What library books are Hongkongers reading the most? It turns out that inspirational fiction, chivalrous Chinese novels and travel guidebooks are among the most well-loved among public library users.

Tiu Keng Leng Public Library. File Photo: GovHK.

A document recently released by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department listed the top 10 most borrowed fiction and non-fiction titles from public libraries last year.

Adult fiction in English

For adult fiction in English, inspirational novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven by American writer Mitch Albom came first, having been loaned out 2,251 times. It was followed by Albom’s two other novels, The Time Keeper and For One More Day.

The timeless Sherlock Holmes detective series also made it to the top 10 list, as did dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

popular library books 2016
Junior fiction in English

Novels by British writer Roald Dahl were among the most popular junior English-language titles. The most borrowed books by Dahl included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and Matilda.

roald dahl
3 of 10 most popular library books for juniors.

While the fantasy Lord of the Rings series were among the most popular titles in the adult fiction category, the second book of the Harry Potter series was the second most popular among juniors.

popular library books 2016
Adult non-fiction in English

The most borrowed adult non-fiction title was a compilation of Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) Examination past papers of the English-language subject. It was borrowed over 14,000 times, nearly five times the number of loans of the first runner-up – a book on the English subject of the now-defunct Advanced Level exam system.

Books about taxes, company law, business writing and overseas travels were among the top 10 most borrowed items in this category.

popular library books 2016
Junior titles in English

Children’s reading books such as A Sea Mystery, Mr. Tickle and the Thomas the Tank Engine series dominated the junior list.

popular library books 2016
Chinese books

Meanwhile, the number of loans of adult Chinese books was on average five times that of adult English books.

Guidebooks dominated the list of most popular adult non-fiction. While the no.1 title on the list was a compilation of past papers of DSE Chinese subject, 7 of the top 10 non-fiction titles were travel guides to Japan, with destinations ranging from Tokyo and Osaka to Hokkaido and Kyushu.

The remaining two titles were guidebooks on Singapore and South Korea.

Tokyo. File Photo: uniquedesign52, via Pixabay.

The no.1 Chinese novel was the Legend of the Condor Heroes, a tale of chivalry by writer Louis Cha Leung-yung. Six other similar novels by Cha were also among the 10 most popular books in this category.

For junior novels in Chinese, the translated version of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry came first on the list, followed by Chinese classical story Journey to the West.

The government said that the numbers of loans of Chinese and English library books last year totalled 37.3 million and 11.2 million respectively. It spent an estimated HK$53 million purchasing library books last year.

Hong Kong public libraries follow the guidelines laid down by the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto in developing a diversified collection.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.