Here’s what Canberrans were reading in 2021

Lottie Twyford 2 January 2022 3
Queanbeyan bookshop

Did you turn to reading in lockdown as a break from screens? Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The verdict is in on what Canberrans were reading in 2021 with Libraries ACT revealing its most borrowed books for the year.

Topping out the list was Australian author Jane Harper with her murder mystery novel The Survivors.

It turns out many Canberrans were gripped by Australian stories with Jane Harper and Trent Dalton both having multiple titles in the top five.

Popular themes Canberrans chose to read throughout the year included crime/mystery, thriller, domestic fiction and biography/memoirs.

Local author Chris Hammer’s Treasure and Dirt also made an appearance, while Anh Do proved the most popular for young readers – taking out all top five titles in the junior fiction category.


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Minister for City Services Chris Steel noted 2021 had proven to be a good year for staying home and delving into a novel or audiobook.

“Libraries ACT has played an important role in helping people stay connected, discover new favourites or return to old classics,” Mr Steel said.

Although library branches were closed during the local lockdown in 2021, digital resources became an important way for Canberrans to stay connected, and throughout the year, there was a 26 per cent increase in the use of libraries’ digital resources.

In the middle of lockdown, this peaked with a 36 per cent increase on the same period last year of downloading and streaming of resources such as Storybox Library, Overdrive ebooks and Kanopy.


READ ALSO: Canberrans prove sticklers for royal tradition in the top baby names for 2021


The online ‘Too Busy Book Club’ also grew, with more than 540 members joining the online discussion group.

Over the holiday season, children and young people are encouraged to get involved with the Big Summer Read program.

Readers are able to track their progress with the Beanstack Tracker app and earn digital badges as rewards for reaching reading milestones.

See Libraries ACT for information about festive season opening hours.

Most popular books in physical format and adult fiction:

  1. The Survivors by Jane Harper
  2. Sooley by John Grisham
  3. You Need To Know by Nicola Moriarty
  4. Other Women by Catch Kelly
  5. The Ripping Tree by Nikki Gemmell

Top five adult non-fiction:

  1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  2. Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi
  3. Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird
  4. The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
  5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Top five junior fiction:

  1. Ninja Clones by Anh Do (Ninja Kid #5)
  2. Ninja Toys by Anh Do (Ninja Kid #7)
  3. Into the Wild by Anh Do (Wolf Girl #1)
  4. The Traitor by Anh Do (Wolf Girl #4)
  5. The Great Escape by Anh Do (Wolf Girl #2)

Top five junior non-fiction:

  1. Dinosaur Atlas: Amazing Facts, Fold-out Maps and Life-size Fossils by Anne Rooney
  2. Animals by Barbara Toft
  3. The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer
  4. See Inside How Things Work by Conrad Mason
  5. Explore Your World: Weird, Wild, Amazing by Tim Flannery

Top five ebooks:

  1. The Survivors by Jane Harper
  2. Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer
  3. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
  4. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  5. The Dry by Jane Harper and Dutch House by Ann Pratchett

Top five audiobooks:

  1. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
  2. Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird
  3. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
  4. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
  5. All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton, The Dry by Jane Harper, The Survivors by Jane Harper and Becoming by Michelle Obama

What's Your Opinion?


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3 Responses to Here’s what Canberrans were reading in 2021
TimboinOz TimboinOz 1:22 pm 05 Jan 22

I have a study that is ~ 3.3 metres deep and wide enough for bookshelves – floor to ceiling.
The LHS side – that’s shortened by the door has nearly all my military history books on 7 shelves.

The RHS covers:- humour – e.g. the Goons / Milligan and the Pythons and Wodehouse, even Bierce and Leunig, The latter is one of Australia’s rare – kind, and funny, critics. Y’all could find him helpful in getting us Aussies.
History of Christianity, Weary Dunlop, Human biology and etc, wild-life here and the globe, History & Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, history of cars and auto racing, philosophy esp, Bertrand Russell, gardening (food and herbs mostly, plus shade trees), bush walking and safety. More? ‘Systems Thinking and approaches! Australian, British & Christian History, signals intelligence (traffic-analysis & code-breaking) & military history. Audio (?hi-fi), cars and car racing, systems thinking and human-activity-systems. Bertrand Russell’s autobiography & his ‘History of Philosophy’.
I do NOT think I am going to read any of the books listed!. I read reviews of books, fiction and non-fiction, and find that most of the new fiction isn’t worth my time. Being politically correct is impossible, so I don’t bother!
IF you like Ambrose Bierce you might like Michael Leunig who just might help you ‘get’ us Aussies!

TimboinOz TimboinOz 1:20 pm 05 Jan 22

I have a study that is ~ 3.3 metres deep and wide enough for bookshelves – floor to ceiling.
The LHS side – that’s shortened by the door has nearly all my military history books on 7 shelves.

The RHS covers:- humour – e.g. the Goons / Milligan and the Pythons and Wodehouse, even Bierce and Leunig, The latter is one of Australia’s rare – kind, and funny, critics. Y’all could find him helpful in getting us Aussies.
History of Christianity, Weary Dunlop, Human biology and etc, wild-life here and the globe, History & Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, history of cars and auto racing, philosophy esp, Bertrand Russell, gardening (food and herbs mostly, plus shade trees), bush walking and safety. More? ‘Systems Thinking and approaches! Australian, British & Christian History, signals intelligence (traffic-analysis & code-breaking) & military history. Audio (?hi-fi), cars and car racing, systems thinking and human-activity-systems. Bertrand Russell’s autobiography & his ‘History of Philosophy’.
I do NOT think I am going to read any of the books listed!. I read reviews of books, fiction and non-fiction, and find that most of the new fiction isn’t worth my time. Being politically correct is impossible, so I don’t bother!

Juz Hawke Juz Hawke 5:09 pm 03 Jan 22

Beck Casey read any of these?

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