The Book List: Titles most commonly left at Travelodges – from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Casual Vacancy

Every Wednesday, Alex Johnson delves into a unique collection of works

Alex Johnson
Tuesday 05 June 2018 20:05
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The chain provides an annual update of bizarre items left in its hotels
The chain provides an annual update of bizarre items left in its hotels

1. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James
2. Bared To You by Sylvia Day
3. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
5. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
6. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
7. Reflected In You by Sylvia Day
8. My Time by Bradley Wiggins
9. Entwined With You by Sylvia Day
10. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James
11. My Story by Cheryl Cole
12. The Marriage Trap by Jennifer Probst
13. Camp David by David Walliams
14. Call The Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth
15. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
16. The Marriage Mistake by Jennifer Probst
17. The Racketeer by John Grisham
18. The Carrier by Sophie Hannah
19. Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French
20. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

One of the increasing additions to luxury hotels in recent years has been an impressive library. The Library Hotel in New York has gone so far as to theme each of its 10 guestroom floors on a single category in the Dewey Decimal System, with each of the 60 rooms featuring a collection of books focusing on a topic within the category to which it belongs.

David Walliams’s autobiography makes the cut (Getty)

But what about the books that arrive with their owners? Not all books get to go home with them, many parting ways during overnight stays or en route on trains and planes. The Travelodge chain reports an annual list of “left behinds” in all their hotels, with books and Kindles both featuring in the top 10.

The lists include books which have been genuinely forgotten, simply dumped, or deliberately left behind for other readers. Indeed, this final reason is the main accession procedure for the library of the President of the United States’ official guest residence Blair House in Washington DC, which holds around 1,500 volumes left behind as diplomatic gifts by foreign delegations who have stayed there over the years.

Travelodge has also drilled down to reveal which titles top the table, with trilogies making a particularly strong showing in the most recent list, featured above (the Fifty Shades threesome – which was most frequently left behind in Travelodge’s Yorkshire hotels – also rides high in Oxfam’s list of most-donated books, as does the work of Dan Brown). In recent years Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has also been a consistently good performer.

Fifty Shades of Forgetful: the EL James trilogy can mysteriously fail to make it home (Rex)

As in previous years, there is much more fiction (especially of the erotic/romance variety) than non-fiction on the list compiled from the 22,648 books left behind. It also continues to chart the growing decline of celebrity biographies on the list since it was topped in 2010 by Simon Cowell: The Unauthorised Biography by Chas Newkey-Burden.

Previous number ones have included Katie Price’s autobiography Pushed to the Limit, Piers Morgan’s Don’t You Know Who I Am? and The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell, which topped the first-ever list in 2007 (a year which also saw a huge number of Mills & Boon and English-language phrasebooks).

Children’s books rarely feature, although in 2012 Diary of a Wimpy Kid made the 14th spot, and there are also appearances for the Hunger Games books and the Harry Potter series. In 2012, a sports book was found in all 57 London Travelodges during the Olympics.

Of course books also go walkabout elsewhere. More than 80,000 books, documents and cards were left behind on London’s public transport network between 2015 and 2016, while Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crews compiled a list of ditched titles over the Christmas 2011 period which – interestingly – put Richard Branson’s Screw Business As Usual at number 8. The full top 10 was:

Casual look: JK Rowling’s first work after Harry Potter is a hotel favourite seemingly

1. The Way I See It by Alan Sugar
2. Glorious: My World, Football and Me by Paul Gascoigne
3. Santa Baby by Katie Price
4. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
5. I Heart Vegas by Lindsey Kelk
6. Twisting My Melon by Shaun Ryder
7. May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden
8. Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson
9. An Idiot Abroad: Travel Diaries by Karl Pilkington
10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Lord Sugar’s book was found most often on routes from London to New York, Tokyo and Shanghai.

‘A Book of Book Lists’ by Alex Johnson, £7.99, British Library Publishing

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