Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of istockphoto

Sacramento Public Library recently announced it reached a record 3 million digital book checkouts in 2022.

Library officials said the milestone illustrates “the continued growth and importance of library lending of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital content, as well as the library’s success in serving all members of the community.”

Sacramento Public Library is one of 129 public library systems worldwide to have 3 million digital checkouts last year and ranked fifth in California among those surpassing at least 1 million digital checkouts in a calendar year. Locally, the Sacramento Public Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years through the award-winning Libby app, the library reading app created by OverDrive. The large collection serves readers of all ages and interests, and usage has grown yearly. COVID-19 and related library closures also added to the number of people relying on ebooks for information and entertainment.

“Apps like Libby allow the Sacramento Public Library to expand our reach beyond our physical walls by connecting users of all ages to information and helps nurture literacy,” said Library Director and CEO Peter Coyl.

The highest-circulating title Sacramento Public Library readers borrowed in 2022 was “The Four Winds: a Novel,” by Kristin Hannah. The book was also the second most checked out audiobook of 2022. The top-circulating genre was romance. Former President Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” was fifth among popular audiobooks.

The OBSERVER asked Matt Hill, supervisor of integrated library systems, and material selector Brendle Wells how other books by Black authors fared with local readers. The most well-read ebooks of 2022 were:

  • “The Personal Librarian,” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
  • “Black Cake,” by Charmain Wilkerson
  • “The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois,” by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
  • “The Water Dancer,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “Seven Days in June,” by Tia Williams
  • “Such a Fun Age,” by Kiley Reid


  • “Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents,” by Isabel Wilkerson 
  • “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • “How to Be an AntiRacist,” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
  • “So You Want To Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo

Hill said “Caste’s” popularity was lifted by its selection by Oprah Winfrey as a book club read in 2020. Wilkerson’s other book on the list, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” focuses on the Great Migration of African Americans and remains a must-read.

Dr. Kendi visited UC Davis in March 2022 as part of the university’s Campus Community Book Project. He appeared in conversation with Chancellor Gary S. May, who is African American.

General Bestsellers/Classics

  • “The Vanishing Half,” by Brit Bennett
  • “When No One is Watching,” by Alyssa Cole
  • “Harlem Shuffle,” by Colson Whitehead
  • “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead
  • “Razorblade Tears,” by SA Crosby
  • “Parable of the Sower,” by Octavia Butler
  • “Transcendent Kingdom,” by Yaa Gyasi

Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017, was adapted into a 2022 Amazon series featuring Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim, who also starred together in “A Woman King.”

I write about the trailblazing writer Octavia Butler in my new book of poetry, “7×7: Kudos and Kwansabas: Something for My Sistahs,” so it’s good to see her classic on the list.

I am a voracious reader and while I still prefer a good hard copy book, I do read a lot of books on my phone through Libby these days. What are you e-reading? What titles are on your “to read” list? What are your favorite books by Black writers? Share with me on Twitter @GBUnlimited or via email at

About Sacramento Public Library

Sacramento Public Library is the fourth largest library system in California, with 28 locations serving 1.4 million urban, suburban and rural residents. In addition to lending books, Sacramento Public Library offers services and programming focused on early learning, technology, and creation and is committed to providing Sacramento communities with welcoming community spaces.

About OverDrive

Founded in 1986, OverDrive serves more than 88,000 libraries and schools in 109 countries with the industry’s largest digital catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, video and other content. Award-winning apps and services include the Libby library reading app, the Sora student reading app, Kanopy, the leading video streaming app for libraries and colleges, and, which offers one of the largest catalogs of supplemental materials that enhance literacy outcomes.

Download the Libby app or visit to get started borrowing ebooks, audiobooks and more.