Area libraries’ most-read books of 2019


If you’re like most of us, you’re probably cruising into 2020 with a slew of New Year’s resolutions. If one of those resolutions is to read more, Dubois County librarians are here to help. Why not start with the county’s most popular books of 2019?

The Herald rounded up the most popular books, e-books and audio books library patrons across the county checked out last year. The list comes from the Dubois County Contractual Library — which covers the Birdseye, Dubois, Ferdinand and Jasper branches. Summaries are from Goodreads and have been edited for length.

Most Circulated Books

“Long Road to Mercy” by David Baldacci
In this book, New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci introduces a new character, FBI Special Agent Atlee Pine. “Long Road to Mercy” is the first book in a series starring Pine, a criminal profiler who dedicated her life to “hunting down those who hurt others” after her sister was abducted by a serial killer during childhood. In “Long Road to Mercy,” Pine investigates the mutilated carcass of a mule found in the Grand Canyon and tries to solve the disappearance of the mule’s rider. The case turns out to be one of several missing persons cases in the canyon.

“Turning Point” by Danielle Steel
“Turning Point” is a story about how suddenly life can change and of finding what you’re looking for in unlikely places. The books centers on four main characters — all trauma doctors and the brightest in their field. Bill Browning heads the trauma unit at San Francisco’s busiest emergency room. Stephanie Lawrence is a rising star at a teaching hospital. Harvard-educated Wendy Jones is in a dead-end relationship with a married surgeon and Tom Wylie employes his top-notch medical skills at his medical center but refuses to let anyone get too close. The four are chosen for a mass-casualty training program in Paris. During the program, an act of mass violence galvanizes them into action and turns their time in Paris into a life-altering experience.

“Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis
In this debut self-help book, Rachel Hollis, founder of lifestyle website and CEO/Founder of Chic Media, shares her tips for living a better life. Each chapter begins with a lie she once believed that hindered her success and talks about how she learned to stop believing the lie. The advice comes with “the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mindsets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.” The book is published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, though several reviews on Goodreads questioned its marketing as a “Christian” book, and it received mixed reviews on the website.

Most downloaded e-books

“The Reckoning” by John Grisham
Written in the Southern Gothic tradition, “The Reckoning” tells the story of Pete Banning, Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son. Banning is a World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family and a faithful Methodist. Then, one day Banning goes to his church and murders Rev. Dexter Bell, his pastor and friend. As the case moves through court, Banning’s only comment to anyone is “I have nothing to say.” The story winds its way through the Jim Crow South, the jungles of the Philippines during World War II, an insane asylum filled with secrets and the Clanton courtroom where Banning’s defense attorneys fight to save him.

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris
This book is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau and became a tattooist after his captors learned he spoke multiple languages. Over his two and a half years at Auschwitz, Sokolov witnessed the horrible acts of the Holocaust while tattooing his fellow prisoners with the numbers that marked them as prisoners of the Third Reich. While there, he meets Gita, a woman he is charged with tattooing. In their first encounter, Sokolov vows to survive the camp and marry her. The story is based on Sokolov’s first-person accounts as he shared them with author Heather Morris.

“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate
In this work of historical fiction, Lisa Wingate weaves together the stories of two main characters. One is Rill Foss, a 12-year-old orphan in 1939 Memphis, Tennessee. Rill and her family live aboard a shantyboat on the Mississippi River until one night when her father must rush her mother to the hospital. While her parents are gone, Rill and her four younger siblings are taken to a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage where they are at the mercy of the facility’s cruel director.
The other main character, Avery Smith, lives in present day Aiken, South Carolina where she was born into wealth and privilege and seems to have it all. When she returns home to help her father through a health crisis, however, she begins to discover her family’s long-hidden history, a journey that “will ultimately lead to either devastation or redemption.”
The book is based on the real-life scandal of Georgia Tann, the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization that kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families across the county from the late 1920s to 1950.

Popular in circulation and e-book

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
Contractual library patrons loved “Where the Crawdads Sing,” with the book taking the top spot both in circulation and on Overdrive. The book, set in a town on the North Carolina coast, weaves together an ode to the natural world, a coming-of-age story and a tale of possible murder. Main character Kya Clark, known in the town as the “Marsh Girl,” has lived alone in the marshes around the town for years, until two young men become intrigued by her wild beauty. It’s then that Kya “opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.”
Goodreads describes the book as “perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell” and says that the book reminds readers that “we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”

“Every Breath” by Nicholas Sparks
Following his romantic tradition of “The Notebook” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” Sparks tells a tale that covers decades and continents in “Every Breath.” At a crossroads in her life, Hope Anderson takes a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale. While there, she meets Tru Walls, a safari guide born and raised in Zimbabwe. Walls has never been to North Carolina, but comes after receiving a letter from a man claiming to be his father. When the two strangers cross paths, it’s love at first sight, putting them in a situation that ultimately pits familial duty against personal happiness. Goodreads describes the book thus: “Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, ‘Every Breath’ explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties and asks the question, ‘How long can a dream survive?’”

More on