Peak Picks Turns 5 — and 25 Most Popular Books Since 2017

Peak PIcks
Selections Services’ Elena Gutierrez, who led the design of the Peak Picks collection in 2017, connects with a new Peak Pick

Blow out the candles! Peak Picks, The Seattle Public Library’s highly popular collection of books you can check out with no holds and no wait, turns 5 this month. Launched as a pilot project in May 2017, Peak Picks expanded to all 27 Library locations by the end of 2017. Since its start, more than 75,000 readers have checked out more than 700,000 copies of Peak Picks titles.

Funded by the 2019 Library Levy, Peak Picks is designed to make more copies of popular, high-interest adult fiction and nonfiction books immediately available to patrons. It was popular from the start.

Celebrate Peak Picks with usIn other words, instead of waiting weeks or months for a hold to be filled, you can walk into a branch and find books you’ve heard about and check them out right away, along with books representing underrepresented voices and unique perspectives. Just look for the Peak Picks display.

Each month’s selection includes highly anticipated books (recent examples include Emily St. John Mandel’s “Sea of Tranquility” and Viola Davis’ “Finding Me”), as well as titles expected to be of interest to Seattle readers, even if they may not be national bestsellers.

We get lots of raves for Peak Picks at the Library — fans cite the joy of both finding a much-hyped new release immediately available, and of discovering something completely new. Book club members have found their multiple-copy problems solved. One reader suggested that the designer of the program should earn a Nobel Prize. Another compared browsing a Peak Picks display to “visiting the proverbial candy store.”

What do you love about Peak Picks? And how many of the 25 most popular Peak Picks have you read?

25 most popular Peak Picks titles since 2017

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens
  2. The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas
  3. Educated,” by Tara Westover
  4. Less,” by Andrew Sean Greer
  5. So You Want to Talk about Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo
  6. Becoming,” by Michelle Obama
  7. Warlight,” by Michael Ondaatje
  8. The Overstory,” by Richard Powers
  9. There There,” by Tommy Orange (2020 Seattle Reads pick)
  10. The Library Book,” by Susan Orlean
  11. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” by Ocean Vuong
  12. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” by Lori Gottlieb
  13. City of Girls,” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  14. Exhalation,” by Ted Chiang
  15. Dare to Lead,” by Brené Brown
  16. Normal People,” by Sally Rooney
  17. Digital Minimalism,” by Cal Newport
  18. The Power,” by Naomi Alderman
  19. Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee
  20. Eight Dates,” by John Gottman, Ph.D and Julie Schwartz Gottman
  21. The Woman in the Window,” by A.J. Finn
  22. Manhattan Beach,” by Jennifer Egan
  23. No Time to Spare,” by Ursula K. Le Guin
  24. The Moment of Lift,” by Melinda Gates
  25. The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead

*This list is ordered from highest Peak Picks circulation to lowest.

Five fun facts about Peak Picks

Tom Fay, Chief Librarian
Tom Fay, Chief Librarian, celebrating Peak Picks
  • More than 500 titles have been selected as Peak Picks since May 2017.
  • More than 75,000 Seattle readers have checked out Peak Picks titles more than 700,000 times.
  • More than 400 authors have had their books chosen as Peak Picks.
  • 6-10 new Peak Picks titles are added each month, for a collection of about 50-60 titles at any given time. (Some titles are also “retired” each month.)
  • Books by Seattle-area authors are frequently chosen as Peak Picks, such as David B. Williams’ “Seattle Walks”in May 2017; “Cooking from Scratch” by PCC Markets in Sept. 2018; G. Willow Wilson’s “The Bird King” in March 2019; David Guterson’s Jan. 2022 novel, “The Final Case,” and Angela Garbes’ “Essential Labor” in May 2022 (register for the event featuring her on May 17!).

In honor of Peak Picks’ fifth year, please stop by your neighborhood library to browse the Peak Picks tables, grab a five-year bookmark, and share your latest Peak Picks read on social media. Patrons can tag @splbuzz on Twitter and @SeattlePublicLibrary on Facebook and Instagram.

Find new Peak Picks titles for May, and read more about how Peak Picks are picked.

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