We asked the Lexington Public Library for its most-requested reads. Here’s the list

·9 min read

Much like you’d expect, books by bestselling authors like James Patterson and John Grisham top the list of the most-requested titles at the Lexington Public Library.

While the highest circulation items are children’s books and graphic novels, those with the most holds tend to be books aimed at adult audiences.

Yes, Lexingtonians are searching for escapism from what they read, but a review of the top 15 book titles shows they’re also looking to go beyond the headlines they see everyday.

Stories about romance and mystery are a common thread among the titles with the most library holds. However, books about current events, like journalistic deep-dives into the 2020 presidential election and Britain’s royal House of Windsor, also made the top 15.

“What we really try to do is meet as many interests as we can,” said Anne Donworth, director of development, marketing and communications for Lexington Public Library. “We really try to make sure that there is something for everyone.”

According to Donworth, the library system uses hold requests to gauge which books are the most popular and scope out future purchases. For every four hold requests on a title, the library will purchase one additional copy for circulation.

If you’re a library patron, you can also suggest a hold at lexpublib.org/suggest-a-purchase.

The Herald-Leader asked the library for a list of its most sought after materials, which included DVDs and visual materials. We omitted any films or visual materials and looked at books only. The number of holds for each title was as of May 19.

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15. “Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel”

This novel by Shelby Van Pelt tells the story of a widow’s unlikely friendship with a giant Pacific octopus living at the local aquarium. It has at least 22 holds.

Tova Sullivan gets a job at the fictional Sowell Bay Aquarium after her husband dies, hoping staying busy will help her cope. It’s at the aquarium Tova meets Marcellus, a grumpy octopus who eventually warms to her and helps her unlock the truth behind her son’s sudden disappearance 30 years ago.

“Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late,” the book’s blurb on Goodreads states.

14. “Something Wilder”

A novel by Christina Lauren, Something Wilder blends adventure and romance. It’s set in arid Utah. The book has 22 holds.

A disastrous trip into the wilderness in search of treasure offers protagonists Lily and Leo the chance to reconcile and reconnect.

As the book’s promotional material puts it: “Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.”

13. “The Boardwalk Bookshop”

Currently at 23 holds, this novel leans into beach read vibes. The story revolves around three strangers turned friends – Bree, Ashley and Mikki – who come together to lease a space on the California coast. With that, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born.

From the book’s official blurb: “At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heart-achingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.”

12. “Every Cloak Rolled in Blood”

Taking a turn toward the thriller genre, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood has 23 hold requests.

As the fourth novel in a series by James Lee Burke, the tension centers on the protagonist’s efforts to steer two young men away from a life crime in their opioid-ravaged community.

In doing so, according to the book’s blurb, “he is drawn into a network of villainy that includes a violent former Klansman, a far-from-holy minister, a biker club posing as evangelicals and a murderer who has been hiding in plain sight.”

11. “The Homewreckers” (Large print edition)

This story by author Mary Kay Andrews’ house flipping and falling in love has 24 hold requests.

The standard print edition has 39 hold requests and also takes the No. 6 spot on this list.

Protagonist Hattie Kavanaugh has been restoring homes since she was 18 and now finds herself trapped in a money pit project that could sink her business for good. It’s around this time when a debonair Hollywood producer arrives in town and soon wants to cast her in a beach house restoration reality TV show called The Homewreckers.

10. “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s future” (nonfiction)

Departing for a bit from romance novel fare, is this work of journalism by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns. Told in the novelistic, “in-the-room” style that’s so popular these days, it covers the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency, touching on the coronavirus pandemic and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The title has 32 holds.

9. “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and Turmoil” (nonfiction)

Journalist Tina Brown, who penned The Diana Chronicles, picks up where she left off after the tragedy and fallout of Princess Diana’s death. The Palace Papers covers the last 25 years of the British monarchy as it struggles to reinvent itself for the modern age while holding itself together.

Brown explores story arcs like Prince Charles’ relentless quest to make Camilla Parker Bowles his wife, the friction between brothers William and Harry, the meteoric rise of Kate Middleton, the implosion of Prince Andrew and, of course, Harry and Meghan after they ditch the monarchy for independence.

This title has 35 hold requests at the Lexington Public Library.

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8. “Sparring Partners” (Large print)

It should come as no surprise celebrated thriller writer John Grisham has a pick among the top 10 most sought after books at the Lexington Public Library. Grisham’s book Sparring Partners takes the No. 8 and No. 3 spots on this list. (The large print edition has 37 holds, the standard edition 58).

The book itself contains three stories. In the first, Homecoming, perennial protagonist Jake Brigance is back in familiar Ford County – this time to help an old friend on the wrong side of the law.

In Strawberry Moon, we meet young Cody Wallace, an inmate on death row. After his attempts and pleas for clemency fail, Wallace has one final offer to make before meeting his maker.

Finally, in Sparring Partners (which the book is named for) two acrimonious brothers must reconcile in order to save their convicted father’s legal firm. They bring in Diantha Bradshaw for help, and she’s confronted with a choice: save the brothers or herself.

7. “Nightwork: A Novel”

Nora Roberts’ Nightwork offers readers an escape from the mundane through the twisty tale of Harry Booth, a modern-day gentleman thief with a code of honor and a talent for secrecy and discretion.

Booth started breaking into homes to find items he could trade for cash at age 9 to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head. But after her death, he can’t quite give up the game, and enemies he’s made along the way threaten a new life he could have with love interest Miranda Emerson.

This title has 37 hold requests.

6. “The Homewreckers”

5. “Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel”

In this novel by Bonnie Garmus, which has 48 holds, we meet Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant scientist stifled by sexism in the 1960s. Overlooked by her male colleagues at Hastings Research Institute, Elizabeth trades her lab for a kitchen to star in a cooking show called Supper at 6, where ingredients are referred to by their chemical names. It’s there she gets to speak more directly to the legions of languishing house wives trapped by their circumstances.

Garmus said of the protagonist in an interview with Good Morning America: “She was turning to her audience and saying ‘You already know how to cook. Let’s teach you something harder. Let’s make you chemists so that you begin to understand your world and yourself at a molecular level – so you really understand what you’re made of.’”

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4. “22 Seconds”

James Patterson’s 22 Seconds takes the No. 4 spot with 51 hold requests, according to the public library’s data.

Part of the long-running Women’s Murder Club series, 22 Seconds follows protagonist Lindsay Boxer, a cop hellbent on tracking a shipment of drugs and guns set to cross the Mexican border before new restrictive gun laws kick in. Then former cops start turning up dead in apparent hit jobs. They all have the same warning written on their bodies: “You talk, you die.”

3. “Sparring Partners”

2. “Book Lovers”

At 60 holds, Book Lovers by Emily Henry takes the No. 2 spot with 60 holds.

This story plays with the trope of the heroine at the center of so many romance novels. As the book’s blurb puts it, protagonist Nora Stephens is “not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart.”

Nora seems mostly interested in her work as a “cutthroat literary agent,” her books and her little sister, Libby.

Likewise, Book Lovers also subverts the typical male love interest you’d find in romance, as Charlie Lastra is the exact opposite of a “handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender.”

1. “Verity”

With 117 holds, Verity by Colleen Hoover leads the pack by far.

Through a plot that offers romance and intrigue, we get to know struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh, who is miraculously saved from financial ruin by Jeremy Crawford.

Jeremy recruits Lowen to complete the remaining books his wife – now injured – can’t finish. While sifting through years of Verity Crawford’s notes, Lowen uncovers an unfinished, secret autobiography. It’s packed with admissions from Verity, including what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen is then confronted with a choice: Keep the manuscript hidden or show it to Jeremy, who she’s quickly developing feelings for.

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