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Published April 24 2012

‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ most requested books at F-M libraries

FARGO – If local library waiting lists are any indication, Fargo-Moorhead readers are looking for the bruised, the sad and the bawdy in their fiction these days.

Suzanne Collins’ young-adult dystopian novel “The Hunger Games,” a Jodi Picoult story on assisted suicide called “Lone Wolf,” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first installment in E.L. James’ erotic-fiction trilogy, have racked up the most hold requests from library patrons.

Hold requests represent the number of people on a waiting list for a certain book. In general, local libraries order one new book for every four hold requests, say staffers at Lake Agassiz and Fargo libraries.

“The Hunger Games,” the dark tale of a love triangle set in post-apocalyptic times, has remained the most sought-after book in the Moorhead and Fargo library systems for weeks – with a total of 245 requests for the book as of Monday.

“In my humble opinion, that book has been popular for the last two years and exploded in popularity when the movie came out,” says Janelle Brandon, public information/marketing director at Lake Agassiz Regional Library.

The second most requested book in Fargo-Moorhead libraries is “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which has garnered 159 total hold requests. That’s up from 121 requests last week.

Brandon says she believes one reason the S&M-tinged book has done so well nationally was because it was initially offered only as an e-book, which allowed women to read it more discreetly.

However, “Fifty Shades” does not make the top three most requested digital titles at Lake Agassiz. Instead, those top three spots are occupied by Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help,” “The Hunger Games,” and Janet Evanovich’s “Explosive Eighteen.”

The only other book that makes both library systems’ “top 10 holds” list is bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s “Lone Wolf,” with 102 Fargo-Moorhead patrons waiting to read it.

This can boil down to a considerable wait when factoring in the average three-week period, or longer, that a patron might check out a book.

But staffers say library patrons don’t seem to mind the wait – even in an instant-gratification era in which a reader can instantly access almost any digital title.

Elizabeth Madson, collections manager at Fargo Public Library, says it’s no surprise that during times of economic downturn, public library use and circulation increase significantly.

Circulation at the Fargo Public Library has increased more than 14 percent from 2006 to 2011, Madson adds.

Madson also believes the “waiting game” allows the avid reader to work through other books on their lists while waiting for that hot bestseller.

“Patrons are willing to place hold requests and wait for a specific title because many patrons are reading a variety of books in relation to their numerous interests, and with so many titles on their ‘to-read’ lists, they always have something they’re reading while waiting for that specific title,” Madson says.

Brandon agrees. “It is rare that we get a negative reaction from customers who are on a waiting list to read a good book. It’s like Christmas – the suspense is sometimes a major part of the fun and surprise.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525