Today marks the start of Library and Information Week and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) hopes a list of the top 10 books borrowed at more than 150 Australian libraries across four categories will momentarily ease that burden.
“We're all interested in what everybody is reading,” said association chief executive Sue McKerracher.
A wide range of genres were borrowed and read by Australians between February and April, with thrillers, crime, humour, fantasy, science fiction, cookery, biography and contemporary literature all getting a look-in.
Ms McKerracher said while it was “slightly disappointing” British and American authors took out the number one spot in all four categories – adult fiction, adult non-fiction, children's books and young adult fiction – Australian writers feature prominently in all but one group.
“I think we punch above our weight, but it was disappointing in the young adult genre, because we've got some fantastic young adult writers in Australia,” she said.
There were only two Australian writers in that category, and Ms McKerracher put the Americans' dominance down to heavy investment in marketing.
“Clearly, we don't have that kind of investment available for our writers.”
She was, however, thrilled with the children's book category, which featured six books by Australians, including two humorous series by dream-team Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton.
Another book in the pair's phenomenally popular Treehouse series was awarded Book of the Year at last week's Australian Book Industry Awards, the first time a children's book has taken out the top prize.
Meanwhile, adults voraciously consumed popular and critically acclaimed Aussie fiction titles like The Rosie Project, Burial Rites and The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and our obsession with food showed in the non-fiction category with three of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks making the top 10.
The survey showed print books were still going strong, with e-books borrowed from libraries making up fewer than 5 percent of loans.
Ms McKerracher said the future was hopeful for print, despite earlier fears of its downfall with the arrival of e-readers.
“The feeling now is that, yes, we're all going digital, but actually print is still a very attractive medium and people are using multiple formats.
“They'll have an audiobook when they're in the car, an e-book when they're going on holiday and a print book when they're in the bath.”
Ms McKerracher said the lists showed Australians were reading for pleasure, and, unsurprisingly, she reckons that's a good thing.
“It's very good for our souls and contributes to our general sense of wellbeing.”
MOST BORROWED ADULT FICTION TITLES
1. Never Go Back by Lee Child
2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
3. The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connolly
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Eyrie by Tim Winton
6. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
7. Inferno by Dan Brown
8. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
10. A Wanted Man by Lee Child
MOST BORROWED CHILDREN'S BOOKS
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
2. 13-Storey, 26 Storey and 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
3. Geronimo and Thea Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami
4. Spot series by Eric Hill
5. The Wrong Book by Nick Bland
6. Just! series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
7. Once by Morris Gleitzman
8. Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins
9. Selby series by Duncan Ball
10. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne