More people are reading in Calgary, but what are they reaching for?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more Calgarians are reaching for library books right now — be it print, e-book or audio format.

“Across the board, Calgarians are reading a lot in the last year,” Mary Kapusta of the Calgary Public Library told the Calgary Eyeopener.

Trends do vary depending on age and format of book, she says.

‘The Netflix effect’

“The Netflix effect” is the No. 1 reason for books trending, said Kapusta.

“Library circulation used to be when there was a big splashy movie adaption on the big screen, we would see that at the libraries in terms of maybe that author’s backlist or that adapted book. But now we’re seeing that Netflix is really driving patron interest,” she said.

Right now, she says, the popular streaming service has led to a huge demand for the Bridgerton eight-book novel series and The Queen’s Gambit. Demand for The Flight Attendant, The Midnight Sky and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is also high.

The Queen’s Gambit, a popular Netflix series, has sparked interest in the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis. (Phil Bray/Netflix)

Books to fill time

Literature focused on things like fitness and healthy eating have “been very popular,” said Kapusta.

This includes hiking guides and walking trail books.

“Comfort reading” books are also being sought, she said.

“So those retro fiction titles, Agatha Christie mysteries, a lot of romance, a lot of fantasy and, of course, some fiction, some great fiction is going out.”

E-book downloads

On the library app Libby, adult Calgarians are reading books focused on mental health, politics and racism.

“We are seeing people really wanting to understand social justice and politics,” she said.

Online, children’s books are being downloaded over 70 per cent more than in 2019.

She says retro children’s hits — like the Baby-Sitters Club series — are popular. Also children’s French language books are a hit.

New library services

Currently, all Calgary Public Library locations are closed to the public for in-person visits, but they have a range of services that can still be used.

People can put a book on hold and pick it up outside of the library.

On Wednesday, the Calgary Public Library started a service called “curbside printing.” People can send in the documents they need printed and then go to their library, call with the order number and pick it up outside.

The library also launched a service called Build a Book Bag, which basically pairs you with books you may like.

Participants fill out an online survey, listing details like the genre they are interested in and their age, and a library staff member will assemble a “custom book bag” set to match those interests. The person then gets a call when their book bag is ready for pick up from their local library.

There are also virtual offerings like online art classes, newspaper archives and movies.

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