Julia Donaldson ends James Patterson’s reign as UK libraries’ most borrowed author

Data shows that Patterson’s 14-year run as readers’ overall favourite has given way to the Gruffalo author

Crime writer James Patterson’s long-running streak as the most borrowed author in UK libraries has been broken by children’s author Julia Donaldson.

Patterson had been the most borrowed author for 14 years in the Public Lending Right (PLR) data, which collates information on library loans and pays authors for every book borrowed, up to a maximum of £6,600. Patterson spent 13 consecutive years at No 1, and was the most borrowed author for the 14th time in 2020 to 2021; no data was produced for 2019 to 2020.

But for the latest data, covering July 2021 to June 2022, Gruffalo author Donaldson was the most borrowed author overall, moving up from third place the year before, and shifting Patterson into second place. Donaldson was also the most borrowed children’s author.

No books by Donaldson or Patterson made the Top 50 most borrowed titles list, but their extensive backlists account for their overall dominance and their positions as the most borrowed authors overall.

Patterson was still the most borrowed adult author in UK libraries, although two of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club books took the top spots for the most borrowed individual books.

All of the Top 10 most borrowed titles for the period were fiction, with crime and thriller titles dominating. Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and its sequel The Man Who Died Twice were in at numbers one and two on the chart, and held the same positions on the most borrowed audiobooks chart. This is the second year in a row The Thursday Murder Club has been the most borrowed title overall.

The 25th Jack Reacher novel The Sentinel, by Lee Child and Andrew Child, was in fourth position on the overall chart.

Ann Cleeves was the author with the most books in the overall Top 10: the Vera Stanhope novel The Darkest Evening was at No 5, followed by two books from her Two Rivers series, The Long Call at no 6 and The Heron’s Cry at No 8.

TM Logan’s thriller Trust Me was in at No 10. The other books in the Top 10 were Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, which was the third most borrowed book. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was at No 7 – the only children’s book in the Top 10 – and Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning novel Shuggie Bain was the ninth most borrowed book.

Just two non-fiction titles were in the most borrowed books list: Michelle Obama’s Becoming was at No 31 while Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt, which was adapted for TV in early 2022, was at No 41.

The Top 10 most borrowed children’s titles included six of Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books; only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sat outside the Top 10, at No 11. The first four Harry Potter books, in series order, held the top four positions on the children’s chart.

Three of Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books were in the Top 10, while David Walliams had just one title in the children’s Top 10, with Fing at No 9.


Sarah Shaffi

The GuardianTramp

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