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Originally published Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Lit Life

10 books most-often borrowed from King County Library in 2010

Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy; Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy and Rick Riordan's young-adult books are favorites of King County readers.

Seattle Times book editor

Lit Life |

Last week your Lit Life correspondent reported on the 10 most checked-out books from the Seattle Public Library for 2010. Today, here's a top-10 list from the King County Library System (KCLS).

The county and city lists are striking for both their similarities and their differences. Similarities: The same book, Kathryn Stockett's "The Help," tops both lists, and Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy dominates both rankings.

Differences? Preteen, teen and young-adult books make up half the KCLS list — the three books in Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy, and two from author Rick Riordan. What does that mean? D'oh! as Homer Simpson would say. There are more kids in the county.

I am also struck with the dark themes represented here. The Larsson novels feature a computer hacker whose abusive upbringing has turned her into an anti-social loner. The violence is explicit. The "Hunger Games" trilogy (recommended for grades 7 and up), is the story of teens who are pitted against each other by their government in a reality-TV show that everyone must watch. The losers die. I have read Larsson's books, so I know how compelling they are. I haven't read the "Hunger Games" books — send me your thoughts. Here's the list:

1. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. The saga of three women in the 1960s, two black and one white, who confront the secrets and injustices of segregated Jackson, Miss.

2. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. Part one of the Millennium trilogy: Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and Swedish journalist Mikael Blomqvist unite to investigate a string of gruesome murders.

3. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson. Part three of Larsson's trilogy; Lisbeth plots revenge against her enemies and cleans up government corruption, with Blomqvist's help.

4. "Mockingjay" (Hunger Games, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins. Katniss, survivor of the Hunger Games, faces new difficulties, the anger of the government and a possible revolution.

5. "The Girl Who Played With Fire" by Stieg Larsson. Part two: Salander is wanted for a triple murder; Blomqvist tries to clear her name as he works on a human-trafficking exposé.

6. "Catching Fire" (Hunger Games, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins. Katniss' victory stirs up rebellion against the repressive regime that created the Hunger Games.

7. "The Hunger Games" (Hunger Games, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins. The original book portraying the cruel Hunger Games run by the repressive dictators of Panem, which used to be the United States. Katniss agrees to play in the Hunger Games in her sister's place.


8. "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan. A brother and sister investigate the disappearance of their Egyptologist father and face an angry and destructive Egyptian god. (For grades 5-8.)

9. "U is for Undertow" by Sue Grafton. Latest in the long-running series featuring private eye Kinsey Millhone, who investigates the long-ago disappearance of a 4-year-old girl.

10. "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan. A 12-year-old boy travels the length and breadth of the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus' master lightning bolt. (For grades 5-9.)

Mary Ann Gwinn:

206-464-2357 or

Mary Ann Gwinn appears on

Classical KING-FM's Arts Channel


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