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Ottawa Public Library’s most popular books in 2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021

OTTAWA – Thedarkest time of the year is the perfect time to light up your life with a great book—especially if you have some extra time over the holidays.If you are curious about what book lovers in Ottawa read this year,you've come to the right place! Ottawa Public Library (OPL) gathered lists of the most popular books between January 1 and December 1, 2021, based on the number of hold requests.

Adult (English)

  1. State of Terrorby Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny
  2. The Madness of Crowdsby Louise Penny
  3. The Rose Codeby Kate Quinn
  4. Fight Nightby Miriam Toews
  5. The Last Thing He Told Meby Laura Dave
  6. The Pushby Ashley Audrain
  7. Five Little Indiansby Michelle Good
  8. Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Powerby Jody Wilson-Raybould
  9. What Strange Paradiseby Omar El Akkad
  10. A Town Called Solaceby Mary Lawson

Notes below each list are courtesy of librarians in OPL’s Content Services department:

Louise Penny, the extraordinarily popular Quebec crime writer’s foray into state crimes with Clinton has garnered a huge following, on the tail of her success with The Madness of Crowds.

Kate Quinn and Laura Dave are the only two American authors on our list.

Miriam Toew’s Fight Night has her trademark humour and pathos along with unique characters and relationships, and The Push by Ashley Audrain is a gripping psychological drama. Both of these Canadian writers offer refreshing views on motherhood.

Five Little Indians, published in 2020, is still going strong as residential schools stay in the news for the saddest of reasons, followed by Indian in the Cabinet – Wilson-Raybould’s view on federal politics today (our only non-fiction title).

Giller Prize winner What Strange Paradisespeaks of the plight of refugees, another reflection of current events.

A Town Called Solace is the return of Mary Lawson’s Northern Ontario world with another captivating family drama.

Adult (French)

  1. Un café avec Marieby Serge Bouchard
  2. Tiohtiàke by Michel Jean
  3. Le sablier : otage au Sahara pendant 450 joursby Édith Blais
  4. La plus secrète mémoire des hommesby Mohamed Mbougar Sarr
  5. Emby Kim Thúy
  6. Le promeneur de chèvresby Francine Ruel
  7. Les villages de Dieuby Emmelie Prophète
  8. Fast food santéby Geneviève O’Gleman
  9. La pharmacie Lamoureuxby Louise Tremblay d’Essiambre
  10. Leonard Cohen : sur un filby Philippe Girard


The list of most requested French books for 2021 includes six books written by women, and the list includes mostly Canadian authors and/or subjects.

Sadly deceased this year but still a popular author, Serge Bouchard’s novel Un café avec Marieis number one on the list. Bouchard was a great storyteller who left many books to discover.

Michel Jean's Tiohtiàkeis also one of the most requested titles this year, and so is his 2019 book, Kukum.

Édith Blais' non-fiction title, as well as Philippe Girard's comic book were very popular in the media this year.

There are also have a few award winners on the list, such as Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, the winner of the Goncourt 2021 prize, and Emmelie Prophète, a Haitian writer who won the Prix du rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises from the Académie française.

Also on the list, La pharmacie Lamoureux, is the third book of the series Place des Érables by Louise Tremblay d'Essiambre, one of the most popular authors of historical fiction in Quebec and Canada.

Teens (English)

  1. Shadow and Boneby Leigh Bardugo
  2. Firekeeper’s Daughterby Angeline Boulley
  3. Concrete Roseby Angie Thomas
  4. Iron Widowby Xiran Jay Zhao
  5. Hunting by Starsby Cherie Dimaline
  6. Tokyo Ever Afterby Emiko Jean
  7. The Hawthorne Legacyby Jennifer Barnes
  8. The Gilded Onesby Namina Forna
  9. These Violent Delightsby Chloe Gong
  10. Loreby Alexandra Bracken


The top teen titles sorted showed a preponderance of old titles, reflecting the strong impact that Netflix and Booktok (a book-focused subcommunity on the app TikTok) are having on what teens are reading. Older titles were eliminated with the purpose of focusing on 2021 titles.

Leigh Bardugo, the author of the number one title on this list, had several titles from a couple of different series in the top 20 titles.

Chinese-Canadian author Xiran Jay Zhao wrote Iron Widow, a science-fantasy novel.

Firekeeper’s Daughterby Angeline Boulley is a YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community.

Concrete Roseis a prequel to Angie Thomas’s first novel The Hate U Give, which was adapted into a film. The Gilded Ones touches on topics such as racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequality, abuse, and trauma in a positive and fantastical way, and will soon be adapted into a movie too.

Hunting by Starsis a sequel to the bestselling, award-winning novel The Marrow Thieves, about a dystopian world where the Indigenous people of North America are being hunted for their bone marrow and ability to dream.

Reminiscent of The Princess Diaries, the book Tokyo Ever Afterfollows main character, Izumi, as she discovers her own identity and searches for her father—who turns out to be the crown prince of Japan.

Teens and Children (French)

  1. Journal d'un dégonflé - Tome 12: Sauve qui peut !by Jeff Kinney
  2. Le secret des dragonsby Dominique Demers
  3. Mystères à l'écoleby Various authors
  4. Les méchants : No 12 - L'être élu?!by Aaron Blabey
  5. J'avais tout prévu sauf les bélugasby Andrée Poulin
  6. Bas aux genoux et coton ouatéby Catherine Bourgault
  7. Lucie la mouffette qui pête et les achigans tannantsby Shallow and Vannara
  8. Fifi a mangé le facteurby Marilou Addison
  9. Médaille d'or pour Geronimoby Geronimo Stilton
  10. Nish : Le nord et le sudby Isabelle Picard


The most popular and requested French youth titles dip into OPL’s older collection, as well as some titles published in 2021.The three novels: Mystères à l'école, J'avais tout prévu sauf les belugas, as well as Bas aux genoux et coton ouaté were popular among teens.

Mystères à l'école, written by 15 Canadian authors, contains 15 stories of mystery and misdemeanour, sure to please thriller fans. The book is also on the recommended reading list of some school curriculums.

J'avais tout prévu sauf les belugas, a story rich in reflection and in emotion, is written by Orléans-Ottawa native and well-known author Andrée Poulin.

Written by Catherine Bourgault author of several successful series, her novel, Bas aux genoux et coton ouaté explores with humor and finesse the themes of friendship, love and differences through the daily lives of two young women.

For readers between the ages of 10 to 12, Nish is a new series by Isabelle Picard based on indigenous culture and folklore. Isabelle Picard is an ethnologist from Wendake, a reserve in Quebec, and an indigenous affairs specialist for Radio-Canada.

Journal d'un dégonflé - Tome 12: Sauve qui peut !, by Jeff Kinney, and Les méchants : No 12 - L'être élu?!, by Aaron Blabey, are both popular series for young readers.

Fifi a mangé le facteur, by Marliou Addison, is a large print book, which is popular for children. Marilou Addison is a prolific writer of both children and teen fiction.

Even after two decades, the adventurous mouse and journalist, Geronimo Stilton, remains a beloved character for kids. Released this year, Médaille d'or pour Geronimo’s book cover claims it was written by the character Geronimo Stilton (a pseudonym), it is in fact written by Elisabetta Dami.

Children (English)

  1. Big Shotby Jeff Kinney
  2. Christmas Pigby J.K. Rowling
  3. Howl of the Wind Dragonby Tracey West
  4. Keepers of the Empireby Geronimo Stilton
  5. Bo and the Merbabyby Rebecca Elliott
  6. Daughter of the Deepby Rick Riordan
  7. Dangerous Giftby Tui Sutherland
  8. Like Father, Like Sonby James Patterson
  9. Spy School at Seaby Stuart Gibbs
  10. Truly Tylerby Terri Libenson


This year, eight out of 10 titles are part of ongoing series, which speaks to the popularity of series for kids! Six of these titles are of the fantasy genre; two fall under contemporary fiction; and two are categorised as mystery adventure books.

Meant for older readers, the books Big Shot, Keepers of the Empire, and Truly Tyler are highly illustrated giving the feel of graphic novels.

Howl of the Wind Dragon as well as Bo and the Merbaby are both part of popular series for younger readers who enjoy a lot of illustrations. Surely the power of illustration enhances understanding and enjoyment of the text.

The above lists provide some great gift ideas too! Books are easy gifts to wrap and send – especially eBooks or Audiobooks. In whatever form, a book can appeal to hearts and minds, and even provide a welcome break as another year comes to a close.

The Library hopes these titles will inspire you to share and experience the joy of reading now and in the new year.