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Ottawa Public Library’s most popular books in 2023

snowmen with books.

Dec 19, 2023

As the end of another year approaches, Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is thrilled to unveil lists of most popular books, between January 1 and December 1, 2023. This year's lists feature several genres, from gripping thrillers to heartwarming tales of resilience, ensuring there's something for every reader to enjoy. Librarians at OPL provided notes for each category to highlight the literary works that have captivated readers in 2023.

"These lists hold a diversity of irresistible stories that defined the literary landscape of 2023, they reflect the wide range of reading tastes in Ottawa—where the act of reading is emblematic of engaged, curious, and creative Library clients," said Sonia Bebbington, Chief Librarian/CEO of Ottawa Public Library. “OPL is a library for everyone, and we invite all Ottawans to connect with us in person or online to find inspiration, expertise, and fresh perspectives that can enhance their life.”

Adult Books (English)

  1. Spare by Prince Harry
  2. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  3. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
  4. Happy Place by Emily Henry
  5. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
  6. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  7. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
  8. Ducks by Kate Beaton
  9. Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
  10. Everyone Here is Lying by Shari LaPena

It is no surprise that Spare, the tell-all memoir by Prince Harry has topped OPL’s most requested list this year. Released in the very early days of 2023, this story of riches, royalty, and family drama has had people reading all year long.

Lessons in Chemistryby Bonnie Garmus is on OPL’s most requested list for the second year in a row with consistent word of mouth, strong author interviews, and a TV series adaption. The Library expects interest in this novel and read-alikes featuring women in STEM to carry into 2024.

Literary award nominees and winners feature highly in Ottawa’s favourites. Set in the Appalachian region of the US, Barbara Kingsolver's Pulitzer and Women’s Prize-winning Demon Copperhead is a coming-of-age story in the style of David Copperfield. Likewise, Tom Lake quickly rose to the top ten most requested Adult English titles on the strength of multi award winning author Ann Patchett's writing in this tale of a parent telling her three grown daughters the story of her youthful summertime romance with a now famous Hollywood actor. Ducks: Two Years on the Oil Sands, Canadian Kate Beaton’s graphic memoir of working a mining job in the Athabasca oil sands, saw a huge uptick in interest when it won the coveted Canada Reads in 2023 bringing this book to the attention of readers who may not normally pick up a graphic novel. Simultaneously chronicling the abuse and harassment Beaton endured at her male-dominated job alongside the global impacts of the oiling industry, it’s no wonder this eye-opening and relevant work made it onto the top ten.

Beaton isn’t the only Canadian author on the list. Carley Fortune’s Meet Me at the Lake, the story of a second chance Muskoka romance connected with readers this year with the charm of cottage country, what-ifs, and that heady aroma of lake magic. Everyone Here is Lying, a good old-fashioned thriller from Shari Lapena rounds out the list at number 10.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Tomorrowjoins the most requested list with a story of friendships, growing up, and video games. It's that and much, much more, and with film rights sold, it's likely interest will remain.

The Covenant of Waterby author Abraham Verghese made our Top Ten list this year with excellent writing and stellar reviews. Verghese's last novel, Cutting for Stone, remained on industry best sellers lists for more than 2 years, and it wouldn't surprise us to see similar staying power with The Covenant of Water.

Ottawa's readers reached for romance with Happy Place in 2023 – Emily Henry's story of fake-dating your ex for 7 more days to save your mutual friends feelings. It happens. Because reasons. And it happened to make its way into the hearts of readers and into the top ten for 2023!

Adult (French)

  1. Que notre joie demeure by Kevin Lambert
  2. Rose à l’île by Michel Rabagliati
  3. Veiller sur elle by  Jean-Baptiste Andrea
  4. Qimmik by Michel Jean
  5. La vie de ma mère by  Nathalie Petrowski
  6. Les angoisses de ma prof de chinois by  Jean-François Lépine
  7. Je ferai le tour du monde by  Alexandra Szacka
  8. Psychopompe by Amélie Nothomb 
  9. L’Arabe du futur by Riad Sattouf (BD series)
  10. Les vents contraires by Louise Tremblay d’Essiambre

2023 has seen some of OPL’s highest demand ever for francophone titles for adults. Excitement over Québécois author Kevin Lambert’s Goncourt nomination and two major prize wins in France – le prix Décembre and le prix Médicis – generated significant interest in his novel Que notre joie demeure.

The Goncourt winner is always one of the top requested titles each year, and this year the honour went to Jean-Baptiste Andrea for Veiller sur elle.

Four of the top titles were written by women, three of whom are Canadian. Nathalie Petrowski and Alexandra Szacka are journalists and writers, and both offered nonfiction titles. Québécois writer of historical novels Louise Tremblay d’Essiambre and Amélie Nothomb are prolific writers and publish bestselling books every year.

Innu author Michel Jean is one of Canada’s most popular authors in French, and he has recently stunned readers with his latest novel, Qimmik. Special mention for his 2019 novel Kukum, which remains amongst OPL’s most requested titles. Kukum was translated into English this year.

Two graphic novel series have endured the test of time. Authors Michel Rabagliati, from Québec and writing about his alter ego Paul, and Riad Sattouf are always highly anticipated. Riad Sattouf’s sixth and final title in the series l’Arabe du futur was eagerly awaited, and Sattouf won the Grand Prix d’Angoulême in 2023 for his body of work.

When an author is on the Radio-Canada talk show Tout le monde en parle, interest is always piqued. Jean-François Lépine is a famous journalist whose title Les angoisses de ma prof de chinois was boosted even more when he recently appeared on air.

 Overall, Canada publishes a robust selection of francophone titles, complemented by titles published in France and Europe, which enriches the lives of the clients of the Ottawa Public Library.

Teen Fiction (English)

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide to murder by Holly Jackson
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  3. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  4. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  5. If He Had Been with Me by Nowlin, Laura

Similar to last year, all titles on the teen fiction list gained popularity through BookTok and adaptations for film and streaming services. 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murderremained at the top of the list, with a highly anticipated BBC adaptation currently in production. The mystery/thriller genre continues to thrive!

Romantasy, a genre combining fantasy settings and romance, also remains highly popular, with Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses claiming a spot again this year. This BookTok favourite is popular with older teens and adults.

As expected, the recent release of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has driven up demand for this Hunger Games prequel. 

Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty also remained in OPL’s top five, with the 2nd season of its Prime Video adaptation released in 2023.

Finally, If He Had Been With Me, a 2019 coming of age/new adult romance went viral on BookTok in 2023 and is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Colleen Hoover. A companion novel, If Only I Had Told Her is coming soon, Winter 2024.

Teen Fiction (French)

  1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (series)
  2. Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (series)
  3. Le prince cruel by Holly Black
  4. Juliette à Boston by Rose-Line Brasset
  5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Many of the top titles for teens are translations of very popular English series’. Driven by media tie-ins, Hunger Games is still extremely popular and takes the top spot on this list. The Inheritance Games, represents the still-growing popularity of the mystery/thriller genre for teens and Le prince cruel is a romance fantasy popular with teens and adults. 

Finally, there is Rose-Line Brasset and one of her latest titles in the series Juliette doing extremely well. The series in general is well-loved by Ottawa teens and a must-buy any time a new title comes out.

Teen Graphic Novels (English)

  1. Demon Slayer (series) by Koyoharu Gotoge
  2. One Piece (series) by Eiichiro Oda
  3. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
  4. My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi
  5. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Graphic novels, particularly manga, were hugely popular in 2023. Demon Slayer topped the list, likely bolstered by the release of the anime adaptation’s third season.

Despite being over 100 volumes long (!!!) Eiichiro Oda’s charming pirate caper One Piece trailed closely behind in second place. The series saw an uptick in interest after Netflix released a live-action adaptation and isn’t likely to ease up with a second season in development.

Even though it concluded almost ten years ago, Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto made an appearance on the list, and the similarly action-packed My Hero Academia came just behind it.

Heartstopper has made an appearance on the Top Teen list for the second year in a row. It’s no wonder, as the second season of the Netflix adaptation was released this year, and the final volume of the graphic novel series was released in December 2023.


Teen Graphic Novels (French)

  1. La rose écarlate by Patricia Lyfoung (series)
  2. Naruto by Mashashi Kisimoto (series)
  3. Princesse Sara by Audrey Alwett (series)
  4. Bone by Jeff Smith (series)
  5. La vie compliquée de Léa Olivier by Alcante (series)

It is exciting to see the series Bone is still so popular after several decades—funny, dark, moving and above all exciting, it is an excellent series for a wide range of readers. As on the English list, Naruto remains a stalwart for teens despite the series being over for several years now. And in number five, the graphic novel adaptation of La vie compliquée de Léa Olivier has been almost as popular as the original novel series by Catherine Girard-Audet!

Children’s Fiction and Non-fiction (English)

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) by Jeff Kinney
  2. Dragon Masters (series) by Tracey West
  3. Minecraft (multiple titles and authors)
  4. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
  5. Bad Guys (series) by Aaron Blabey

Series’ continue to be hugely popular with OPL’s younger readers, with perennial favourite The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney topping the list.

Fantasy is the genre of choice as the long-running Dragon Masters series by Tracey West places second, with the classic Harry Potter closely behind.

The Bad Guys series by Aaron Blabey continues to be loved, bolstered by the release of last year’s movie adaptation.

Minecraft books are always in demand at the Library, and it is no secret why: what’s popular in the world is popular at the library, and video games are super popular with kids! The best way to get kids to read is to bring home titles about the things they’re interested in—for some children, they are the perfect starter books that lead to a lifelong love of books and the library.

Children’s Fiction and Non-fiction (French)

  1. Les Méchants by Aaron Blabey (series)
  2. Le club des baby-sitters by Ann. M. Martin (series)
  3. Défense d'entrer by Caroline Héroux (series) / Nutshimit: Un bain de forêt by Melissa Mollen Dupuis, illustrated by Élise Gravel
  4. Le petit prince by Antoine de St-Exupéry
  5. Alerte: culottes meutrières: fausses nouvelles, désinformation et théories du complot by Élise Gravel

Not surprisingly considering the movie that came out back in 2022, Les Méchants by Aaron Blabey is still in the top spot popularity-wise. In second place, Le club des baby-sitters, despite being quite old (but has seen updated editions in the last several years) is still very popular.

In third place is a tie between the series Défense d'entrer from Quebec writer Caroline Héroux, and non-fiction title Nutshimit, illustrated by the very popular Élise Gravel and written by Innu writer Melissa Mollen Dupuis. Always good to see French-Canadian and Indigenous creators in OPL’s most popular lists!

The ever-beloved classic Le petit prince is often on OPL’s most requested list, read by adults and children alike.

Finally, Élise Gravel appears on the list again, with a very hot topic in these troubled times with Alerte: cullotes meurtrières explaining the concepts of false news and disinformation to children.

Children’s Graphic Novels (English)

  1. Baby-Sitters Club (series) by Various
  2. Dog Man (series) by Dav Pilkey
  3. Wings of Fire by Barry Deutsch
  4. InvestiGators by John Patrick Green
  5. Baby-Sitters Little Sister by Katy Farina

Similarly, to English Fiction, young readers are drawn to reading and committing to series. Unsurprisingly, The Baby-Sitters Club continues to be massively popular, placing first on the list, with its spin-off series Baby-Sitters Little Sister sneaking onto the list in fifth.

Dog Manby Dav Pilkey just missed that first slot, but nevertheless maintains a strong hold with kids. Closely behind, Wings of Fire proves to be not only popular with prose readers, but comic readers as well, with the graphic novel adaptation by Barry Deutsch coming in third.

To round out the list, John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators, in the vein of Dog Man, continues the trend of humorous adventure titles starring animal characters being popular with children.

Children’s Graphic Novels (French)

  1. Les Légendaires by Patrick Sobral (series)
  2. L'agent Jean by Alex A. (series)
  3. Super chien by Dav Pilkey (series)
  4. Le club des baby-sitters by Various authors and illustrators (series)
  5. Ariol by Emmanuel Guibert (Series)

All graphic novels in the top five are series. Les Légendaires  has always been extremely popular with kids since it started publishing over fifteen years ago now. Also, good to see Alex A. a Quebec creator, in second place for his series L'agent Jean—this series is now in English as well!

Ariol, a wonderful series for younger readers who are new to graphic novels, is another long-standing favourite with enduring appeal.

Picture Books (English)

  1. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh by Mo Willems (and other Pigeon books by Mo Willems)
  2. The Sour Grape by Jory John (and other books in the Food Group series)
  3. Pete the Cat series by James Dean
  4. The Class Trip by Robert Munsch
  5. The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming

Funny characters top the list for picture books this year! Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh by Mo Willems is the most requested picture book, with previous books about the mischievous pigeon remaining very popular. Mo Willems is a celebrated Master of Children’s Literature—the illustrations in his books are simple, colorful, full of personality, and they are irresistible read-alouds!

The dynamic duo of Jory John and Pete Oswald have had another string of hits this year. The Sour Grape, along with all the previous entries in their Food Group series have been in high demand. This series focuses on teaching social-emotional learning through humour, helping kids grow, manage their emotions, and make good decisions.

As the perennial Canadian hero of humor for generations of kids and parents it’s a given that Robert Munsch’s latest The Class Trip is on the list of most requested titles. Though Munsch is no longer writing, his publisher has a stash of unreleased titles that will keep kids in stitches for years to come.

 Picture Books

  1. Le voleur de feuilles by Alice Hemming
  2. J'aime l'automne by Kim Dean
  3. Le nuit de l'Halloween by James Dean
  4. Cinq petites citrouilles by James Dean / Le monstre des couleurs va à l'école by Anna Llenas / Une montagne de feuilles by Robert Munsch
  5. C'est mon corps!, Élise Gravel

Le voleur de feuilleswas a favourite of the collection development team this year, so OPL is happy to see it take the top spot (it’s on the English list too!). If you haven't read it before, this autumn story of a squirrel out to find the reason for all the missing leaves is hilarious!

The series Pat le chat by James and Kim Dean has been popular with young children for many years now, in French as well as English. These simple stories with appealing, colourful illustrations, and catchy phrases are fun to read aloud.

And finally, another very good picture book from Canadian Élise Gravel at number five!


Children Book with Wrong Title

FYI, the book by Robert Munsch is called Class Trip not the School Trip.

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