Scotland's readers now devour thrillers rather than romance novels

In the last three decades, tastes in fiction have competely changed here in Scotland.

Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 3:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 3:50 pm
Crime, thriller and mystery novels have taken over from romance in the top ten most borrowed books here in Scotland in the last three decades. The Girl on the Train was the most borrowed book in 2017 in Scotland.

According to a study conducted in Scottish libraries, romance and Catherine Cookson novels topped the charts in the country’s most borrowed books for most of the nineties, from 1993 to 1999.

In 2000, muggles stocked up on magic with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter becoming the most borrowed book in Scotland.

Josephine Cox was the biggest hit with library-goers from 2001 to 2003 and in 2003 and 2004 Scottish author Ian Rankin claimed the number one spot as the crime, thriller and mystery genre became ever more popular.

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James Patterson was the most borrowed author from 2007 to 2016; he continued to have several books on the most borrowed list in the UK last year.

However, in 2017 the top spot here in Scotland was claimed by Paula Hawkins with The Girl on the Train.

Most of Scotland’s top ten last year were in the thriller, crime or mystery genre – romance failed to even make an appearance in the top ten.

The top ten in 2017 here reads as follows:

1 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

2 Even Dogs in the Wild: The new John Rebus by Ian Rankin

3 Make Me by Lee Child

4 Coffin Road by Peter May

5 Night School by Lee Child

6 Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

7 In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride

8 The Last Mile by David Baldacci

9 Personal by Lee Child

10 Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin

Crime has dominated the top 10 list of most borrowed books every year since 2004. Lee Child, who occupied three places in the top ten, explained why he believed people can’t get enough of it.

He said: “In the decade following 9/11, I believe crime fiction has become more important in people’s lives.

“It gratifies their desire for safety and security and the rule of law because at the end of crime novels, order is restored.”

Data from all UK libraries from 2016 and 2017 saw seven children’s authors featured in the top ten most borrowed authors, namely Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Roald Dahl, Roderick Hunt, Francesca Simon, Adam Blade and Jacqueline Wilson.

“The PLR data clearly shows that many children still love borrowing books,” said Jacqueline Wilson. “That’s why we need our excellent libraries, so that all children can have free access to a huge variety of books.”

Libraries have faced unprecedented changes in the last three decades, with scores of library closures.

In Scotland, there were 3515 paid library jobs in 2010 and 3416 in 2015 – a drop of 99 (three per cent).

However, adding new services is helping many libraries survive the advent of the internet age.

Laura Swaffield, library activist and chair of the Library Campaign, said: “Free PCs in libraries are an absolute lifeline to the many who can’t afford IT or figure out how to use it without help – more than 15 million people UK-wide.

“Benefits claimants are top of the list – forced to do all their paperwork and job searches online whether they can afford IT or not.

“Libraries are more vital than ever in the digital age. But the overwhelming reason people use libraries is still to borrow books.”

The figures were compiled by Go Compare from data gathered by Public Lending Right (PLR).