Suspense And Politics: What Library Tastes Tell Us About Kansas City In 2018 | KCUR

Suspense And Politics: What Library Tastes Tell Us About Kansas City In 2018

Dec 19, 2018

Midwest readers provide a good barometer for what's popular in books around the country, according to some library officials. So what topped the non-fiction and fiction lists at Kansas City-area libraries in 2018?

Prolific writers such as James Patterson and John Grisham continued to be popular in fiction along with some first-time authors. A.J. Finn's debut "The Woman in the Window," a psychological thriller, cracked the top five for all but one area library.

"The premise had a classic heart wrapped in contemporary couture," explains Kaite Stover, director of Readers' Services at the Kansas City Public Library. "It’s (director Alfred Hitchcock's) 'Rear Window' meets (novelist Paula Hawkins') 'Girl on a Train.' And Finn smartly used the word, 'woman' instead of 'girl' for his gripping thriller."

Readers are often drawn to thrillers, suspense and mystery, says Stover, who also handles the book group collections. 

"If a reader can keep turning the pages quickly, then that reader is likely immersed in the world the author has created," she says. "Thus, 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'An American Marriage' and 'Little Fires Everywhere' are so popular. These books also have people the readers want to learn more about."

The non-fiction lists were peppered with books about Washington, D.C., politics in the Trump era, such as James Comey's "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership," Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" and Bob Woodward's "Fear: Trump in the White House."

"All three books have distinct points of view," says Stover, "and all three weathered criticism from reviewers, readers, politicians, etc."

She adds, "What’s encouraging is the number of people who are expressing interest in reading about politics and librarians are more than happy to help those readers find other books that might present a more balanced view. Or certainly a longer one."

As for other non-fiction works, like "Killers of the Flower Moon" and "I'll Be Gone in the Dark," Stover says the appeal is that they "do the same thing for readers that suspense thrillers do, except that they are true."

Area teenagers checked out books that were a little dark in subject matter. 

John Green's "Turtles All the Way Down" combined mental health issues with a mystery; the main character, Aza, deals with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. And Angie Thomas's "The Hate U Give" tackled race relations, gun violence and police brutality.

In 2014, Green's young adult novel,"The Fault in Our Stars," was adapted as a film. And, in October, the film version of Thomas's "The Hate U Give" opened on screens across the country. 

THE LISTS

Fiction (Adult)   

Johnson County Library:

  1. "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
  2. "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah
  3. "The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham
  4. "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
  5. "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate

Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library

  1. "The President is Missing: A Novel," by James Patterson and Bill Clinton
  2. "The 17th Suspect" by James Patterson
  3. "Texas Ranger" by James Patterson
  4. "Shelter in Place" by Nora Roberts
  5. "The Fallen" by David Baldacci

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library:

  1. "Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan
  2. "The Things They Carried" by Tim O’Brien
  3. "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
  4. "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
  5. "Eleanor Oliphant is Complete Fine: a Novel" by Gail Honeyman

Lawrence Public Library

  1. "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
  2. "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah
  3. "An American Marriage: A Novel" by Tayari Jones
  4. "The Fallen" by David Baldacci
  5. "The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks

Mid-Continent Public Library

  1. "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
  2. "The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham
  3. "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah
  4. "The Midnight Line" by Lee Child
  5. "Haunted" by James Patterson & James O. Born

Non-Fiction (Adult) 

Johnson County Library:

  1. "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann
  2. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff
  3.  "Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be" by Rachel Hollis
  4. "I'll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer" by Michelle McNamara
  5. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson.

Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library

  1. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff 
  2. "Educated: a Memoir" by Tara Westover
  3. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson
  4. "You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero
  5. "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" by Jordan B. Peterson

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library

  1. "Educated: a Memoir" by Tara Westover
  2. "Fear: Trump in the White House" by Bob Woodward
  3. "The Glass Castle: A Memoir" by Jeannette Walls
  4. "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis" by J.D. Vance
  5. "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership" by James Comey

Lawrence Public Library

  1. "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover
  2. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff 
  3.  "I'll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer" by Michelle McNamara
  4. "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership," James Comey
  5. "How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence," Michael Pollan 

Mid-Continent Public Library

  1. "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann
  2. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff
  3. "Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be" by Rachel Hollis 
  4. "Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue"
  5. "Fear: Trump in the White House" by Bob Woodward

Fiction (Young Adult)

Johnson County Library:

  1. "Turtles All the Way Down" by John Green
  2. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
  3. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
  4. "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
  5. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library

  1. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
  2. "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
  3. "Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi
  4. "Scythe" by Neal Shusterman
  5. "The Hazel Wood" by Melissa Albert

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library

  1. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
  2. "Echo" by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  3. "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard
  4. "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo
  5. "Turtles all the Way Down" by John Green

Lawrence Public Library

  1. "Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi
  2. "American Heart" by Laura Moriarty (Listen to our interview here)
  3. "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black
  4. "The Hazel Wood" by Melissa Albert
  5. "A Court of Frost and Starlight" by Sarah J. Maas

Mid-Continent Public Library

  1. "Turtles All the Way Down" by John Green
  2. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling
  3. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
  4. "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard
  5. "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Coon

Find more books in NPR's Book Concierge, an "annual, interactive, year-end reading guide."

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer