2023 Top Titles: Genres

January 10, 2024

Last week we posted the 2023 Top Titles for US Public libraries, based on the thousands of libraries that use Syndetics Unbound to add covers, summaries, recommendations and more.

We’ve also posted the 2023 Top Titles for Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

When Genres are Tricky

Genres are tricky!

First, nobody agrees on them! One patron’s science fiction is another patron’s romance that only incidentally happens in space! There is no best answer, so we chose to make our lists highly inclusive.

Second, do old books count? The top books in some genres, like general fiction, change constantly as new books are published. Others, like genres for children, are mostly older titles! Still others, like Science Fiction, are a mix. If this surprises you, you may be misled by bestseller lists, which routinely screen out what the New York Times calls “perennial titles,” books assigned in schools, and nearly all reference titles!

Finally, while Syndetics Unbound collects from thousands of libraries, we aren’t in every library. As the genre becomes more niche, the statistics get less certain, and the exact order of the items less reliable. For example, the top recent Food and Cooking title (see Cooking: Recent) doesn’t even make the top 100 books for the year. So take these lists with a grain of (gastronomically-appropriate) salt.

Below you’ll find some genre covering all books, and some restricted to 2022-2023 publications. We made our selections based on interest and depth of data.

History: All Years

The top titles in History are mostly new, with Bird and Sherwin’s American Prometheus (2005) in third place because it was the basis of Christopher Nolan 2023 film Oppenheimer.


Memoir and Biography: All Years

The top titles in Memoir and Biography are also recent, except for American Prometheus (2005).


Romance: All Years

2022 was the year of Colleen Hoover. 2023 was too.


Science Fiction: All Years

Science Fiction comes in two flavors: All Years and Recent (2022-2023). All Years includes 7/13 older titles. Either way, genre purists will object to some of the inclusions!


Science Fiction: Recent

Here are the top titles in only Recently-published Science Fiction. Genre purists will question some of them.


Fantasy: Recent

All-time fantasy includes a lot of Young Adult titles, especially Harry Potter. The Recent (2022-2023) list is more interesting.


Horror: All Years

Is The Road horror? It’s horrifying, certainly. And its brilliant author, Cormac McCarthy, died in 2023, so we’ll give it to him.


Cooking: Recent

The all-year Cooking list moves slowly. Here are the top 2022-2023 titles.


Children: All Years

The Children’s genre shows the staying power of perennial favorites. Judy Blume’s Are the You There God? It’s me, Margaret is a well-loved classic, but earned a spot at the top on account of the 2023 movie of the same name, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. It’s clear that the Rings of Fire graphic novels were a particular favorite this year, but staff were surprised to see Hatchet so high.


Picture Books: All Years

Many perennial favorites, but also including Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh! by Mo Willems (2023), Hot Dog by Doug Salati (2022), and Knight Owl by Christopher Denise (2022).


See you next year!

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How Do We Know?

This data was collected by Syndetics Unbound. The search data is fully anonymized the day it is collected.