fun way to kind of have a quick binge read. Also reading  books intended for a younger audience sometimes can lighten the mood a little bit."

For teens and tweens, she suggested The Prince and Dressmaker by Jen Wang, which is expected to have a movie release in the next year or so. And for younger kids, Kmak suggested local author Shannon Hale, who wrote The Real Friends series. 

Mapp said adult readers looking for local authors can turn to Ed Power, who wrote Dragons in the Snow, a non-fiction book released earlier this year.

 

"This book won the National Outdoors Book Award this year. And it's a great narrative," Mapp said. "So rather than an instructional guidebook, about how to protect yourself around the mountains during avalanche danger. This is more of a narrative about the rescuers and the forecasters and kind of the behind the scenes, aspects to avalanches."

She said readers who prefer fiction should check out Phyllis Barber’sThe Desert Between Us, which follows Sophia Hughes, a hatmaker and the third wife of a polygamist. 

And this year, Kmak and Mapp suggest readers keep their eyes open for new books from established authors like Taylor Jenkins Reid, Kristen Hammer and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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