End to the romance as library users turn to crime

Britain has traditionally been a nation with romantic reading habits, but new figures show that readers are turning to crime.

The gritty forensic novels of American writers such as Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson have gained popularity in British libraries, compared with previous years when romantic fiction dominated the charts. More than half of the most popular titles borrowed in the year to June 2005 were crime tales or thrillers, according to the latest Public Lending Right statistics.

The most borrowed adult fiction book last year was Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell, the 12th in the series featuring Kay Scarpetta, who is now a private forensic consultant.

The list of the top 10 most borrowed authors still has its love interests, with titles from the likes of Josephine Cox and Joanna Trollope, but figures indicate a major shift towards crime and thrillers compared with five or 10 years ago, when Catherine Cookson ruled supreme.

In both 1999-2000 and 1994-1995, Cookson had written nine out of the top 10 most borrowed books, but she has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since records began in 1984.

Simon Brett, chairman of the Public Lending Right advisory committee and himself a crime novelist, said: "This year sees crime fiction and thrillers stealing a march on romance. Maybe this is an indication that national tastes are becoming increasingly macabre. It's certainly very good news for those of us who write crime."

Jacqueline Wilson, currently the Children's Laureate, retains her crown as the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the third year running. She was the only British writer to have more than two million loans.

Her success also highlights the continuing importance of libraries to children. When the children's and adults' lists are combined, three other children's writers - Mick Inkpen, Janet and Allan Ahlberg and Roald Dahl - also appear.

Wilson said she was thrilled that so many young people were spending time in libraries. "It's a tribute to the hard work of many people and to the success of initiatives such as the Bookstart scheme, which have done such a great job in encouraging children into libraries form an early age."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling was the most borrowed children's fiction title.

The Public Lending Right, established in 1979, means writers get paid when their books are borrowed. This year, authors are receiving a record payment of 5.57p per loan.

The tracking system throws up interesting regional variations in borrowing habits. The favourite cookery book for the UK as a whole was Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners but London borrowers preferred Nigella Lawson's Feast: Food that Celebrates Life, and those in Wales and the South-west favoured Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's The River Cottage Year.

Thrilling stuff

1. Patricia Cornwell, Blow Fly

2. Josephine Cox, Lovers and Liars

3. John Grisham, The Last Juror

4. Joanna Trollope, Brother and Sister

5. P J Tracy, Want to Play?

6. Maeve Binchy, Nights of Rain and Stars

7. James Patterson, Big Bad Wolf

8. James Patterson and Andrew Gross, The Third Degree

9. Ian Rankin, A Question of Blood

10. Kathy Reichs, Monday Mourning

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices