C.S. Lewis is credited with encapsulating one of the best joys in life — a big cup of tea and an even bigger book. It’s no secret that this pastime led to his success as an author with millions of books sold around the world. Perhaps you grew up in a home like Lewis did where education and reading were highly valued,1 or maybe your fondness for the written word began later in life. Either way, we can all agree that literature plays an important role not just in sparking your imagination—but in shaping your educational career path and future goals.
Whether you always have a book in your nose or read every now and then, we at Grand Canyon University (GCU) know that devouring a best-selling fiction or nonfiction book is a tale as old as time. With this in mind, GCU’s partner, Grand Canyon Education (GCE), set out to find the most popular 2022 New York Times bestsellers in every U.S. state to expand your perspectives and give you another excuse to visit your local library. For those lifelong readers (or audiobook listeners)—keep reading to discover the most popular titles in your state!
Table of Contents:
- The Most Popular Fiction Book in Every U.S. State
- The Most Popular Nonfiction Book in Every U.S. State
- The Most Popular Books Overall
- Closing Thoughts
We analyzed the top five fiction and the top five nonfiction books from The New York Times Best Sellers list for each week from Jan. 2, 2022 to June 5, 2022.2 Many books are repeated on the list week to week, so that gave us an initial list of 85 titles (38 fiction and 47 nonfiction). We ran each of the 85 titles through Google Trends and recorded search volume data over the past year (May 2021 through May 2022). Some books had insufficient search volume, and thus could not be analyzed in our report. We separately analyzed fiction and nonfiction books to determine the top-searched title in every state and overall.
The Most Popular Fiction Book in Every U.S. State
As reading has a slew of benefits from increased empathy to more brain connectivity in regions associated with perspective-taking—it’s no wonder that a good book can transport you to places you’ve never been.3
In Delia Owen’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” the reader meets a girl named Kya who raises herself in the marshes around North Carolina.4 This mystery drama had the highest search volume in six states, including places like Utah, Louisiana and Mississippi, and recently debuted as a movie in July 2022.5 The filming took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, which could explain the hype from this state.
“We can all agree that literature plays an important role not just in sparking your imagination—but in shaping your educational career path and future goals.”
If you’re looking for a captivating novel with hard hitting topics that pull you out of your comfort zone, look no further than Colleen Hoover’s, “It Ends With Us.” This book tells the tale of a young woman named Lily who has to find her way out of an abusive relationship, which gets even more complicated when her first love, Atlas, re-enters the scene.6 This twisted tale had the highest search volume in places like California and Maryland, which also happen to rank in the top 10 most romantic states.7 This could explain their attraction for the drama-filled novel.
Readers in Idaho and New Mexico turn to bestselling fiction like Sarah J. Maas’ “House of Sky and Breath."8 As the second installment in this fantasy series, Maas’ main characters, Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar, must choose whether or not to fight for the rebels or stay silent against a growing tyrannical power, the Asteri.
The Most Popular Nonfiction Book in Every U.S. State
The New York Times Best Seller list wouldn’t be complete without taking a deep dive into their bestselling nonfiction books. From books that highlight the effects of psychological trauma on the body to the investigation into a little girl’s disappearance during World War II—there’s something for everyone.
Rosemary Sullivan’s “The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation” follows a retired FBI agent and his cold case team as they make painstaking discoveries that eventually lead to one shocking arrest.9 This nonfiction book had the highest search volume in the states of Georgia and Ohio.
Georgia’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education honors those who lost their lives during the evils of the Holocaust, perhaps explaining Georgians’ absorption in this book.10 For those who want to turn their book obsession of crime analysis into a career, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Law Enforcement program at GCU prepares students for a life of duty while addressing 21st-century societal topics.
“Literature plays an important role in our lifelong pursuit of learning.”
For a scientific-research book on The New York Times Best Seller 2022 list, consider checking out “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” written by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. This fascinating and empowering book had the highest search volume in seven states including places like California and Montana.11
The book covers Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s work unpacking groundbreaking research on the effects and recovery of victims of physical or emotional abuse, including a deep dive into stories about veterans suffering from PTSD. With California being home to 1.47 million veterans as of 2019, the connection is clear why this state is drawn to this bestseller.12
The Most Popular Books Overall
Americans are turning up the passion, as Colleen Hoover’s romance novel, “Ugly Love” had the highest search volume in seven states.13 This bestselling fiction story features a young woman named Tate Collins who falls for a pilot in this unrequited love affair, which proves American’s love for romance novels is strong.
The New York Times Best Sellers 2022 list features nonfiction works like Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, “Green Lights,”14 which had the highest search interest in five states. Those who practice religion may have connected with McConaughey’s views on God, as he detailed the need to spend time alone with his maker whenever he lost sight of the truth. These positive side effects of religion are grounded in research, as evidence shows going to church and pouring into your relationship with God has been found to improve mental health.15
Readers from states who connected with McConaughey’s bestseller may be thrilled to know that, as a Christian college, GCU incorporates a Christian worldview into our curriculum discussions. This foundation fosters great business leaders and mentor relationships, plus—we offer theology degrees!
There are new fiction bestsellers like “Run, Rose, Run,” a thriller co-authored by Dolly Parton and James Patterson that had the highest search volume in both Tennessee and Iowa.16 The book is about twenty-five-year-old AnnieLee who is desperate to make it as a big-time singer in Nashville, Tennessee. The story is riddled with secrets, persistence and insider knowledge of the music industry. It’s no wonder this book is favored in places like Tennessee where Nashville's music industry contributes $5.5 billion to the local economy.17
The New York Times Best Seller 2022 list has it all—from social issues to books that will give you the heebie-jeebies (yes, you, “Verity”),18 literature plays an important role in our lifelong pursuit of learning.
Transport yourself to another world by developing a love for reading, or help others do the same with a BS in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading. If you love expanding your mind in bestselling fiction and teaching valuable skills to the next generation, a Master of Arts in Reading Education with an Elementary Education Emphasis allows you to help students foster a love of literature through evidence-based practices in reading and writing. Perhaps you could even be teaching a future New York Times bestselling author!
1 Valued, C.S. Lewis in June 2022.
2 List, The New York Times Best Sellers in June 2022.
3 Healthline, Benefits of Reading Books: How It Can Positively Affect Your Life in June 2022.
4 Owens, D. (2019). Where the Crawdads Sing, G.P. Putnam's Sons.
5 Town & Country, Everything We Know About the Where the Crawdads Sing Movie Adaptation in June 2022.
6 Hoover, C. (2016). It Ends with Us, New York: Atria Books.
7 Pettitts Travel, State of Romance: The Most Romantic States in America in June 2022.
8 Maas, S. (2022). House of Sky and Breath, Bloomsbury Publishing.
9 Sullivan, R. (2022) The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, HarperCollins.
10 Education, Museum of History and Holocaust Education in June 2022.
11 Van Der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Penguin Publishing Group.
12 2019, Number of Veterans Living in the United States in 2019, By State in Jan. 2022.
13 Hoover, C. (2014). Ugly Love, Atria Books.
14 McConaughey, M. (2020). Green Lights, Crown.
15 Health, How Church May Boost Mental Health in June 2022.
16 Parton, D., and Patterson, J. (2022). Run Rose Run, Little, Brown and Company.
17 Economy, Nashville Music Industry: Impact, Contribution and Cluster Analysis in June 2022.
18 Hoover, C. (2021). Verity, Grand Central Publishing.
Approved by the Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations on 8/18.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.