Library Patrons’ Reading Preferences

Joan Muyskens Pursley

In last month’s Pioneer Press, the Library Board asked residents to take a short “What Do You Like to Read?” survey. The first 100 surveys have been tallied, and the results are below. However, we need at least another 100 of you to participate in this survey to have a more accurate understanding of residents’ special interests. We know the warmer weather tempts you onto the golf course, pickleball and tennis courts, and the bocce and Texas Toss greens. But the survey takes just a few minutes to do, and as Friends of the Library (FOL) is so generously willing to purchase some new books for us, they and the Library Board and volunteers want to be sure to build upon the collections of greatest interest. So, please, on your way home from playing outside, stop by the library and take the survey. It’s on the counter near the sign-in sheet.

Tallies of the first batch of surveys had a few surprises for the New Books Committee, although the Fiction categories were fairly easy to predict, as prior to the recent purchases by the FOL, residents donated all the books in our collections. So, in the Fiction category, about half the respondents to date noted they read books in the following genres: Action/Spy, Historical Fiction, Mysteries. About 40 percent read Novels, 18 percent read Romance, and about 10 percent read Sci-Fi and/or Western. Only three respondents noted they read poetry. Write-in requests asked for more award-winning books, Christian fiction and non-fiction, comic novels, books about legal cases, and more large-print books.

The two most-read non-fiction categories on the survey were Biographies and Histories—just under 50 percent of all respondents checked them. Next in popularity (about 30 percent) was the Memoirs category. Approximately one-fourth of the respondents expressed interest in travel books. Ten to 15 percent noted they enjoy books on gardening, politics, and/or science. Non-fiction books on war were a separate category, checked by 15 percent. Write-in preferences ranged from the Revolutionary War to the war in Vietnam, with one person noting a special interest in books about SEAL teams. Between five to ten percent of the respondents indicated they read books in the following categories: Arts and Crafts, Cookbooks, Finance, Health, Inspirational/Religious, and Sports.

Write-in suggestions for new books included Christian books, award winners, presidential autobiographies, and “common books we read in high school and might want to re-read, such as Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, and Great Expectations.”

While listing a few favorite authors was an “optional” part of the survey, more than half the respondents jotted down a few names. The top two authors cited were C.J. Box and James Patterson, followed by David Baldacci, John Grisham, Lee Child, Ken Follett, and Kristin Hannah. In all, 73 authors were listed as favorites.

We will hold the survey open for another month, then publish the final tallies on the library/FOL website A big thanks to all survey participants.