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Need a new read in 2022? Here's what people in Hamilton County checked out in 2021

woman sits on couch reading a book in front of rows of books on shelves
Seven Shooter

Fiction tops the list of the most popular books and ebooks of 2021 in Hamilton County, according to a review by the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.

WVXU asked the library to tally which titles piqued readers' interest the most this year. Not unexpectedly, John Grisham tops the list - just as he has for several years. A Time for Mercy is the top most checked out physical print book of 2021.

"Grisham pretty much always makes the list," says Collection Development Librarian Stephanie Cooper. "He puts out one hit after another and everybody wants to see the little guy come out on top - a lot of his books are about somebody being a victim of the judicial system and then overcoming it."

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is second on the physical print list and first on the ebook list. Cooper says its depiction of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days may be what made it so compelling to readers.

"It's an excellent book and it's just a lot of timely issues that tie into today with unions and people migrating into California to get jobs ... and they were just treated terribly as immigrants to California. I think a lot of those issues are still relevant and it was such an intense time in our history. It's fascinating, has a lot of truth and is just a great story."

Cooper says non-fiction is picking up steam but likely fails to break into the top 10 because of its ephemeral nature.

"It goes out quick. With non-fiction, it's hot for an instant and then it loses its appeal real quick whereas fiction can kind of hold on - it doesn't really matter when you read it."

She points to Where the Crawdads Sing, which has been on the list for several years and she expects could be big in 2022 when the film based on the book is released.

Were there any titles that surprised Cooper?

"I think the Bridgerton Collection being in the top 10 of the ebooks is kind of fascinating because it's not a new book. It's just on there because of the Netflix series. We've seen that a lot with these streaming services, primarily Netflix, driving demand for materials."

Top 10 Adult Books for 2021

Physical Print

  1. A Time for Mercy by John Grisham
  2. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  3. Sooley by John Grisham
  4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  5. Daylight by David Baldacci
  6. A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
  7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  8. Piece of My Heart: An Under Suspicion Novel by Mary Higgins Clark
  9. Fortune and Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-seven by Janet Evanovich
  10. The Return by Nicholas Sparks


  1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  3. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  4. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  5. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  6. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  7. A Time for Mercy by John Grisham
  8. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
  9. Bridgerton Collection: Volume 1 by Julia Quinn
  10. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.