We Asked So You Don’t Have To: Here’s What San Francisco Was Reading and Listening To In 2022
Oprah has her annual list of Favorite Things. Vulture, The New Yorker and NPR book editors released their best books of the year roundup. And other library systems around the country are publishing carefully curated roundups of must-reads, just in time to curl up by the fireplace.
That’s all well and good, but what did everyday San Franciscans actually do in 2022? What did they consume and talk about with their friends and neighbors? What were the books they couldn’t put down, that kept them up at night, obsessively turning the pages? Luckily, we have those answers. San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) dug into its circulation data and came up with the top checked out titles of the year. You’re welcome.
Top Print Adult Fiction
- Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
- Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
- Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
- The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
- Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
- The Maid by Nita Prose
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Anthony Doerr’s ambitious, sprawling novel Cloud Cuckoo Land also topped the list of most circulated eBooks and top streaming audiobooks. Other fiction titles that claimed spots on the three lists were Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley and The Maid by Nita Prose.
In the print nonfiction category, memoirs were reader favorites. Many of the titles were also SFPL’s On the Same Page book club picks, and This Is Ear Hustle by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods and Know My Name by Chanel Miller were the 2022 and 2021 One City One Book: SF Reads selections respectively.
Top Print Adult Nonfiction
- Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui
- Crying in H-Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
- This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods
- Yoke: My Yoga of Self-acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley
- The End of the Golden Gate: Writers on Loving and (Sometimes) Leaving San Francisco edited by Gary Kamiya
- The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
- Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir by Deborah A. Miranda
- The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber
- Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
- Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Tastes varied more between print and ebook nonfiction readers than fiction. While print nonfiction readers leaned towards personal writing, eBook nonfiction fans read more pop science titles, such as Mary Roach’s Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law and Michael Pollan’s This Is Your Mind on Plants. One additional takeaway is that San Franciscans listened to more novels on audiobook than nonfiction. Only three of the top nonfiction titles landed on the top audiobooks list: Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown; Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman; and This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan.
This year, San Franciscans were also seduced by wax—the kind that plays on a turntable, anyway. Our data also showed that our LP collection circulated 30% more in 2022 than in the previous year. Here’s what was spinning across living rooms in SF.
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles
- Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album by John Coltrane
- A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
- The Velvet Underground & Nico by the Velvet Underground and Nico
- Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA
- Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
- Figure 8 by Elliot Smith
- Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
- Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
- Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys
As for younger readers, Dog Man master Dav Pilkey chewed up six spots on the most popular children’s books list, with Raina Telgemeier’s Guts and three of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles rounding out the top 10. Young adult fiction, a genre that appeals to readers across generations, showcased less children’s series but many familiar favorites from the past couple decades, including The Book Thief by recently-deceased Markus Zusak and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The list also reflects the resurgence of interest in Octavia Butler and her sci-fi classic, The Parable of the Sower.
Top Teen Fiction
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- Heartstopper, Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Even as the world reopens, San Franciscans clearly haven’t gotten tired of reading—or libraries. In October 2022, every single SFPL location was finally able to return to seven-day service. Visit the Main Library and its 27 branches, as well as the bookmobiles crisscrossing the City, as this year comes to a close.
About San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center and four bookmobiles.
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