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Ardmore and Penn Wynne Libraries: Most Popular Reads of 2011

Local librarians tell Patch about the most popular books of the year.

In a township , it can be hard to gauge exactly what people are reading. So, Ardmore Patch searched far and wide, spent days in painstaking research, pulled out all the stops and—well, we actually just asked the staff at and to tell us about the popular reads of 2011.

While the librarians didn't have a list on hand with exact numbers, they were still able to roll off some of the more popular books of 2011 for both kids and adults.

Books for Grown-Ups

  • Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. Published in 2009, the story follows twin brothers, whose mother, an Indian nun, died in childbirth and whose father, a British surgeon, has abandoned them. According to IMDB, a movie is planned for 2013.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It's no surprise that the 2009 release, set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Miss., has remained a popular title, especially following its hugely successful film debut in August of this year.
  • In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson. A 2011 non-fiction release, Larson's book takes place in Berlin in 1933 to 1937, and follows the story of an American diplomat during the Holocaust. Tom Hanks has been cast in a movie version of the story, set to be released in 2014.
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. This 2010 release made it onto the Ardmore Library's , and remained a popular release throughout 2011, staff at the Penn Wynne Library said.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson. This series has become a bestseller, and with the movie now in theaters, has remained a popular read.
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Touted as young adult fiction, these books are good enough to be enjoyed by adults as well, staff at the Penn Wynne Library said.   And now with a movie set to be released in March 2012, they've become even more popular.

Books for Kids

  • The Fancy Nancy series by Jane O'Connor has been voted a best seller for kids picture books, and has sold more than 16 million copies since the first book was released in 2005.
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. Willems' 2003 picture book remains popular today, though more stories about Pigeon's adventures have been released, with The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? set to be released in 2012.
  • The Max and Ruby series by Rosemary Wells was turned into a popular kids television series, but the books themselves remain popular too.
  • A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy. The books, of which there are 26, for each letter of the alphabet, follow the adventures of three junior detectives and are considered among the best books for young readers.
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and other books by Rick Riordan. "This has been a fabulous year for him," Ardmore children's librarian Gail McCowm said. "He was a top seller this year in terms of people buying his stuff."
  • It was also a good year for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Harry Potter series, and The Hunger Games.

Holiday Books For Kids

Ardmore children's librarian Gail McCowm also provided Patch with some ideas for holiday children's books.

  • The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola: An "incredibly beautiful and well-loved" book, which tells the story of an imaginary Italian character who flies across the sky on the 12th Night and leaves cakes and cookies for children.
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski: A big picture book that children and adults alike can enjoy. "That's a big, big favorite," McCowm said.
  • Any children's version of The Nutcracker. "Every year, parents come in because they're taking their kids to see a performance of The Nutcracker. But the real book is just too long.  Any of the million versions of the Nutcracker for kids would be great."
  • A Great Miracle Happened Here by Karla Kuskin. Kuskin, who won an NCTE award for excellence in poetry in 1979, tells a "really classic Hannukah story."
  • A Child's Christmas In Wales by Dylan Thomas, for older children.

And for after the holidays:

  • Snow Day by Betsy Mastro
  • Anything in the I Spy collection: These books by Walter Wick are especially important the day after Christmas, McCowm said. "They're great whether the kids have colds or they're just grumpy. And the littlest kid has the same chance of finding something as the teenager. These books are the biggest peacemakers in the world."

Did the libraries mention your favorite book of the year? What did everyone at your office or school seem to be reading in 2011? Tell us in the comments.

Bob Guzzardi December 24, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Getting exact figures from Lower Merion library system seems impossible. Each book taken out has to be recorded with a swipe of a bar coded library card and the library has to keep track of inventory. Even though $24,000,000 has been designated by Lower Merion Board of Commissioners, there has never been a presentation of actual "swipes", that is, how many unique, actual real world library users there are and how many books they take out. PATCH knows how many hits it gets.Police keep very accurate statistics as do most of Lower Merion's various agencies. Keeping track of actual usages is what any competent agency needs to do. For some reason, the libraries are not forthcoming.
Janet December 29, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Apologies to Bob if I've misinterpreted his comments, but statistics are posted right on the LMT libraries' website. For reasons of privacy, libraries don't keep records of what individual borrowers are reading, which I believe was the pont of Ms Mahnke's article.
Bob Guzzardi December 29, 2011 at 06:04 PM
I was not asking what individuals are reading. There is no policy relevance to that. I want to know how many people actual borrow books, videos, or use the Internet. This is a very simple matter. All card swipes are recorded and every computer program has a reporting function. The posted statistics are almost meaningless and even deceptive. The Library staff does not report the actual usages for a reason and it is not privacy.
Bob Guzzardi December 29, 2011 at 06:32 PM
It would be interesting to know how many people actually read the most popular, How popular were the most popular? Only looking at data can tell us. The Library must have the data or its statement is anecdotal and superficial.
Janet December 30, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Geez, what was I thinking, trying to reason with a Main Line lawyer...
Bob Guzzardi December 30, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Flummoxed, facts and logic do that, do they not?

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