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At Long Island libraries, crime and thriller novels rule, with some surprises

The most checked-out library books of 2017 in Nassau and Suffolk County were thriller novels by John Grisham and David Baldacci.

This cover image released by Doubleday shows

This cover image released by Doubleday shows "Camino Island," a novel by John Grisham. Photo Credit: Doubleday via AP

The most checked-out library books of 2017 in Nassau and Suffolk counties, respectively, were “Camino Island” by John Grisham and “The Fix” by David Baldacci. The thriller novels unfold tales of crime, mystery and suspense, and were both published last year.

Additionally, the legal drama “Small Great Things” by Nesconset native Jodi Picoult snagged the No. 2 spot in Suffolk and No. 3 in Nassau.

In a sea of fiction works, one nonfiction selection -- “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance -- made the top 10 in Suffolk County. It was named as one of six books to help explain Donald Trump's presidential victory in a New York Times article.

Last year, Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller “The Girl on the Train” was the No. 1 circulated book in both Nassau and Suffolk libraries. Her newest novel, “Into the Water,” landed at the No. 12 and 20 spots in Nassau and Suffolk, respectively.

Nassau County’s top 10 include four novels written by female authors. One of them is “Truly Madly Guilty,” Liane Moriarty’s follow-up to “Big Little Lies,” which was adapted into an award-winning miniseries for HBO last year.

Caroline Ashby, the assistant director of the Nassau Library System, isn’t surprised by the huge interest in Moriarty’s newest novel and Long Island’s love for mystery and crime stories in general.

“I think it’s the same thing with all types of media,” she said. “These are books where you more or less know what you’re in for. You’re in for a ride, you’re going to be excited, you’re going to be scared, maybe, at some points, and you’re going to be moving through the pages really quickly.”

Jennifer Bollerman, the assistant director of Patchogue-Medford Library, also noted that Long Island readers tend to relate to Picoult’s writing.

“It’s almost like her books are ripped from the headlines,” Bollerman said. “So it manages to resonate with people because it just ties in very well to things that are going on in the world.”

Bollerman said the titles that end up in the list of top circulated books are usually ones that received lots of publicity in the media as they were released.

“We always have to order extra copies,” Bollerman said. “Especially when you try to be aware of who’s getting a lot of media play, but it’s not always possible. And some will take off all of a sudden and all the book [clubs] get ahold of it. Which is another big thing -- all of a sudden, you realize every other woman coming into the library is asking for the same book.”

Ashby said that the top 10 may also reflect what books Long Island commuters are most interested in reading during their travels.

“We have a lot of people on Long Island who are commuting to work by train, and I know that these books can be easier to read on a train than maybe some more difficult literary novels or nonfiction titles,” Ashby said. “They’re easy to pick up and put down because they’re so plot-driven; you don’t have to remember a ton of facts about what happened in the chapter before in order to keep moving forward in the story.”

Wherever Long Islanders take their books this year, Bollerman and Ashby are encouraging them to keep reading.

Bollerman said, “People should come out and see what their library is doing.”

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