Harry Potter and Sally Rooney among most borrowed library books last year

Children’s titles take up 19 of top 20, as Rooney’s latest novel is most borrowed adult title

Children are the dominant users of public libraries in Ireland with 19 of the 20 most borrowed books last year consisting of titles aimed at younger readers with the first title in the best-selling Harry Potter series the most popular book of 2022.

Meanwhile, Irish authors feature prominently among the most popular books for adults with three Irish female writers heading up the top 20 most borrowed adult novels: Sally Rooney, Claire Keegan and Nuala O’Connor.

However, new figures provided by the Local Government Management Agency confirm reading is child’s play with perennial favourites such as the Mister Men, Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, having a near monopoly on the most popular books borrowed from Irish libraries last year.

The only adult title to break the stranglehold in the top 20 list was Irish author Sally Rooney’s latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, in seventh position.


The controversy over the views of JK Rowling on transgender issues has not dented her popularity among younger readers with her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, topping the list of most borrowed books in 2022.

The demand for the first book in the series of seven fantasy novels about a young wizard may be helped by its inclusion on the Junior Certificate syllabus for English.

However, all seven books by Rowling in the Harry Potter series dominated the list of most borrowed audio books for children last year, topped by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The only other title by an Irish author besides Rooney to feature in the top 20 books was the first novel in the Famine trilogy by Irish author, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Under the Hawthorn Tree.

The well-known children’s classic, which was the most borrowed title from Irish libraries in 2021, was ranked fourth last year.

Seven of the 17 books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by US author, Jeff Kinney, feature among the 2022 most borrowed list, with The Getaway in third position.

Six titles from the comic-book Dog Man series by DAV Pilkey, also feature among the top 20 list.

Meanwhile, the top three books for adults borrowed from Irish libraries last year were all by female, Irish authors headed up by Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You and followed by Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan and Nora by Nuala O’Connor.

All three enjoyed a high profile during 2022 with Rooney’s latest novel eagerly awaited following the successful TV adaptations of her earlier books, Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Keegan’s short novel with its background of the Magdalene laundries was shortlisted for the Booker Prize last year, while Nora, a reimagining of the life of James Joyce’s wife, was the Dublin City One Book choice for 2022.

The LGMA said the wealth of writing talent in Ireland was reflected in the fact that 10 of the 20 most borrowed adult books from libraries last year were by Irish authors including Edel Coffey, Graham Norton, Sinead Moriarty and Maureen Gaffney.

Others were Catherine Ryan Howard, Fintan O’Toole, John Banville and the authors of the Aisling series, Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght.

Other Irish writers including Sheila O’Flanagan, Jo Spain, John Boyne, Róisín Meaney, Roddy Doyle and Marian Keyes were among the most borrowed authors for their collective works during 2022, although none of their individual novels feature in the list of top 20 borrowed books.

Popular international authors among adult library users included Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, John Grisham and Michael Connelly.

The most borrowed author in Irish libraries overall last year was Daisy Meadows – the pseudonym used for four writers of the international best-selling Rainbow Magic series of books for young children.

Children’s authors including Roderick Hunt, Julia Donaldson, Roger Hargreaves and David Walliams again dominated the list with the highest ranked author of adult novels, the US thriller writer James Patterson, in eighth position.

The most borrowed adult audio book last year was Again Rachel which was read by its author, Marian Keyes – while the top adult ebook borrowed via the Borrowbox app was by another female Irish writer, Faith Hogan with her 2021 work, The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club.

According to the LGMA, ebooks and audiobooks continue to grow in popularity with Irish library members with almost 780,000 ebooks and 1.4 million audiobooks loaned during 2022.

Irish public libraries currently offer a selection of more than 60,000 ebooks and 54,000 audiobooks.

A LGMA spokesperson said many of the most borrowed ebook and audiobook titles reflected novels that had proven popular across special literary social media accounts like Bookstagram and Booktok including The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Waugh by Taylor Jenkins Reid; The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley; and the young adult title We Were Liars by E Lockhart.

Details of the most popular books and authors among Irish library readers were released by the LGMA to coincide with a national day of reading – Ireland Reads Day – on Saturday.

Libraries have teamed up with publishers, booksellers and authors to promote reading among adults and children with a dedicated website – irelandreads.ie – established to recommend books suited to people’s interests and time available and to allow them to pledge to “squeeze in a read”.

The public are also encouraged to visit their local libraries on Ireland Reads Day where a range of events are planned nationwide.

Top 10 Most Borrowed Books 2022 (Previous year in brackets)

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (10)

2. Little Miss: My Complete Collection Box Set by Roger Hargreaves (4)

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney (-)

4. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna (1)

5. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by DAV Pilkey (-)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney (-)

7. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (-)

8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney (-)

9. Thomas and Friends: My First Story Time Set (11)

10. Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by DAV Pilkey (-)

Top 10 Most Borrowed Adult Books 2022

1. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (-)

2. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (-)

3. Nora by Nuala O’Connor (-)

4. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (2)

5. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (-)

6. Breaking Point by Edel Coffey (-)

7. Better Off Dead by Lee Child (-)

8. 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (-)

9. Home Stretch by Graham Norton (4)

10. Aisling and the City by Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght (-)

Top 5 Borrowed Children’s Audiobooks 2022

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

5. The World’s Worst Pets by David Walliams

Top 5 Borrowed Adult Audiobooks 2022

1. Again Rachel by Marian Keyes

2. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

3. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

5. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman